FOSTER’S historic police horse stables and forage store building will be assessed by a structural engineer with a view towards repairing the 131-year-old structure.
South Gippsland Shire Council has had a temporary security fence erected around the timber weatherboard building to prevent public access while professional advice is sought.
The police stables and store are located behind the former Foster Court House, now the home of Manna Gum Community House, on the corner of Station Road and Court Street.
A shire spokesman said that “a heritage adviser has recommended a structural engineer be engaged to determine the state of the [police stables] building and the costs associated with repairing the structure.
“A report is expected to be presented to Council in November 2021.”
Volume 3 Citations of the council-commissioned South Gippsland Shire Heritage Study 2004 says that “the former Foster Court House and police stables, designed by the Public Works Department, [were] constructed in 1889-90, at 33 Station Road, Foster.
“The stable and forage store at the rear of the Court House was erected in 1890 by J Malcolm at a cost of £210/10/-.”
The study goes on to state that the two buildings “are of local historic significance to South Gippsland Shire.
“As the first building in the Shire constructed by the Public Works Department the Court House is highly important in demonstrating both the early importance of Foster as a local commercial centre following the ‘gold rush’ to this area, as well as the beginnings of government and community facilities in the Shire.”
The study also specifically mentions that “as the only surviving evidence of the first police station in Foster, the former stables are important for their ability to further illustrate and assist in interpreting the history of this site.”
The Court House building … “was part of a complex including the police residence, the police stables (a simple gabled structure situated behind the Court House) and, presumably, a lock-up.”
The study “recommended that the former Foster Court House and former police stables at 33 Station [Road], Foster be added to the Schedule to the South Gippsland Planning Scheme Heritage Overlay as an individual place.”
The original timber block flooring of the police stables is still largely intact and may be seen through the open front of the building.
This style of floor had two main purposes; the first one was that it was kinder and warmer for the horses than brick, stone or concrete, while the second was that it was simple to sweep clean and maintain.
The mangers that held the horses’ feed are also still visible.