our heritagethematic history ofthe Town of VincentDISCLAIMERAny statement, opinion or advice, expressed or implied in thispublication is made in good faith but on the basis that the Townof Vincent, its agents, associated organizations and employeesare not liable (whether by reason or negligence, lack of care orotherwise) to any person for any damage or loss whatsoeverwhich has occurred or may occur in relation to that persontaking or not taking (as the case may be) action in respect ofany representation, statement or advice referred to above.People with specific requirements can request this brochure inBraille, a language other than English, large print, on computerdisk or audiotapePhotographs courtesy of Town of Vincent Local StudiesCollection
The Town of Vincent is fortunate to have a rich and diversehistory. From the earliest indigenous footprints on the landthrough to the subdivisions and developments occurringtoday that accommodate people from a wide variety ofcultural, spiritual and political backgrounds, our collectivehistory helps define who we are and where we have comefrom.The material remnants of our past, from warehousesto parklands and houses to schools, serve as tangiblereminders of how life used to be in the Town of Vincent andhow life has changed over time. These remnants make theTown unique in Western Australia, and indeed Australia.This brochure provides a brief overview of the Town ofVincent’s long and varied history. For a more detailedhistory, go to the Town of Vincent’s Heritage Websiteat www.vincent.wa.gov.au/heritage or visit the VincentLibrary.
Vincent’s First PeopleThe area which now falls within the local governmentboundaries of the Town of Vincent forms part of what wasknown to local Aboriginal people as Mooro, the tribalterritory of Yellagonga and his band.Yellagonga’s tribe was one of several groups basedaround the Swan River that were collectively known asWadjuk and which were in turn part of a greater group oftribes that formed the south-west socio-linguistic blockknown today as Nyungar or Bibbulman.The area within and around the Town of Vincentincorporates twelve former wetlands and a stretchof Swan River frontage. These wetlands are knownarchaeologically, historically and ethnographically to havebeen of great importance to Aboriginal people in pre-European times, and continue to be of importance today.The Nyungar people are recorded as using many of thelake resources including frogs, root tubers, freshwaterturtles, fish, gilgies and waterfowl up until the 1940s.It appears that the main use of the wetlands in the Townof Vincent area occurred during late spring, summer andearly autumn and, due to the abundance of turtles, frogsand waterbirds at this time, large gatherings of up to 300Nyungar people occurred around the wetlands. Theselarger gatherings are recorded at Hyde Park in the 1850sor 60s, at Lake Henderson in 1850, and at Lake Mongerin 1833 and 1835. However the wetlands were alsoperiodically used during the warmer months to carry outceremonial activities as well as to undertake trade and giftexchanges and marriage proposals.The wetlands within the Town of Vincent continue to holdspecial significance to the Aboriginal community.settlement due to the extensive wetlands that stretchedfor some 80 to 95 kilometres to the north.Despite the physical constraints of the area, John H.Monger and William H. Leeder took up adjoining landgrants on the edges of Lake Monger. Thomas Mewsowned an allotment situated between Lake, Brisbane andBeaufort Streets, which included the seasonal lake knownas Lake Thompson. Mews was one of the first settlers toattempt the reclamation of a wetland for a gardening inthis area.After two very wet winters in 1842 and 1847, the lakesaround the city began to be drained and reclaimed formarket gardening. This project was in part driven by thesteady arrival of settlers, convicts and pensioner guardsand the subsequent increased demand for food. Thedrainage works were largely completed by convict labour.Industry began to concentrate in the East Pertharea because of its proximity to Perth, distance fromresidential areas, and access to water and the ClaiseBrook drain. Noxious industries, such as the governmentslaughterhouse, tanneries, soapworks, laundries, sawmills, foundries and so on, were established in the area atthis time.Before the Boom: 1871 - 1890Representative Government was conferred on thecolony in 1870, and a year later the Municipal InstitutionsAct established Perth and seven other towns asmunicipalities. Loftus, Vincent and Walcott Streets markedthe boundaries of the City of Perth to the west, north andeast. The remainder of the area which the Town of Vincentnow occupies came under the control of the Perth RoadsBoard.The European Arrivals: 1829-1870Following the arrival of the first Europeans in 1829, thetownship of Perth was gradually established. The area tothe north of the township, of which the Town of Vincentnow occupies a part, was not considered ideal for
