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The Melbourne Gaol is first referred to in a New South Wales Act of Council in 1840 (4 Vic. No 29) which conferred upon the Sheriff of New South Wales the control of all prisoners confined in the gaol and provided for control in the Port Phillip District by a Deputy Sheriff.
Tenders were called in 1840 for the building of the new Melbourne Gaol. It opened on January 1 1845, the first large modern gaol to be built in the Port Phillip District. The Melbourne Gaol had a role in Victorias prison system as the Remand, Trial and Debtors prison. It also housed all female prisoners until 1894 when they were transferred to the new Female Prison at Pentridge (VA 4141).
The decision was made in 1922 to close the Melbourne Gaol and transfer prisoners to Pentridge. The Melbourne Gaol was closed by proclamation dated 1 October 1924.