It has been another very big week for Freo. In fact I can confidently say this has been one of the most satisfying weeks in my time as Mayor. On the back on the transformative Kings Square project, I felt especially proud and pleased with the State Listing of Fremantle’s amazing West End. These two projects side by side powerfully demonstrate Fremantle is both encouraging quality new investment AND protecting and promoting the wonderful heritage assets we have like never before.
Fremantle’s West End this week, became the largest single place to be included in the State Register of Heritage Places and it covers nearly 200,000sqm and features 250 buildings, many embodying the exuberance of the gold boom era when Fremantle was a thriving port town.
Bounded by Market Street to the east, Collie Street and Marine Terrace to the south, Little High Street to the west and including both sides of Phillimore Street to the north, it has an important story to tell about the State’s early history and development.
Heritage Minister Albert Jacobs gave a great speech in Fremantle to announce this that I though was worth sharing:
The proposal to heritage list Fremantle’s West End was always an ambitious goal from the start…
It involved a 200,000 square metre area, including approximately 250 buildings, and requiring conversations with 400 owners.
It will come as no surprise that this project has kept the State Heritage Office very busy for most of the year gone.
As Minister for Heritage, I am fortunate in merely having to digest the sum of all this work – a hefty 500-page report that outlined the project.
The report assured me of several key things:
the well-considered nomination put forward
the comprehensive work done to share information and engage with stakeholders
the conclusion that Fremantle’s West End is an area rich in its own distinct history.
Truth be told, it was easy for me to make the decision because, together, the places within this area help tell the story of the development of Fremantle and also Western Australia.
As such, it gives me great pleasure to announce that West End, Fremantle will be the newest addition to the State Register of Heritage Places.
Fremantle’s West End is the largest single place to be included in the State Register.
I have consistently been referring to the West End as one place because that is entirely the rationale of its cultural-heritage significance.
Yes, individual places within West End have their unique stories, but the precinct, as one discrete area, offers a snapshot of Fremantle as a thriving port city business district during the gold boom.
The heritage listing of a precinct this size is, in itself, rare.
However, the sheer density of heritage buildings in an area this size makes the heritage listing of West End rare, on a national scale.
It is always a little difficult to make a definitive comparison with so many variables, but our research suggests that there is no other similar precinct that is heritage listed on a State level in Australia.
The inclusion of West End in the State Register will enhance its profile as a tourist precinct, potentially increase visitor numbers, and ultimately give businesses a real economic boost.
Registration brings with it other benefits… private owners of State Registered places are also able to apply for funding to help with the cost of conservation planning or projects through the Heritage Council’s annual Grants Program.
We are all familiar with the well-known saying: ‘Adapt and survive’
In many ways, West End has proved itself flexible enough to do just that, with a significant part of the precinct now enjoying new life as the Notre Dame University.
The proliferation of popular bars, eateries and speciality shops that have been adapted from heritage buildings in the area are testimony to the fact that heritage is good for business.
However, the West End still retains much of its original maritime identity as even today, many businesses that continue to service the maritime industry remain established in the West End.
I am truly excited about the inclusion of West End in the State Register.
I spoke of this as an ambitious project, but the heritage listing of West End also speaks of collaboration and partnerships.
I’d like to acknowledge:
the City of Fremantle, who had the initial vision and nominated the West End for State registration
the heartening support of owners like you, Michael and Eleni (from Kakulas Sister), who also understand the benefits of registration and championed the cause in the community
the tremendous work undertaken by the State Heritage Office in coordinating the heritage assessment, community engagement and providing me with the information I needed to make this decision.
Thank you all.