Scaffolding will gradually come down from next week on the Fremantle Townhall.
I was given an exterior tour of the conservation works on Friday by City of Fremantle heritage coordinator architect Alan Kelsall and heritage project officer Gena Binet and Zac of the building contractors and was very impressed with the very detailed and substantial work involved in the $ 3.1 million project.
The Townhall project is the largest conservation work the city has ever undertaken and was necessary because of the deterioration of the building due to paint that did not allow the building to breath and suffocated the building, hence salt and moisture had badly damaged large areas.
Don’t expect a brightly-painted building as it has been brought back to its original stucco look of 1887.
About the town hall restoration
Before current restorative works were undertaken it had been almost thirty years since the last major capital expenditure on the Fremantle Town Hall.
Since mid-2016 a large team of skilled stonemasons, plasterers, lead workers and slate roofers with specialist traditional skills have transformed the exterior of the town hall building using traditional building methods.
Key elements such as the roof cladding and drainage systems needed to be replaced urgently to protect the building from ongoing deterioration prevent the loss of culturally significant features and address concerns about public safety.
Gutters and downpipes were too small to cope with current extreme weather events and have led to ongoing damage to the interior of the building. These elements have all been enlarged.
There were also ongoing issues caused by inappropriate surface treatments and repairs to masonry elements carried out in the1950s–60s. At this time there was little understanding of best practice conservation which had unfortunately led to the ongoing deterioration of masonry, embedded steel and timbers and decorative stucco work in the town hall.
During the works, it was discovered some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works were required. To prevent further deterioration of the building and to make use of scaffolding already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.
P.S. Stunning views from the top of the Townhall so I will post some scenic photos of Fremantle next week and have requested a rooftop bar and a granny flat for me to be included in the renovations.
It took a week but the City of Fremantle has responded to questions asked by Freo’s View reader Kel Smith regarding the Townhall renovations:
Conservation works have been progressing well on the Fremantle Town Hall with most tasks to be completed by Christmas as originally planned.
However it has been discovered during the works, that some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works are now required to conserve the façades and tower and make them structurally sound. To prevent further deterioration of the building, and to make use of the existing infrastructure already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.
At November’s meeting, council allocated a further $370,000 to the project budget to complete these additional works. The percentage of this budget allocated to scaffold costs is a commercial confidentiality for the contractor but is considerably less than the speculated figure of $750,000.
The completion date for the entire project is currently being negotiated with the contractor but at this stage, has been extended into 2017.
The scaffold surrounding the building will be gradually dropped as the works are completed, starting with the upper levels of the tower and then working around the building from Kings Square into William Street. This is anticipated to occur in early 2017.
The City is very keen to have the project finished as soon as possible but does not want to rush this important once-in-a-generation conservation project that will enhance and protect our iconic town hall for the enjoyment of future generations.
Freo’s View reader Kel asked questions about the Fremantle Townhall renovations, so here some info:
The City is undertaking a major $2.8m project to conserve the exterior of the historic Fremantle Town Hall. The purpose of the work is to prevent further deterioration to the building occurring due to water penetration through the roof and undersized down pipes and gutters and the entrapment of moisture and salts in the masonry walls.
The works will replace the deteriorated roof and down pipes and gutters and carry out masonry and joinery conservation at roof level. Works will also be undertaken to conserve the clock tower roof and the High Street, William Street and tower facades.
Reinstatement of the spectacular slate roofs with cast iron finials together with the removal of paint on the facades to reveal the original stucco finish of the Town Hall will enhance the presentation and character of the Kings Square Precinct.
Conservation of the external shell of the Fremantle Town Hall will also prepare the way for future refurbishment of the interior of the building that will be undertaken in conjunction with the construction of the future new Fremantle Library and Civic Administration Building.
The City’s program of works will follow the guidelines set out in the nationally recognised ICOMOS Burra Charter for heritage conservation and the recommendations of the Fremantle Town Hall Conservation Plan (1985/ 2004) by Considine and Griffiths Architects. The works will include:
Replace all roof cladding and roof drainage system:
Reinstating slate roof cladding and cast iron finial and balustrade details to the feature roofs (turrets, mansard roof)
Reinstate flat metal sheeting to flat roofs, dormer windows etc.
