Lock-up (Former)

107 Bridge Street, Bulls

  • Lock-up (Former). October 2003. Arrow shows lock-up attached to rear of house.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.
  • Lock-up (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Blyss Wagstaff. Date: 15/11/2013.
  • Lock-up (Former). October 2003. Interior showing door to lock-up.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2822 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the former Lock-up building, including its doors and door hardware, but excludes the attached residence and land on which the building is located.

City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 14 Blk B Deeds Plan 44 (CT WN330/134)


Located adjacent to the site of the first and the current police station and opposite the former courthouse, the former Lock-Up at Bulls is part of a landscape of local legal history.

Bulls was the Rangitikei County's first township, and was therefore one of the first towns in the region to have its own judicial facilities. The first courthouse in Bulls was constructed in 1865 and a baliff with the powers of a police constable was appointed to assist the Resident Magistrate when the court was in session. The town's first full-time police officer, District Constable Francis McAnulty, was stationed at Bulls from 1866. In 1874 the first police station was constructed on Bridge Street. The Resident Magistrate's Court (Category II historic place) was rebuilt in 1882 opposite the police station, which was itself rebuilt the following year.

It is unclear where Bull's offenders were held prior to 1883. The first record of a lock-up at Bulls is the call for tenders in the local newspaper for the construction of the two-cell style lock-up typical to police stations of the time. A lock-up was constructed shortly afterwards at the rear of the police station's rectangular section, in front of the stable and chaff room. District Constable William Manning moved into the new station building in February 1884, and payment for the newly completed lock-up was authorised in June of that year.

The lock-up was built from solid native timbers and had a roof of corrugated iron. Rectangular in shape, the small building consisted of two cells with doors that opened directly into the yard. The doors were 7.6 centimetres (3 inches) thick and were hung on sturdy iron hinges. There were no windows, but light filtered into the cells via the bars at the very top of the doors. The cells were too small to hold prisoners for any length of time. Serious offenders appear to have been transferred to larger prisons in either Palmerston North or Wanganui, and the cells were probably used only to hold those awaiting trial at the Magistrate's Court, or as overnight 'coolers'.

In 1910 a police residence was constructed on the section immediately behind the police station. By 1921 the station had been relocated to Criterion Street, rolled down the street on power poles, and the fourth police station was then constructed on the site behind the original cell-block and the residence. This station was itself replaced in 1965.

Prior to 1971, when new cell-blocks were constructed, the 1884 lock-up was removed and placed behind the house next door. It is unclear when the lock-up was relocated, but it appears to have been when the house was in the ownership of a Mr Logan. Member of the Logan family owned the house between 1921 and 1960. Given that the fourth police station was built behind the one constructed in 1910, which was itself built back from the road, it is possible that the cells were relocated at this point to make way for the new structure. If the reference to the Logans is incorrect, then it is also possible that the cells were relocated when the new cells were constructed in 1971.

The house behind which the cells were relocated was a two-storey cottage built in 1875 for Richard Hammond and his wife Edith Tyerman. Hammond was the third son of the well-known local Mathew Hammond, who established Killeymoon Farm and Homestead. Richard Hammond moved into Killeymoon in 1876, selling his humble cottage to E. H. Dorkin, who later sold it to the entrepreneur F. J. Mansell after whom Mansell's Corner was named.

The lock-up has since been incorporated into the house. It was converted into a wash-house and bathroom, and the walls and floors of the cells were relined. The doors of the cells continue to hide the house's washhouse, and they now open up into the present owner's living room. However, the community remains aware of the lock-up's presence and it is visited by tourists and school children.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The former Lock-Up at Bulls is representative of the two-cell lock-ups constructed in small towns throughout New Zealand. Constructed in the late nineteenth-century, the cells have been modified to accommodate a bathroom and washhouse. Despite this, the structure still has a powerful ability to recreate the atmosphere of the time when the lock-up was in use. The original doors, which remain in close to their original condition, still bear the kick-marks of prisoners held in the cells. The lock-up remains close to the police station (1965) and its original site, which has been used for police purposes since 1874. The lock-up is also situated across the road from the courthouse that was constructed just one year before it, and which it presumably served. The lock-up is therefore an integral part of the judicial landscape of the town.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place: The community continues to be aware of the presence of the lock-up in the town, and the current owners receive inquiries about it from schools and from tourists. It is likely that the book by Ray Carter in 1988, which featured the lock-up, assisted to raise the profile of the structure.

(f) The potential of the place for public education: Despite the conversion of the building into a washhouse, the cells have a powerful ability to transport visitors back to the time to when offenders were held in the lock-up. This is chiefly due to the small nature of the cell rooms, and to the doors, which are in close to their original condition.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place: The lock-up is representative of the lock-ups constructed next to police stations in small towns throughout New Zealand in the late nineteenth century. The thickness of the doors and the strength of the hardware used to construct them speaks eloquently of the building's function.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape: The lock-up was constructed as an integral part of the Bulls police and judicial complex. It remains close to the Resident Magistrate's Court that was built just one year prior to the lock-up. It is next to its original site, which continues to feature the Bulls police station. The three structures together speak of the long history of the police and judiciary in the town.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The former Bulls Lock-Up is located to the rear of a house constructed in 1875. It is just metres from its original location behind the neighbouring Bulls Police Station and is across the road from the courthouse it originally served.

The lock-up has two separate single cells, whose sole access is via heavy timber doors. The doors are approximately 7.6 centimetres (3 inches) thick. They are hung on iron hinges and feature hand-forged iron nails. The cells were originally lit by the light that filtered through the bars at the top of the doors, but windows have since been incorporated into the sides of the building. The interior has been used for utility purposes since the relocation of the building and the walls and floor have been re-clad in modern materials.

Construction Dates

1865 -
First courthouse constructed

1874 -
First police station constructed

1882 -
Second courthouse constructed

1883 -
Second police station constructed

1883 -
Tenders for new lock-up called for

Original Construction
1884 -
Lock-up completed

1910 -
Third police station constructed

1921 -
Second police station relocated and fourth built

1921 - 1974
Possible date range for lock-up relocation

1965 -
Fifth police station constructed

1977 -
Building first inspected by NZHPT

Construction Details

Timber frame, externally clad in shiplap weatherboards, corrugated iron roof, doors of solid, vertical timber slabs with hand-forged iron hinges and nails. Original internal wall and floor claddings covered over with modern materials such as hardboard and vinyl.

Completion Date

8th September 2004

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

'Burnett Family Papers', 1829-1895, MS-Papers-1454

Burnett, 1995

R. Burnett, 'Hard Labour, Hard Fate and a Hard Bed; New Zealand's Search for its own Penal Philosophy', Wellington, 1995

Carter, 1988

R. Carter, Beyond the Call of Duty; A History of the Palmerston North Police District, Palmerston North, 1988

Hunt, 1998

V Hunt, Hammond Family History, Wanganui, 1998

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

Deed 172/456, Wellington Registry

Deed 241/474, Wellington Registry

Deed 241/475, Wellington Registry

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the Central Region of the NZHPT.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.