The land in the Town of Vincent was predominantly usedfor dairying and market gardening. Richard Gallop was amarket gardener who purchased land at this time on CowleStreet, near Lake Henderson, and his house remains todayas one of the oldest in the Town.Perth. The population grew from 9,500 people in 1891 to87,000 in 1911! This meant that by 1919 much of the landimmediately surrounding Perth, including that containedwithin today’s Town of Vincent, had been subdivided andconsiderably developed.Transport services were expanded when the Fremantleto Guildford railway line was completed in 1881 and itsconstruction slowly encouraged settlement to the immediatewest, north and east. In 1884 there were still only fiftybuildings between Newcastle and Vincent Street andmost of these buildings were simple cottages, except for‘Lakeside’ built by Surveyor John S. Brooking on PalmerstonStreet. ‘Lakeside’ was a substantial middle class home thatset the standard for other homes in the area.The subdivision of Highgate Hill was the basis of thefirst suburb to the north of Perth. It consisted of a smallisolated cluster of homes erected on an ‘estate’ whichan enterprising owner had subdivided into blocks forworkmen’s cottages. The foundation stone for Highgate’sSt Alban’s Church was also laid at this time.North of Vincent Street the district remained one of largeacreages dominated by William Leeder’s holdings, butthis would change with the onset of the Gold Rush.Gold Boom and Growth: 1891 - 1919The Gold Rush was a period of unprecedented growth forIn 1892, the Catholic Diocese subdivided a portion ofits land near the intersection of Vincent and BeaufortStreets. This subdivision included a two acre reserve onMary Street which, by 1899, contained the Monastery ofOur Lady of the Sacred Heart. Subsequently, St Mary’sChurch was built in 1906 followed by the Sacred HeartPrimary School in 1914 within the same site.Land speculation was rife in the area with the Westraliaand East Norwood Estates being established north ofClaise Brook. These estates were aimed at upper workingclass and lower middle class buyers and a number ofhomes were built ‘on-spec’ for the estate company whothen offered them for rental-purchase.In 1892 another estate opened up on part of the landthat was originally Lake Thomson, (between Brisbaneand Newcastle Streets), and in 1896 a real estatenotice advertised ‘Brooking Park Estate’, which wasbounded by Palmerston, Brisbane and Lake Streets.Other estates included the Woodley Park Estate, MongerEstate, Hawthorn Estate, Leeder Park, Springfield Estate,Frogmore Gardens and Leederville North Estate, amongmany others.One estate within the Town that remains relatively intacttoday was that developed by William Brookman, a minedeveloper and Perth Mayor from 1900-1901. His ColonialFinance Corporation developed a housing estate betweenLake, Moir and Brookman Streets in 1897 that consistedof 15 two-storey terrace houses on Lake Street and 29single-storey duplex pairs on Brookman and Moir Streets.Development was rapid in Leederville and North Perthduring the Gold Boom. In May 1895, the section ofthe Perth Road District covering Leederville and WestLeederville was gazetted as Leederville Road Districtand less than 12 months later, Leederville became a
tramlines ran along Charles Street to Vincent Street; alongWilliam Street to the entrance of Hyde Park, then alongBulwer to Vincent Street; and from the Barrack Street Jettyalong Barrack and Beaufort Streets to Walcott Street,with a connecting line along Newcastle Street to theWilliam Street line. In 1900, an extension was approvedfor a line from Loftus Street, along Newcastle and OxfordStreets, to Anzac Road. The extension from Anzac Roadto Scarborough Beach Road and Main Street in OsbornePark, was approved in January 1902. Further extensionsoccurred throughout the early part of the 1900s.Immigration associated with the West Australian goldrush saw the arrival of many groups from non-Englishbackgrounds including Chinese, Afghan cameleers,Muslims and Jews among others. The gold discoveriesdrew people from all cultures because it presentedopportunities lacking elsewhere. Many parts of the worldexperienced a depression in the 1890s, including theeastern states of Australia, and two thirds of WesternAustralia’s population increase at this time came fromacross the Nullabor.municipality. In March 1899, North Perth, (which wasinitially called Woodville and Toorak after early estates inthe area), was declared as the North Perth Road Districtand, in October 1901, it was gazetted a municipality.During the gold rush years about half of the Chinesepopulation in Perth worked in market gardening. Stone’sLake, Smith’s Lake, Second Swamp, lakes Hendersonand Georgiana, and the northern and eastern edges ofLake Monger were all Chinese market gardening areaswithin the Town of Vincent’s boundaries. The majorityof the gardening lands were leased from Europeanowners, and many of the gardeners lived in sub-standardaccommodation. Only a few had proper housing, amongthem the group of gardeners operating under the nameof Hop Lee & Company on Lake Henderson, who lived ina cottage provided by the land owner. Lee Hop’s cottageThe development of a comprehensive tramway networkwas partially responsible for the growth of the areasnorth of Perth. The tramways allowed workers to travelquickly and easily to their place of employment fromsuburbs such as Leederville, North Perth, Subiaco andMount Lawley. Within the area of the Town of Vincent, the
