Guildford Courthouse

The courthouse was built in 1866, 25 years after the Guildford Gaol was opened. Previously  court proceedings were conducted in a room at the Gaol. In 1865, it was announced that the transportation of convicts to WA would stop in 1867.

Governor John Hampton, determined to make full use of convict labour while he could, began a major public-building program in Guildford that resulted in the construction of the courthouse and the extension of the Gaol.

The courthouse was designed by government architect Richard Roach Jewell – who was also responsible for Government House and the Town Hall in Perth. It was opened in 1867 with a lavish ball for 200 guests, hosted by resident magistrate Samuel Viveash and Guildford Town Trust chairman Alfred Waylen.

Guildford Courthouse showing the Clocktower that was on the building between 1872 and 1901

Guildford Courthouse showing the Clocktower that was on the building between 1872 and 1901

It is a Victorian Georgian-style building, with a steeply pitched shingled roof (now corrugated iron) on a timber frame. The bricks are hand-made and laid in the Flemish bond pattern – a typical Jewell feature.

Following the installation of a public clock on the Perth Town Hall in 1870, the Guildford Town Trust requested the governor to allow the old turret clock on the Perth Public Offices to be moved to Guildford. The request was agreed to and the clock was installed at the summit of the roof of the courthouse.  After a storm in 1872, it was moved to a less exposed position over the entrance to the courthouse and served as the town’s public timepiece until a clock tower was added to the Guildford Post Office in 1901.

Courthouse - low ResThe courthouse played a prominent role in the development of representative and local government in WA.  The first Legislative Council election for the Swan District was conducted at the courthouse on December 3, 1867 and the first Swan Districts Roads Board Committee election was held at the same location on September 21, 1868.

At the various times, the building has also been used as a hall by the Returned Services League and the Red Cross.

The courthouse – which also incorporated the police station – continued to be used until November 16, 1969.  It is currently in use as the Swan Valley Visitor Centre.

Courthouse Low Res