Former City Watch House

345–355 Russell Street, Melbourne 3000

The Former City Watch House operated as Melbourne’s central custody centre or ‘holding place’ for people arrested and awaiting trial. For almost a century, every person arrested in Melbourne was lodged in the City Watch House opposite the Russell Street Police Station.

Today the cell block reverberates with the sounds of tourists walking where some of Australia’s most infamous prisoners were once held. The precinct includes Melbourne’s oldest prison, the historic Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House and has been the heart of crime, law and order in Melbourne since the 1840’s. Bushranger Ned Kelly and notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor have spent time within its walls.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be arrested? The Watch House Experience is a 40 minute interactive experience like no other. With a Charge Sergeant as guide, visitors are ‘arrested’ and encounter what it is like to be locked up. Nothing has changed in this minimalist site since the police and inmates left in the 1990’s. After the role play, visitors self guide through the watch house taking in sound points and multimedia imagery that is educational and informative.