This article is part of a series of articles based upon information found in “Taking Its Place: A History of Oakleigh” by H. G. Gobbi, 2004.
Prior to 1856 there was no local policing of the area around Oakleigh, and local residents and travellers were constantly anxious about robbery. Theft of cattle and sheep from the mobs being driven through the district was prevalent, as were hold ups of coaches and carts travelling along Dandenong Road between Melbourne and Gippsland. In response to a local petition, a government inspector confirmed that police were indeed needed and he recommended a site for police paddocks near Gardiner’s Creek. In the event, a different parcel of land (ten acres), nearer to Scotchman’s Creek, was selected. This land contained a hut for the first police officer in charge of Oakleigh, Mounted Constable William Bickle, and land for horses which conveyed him and later officers around the Parish of Mulgrave from around 1858.
There being no court house in Oakleigh at that time, police court processes were held at the Oakleigh Hotel. This was not seen as ideal from the viewpoint of the sobriety of witnesses and magistrates successfully lobbied for a grant to build a court house. The building was completed in 1871, one block back from Dandenong Road.
In 1882 a new weatherboard police station and brick police residence was built in Atkinson Street, backing onto the court house. The station included two cells and horse stables. Mounted Constable Gray, in charge of the station from 1878 until 1894, was responsible, with one other officer, for policing an area of forty square miles which included Oakleigh, Rosstown, Notting Hill and Springvale . For assistance the police sometimes called in teachers and Indigenous trackers.
The condition of both the court house and police station had deteriorated by the late 1920s and both buildings were too small for their functions. A replacement court house was erected in 1934, facing onto Dandenong Road, and a new police station opened in Atkinson Street in 1935. By then, stables were unnecessary as a motorcycle now conveyed police around the district.
The Oakleigh Court House was closed in 1994 when its functions moved to Dandenong Magistrates’ Court. The foundation stone for the current Oakleigh Police Station was laid in November 1998.
History Monash Inc joins the community in mourning the deaths of four Victorian police officers on 22 April 2020 whilst undertaking duty on the Eastern Freeway. We thank the police force for protecting the Oakleigh community for around one hundred and sixty years.
Source: H.G.Gobbi: Taking Its Place: A History of Oakleigh 2004