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Heritage explored

BMDHS member John Hannah peers out of one of the sandstone cells at Main Street. Photo – Bruce Carboon

By Lachlan Ellis

A local historical society has had the chance to visit a set of more than century-old sandstone jail cells, the protection of which led to the society’s founding.

The Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society (BMDHS) formed on 4 October 1968, when a group of like-minded locals banded together to stop the old sandstone jail cells from being moved out of Bacchus Marsh.

Built back in 1857, Society members got the chance to visit and examine the historical buildings last week, with members from Bacchus Marsh Police Station inviting them over for a morning tea.

BMDHS President Barb McMillan said it was fantastic to get the opportunity to see the old cells in-person.

“It was really great, we’ve heard so much about them and seen photos, but to actually see them in real life was absolutely fantastic. Originally, they were located in the police paddocks in Maddingley, and they were moved into Main Street block by block. They were used up until 1960,” she told the Moorabool News.

“The police officers were wonderful, they put on a lovely morning tea for us. It was a great morning, we’re very appreciative of them thinking to invite us to have a look at them. The members who came along really enjoyed the opportunity.”

The sandstone police cells are the oldest the Australian Heritage Commission has dates for, and the oldest on the Heritage Victoria Register.

“They’re either the only example, or one of a few, that they’ve actually got a date for, that’s still around today,” Ms McMillan said.

The lock-up was built by the Public Works Department and consists of a simple two cell rectangular building, made of local sandstone finished to a fair face with the interior lined in timber heavy sawn planks for walls and floors, and logs for the ceiling.