There has been speculation in the Fremantle community if the swans on the Townhall would be black or white after the extensive conservation work, but they are neither.
The swans were originally not painted at all, like the rest of the Townhall clocktower, and were only painted black in the 1960s.
The stunning Freo Townhall will be 130 years old on June 22 this year. It was opened on that day in 1887.
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.