Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Old Watch House, George Town

The Old Watch House site was first used as a convict barracks and gaol. The original building was erected in about 1820, of brick, with a strong stockade. It later became the watch House for the district where offenders were kept pending trial.

In time the building fell into bad disrepair, and plans were drawn up for the erection of a new Watch House ( the present building). The date on the lintel over the front door is 1843 but that date was placed there by a restoration group in 1983. The Watch House is believed to have been built later, possibly in the 1850’s.
There was no other gaol in the Tamar valley until the end of the 19th century and criminals from places such as Beaconsfield were brought to George Town by boat to await their trial dates.

The building has had many and varied uses, including a doctor’s surgery, and wooden additions were made to the original brick building. In the 1930’s it was used by the Commission that ran the municipality until an elected council was established in 1954. The Watch House remained the council chambers until they moved to the memorial Hall. The original Council Chambers, in 1907, had been based at Lefroy, which was then larger than George Town.

The building was next taken over by Gunns for use as a hardware store. Major alterations made the original building totally unrecognizable. However, in 1981 it was restored to its original plan by an enthusiastic committee and turned into a folk museum. Since then it has once again had a variety of uses.

It’s currently a museum, information centre and home to a wonderful Model Village of 19th Century George Town recreated to scale by volunteers.

Main Text & Information Source –
"Treasures of George Town" - George Town & District Historical Society 2003