Highgate Hill’s hidden history

•WA Police in their first Model T Ford circa 1911

The WA Police Historical Society will hold an open day at their little-known museum on Lincoln Street on February 16.

Society president and retired copper David MacDonald says many people don’t know of their existence so they’re inviting the public along to have a look and learn about what they do.

“We’ve got uniforms and artefacts… batons, handcuffs, electronic machinery… we’ve got the big searchlight we used to use from the second world war.”

And the building itself is a museum piece: Secretary Chris Cassidy tells us “the old Highgate Hill police station dates back to 1897, and then the quarters were built in early 1903”.

The station was built in 1897 during the gold rush, to respond to a booming population and the booming crime that went with it.

The station also played a key part in the introduction of WA’s firearm laws. In 1928 the officer in charge was shot dead by a Brisbane Hotel customer, leading to the introduction of the firearms licensing system.

During WW2 the building was secretly converted to become branch headquarters for police wireless operations, as the police commissioner thought the central police station might be a bombing target. The ventilation tower next door found a new use as a radio mast.

That use wasn’t made public until 1956, and it’d continue to be their communications hubs until 1975.

It was placed on the state heritage register in 1999.

The museum’s at 57 Lincoln Street and the open day runs from 10am to 3pm, entry’s an optional gold coin donation, and there’s a sausage sizzle.

WA Police Rifle Team 1909

 

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