Architect jacked with ruined walls

A RETIRED White Gum Valley architect who once saved a convict-built wall on South Terrace with an audacious lie has urged WA Police to rethink cutting the wall for a new station.

Police are planning to remove 20 metres of the wall to provide pedestrians and police cars safe access to the new $100 million station, which was announced as a Covid-recovery project.

“These fast-disappearing relics of colonial Fremantle are very precious, with high architectural heritage and historic value,” Mr Payne said.

He said back in the late 1970s he was driving past a recently-constructed wing of Fremantle Hospital when he saw a workman with a jackhammer demolishing the colonial-built wall out the front. It carries the same distinctive jagged capping as the section outside the proposed station, which the Chook believes was part of the original fabric of Fremantle’s convict depot.

• Part of this convict-built wall is to be removed for a police station.

Jumping out of his car, Mr Payne demanded that the worker stop, and when confronted about who’d given such an order he lied and said Fremantle council and “the client”.

“He threw down his jackhammer and walked off swearing,” Mr Payne said.

“I drove over to council – fully open to public visits in those times – and went up to the building/planning people on the third floor.

“Quick access to interested and involved officers was the key.”

Mr Payne said the council officers lived up to their promise to save the wall, and later that day the Public Works department agreed it could stay.

“So the South Terrace colonial limestone walls that run from Alma Street to the old synagogue on Parry Street are special, both in the above personal sense; and as remnants of heritage walls that were once ubiquitous in Fremantle.

“Do I really have to drive past the same walls 40 years later, and again harass some poor bugger who’s just trying to do his job?”.

Mr Payne has urged resident to write to the council and send the Chook a letter to the editor.

“We can only save what we appreciate and designate as having high value,” Mr Payne said, adding “storming the council” was no longer an option.

“The council barricades are just too well defended these days,” he said.


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