Cop shop celebrates 150th

By Chris Thomson | posted on February 7, 2018

A WHO’S WHO of the state police force, and their political master, will attend on March 3 when the Plantagenet Historical Society celebrates the 150th anniversary of Mount Barker’s first cop shop.

Commissioner Chris Dawson, Police Minister Michelle Roberts, Great Southern District Superintendent Dom Wood, one-time corrective services minister Terry Redman, the president of the retired police officers’ association, three police union delegates, a police piper and several mounted police have said they’ll be there.

Plantagenet Historical Society archivist Camille Inifer warned that a VIP or two might find themselves embroiled in some punitive shenanigans on the day.

“We’ll have a policeman in uniform from the Plantagenet Players, the drama group, and he might be arresting a few dignitaries if they don’t behave themselves,” she winked.

“We’re gonna have a bit of fun with them.”

The 150th anniversary is also the fiftieth anniversary of when the historical society stepped in, in 1968, to stop Plantagenet shire demolishing the police station.

“It was set for demolition because it was so derelict,” Ms Inifer said.

“One of the policemen, in his wisdom, had let the chooks roost in there for a number of decades, so you can imagine the state of the floor.

“But being history buffs, the society thought they had to save it.”

Ms Inifer said up to 1500 people were likely to descend on the Police Station Museum on March 3, given the Labour Day long weekend timing and the 30th Porongurup Wine Festival kicking off the next day.

Between opening in 1868 and closing in 1908, the state heritage listed building filled a vital public role – as a focus of law and order, and a telegraph office and stopping place for mail coaches travelling from Perth to Albany.

Chair of the committee pulling the anniversary celebrations together John Sales said the commissioner would deliver a speech and unveil a commemorative plaque.

The station was built by convicts who still play a big role in the building’s upkeep, with inmates from the Pardelup minimum security prison doing gardening and odd jobs around the place.

“They’re coming in for a few days before the commemorations and they’re going to do a bit of painting and gardening for us to really showcase the complex,” Mr Sales, a retired police sergeant, said.

Admission is free, and no convicts will be participating on the day.