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Albany a heritage hotspot with new listings

Apr 23, 2018

Image of Albany Co-operative Society Building - beforeImage of Albany Co-operative Society - after

  • The addition of three places to the State Heritage Register will help improve tourism, support the creation of jobs and boost the local economy
  • Albany's Wesley Church spire, a landmark feature of the city's skyline since 1891
  • 148-year-old Albany Co-operative Society Building, built by the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Navigation Company (P&O Shipping), played a key role in Albany's early commercial activities
  • Former Albany State School Group includes public school buildings, the Headmaster's house and garden - dating from the 1890s

The addition of three places to the State Register of Heritage Places will cement Albany's reputation as a heritage hotspot and help boost tourism, supporting the creation of jobs and boosting the local economy.

Albany's Wesley Church Group - including a church, manse, and three halls - is an excellent example of a church complex designed in a variety of gothic architectural styles.

The church group has strong community significance as the hub of Methodism in the region, as well as ties to many prominent citizens who contributed at various times to its physical and social development.

The church itself was constructed between 1889 and 1891, as Albany's population boomed following the opening of the Great Southern Railway. A telling sign of the optimism in Albany at the time, it was built to seat 450 people despite only having 33 members.

Notable architects and builders of the church group include architects Alfred M. Bonython (church, 1891), George Johnston (manse, 1903), James Hine (Albert Hall, 1914), and Harold Smith (Kindergarten Hall, 1958), as well as builders Charles Layton (manse, 1903), and Alexander Thomson (Albert Hall, 1914). 

Today, the Wesley Church Group remains in use for various church purposes including worship and community events.

The former Albany State School comprises an intact group of public school buildings including a Headmaster's house and former garden, and was developed to cater for Albany's growing population during the 1890s gold boom in Western Australia.

The primary school and infants school were designed in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, and the primary school, designed by prominent Perth architect George Temple Poole in 1895, includes a fine example of a large central hall of exceptional design quality.

The school buildings form a significant precinct in the historic centre of Albany, and the adjacent Alison Hartman Gardens that were once part of the early layout of the school, contribute to the historic streetscape of York Street.

The Albany Co-operative Society Building was purpose-built in 1870 by P&O Shipping agent William Clifton. The building housed one of Australia's first ever co-operative societies.

Mr Clifton established the member-owned society in 1867 to improve the welfare of the company's employees, who could not afford the high cost of basic provisions in Albany.

Three years later, the Albany Co-operative Society Building was constructed by local carpenter and builder John Underwood Green, on the corner of Frederick and Spencer streets.

A freestanding, two-storey granite and brick structure - designed predominantly in the Victorian Regency style - it included a manager's residence, store and shop.

Since the co-operative's closure in 1883, the building has been used as a railway barracks, guest house, and storage facility for the Albany Historical Society.

In 2017, the City of Albany completed extensive conservation works to restore the building to its original form.

Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:

"I am delighted that the Wesley Church, former State School buildings and the Albany Co-operative Society Building's inclusion in the State Register of Heritage Places, means these properties will continue to be part of the Albany community for many years to come.

"These sites now join 56 other significant places in Albany on the State Register of Heritage Places." 

Comments attributed to Albany MLA Peter Watson:

"The listing of these three places is fantastic news for Albany, which is proud of its heritage and benefits enormously from related tourism.

"Tourism is a strong supporter of jobs in the region and the listing of these places will help the local economy and keep people employed."

inHerit - an online portal for heritage listings

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