Boolaroo Police Station
When Edgar Ashcroft chose the site around Cockle Creek to establish the Sulphide Corporation zinc smelter in 1895, the area consisted of bullock tracks and a few houses occupied by miners at the nearby Stockton Borehole Colliery, which had been operating since 1886. The completion of the construction and start of zinc smelting in 1897, drew a large influx of workers and their families to the area. The nearby land was subdivided and became the first (1896) and second (1899) Boolaroo Township Estates. The growing suburb was large enough to have a school established in 1897, a major department store (Friths) in 1898, a post office in 1901 and a fire brigade in 1910.
It is unknown exactly when the first police station was established, but the earliest mention found was in the NSW Police Gazette of a First Constable William Henry McMinn being appointed to Boolaroo Police Station in 1906.
It appears that there have been five locations for the police station over the years:
- The first is believed to have been at the Munibung end of Fifth/Pearce Street according to maps at the time. Contemporary newspaper accounts show that there were inquests held there as early as 1906.
- The second building was occupied in 1938 in a rented cottage with a portable cell at the rear. The exact location is unknown.
- The third was on the corner of Main Road and Fourth Street, adjacent to the Baby Health Centre and was occupied in 1956. There was a house at the front of the block which served as a police residence, and the Police Station was in a garage at the rear with a portable lockup. This station was moved to make way for a Fire station on the site. The house was moved to Braye Street and now serves as a private dwelling.
- The fourth building was built on the site of the present day station on the corner of Main Road and Seventh Street around 1963. This bulding was towards the back of the block. The photograph at left is of Seargeant Lacey Bradbury standing outside the building. The lockup was a separate building and can be seen to the left of the photograph. The police residence was next door on the left.
- The fifth building was opened on the front of the same block, with the earlier building being converted into the garage. It was officially opened on 5th June 1975. This station was permanently closed on Tuesday 7 March 2017, with the staff being moved to the new Toronto facility.
The following is not a complete list of officers stationed at Boolaroo, bur has been gleaned from Newspaper articles and other reports.
|William Henry McMinn||1906|
|John Arthur Cox||1929|
|Lacey Bradbury||1940 - 1965|
Lacey Bradbury joined the Police Force in 1929 and was stationed first at Marrickville and then Kogarah, Ramsgate and San Souci. The family moved to Boolaroo in 1940 where Lacey took up duties as Officer in Charge of this one man station. His initial mode of transport was a Hercules bicycle issued by the department. With the growth of the area he was given permission to use his private vehicle for patrol, and his 1928 Buick 6 - with "Barney", his faithful Red Setter sitting on the running board - became a regular feature in the township. Over the years subsequent private motors were used and an allowance of 3d per mile was paid by the department.
The Police Station was at that time located on the corner of Main Road and Fourth Street Boolaroo, adjacent to the old Baby Health Centre. The district itself was developing at a rapid rate, and the problems of a lone policeman were legion. During the war years, Lacey ran the area which was rather large, dealing with 1500 soldiers who were camped in Speers Point Park as well as 250 camped at Warners Bay. He somehow managed to run the town single handedly and maintain a strict and safe environment for those who resided in the district. He stayed at his post alone till 1952, when the station was upgraded to two men and a Police Holden was supplied.
Always a keen athlete, Lacey was well known as the strongest man in the New South Wales Police Force. He was a weight lifter from his early teens, and whilst at Kogarah was chosen to join the Tug of War team which was rated very highly. With the arrival of Lacey it became second to none, and the gold cup the team won in a statewide competition in 1933 held pride of place at Kogarah Station. Lacey received a gold medal, which he wore with pride on his key chain. While at Boolaroo he was to form a weight lifting club for the youth of the town, but the advent of WWII saw many members enlisting in the services, and this plus the ensuing extra duties of police work, saw the club abandoned.
Lacey and his wife Helen had a large family, six sons and two daughters. Lacey was always proud of his family and loved to get them all together. His two daughters married local lads, and five of his sons joined the Police Force, and one the Postmaster General's Department. In 1960 the then Commissioner of Police, Colin J Delaney, gathered Lacey and his sons together for a photo showing six serving officers of the one family. Lacey retired in 1965 having served the local community for a quarter of a century.
This work by Lake Macquarie City Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License