Biddles sweet memories
David Biddles, 71, is a reluctant salesman.
The old Princess Chambers site next to the post office went on sale Wednesday for the first time in more than 100 years—and he doesn’t want to let go.
“I’ve been very close to it,” he told the Herald during a visit to the state and federal heritage-listed site built at the turn of the last century by master pearler Frank Biddles.
The Market Street property is expected to fetch about $4 million.
“I would love not to sell it,” Mr Biddles says. “It is part of Fremantle’s history.
“My grandfather died in 1929,” he told the Herald on the way to a funeral in Perth Thursday.
“I took it over in 1985 and spent much of the past 20 years renovating it.
“The building is as good as new.”
The three-storey site covers about 1146sqm and includes a theatre, built in 1912 and shut in 1969, and a billiard room built because Captain Biddles was a good player.
Only the billiard sign survives.
Captain Biddles was a pearler and pastoralist in Broome who semi-retired in Fremantle in 1902. In 1915, he made the basement of the theatre available for defence personnel.
The building was extensively reconstructed in 1941 and converted to commercial uses after it closed. The ground floor is occupied by Kakulas Sisters and a hairdresser.
It was classified by the National Trust in 1974 and placed on the register of the national estate in 1978.
Fremantle council’s heritage records state the site, “makes a contribution to the streetscape of the old port city of Fremantle”.
It says the place, designed by Edwin Summerhayes is a fine example of a Federation free classical style, with stucco decorations above ground floor.
by CARMELO AMALFI