Fremantle Society Urges Fremantle Council to Restore Their Buildings Properly

North Fremantle Grandstand Not Good Enough for Proper Restoration

There are too many examples in Fremantle where Fremantle Council is not setting the standard when it comes to heritage maintenance and restoration. Today we take a look at the Gilbert Fraser Oval Grandstand in North Fremantle. We were asked by a local company director to investigate. After several letters to council our concerns have been dismissed and local councillors have not responded, because reinstating wooden railings costs more money than steel. But the grandstand is a level 1B building, rated by council to be of ‘exceptional significance’.

The top photo was taken in 1917 just after the grandstand was built. The second photo is photographer Roel Looper’s image from Garry Gillard’s excellent Fremantle Stuff website where valuable information on Fremantle can be found, including a copy of the report John Dowson wrote in 2013 for FICRA titled “Heritage Assets of Fremantle- why so Neglected?” The third photo is the other neglected football grandstand, at Fremantle Oval.

Below is the second letter to the Fremantle Council, which has been ignored. Please support us in this issue by writing to the CEO:

North Fremantle Grandstand

Thank you for the prompt response to our letter.

However, your rationale for the metal railings is not acceptable to the Fremantle Society.

Fremantle Council has an obligation to do the right thing with heritage buildings under their control, and set the standard for the rest of the community to follow. There are now far too many examples of this sort of unacceptable work being carried out, or allowed, in this heritage town.

It is disappointing to see this grandstand, rated level 1b significance in your own heritage inventory, being treated thus, in addition to the poor continuing state of the other football grandstand under your control at Fremantle Oval [third photo above], which the Fremantle Society and South Fremantle Football Club have been trying to get repaired for years.

Council decided, we understand, to do works on the grandstand and had the opportunity with the schedule of works to rectify the non-conforming metal railings from the 1980s and restore the wooden ones.

You state that the right thing was not done because it would have been ‘cost prohibitive’. Could you please send us the estimates for the cost of doing the metal and the wooden railings [they show a cost differential of $40,000].

The North Fremantle Grandstand is, according to your own documents,  part of ‘the most significant recreation area in North Fremantle’ and has ‘high aesthetic values’ and ‘strong landmark qualities’.

Above at the top is a photo of my grandfather Harold Dowson (right) during World War One in 1917 next to the almost brand new grandstand of 1913.

Lieutenant Dowson, officer commanding No. 4, Electrical Company Corps, the first militia engineer officer in the State, would not be impressed. Neither is his grandson.

Please reassess the works.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
July 2019

One Reply to “Fremantle Society Urges Fremantle Council to Restore Their Buildings Properly”

  1. I would love to see all of the steel work replaced in wood, but obviously it will cost more plus would need to be maintained over its lifetime . Cricket and football is played there so balls flying into the wood fencing along the wall could be damaged. Maybe a compromise can be made with the council for the steel along the wall to be painted and at the very least the balustrade in front of the first row of seats be replaced with wood. If the council don’t want to replace the steel that is on the two staircases then have them painted too. But going to the council to do both of these areas would be the ideal. This solution would keep the costs lower .

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