POLICE STATION, LOCKUP AND RESIDENCE
Once located on the Crown Reserve area Lots 1-4 of D owned by woodcutter Charles Ross in 1882, the police station/residence and lockup were situated on a small triangular piece of land beneath the current railway bridge crossing between the Kilmore/Epping Road and Wandong/Broadford Road. Ross occupied the land until approximately 1884/5 before selling the land to Robert Affleck Robertson.
With the arrival of Robertson around 1884 and the establishment of his sawmilling and seasoning works operations combined with those working at nearby Mathieson’s Quarry and the 100 miners at the Golden Dyke mines, Wandong became a hive of social unrest with community leaders calling for a permanent police presence. The influx of workers combined with the demon drink saw many of Wandong’s residents featured in Kilmore Court’s listings. Some were for seemingly minor misdemeanours such as being drunk and disorderly in a public place; using obscene language and insulting behaviour while more serious cases included larceny, cutting timber without a licence and assault.
One of the more curious cases was that of Chas Behard and the theft of a box of sardines – one wonders if the sardines were presented as evidence in court or consumed beforehand! For George Stonehouse convicted of stealing a pair of boots from the Comet Mill, a few days in the small timber lockup may have convinced him to plead guilty and accept a hefty fine of 5s and 14s 6d in costs.
While the Wandong Police attended to these seemingly trivial matters the majority of their work involved attending the scenes of fatal accidents at the sawmills or those who were killed on the rail line by trains. Between 1889 and 1902 there were eight deaths resulting from rolling logs or killed by rail trucks, while a further three died from drowning. In several cases the balliwick/magistrate was Robert Robertson who invariably ruled on the accidental deaths of his workers and friends.
The town had a number of constables appointed however the longest serving was Constable James Joseph Wilcox (Willcox) aged 31 who transferred from the Brighton police station to Wandong. Constable Wilcox arrived in 1891 and remained for eleven years until 1902 before being retrenched and the station closed. Unfortunately Constable Wilcox’s departure coincided with the demise of the Australian Timber Company’s activities in 1902 with the closure of its sawmilling operations and seasoning works and the departure of their workforce. The residents gave Constable Wilcox and his wife Fannie (nee Smith) a farewell social presenting them with a ‘handsome tea and coffee service’. Constable Wilcox remarked that he had taken charge on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1891 and receiving notice at the 11th hour, departed on the 11th day of the 11th month after having served 11 years at Wandong. Constable Wilcox transferred to Stanley north eastern Victoria where he became a temporary Deputy Mining Registrar in 1903.
The small lockup that once housed many of Wandong’s residents was sent to Neerim South where it was placed behind the local Police Station.