Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Law Courts, Port Arthur

This was the site of the first bakehouse and sailmakers quarters in 1834. Those buildings were replaced by the sandstone building in 1848 and were further extended in 1854.

The Law Courts introduced convicts to Port Arthur’s regime of ‘ceaseless vigilance’, discipline and punishment designed ‘for grinding rogues into honest men’ When convicts arrived at the Port Arthur settlement, they were lined up in front of this building and a clerk read them the rules of settlement. Then the commandant spoke to the assembled men and told them how hard their lives were to be for the first few months. If they offended, the building served as the settlement law courts where offences were heard and punishments ordered.

In later years, Commandant Boyd established a library and reading room in the building and socials were held for the entertainment of officials and their families. After the closure of the penal settlement, the building became the Police Station. It narrowly escaped the 1895 bushfires but was gutted by the 1897 bushfires.

It remained in a ruined state until 1919 when a timber second story was added and the building became the Hotel Arthur which was able to accommodate up to 60 guests. Unfortunately the building was again mysteriously burned down in 1921 and has remained a ruin ever since.                                                      

Main Text & Information Source – 
Interpretive Sign at the site
Port Arthur Visitors Guide Brochure