Rubble trouble

Fremantle Society president John Dowson says more effort should be made to save this heritage wall at the old Spicers site. Photo by Steve Grant.

THE Fremantle Society is urging developer Fiveight to put more effort into saving a heritage-listed wall at the old Spicers site on the corner of Henderson and William streets.

Fiveight has lodged plans for a six-storey hotel and earlier this year successfully applied to demolish the existing Pine Warehouse building and its rear wall, which pre-dates the overall structure.

No one is sure exactly how old the wall is, but it appears on a 1916 sewerage map and displays building techniques pre-dating the gold rush of the late 19th century, prompting Freo council to list it in the 2000 Fremantle Heritage Survey. A city-wide survey of heritage walls in 2007 recommended it be substantially retained and incorporated into future development.

Fiveight says the wall has deteriorated since then and saving it is no long feasible, particularly as the area will be used as a car park until hotel construction starts later this year.

It has committed to “carefully” deconstructing the wall and storing the pieces so they can later be put into metal “gabion” cages as an artwork.

But society president John Dowson says the developer could try to be more creative with the hotel design and leave the wall in situ. He acknowledges it’s bang in the middle of a planned corridor linking Henderson Street and the High Street Mall, but says a modest opening would be preferable to losing the lot.

“We can’t have too many of those pre-gold rush walls left in Fremantle, and it would be one of the longest,” Mr Dowson said of the 22m x 3m structure.

He’s hoping to get in contact with Fiveight owner Andrew Forrest to urge him to think carefully about the legacy he’ll be leaving in Fremantle with his several investment properties, noting the mining magnate’s great-great uncle Sir John Forrest was so revered as WA premier by the council that no less than two statues were ordered in his honour.

The first, according to the Western Mail in January 1901, was to be a “memorial arch and drinking fountain” outside Fremantle Oval, and the second a plinth which once stood near old traffic bridge but was relocated to a park behind The Kiosk cafe on Beach Street, which was recently damaged by vandals.

The demolition will also see the end of the Numbat mural opposite the Fremantle Markets by Belgian artist Roa.

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