A perfect scale model of Coffs Harbour’s 1906 Police Station and Courthouse – complete with miniature larrikins awaiting sentence – has been gifted to the Regional Museum’s collections by a talented local craftsman Don Langley.
Retired builder and model-maker Don Langley approached Museum staff offering to create a model of a building of local historical significance – and what better choice than the Museum itself, now housed in the heritage-listed Police Station and Courthouse on Harbour Drive.
“This is an incredibly generous and community-minded gift,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor Councillor Denise Knight who will receive the model on behalf of the Museum. “It’s so wonderfully intricate, it’s sure to capture the imagination of people of all ages.”
The 1:25 scale model accurately portrays the historic building over a century ago when it contained a police station, courtroom, magistrate’s room, police living quarters, two lock-up cells, an exercise yard and a stable. Don even thought of including lighting and viewing holes to peep inside at the period furnishings and miniature people attending court.
“I like to think people will see a piece of history from the area and learn about it,” explains Don. “I researched and used my past building expertise to figure out how the building was constructed at that time as there was limited information available on the history, apart from photographs.”
Museum Curator Jo Besley says the model will be a drawcard for locals and visitors curious to step back in time to see what the landmark building originally looked like and how it was used.
“Before it was built, the closest police could only be reached after travelling 12 miles on horseback to Coramba,” she said. “But there was clearly a need for some law and order closer to Coffs Harbour as we have plenty of stories in the archives of ‘drunkenness in the street and disorder at dances’.”
The original Coffs Harbour Police Station and Courthouse on Harbour Drive operated until 1930 when the new Moonee Street precinct in ‘top town’ opened. The building remained a police residence until 1970, while the Courthouse became a flat. Later it operated as an antique business before becoming the home of the Regional Museum in 2014.
The building’s heritage-listed status ensures that this important piece of Coffs Harbour’s heritage is protected into the future, regardless of ownership. The new model exhibit will remain in the Museum’s permanent collection for future generations to enjoy.
This is a timely exhibit as a lead in item to History Week which happens in NSW from 5-13 September.
Learn more about the project on the Coffs Coast Heritage Blog.