The Brookton Museum and Heritage Centre is located in the old Brookton Police Station, which is recognised as one of the oldest extant buildings in the town, is situated at the southern end of the main street, Robinson Road, on its corner with Groser Street opposite the level crossing over the original Great Southern railway line.
It represents the efforts made between 1906 and 1913 by the growing community of Brookton to attain the status of a town in which law and order was as important as economic and social development. Over the years, until 1970, this substantial building housed a one-man Station and our policemen’s families. The number of policemen working in the Charge Room increased until, in 1980, they were moved to a new, more spacious Station close by with modern housing provided elsewhere in the town.
The Brookton & Districts Historical Society came into existence at a public meeting held in 1977. The need was seen to record the history of the area and to provide a place for community members to see and learn about their heritage. In 1979 the Society moved into the building that was originally the Brookton Agricultural Hall. Its most recent use had been as a kitchen for the Memorial and Lesser Halls but it provided space for the Society to hold its meetings, keep the growing collection of historic objects and to invite the public in to see displays based on special events.
Coincidentally, when the old Police Station became vacant, the Historical Society was asked to shelter a collection of Western Australian Police Force memorabilia. Taking the opportunity to set up a local museum with a different focus to most regional museums, seemed to be a positive step so the campaign to acquire the old Police Station began and came to fruition, with help from many community volunteers, in 1986. The loaned Police Force memorabilia has recently been retrieved by its owner and that has allowed the focus of exhibitions throughout the building to be on the story of Brookton.
With help from the Museum Development Service, the Royal West Australian Historical Society, the Australian Standards for Museums and Galleries along with Museums Australia, the members of the Society have catalogued most of the object collection and learned the art of caring for the whole collection. A professional approach to collecting and cataloguing by means of various policies and plans that have been developed has allowed much refinement in the acceptance of donations.
An additional building, the Display Shed, was built specifically to house a table-top wagon in the mid 1990s using Society funds and some grant money. Conservation of the main building has been a focus for the first decade of the 21st Century with a huge amount of financial help from Lotterywest and the Shire of Brookton.
The custody of Brookton’s heritage continues through the efforts and voluntary work of dedicated members of the Brookton and Districts Historical Society.