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Water Police Station: A State Heritage Place

Red Gum Park / Karrawirra (Park 12)

photo-icon Police Station, Victoria Drive, State Library of South Australia, B 5119, circa 1928
photo-icon Police Station, Victoria Drive, State Library of South Australia, B 5120, circa 1928

The building's predecessor was South Australia's first water police station and was constructed near the Adelaide Bridge in 1881. It was built to address a need for police presence on and around the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari, due to an increase in boating and other activities. It was staffed by two to three water police officers who managed boat licensing, the river and its banks, and helped at Adelaide Oval when required.

The timber structure was demolished in 1904, and in June 1914, the Police Department commenced a 42-year lease of the site of the current building although the building itself was not constructed until 1928. It was designed by the Architect-in-Chief and built by contractor EVF Dobbie at a total cost of £823. The building was designed in the Inter-War Spanish Mission style with an asymmetrical facade and functional layout. It was constructed of brick with 'white Medusa cement finish', decorative iron work and a gable roof with red shingle tiles. The station comprised a charge room and a double holding cell at the rear of the exercise yard that contained toilet facilities.

The Inter-War Spanish Mission style of the building was not commonly used for public buildings, but reflects interest at the time in developing an Australian vernacular related to warm-climate styles of architecture, rather than English styles. The building is currently State Heritage Listed.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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