Without knowing a little of the history of country New South Wales towns such as Young, Cooma and Goulburn (and there are others) your initial encounter with court houses in these places will undoubtedly cause raised eyebrows. Like me, you will wonder why such grand court houses were built in what are today are rather modest towns in most other respects.
If you have read some of my other reviews on Young you will have ascertained that there was a significant gold rush in Young in the 1860’s and consequently there was no shortage of money in the area.
This court house was built during the period of Young’s consolidation following the town’s gold rush and at a time of general extravagance by the New South Wales Public Works Department when court houses were often built with little or no regard for the needs of the community. The Goulburn court house, incidentally also designed by New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet is an even more indulgent building (see separate review – coming soon!). Barnet also designed the rather grand court house and other civic buildings in Cooma (see separate review on this – coming soon too!). I wonder if Barnet ever left his desk in Sydney!
This rather ornate Victorian Classical style building was Young’s fourth court house.
Young’s first court house was built in early 1861 as part of the Commissioner’s Camp, raised following the discovery of gold. It was destroyed during anti-Chinese riots in July 1861 (more detail in other Young reviews). A weatherboard replacement followed until it was replaced in 1874 by a modest brick court house closer to the centre of town (Lynch Street).
By the 1880s a grander building was deemed necessary. Enter New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet who designed the building you see here today. Construction began in 1884 and two years and 12,000 pounds later the new court house was opened on 6 April 1886.
The building is constructed of stuccoed brick and sports a very impressive double height portico with Ionic columns, topped by a pediment displaying the coat of arms.
It was rarely (twice a year) used as a court house and the 1874 building, in Lynch Street, continued to function as the town’s primary court house. Following calls to make greater use of the building the court house became part of Young’s intermediate high school in 1925 and continues to be used as the current school’s assembly hall. The 1874 court house in Lynch Street (rebuilt in 1928) serves as the town’s court house today (pictured below).
The former court house (this main subject of this review) is not open to the public but can be viewed from Carrington Park.
Address: Campbell St – along-side Carrington Park