Community News

Photo: Redman family on the verandah of the Yamba Police Station. Independent File Image.

Yamba Museum Column

‘Behind Bars’

The current police station is one of a few remaining heritage buildings in Yamba.

The first police officer, Constable Joshua Davies, was appointed in 1878. He was abruptly dismissed two years later after reporting three public officials for an illegal shooting trip. Foot Constable James O’Neill replaced Davies and foot Constable Frank Knight, who died from liver cancer in 1893, in turn replaced him.

The first station was built in 1878. It was located in Wooli Street behind the current building and closer to the riverbank. In 1901, the building was condemned by residents as being unfit for habitation but remained on the site until the 1920s.

Funding was approved for a new building but it took two years before the new station was built. It was constructed with weatherboard, a verandah and iron roof. Living quarters were separated from a small office and a holding cell. Further additions and renovations on the site in 1904 provided an armoury and accommodation for travelling police.

After being appointed to Yamba in 1893, Constable Joshua Redman and his family moved into the new Police Station in 1903. Redman was promoted to Senior Constable in 1909 and Sergeant in 1915 until having spent the last 23 years of his 36 years service at Yamba; he retired in 1918. He was highly regarded and well respected by local residents.

A police boat was purchased in 1907 but it was only a rowboat that the police officer had to regularly row across the river to attend to matters in Iluka. By the 1920s it had been replaced by a 23-foot motorboat. After major floods in the 1950s a larger police launch, the ‘Nemesis’, was acquired.

In 1976 the first four-wheel drive police vehicle to operate on the North Coast had replaced the usual sedan. It was fitted with a motorised winch for cliff and beach rescues. There were regular requests by residents for a second policeman but this did not happen until 1977. The old wooden cell was then converted to an interview room and a new brick cell and two storerooms were built at the rear. A separate police house was built behind the station in 1982, while a major internal upgrade in 2007 preserved the historical facade of Yamba Police Station, which is still on the 1903 site.