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Artefacts found at Children's Court site

Issued: Saturday, 30 July 2016

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The $38 million redevelopment of the old Children's Court in Surry Hills started on the right foot with an historic 'good luck' boot found in the building's original fireplace. 

Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said the discovery of the boot reveals the historical importance of the site, which is being sensitively redeveloped to retain its legacy.    

"Archaeologists believe the ankle boot was deliberately hidden in the 105-year-old building, just like a horse shoe is hung on the door of a house," Ms Upton said. 

Archaeologist David Marcus said the length and design of the boot found at the Children's Court suggests it was for a teenager in the early 20th Century.  

"There's growing evidence that shoes were superstitiously hidden in walls and fireplaces in the early 1900s, which is when the Children's Court and adjacent boys' shelter were constructed," Mr Marcus said. 

"We think one of the builders placed it there to bring good luck and to protect the boys living at the shelter and those who were visiting the court." 

The Balmoral front lace boot with toe-cap and punched edge has been added to the International Register of Concealed Shoes, kept by Northampton Museum in the UK.  

Other artefacts found at the Children's Court site include the remains of old lotion and milk bottles and the footings of 19th Century terrace houses. 

The Court sat at Albion Street between 1911 and 1983 and operated as a shelter for boys for most of that period.  

As part of the redevelopment the original façade will be retained and new facilities will include four state-of-the art courtrooms with Audio Visual Link technology, a private witness evidence room, alternative dispute resolution facilities, holding cells, interview rooms for the legal profession and rooms for support agencies.  

Demolition work at the site has been completed and bulk excavation is underway.

The historic Children's Court is due to reopen in the second half of 2017.