It is fantastic to see the positive changes at the Fremantle Bathers Beach House, formerly the Fishermen’s Coop building. The drab building that once housed a McDonalds, Dome, Wagamama an The Sicilian is going to be Freo’s White House at historic Bathers Beach, with great alfresco areas and a huge first floor deck that overlooks the Indian Ocean.
The Bathers Beach House will be taken over by a 600 patron tavern, a 250 patron small bar and the Sweetlips fish&chips shop is also refurbished and will also have a liquor license.
Builders Psaros are doing an excellent job on the exterior and the new venue should open by mid November.
Something Fremantle Councillor Josh Wilson said at the special council meeting last night made me think about when does heritage start and when does it stop, and does it?
When does a modern building become heritage, what time frame do we allow for that? Does a building need to be off a certain age before it reaches heritage statue? For example, the Fremantle Maritime Museum is a heritage building for me, because it is iconic and of architectural excellence, but has it been acknowledged and listed as that yet?
How beautiful does a building have to be before acquiring the heritage stamp? Look at the Warders, Pilot’s, and Married Quarter cottages in Freo. They are not exactly building of great visual delight and high-standard architecture, but they are heritage listed because of their age and historic significance.
So if blandness and mediocre design are not an impediment to receive heritage status, why are not all old buildings perceived to have heritage significance. Should not any building over, let’s say, 100 years-old be considered a heritage building, no matter how ugly it is.
I was contemplating that when I saw footage of residential streetscapes of workers cottages in England, not dissimilar to the streetscapes of the suburb in Hague in the Netherlands, I was brought up in. They have real appeal in their utter plainness and they have been there for a very long time, and are an important reminder of how people lived after WW II, and even now they are still the homes of many working class or poor families. Are they heritage or just boring design of the 50s?
Could the modern display homes, that are like an IKEA catalogue for uninspiring buildings, become heritage of the future, because there are so many of these boring buildings, so that they need to be recognised as having heritage significance because they show the lifestyle of a certain era?
I find it fascinating to think about these things, so what do you think?
Maybe the full moon is to blame, but there is a sadness and bewilderment in me that we in Fremantle still have to keep fighting to preserve heritage and character in our city. It should be a given for developers and our Councillors that the preservation of Fremantle’s uniqueness is not something that will be compromised, no matter how good a deal we are being promised by developers.
Let me make it absolutely clear that I am not against change, progress and new development. In fact I would really love to see many new outstanding modern buildings in the CBD, which enhance and compliment the beauty of our city and heritage buildings, and I am definitely not talking about mock-heritage, but stand-alone iconic modern architecture.
But why, whenever new development is proposed, does the 44 year-old Fremantle Society still have to step in, address Council, write submissions, talk to Elected Members and try to preserve what should not even be debatable. Heritage preservation should not be an issue, it should be the norm that has no exceptions, a local policy set in concrete that won’t budge for big money and even bigger promises.
It should not be up to local community groups like the Society, Fremantle Inner City Residents Association, Ratepayers and Residents Association, and precinct groups, to constantly having to remind Council that we are not willing to compromise our past and heritage, and that is not because we are against change, but simply because we believe change can happen in those areas where it does not compromise heritage.
The owners of Atwell Arcade for example also own the dreadful Target and Gloria Jeans buildings just east of Kings Square, so why do they see the need to compromise the Atwell Arcade’s heritage when they could have what they want by building a new modern building on the Target site, that would be the neighbour of the planned new hotel just down the road in Adelaide Street.
I am a bit tired of constantly having to speak negatively about new development, because the proposals are inappropriate for Fremantle. I would so much like to stand up in Council Chambers and tell everyone how much I love a new amazingly designed new building for our city, but sadly we only seem to be getting mediocrity instead of greatness, and blandness instead of visual delight.
Wikimedia Commons celebrates its 10th anniversary, so congratulations and thank you to all those volunteers around the world for uploading information and photos!
In Fremantle we owe a special thank you to those volunteers who have been writing historic information of Fremantle and uploaded it to Wiki. Without them the Freopedia QR Code Project would not have been possible, and it will only grow with the support of people willing to do research, write articles, take and scan photos, and upload it all to Wikimedia.
22 million+ images make Wikimedia Commons the world’s largest freely licensed educational media repository.
More than 22 million media files have been uploaded by the Wikimedia volunteer community over the decade since Commons came into being. The Wikimedia Foundation have a dedicated community of creators and institutions who continue to share their images and other media so that the project has flourished and will continue to thrive.
In the past ten years, creators have contributed to Commons in a variety of ways, including the annual Wiki Loves Monuments contest, which is currently inviting submissions through the end of September. The Guinness Book of World Records named Wiki Loves Monuments the largest photo contest in the world, and it has inspired more 900,000 image uploads since 2010.
It is disappointing to read that Mount Lawley will be having the Beaufort Street Art Market the first Sunday of each month. I suggested an art market at Arthur Head about four years ago but received little support from the City of Fremantle.
