The sale of 15 restored Fremantle cottages could soon provide a financial lifeline to other deteriorating government-owned heritage buildings. The WA Government spent $3.3 million to restore the 160-year-old convict-built warders’ cottages and will now sell them. While no price tags have been placed on the cottages, the City of Fremantle, which is looking to buy at least one, has budgeted $800,000.
Doreen Taylor, son Ken Taylor and daughter Sue Radford lived in this cottage. Pictures: Ian Munro/The West Australian
If this is an accurate reflection of the value of each cottage, the total sale price could exceed $10 million. In accordance with the original funding arrangements, the proceeds will go towards the restoration of other WA buildings. “There are a couple of projects we are looking at that will be the next to be funded,” Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said.
The cottages, in Henderson Street, were built from 1851 to house the families of Fremantle Prison warders.
Doreen Taylor, 91, raised a family of seven in one of the two-storey cottages in the 1960s. In those days, her four daughters slept in one room and the toilet was at the bottom of the garden.
A main bedroom
“It’s changed a lot,” she said yesterday. “The walls are in the same place but I hardly recognised the rooms. We had nine people living here … it didn’t seem as small as it does today. And we always had lots of friends pop by. Bon Scott (the AC/DC legend) was a regular visitor because he had an eye for one of my daughter’s friends.”
As part of the restoration work, paint was removed from the cottages’ external limestone walls. The structural integrity of the cottages was restored through the overhaul of drainage and replacement of important joinery and door and window frames.
A downstairs living room
Mr Jacob said the cottages could be used for a variety of purposes, as long as heritage values were respected. “Clearly, they are suitable to be returned to residential use,” he said. “But they can also be sensitively adapted into offices or small commercial premises.”
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the council was keen to buy at least one cottage to give the public access to an important piece of the city’s heritage.
(An example of heritage restoration paying off !)