An early history of Moss Vale by local historian AVJ 'Jack' Parry was published as a series of articles in the Southern Mail during 1948.
These included a history of the town's police and judicial systems. Extracts in last week's column noted that one constable served at Moss Vale from 1877 and that a substantial police and court precinct, built in 1880 near the railway station, was demolished in 1914.
Parry's police history continues: "One of the officers in charge of Moss Vale was Senior-Sergeant Thorndike, who retired from the force in 1908 after nearly 37 years' service. He had been at Moss Vale for eight years, and was succeeded by Senior-Sergeant Nies.
The Southern Mail of July 21, 1914 said that Moss Vale police stables, which had done duty for the past 30 years, had been demolished to permit duplication of the line and enlargement of the railway station, and the police station and other buildings were to go. The police station was then removed to a building at 306 Argyle Street and functioned there until transferred in September 1923 to the present  premises at the rear of the courthouse. A weatherboard residence in Argyle Street was rented for sergeant's quarters, being vacated on May 21, 1923."
As well, Parry noted that, from 1914, the courts sat in Oddfellows Hall on Argyle Street until the (present) court house opened in 1924. Later research, however, reveals that the Hall was sold in 1921 and, in the interim, the Theatre Royal, now an arcade, housed the courts.
"There is, of course, a natural association between police and the various courts," continued Parry. "The Court was established at Moss Vale on May 31, 1878 and, although the date of the first sittings of the Court of Petty Sessions is not known, the first session of the District Court was held in 1882. Captain Bridges commenced duty as the first Clerk of Petty Sessions from August 22, 1879, and his next two successors were Messrs James Scroggie, from August 1889, and Evan Davies, from July 1896.
The Justice Department's first recorded coroner for Berrima district (incorporating Bowral, Bundanoon, Moss Vale, Mittagong and Robertson) was Andrew D Badgery, JP, who officiated from May 10, 1887 until his death in 1910. Henry W Taylor was appointed on November 20, 1910, resigning on November 6, 1922. He was followed by various other officers, Mr WJ McDonald, JP, having been appointed on May 12, 1948.
According to other records, however, there were even earlier incumbents of the office. The Wollondilly Press of July 17, 1907, reporting the death of Charles Nicholson, at 'Newbury', Sutton Forest, in addition to quoting family items, stated that he had been district coroner for 16 years, the actual period not being stated. Reminiscences in the Bowral Free Press in March 1902 stated that the first postmaster at Berrima was one John Higgins, who was stated also to have been coroner for the Berrima district, and in 1863 the SM Herald referred to Dr Fitzgerald as acting in that capacity.
The earliest known police magistrate to have been stationed at Berrima was Captain Allman, who on retirement was succeeded by Captain Samuel North, transferred thither from Windsor in 1843 or 1844. Although Allman may have been preceded by other officers, the official within whose period as police magistrate the Moss Vale court was established and who, no doubt, officiated there in addition to local JsP, was F R Wilshire, appointed on March 11, 1872.
In this context it is of interest that, on October 23, 1851, the first appointments made to the Commission of the Peace for the Colony, as NSW then was, included the names of Edmund Burke of Mittagong and William John Cordeaux of Bowral.
The Prothonotary of the Supreme Court informs me that in the 1880 Law Almanac, Charles Gale and W Bridges appeared as commissioners for affidavits for Moss Vale, Gale also being registered as a solicitor in partnership with A Betts, of Goulburn. He (Gale) at one time also practised at Berrima and in 1884, besides him, George Nichols was also practising at Moss Vale, and in 1886 Thomas Goodfellow, all three being there in 1886, according to the Incorporated Law Institute."
Parry would be pleased that today Moss Vale continues to be the district's law and order hub.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society - compiled by PD Morton. Part 6 of 6, MV2 series.