Reinstate corrugated galvanised steel sheet cladding to the concealed roofs and auditorium roof
Conserve all timber joinery including doors, windows, roof trims, flagpoles etc.
Conserve all rendered masonry by removing impermeable paint and cement renders and make good with lime render, lime mortar and natural hydraulic lime to match original
Conserve iron portico columns, treat rust and repaint.
Work is estimated to finish in late 2016 but at present it looks like it might go into early next year.
On the job at the restoration of the historic Fremantle Townhall.
I have contacted a few Queens Councils to see if they’d do pro bono work for me and find out what all this undercover work is all about at the City of Fremantle. I am getting more and more worried that Elected Members and Directors meet people behind closed doors in the administration building and not openly at Kings Square. What have they got to hide, I wonder?
When I noticed this cover up today I immediately suspected foul play by the City’s heritage coordinator Alan Kelsall. He might be a big fan of huge graffiti murals on heritage buildings, so I am in full anxiety mode about the beautiful Townhall.
Hopefully one of the QCs will take pity on me and do a thorough investigation on what goes on behind the covers of the Fremantle Townhall.
and in advance my apologies to those who feel offended, but spring is in the air, the sun is shining, and sometimes life should just be a bit of fun.
Was an absolute delight to see the exteriors of the historic Fremantle Warders Cottages in Henderson Street restored to their old glory.
I have been so frustrated about the disgraceful neglect of these important heritage cottages for many years and I will never forget the early action by the Fremantle Society, under my presidency, when we did our SHAME campaign one early Saturday morning, attaching old socks to the fences spelling out the word Shame a few times.
The future of the cottages is still uncertain as the State Government wants to strata title them, against the wishes of Fremantle Council.
The eyesore next to the Fremantle Markets is now gone and it would be good if the City of Fremantle took the 11 parking bays aways and make the Henderson Street Mall a real mall without car access. There are two large parking areas just a minute walk away and the Parry Street car park is just a three-minute walk from there.
Fremantle is now an even more beautiful place with the Gunners Cottages and old Boys School renovated and soon to be occupied, and work under way at the Townhall as well. We should be proud of our heritage and always look after it as a priority!
The Fremantle Townhall looks a bit like a Christo artwork all wrapped in fabric, but John Curtin does not seem to be too happy about it.
Of course it is not art but the overdue restoration of the exterior of the historic building.
Down the road in Henderson Street the Warders Cottages have received a new roof. It is darker than the ones at the Fremantle Arts Centre and old Boys School and a lot less shiny. I think it looks pretty acceptable.
Scaffolding is going up at the Fremantle Townhall for the well overdue exterior restoration of the heritage building at Kings Square.
It is a real shame that the City of Fremantle does not have more money available to do more regular maintenance of the City owned historic buildings, but at least we have seen an improvement over the last two years with work done at the Old Boys School, the Evan Davies building, the one on the corner of High and Henry streets, and now the Townhall.
The heritage listed restored Fremantle Gunners Cottages Married Quarters at Cantonment Hill were officially unveiled yesterday by Defence Housing Australia, and it is a delight to see the old cottages looking all great again and ready to be occupied by Defence personnel after they were vacant for many years and left to deteriorate badly.
The cottages have all been given names of s0ldiers who served and died in wars, with signs behind the buildings explaining who these soldiers were. The one big disappointment for me is the use of colourbond fences at the pathway steps that show blatant disrespect for the historic significance of the site.
It took a lot of pressure and lobbying from the City of Fremantle, Melissa Parke MP and the Femantle Society to finally get some action from the Defence Department, who have added a few more houses to the ten old cottages which have great views over the harbour and are an easy fifteen-minute-walk to the Freo CBD.
Once the Cantonment Hill masterplan gets implemented the cottages will be at a prime location next to Fremantle’s most stunning park that has sensational ocean and river views and promises to become THE spot to be to watch the sunset.
It is fantastic and long overdue to see significant heritage restoration in Fremantle with the Warders Cottages in Henderson Street also under way and the City of Fremantle ready to spend around $ 2 million on fully restoring the dilapidated Townhall.