The iconic Victoria Pavilion at Fremantle Oval is unsafe. Rats have moved in and female staff work next to old toilets now used to store memorabilia.
“We have been here since 1895,” South Fremantle Football Club CEO Stuart Kemp laments outside the empty members stands. “We have contributed greatly to Fremantle. I just feel SFFC has been neglected by the council, which is disappointing because we have been a lifeline for Freo for so long.”
Expecting big crowds at the footy this weekend, Mr Kemp describes the heritage-listed and iconic pavilion as an “occupational health and safety nightmare waiting to happen”.
He says there is no fire-proofing of the stand, the timber structure is frail and rotten and the seats and steps are deteriorating. Exit points are also falling apart.
He describes toilets and amenities in the administration offices under the stand as third-world and there is no fireproof insulation above the roof. All that lies between the roof and the stand is a gap.
“There is a distinct feel and smell of dampness, mould and uncleanliness due to the lack of upkeep of the building.
“The sewerage went a few months ago and we often have the smell of rotten sewage.”
The pavilion is one of several sites included in a Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association survey of city assets: “Council can find $1 million of ratepayers’ money to put into a $1.6 million concrete and landscaped skate park on the grass of the Esplanade Oval, but cannot do basic maintenance for clubs like yours which have been here for over 100 years,” the group tells the SFFC.
Mr Kemp is concerned the council professes a desire to preserve heritage, “however are doing absolutely nothing for the upkeep of the buildings”.
He says the pavilion has not seen a lick of paint for at least 20 years: “Victoria Pavilion is a classical heritage grandstand that needs to stay,” he told the Herald. “It’s up to council to preserve it.”
The 500-seat structure emerged from a design competition run by the council in 1897 and won in January that year by local architect FW Burwell.
The foundation stone was laid in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. Built by Blackman Brothers at a cost of £3650, the pavilion was opened by Premier John Forrest on November 6, 1897.
The pavillon is the oval’s only building of heritage significance, the other buildings and structures constructed after 1960. At the time of construction, it was described in the Inquirer and Commercial News on November 12, 1897, as “a handsome structure”.
In 1965 extensions were built to Parry Road, the old turnstiles were demolished and a new entry built. In 1985-1986, the pavilion was repainted and minor alterations made. In 1988-1989, the council successfully applied for a $40,000 federal national estates grant to spruce up parts of the building, including additional structural support to the floors and painting the entire pavilion.
by CARMELO AMALFI