Our small village of Loch in South Gippsland boasts its very own police lock up. The small gaol sat in the grounds at number 23 Clarence St, which was the town’s old police station from the early 1930’s until the 1980’s, until a new building was built and still remains in Victoria Rd.
The old lock up was transported from the site (in the 1890’s) of the police station on the North Eastern corner of Mary St and Victoria Rd, which now forms part of the skate ramp area behind Sunnyside park. It was then moved by a team of bullocks into Smith St – to a site leased to the police force in 1898, which adjoined the Loch Hall.
So our little Loch up has had four different sites to call home – the fourth and final site gives it pride of place in the beautiful Sunnyside park – not far from where it all began over 120 years ago.
Felling and clearing of Loch and surrounds began prior to the settlement of the village and continued into the early 1900’s. Settlers received financial remuneration to clear the land and begin farming.
In 1876 Loch Village was a hive of activity. The steam train passed through Loch – so the town needed workers to support the system….Loch needed a station master….and workers…they all had families…..the station master’s residence was built…as were houses for the workers,…. the children needed a school to attend…the women needed supplies…the men needed pubs (!)….and so on, and our village thrived in the late 19th century.
The Loch primary school was built in the 1890’s to educate the children of the railway workers. Then stores and services appeared – a black smith, a grocer, a printer, a post office (now a private residence), two butcher shops (one now forms part of the Loch Brewery), a barber, a sadler, a hardware store, a bakery (now Olive At Loch) and a chemist (now Carrington’s Antiques). Loch even boasted a coffin maker and undertakers. Numerous churches appeared and several still remain today.
Gas street lights on Victoria Road had to be manually lit and extinguished every night. The roads were reduced to mud during the winter months. Horses and carts struggled to make the long journey up the muddy track that was Quamby Rd (now the Loch Wonthaggi Rd), to the big smoke of Wonthaggi for supplies.
Our village also had a coffee palace – it seems we all loved coffee back in 1891 too! Services in the town consisted of several banks, a solicitor, a garage from the early 20th century, stables, sale yards, several pubs (the Royal Hotel is now a private residence), boot repairers, a boarding house, several banks – and again one of those banks is now the Loch Brewery.
Several nurses resided in the village, as did Dr Naylor, whose original residence still stands today at number 25 Clarence St. You cannot miss it – there are two original Norfolk pines, which have endured the test of time, still standing in the front yard. The original hospital was built on the corner of Mary St and Victoria Rd – currently a scrap metal yard.
In 1936 the Loch Progress Association formed committees to raise funds to build the Loch Bush Nursing Hospital, on the original Mary St site. The hospital opened and Dr Naylor was appointed the resident doctor. Within two years maintenance and ongoing costs made the original premises unviable. Again committees were formed, funds were raised and the new Loch Bush Nursing Hospital opened in June 1940 at our premises – 13 Clarence St and currently The Old Hospital Loch Village. Sadly once again, financial woes and increasing medical costs forced the closure of the Bush Nursing hospital three years and eleven days later. Eventually we became the much loved and respected Greenhills Hostel for the Aged, until again, financial pressures forced the closure of the home of many local residents. The Korumburra Medical Centre was run in our now manager’s residence for a while, but the building remained empty until it’s 2016/2017 transition to The Old Hospital Guesthouse, where guests are now enjoying relaxing and taking time out to enjoy some country hospitality.
Wandering around our quaint village today, it is easy to transport yourself back to 1876 and imagine the busy little place it was, as Loch is now a “must visit” destination for many visitors wanting to escape and enjoy all our beautiful village and area has to offer, including the Police lock up at Sunnyside park.