How many times has Diamond Creek Police Station moved?
The answer is four. Starting with the first permanent police presence in Diamond Creek in 1879 until the move to the newly built Emergency Services Centre on the corner of Main Hurstbridge Road and George Street in 2005, Diamond Creek’s police station has been in five locations. Prior to 1879 there was limited support for a growing population of miners and their families.
Mounted Police Covering District
In late 1879 Constable Hanlon arrived in Diamond Creek as the first policeman appointed to serve Diamond Creek. He boarded at E. Alder’s house in Chute Street. Constables Smithwick, Doolan and McCarthy arrived in the following years with one officer covering the district at a time. They were all mounted police who boarded with local families and with no dedicated police station.
South Site of Chute Street – First Resident Police Station
When Senior Constable Thomas Waldron was appointed to Diamond Creek in 1886 he was the first resident police officer. Thomas purchased a house in Chute Street and married local girl Margaret Butler. His house was leased to the Victorian Police Department as the first resident police station and it remained the police station for many years. Our early police stations were a residence with one room used as the police office.
Corner of Diamond and Chute Streets
The second police station was housed in a shop on the corner of Diamond and Chute Streets, on the side away from the creek. It previously housed a haberdashery run by the Misses Lawrey. Manned by a number of police officers over the years including James Tobin and Bernard Rose until the flood of 1934, the last occupant was First Constable Henry Bradbury who took over from Constable Hope in 1931.
A Flood Forced the Move to Galatea Street
The ‘great flood’ of 1934 arrived in Diamond Creek suddenly and it inundated farms and orchards along the breadth of the Diamond Valley, devastating crops on the creek flats and invading homes on low-lying land. It was a record flood, and local knowledge tells us that it has not yet been matched or exceeded, even by the floods of Spring 2022.
Diamond Creek Police Station in its low-lying position on the corner of Diamond Street was close to the creek so was impacted quite heavily. There was also a police cell of the type seen all over Victoria and southern NSW from the late 1880’s. Flat-packs that had been shipped from England they were essentially a cage clad with weatherboards they weighed about 5 tonnes so were quite effective as a police lock-up. Diamond Creek’s cell was moved, to our knowledge, to each new location except of course the latest complex, but it still remains intact and sits as one of our outdoor exhibits next to Ellis Cottage.
When the flood arrived in late November, Constable Bradbury was busy rescuing livestock when his daughter Audrey arrived home from school for lunch, but the water had risen so high and so quickly that she couldn’t get into the house. Constable Bradbury, who had been busy saving some of his livestock, heard anguished cries from the police cell that reminded him he had arrested a man for ‘drunk and disorderly’ the night before. The prisoner was not in any danger but as the water was rising rapidly and who could not see what was happening outside the cell, thought he would drown. Police HQ was contacted for advice which was to let him go as he would most likely be off the drink for a while after this!
Constable Bradbury moved with his family to a rented house in Galatea Street near St John’s Church of England and it was this house that became police station number three.
Collins Street Police Station
The Galatea Street house was rented for the police station until a new complex in Collins Street was built in 1952 on land that had been gifted by the Crown in 1866. The people of Diamond Creek had been asking for it to be built on a reserve next to the Literary Institute that had always been meant for a police station since at least 1898. It seems there was often the will and many promises but somehow never enough funds for the project. There were also demands from growing townships like Greensborough and Montmorency for their own police station – by the mid-1920’s Greensborough was outgrowing Diamond Creek in population and in 1926 there were some efforts to move the station there. The community opposed this effort, public meetings were held and a petition with 1,100 signatures was delivered by a deputation of Diamond Creek residents to the Chief Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Blamey who assured them they would not lose their police station and the needs of Greensborough residents would be met separately.
The police station in Collins Street survived the fires that swept through parts of Diamond Creek in 1969, but the hall next door, previously the Literary Institute, did not. It was closed and building removed after the relocation to the new Emergency Services Centre in 2005 – the fourth move and fifth police station location.