Custom House / Police Station
Original photo © Russell Museum

A group of well dressed Russell ladies c1900 enjoying a game of croquet beside the Russell Police Station. Croquet was played at private homes until a croquet club was established after World War I on part of the Kororareka Reserve. The Russell Playcentre stands on the site today.

The Police Station started as the Customs House built in 1870 from a Gothic design by W.H. Clayton, the Colonial Architect for New Zealand. It is one of his first designs providing both accommodation and an office. By the late 1890s visiting whalers were fewer and a small office on the wharf was sufficient. Russell needed a new Police Station so the Police Department was happy to take over the building.

When built, the house had a freestanding chimney rising out of the one storey kitchen at the back. It gradually deteriorated and a cyclone in 1959 felled it in record time.