A weekly art market would put the struggling Bathers Beach Art Precinct on the map, but I think that would only happen if there was private initiative for it.
By the way, COF, on the new Visit Fremantle website the BBAP is suddenly referred to as the Arthur Head Art Precinct. The last thing the artists up there need is confusing branding, so can we please stick with the right name Bathers Beach Art Precint.
Being a volunteer tour guide at the Fremantle Round House is a real pleasure to do. They are very positive and relaxing days where one meets people from all over Australia and the world.
Yesterday we had people from Canada, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Korea, England, Ireland, Malaysia, USA, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine, Netherlands, China, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne, Broome, etc.
It is so good to hear all the compliments on how well Fremantle has preserved its heritage and how beautiful the west end buildings are, while at the same time getting the complaints that cities like Perth have neglected to do so.
Never underestimate the importance of history and our connection to it. It makes us grounded and gives us a sense of belonging.
If you want to volunteer a day at the Round House, contact the Fremantle Volunteer heritage Guides!
The article below by City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator architect Alan Kelsall is a bit long for a blog post, but I believe it is important we understand why the City does certain ways of maintenance on heritage buildings, so here it is in full. Thank you Alan for the detailed explanations!
The building in question is on the corner of High and Henry streets and home to Brooker Furniture and the relocated New Edition bookshop.
Urgent conservation works were recently undertaken to the parapet and gables of the Union Stores building at the corner of High and Henry Streets in the West End.
The external walls of the Union Stores building were constructed using what are now described as traditional construction. As with nearly all 19th and early 20th century buildings in Fremantle, the conservation works in part consisted of doing what was necessary to allow the fabric of the building to perform as originally intended. In other words, removing the well-intentioned but damaging ‘repairs’ of the past 30 years that had been carried out using modern materials often hoping to reduce the need for regular maintenance.
The mistakes of the recent past stem from not recognising the benefits of allowing the walls of traditionally constructed buildings to breathe, which in turn led to the importance of the contribution made by traditional materials to this process being undervalued. Traditional materials, such as lime-based mortars and limewash, are permeable whereas modern building materials, such as acrylic paints, sealers and cement render and mortars are not. Traditional materials allow the walls to breathe and bring about the natural evaporation of any moisture and, importantly, cause the salts carried by the moisture to migrate slowly towards the surface and accumulate there.
The removal of the low permeability acrylic paint and cement render from the parapet has allowed this process to begin at the Union Stores building. As a result, a large amount of salt has come to the surface in a very short period. This is a good sign because previously the fine pores of the brickwork could not accommodate the increasing accumulation of salts and were eventually broken apart by the expansive forces of salt crystallisation. This led to the slow but severe deterioration of the bricks as can be seen in the photograph of the inside face of the parapet. .This deterioration is caused salt attack and it is the principal cause of decay in masonry buildings in Fremantle.
A further benefit of lime mortars and renders is that they are softer than the original masonry and tend to decay over time rather than the masonry. Hence the sacrificial decay of lime mortars and renders is a useful way of managing salt damp because it protects significant fabric and in the long term it usually proves to be the most cost effective way of caring for a building because it is cheaper and easier to re-point at regular intervals than it is to replace the brickwork.
Fremantle’s maritime environment means it will not be possible to completely cure the salt damp. Instead Council’s strategy is to adopt a maintenance approach to manage the problem by ensuring that the salt concentration occurs relatively close to the surface and, as with any maintenance programme, it will require periodic renewal of decayed fabric. Given the severity of the problems caused by the long-term build up of salts within the walls this is going to take time and further repairs before the walls are effectively desalinated to a point where the cycle of wetting and drying causes little decay of the fabric.
Good news for the east CBD of Fremantle with the fences going up, to start demolishing the buildings, at Point/Queen Adelaide Street for the construction of the Hilton Hotel on that site.
The development of that area of inner city Freo will be very welcome to retailers there who have been subjected to anti-social behaviour for many years.
With the refurbishment of Clancys and the restoration of the former Boys School/FTI one can envisage Princess May Park becoming a true green open space with seats, barbeques,public artworks, etc.
Tom Wearne and his partner Lindsey Matthews have opened a new cafe in Fremantle’s historic west end. Studio 37 Coffee Bar is at ground level of the PS Art Studios on the corner of Pakenham and Leake streets in a cavernous exhibition and events space that has got great ambience.
Tom is well-known in Freo as the former manager of the Moore&Moore cafe and barista at Chalkys. The coffee at STUDIO 37 is of course excellent because Tom really cares about his beans and does his research about blends, single origin, etc.
The cafe is following the new Melbourne trend away from wraps and paninnis to jaffles prepared by chef Ryan. Try the spaghetti bolognaise and cheddar one, or the banana, nutella and cinnamon, or tandoori chicken with Emmental and spinach.
There are also muffins, salted caramel and other sweets, salads and daily soups, so try it out for yourself. It’s just around the corner from High Street.