can still be found on Fitzgerald Street, on the edge ofRobertson Park.Vincent, Woodville Reserve had searchlights, anti-aircraftguns and air raid shelters set up around the perimeter.The increased population meant an increased numberof services for the area including post offices, policestations, parks, recreation areas, churches and bothpublic and private schools. Many of the servicesestablished at this time still function today.The construction of flats began in the 1930s, and wasbrought about in part by the development of good gasstoves. One of the first flat developments in the Townof Vincent area was the ‘Fedora’ flats on the corner ofStirling and Parry Streets in 1938.Depression, War & Residential Boom1920 - 1946The Depression was a time of hardship for many. Somehome owners could not afford home maintenance. Manyothers could not keep up rent payments and had to moveconstantly. Evictions saw several families crowding intosingle residences or camping on crown reserves.During the Depression years of 1929-34 local governingbodies provided unemployed men with relief work thatresulted in considerable road and drainage works, untilfunds were exhausted.Despite the tight economic conditions, numerous timberhouses were constructed in Mount Hawthorn in the1920s and 30s. The houses were considered by manyto be inferior to brick, a fire hazard and a precursor toslums, while others considered that they at least offeredemployment to the timber industry and enabled workersto afford their own home. The controversy of brick overtimber led the Perth City Council to declare ‘brick areas’where timber homes were not allowed, such as parts ofWest Leederville and east of Kalgoorlie Street in MountHawthorn.During World War Two, the Workers Homes Boardconstructed a number of residences in Mount Hawthornand North Perth. They also controlled the supply ofbuilding materials and placed restrictions on the value ofimprovements allowed. Any works over the value of £25required approval from the War Organisation of Industry.In order to prepare for a possible invasion of Australia,many defence bases were established. Within the Town ofA significant change in Perth throughout this time periodrelated to transport, with motor taxis replacing horses,trams and railways carrying more passengers, and agrowing trend towards to the use of motorbuses andmotorcars. Increased motorised transport createdproblems in the major streets, which had not beendesigned for heavy traffic flows. Loftus Street waswidened in 1926 and land was resumed from the WorkersHomes Board for the extension of London Street, north ofGreen Street, in 1941.Waves of Changes: 1947 - 1972The 1950s and 60s were a period of significant urban infilldue to the post World War Two population boom. At thistime, the demand for building and construction materialsfar outstripped supply. The Workers Homes Board, soonrenamed the State Housing Commission, embarked ona post-war construction program that included buildingWar Service Homes. In the Town of Vincent area, lots wereresumed in Lynton Street, Mount Hawthorn, and HousingCommission homes were constructed there in the early1950s.Some of the inner-city areasexperienced significantchanges in their residentialcharacter as a result ofthe influx of Europeanimmigrants. Houses wererenovated and remodelledin a style which has beenreferred to as ‘immigrantnostalgia’, the re-creationof the styles reminiscent of
their replacement with new developments. It was alsoduring this time period that the Mitchell and KwinanaFreeway systems were constructed, and the developmentof the Mitchell Freeway had a significant impact on thephysical character of Leederville and Mount Hawthorn.To the Present: 1973 - 21st CenturyResidential and land uses continued to change duringthis period. The Mitchell Freeway followed the lineof the lake drain past Lake Monger and northward,dividing the suburb of Leederville in two, and providinga physical barrier to the access of Lake Monger from theeast. Leederville languished in the 1970s as the worldroared by on the Freeway towards the newly developeddormitory suburbs in the north.those they left behind. This practice certainly occurredwithin the Town of Vincent.During the post-war period businesses began toencroach on residential areas. As the post-war buildingrestrictions were eased, these new shops and officebuildings began to replace older residences. By the late1950s trams and trolleybuses were being phased outand buses became the major means of public transportservicing the expanding commercial areas.In 1962 Perth hosted the British Empire and CommonwealthGames, and the Beatty Park Aquatic Centre on VincentStreet, and the Velodrome on Britannia Road were two of thesports facilities developed for the gamesIn the 1980s and 90s concerted attempts were madeto revive the commercial areas of the inner northernsuburbs, and the rejuvenation of facilities and serviceswent hand in hand with the increased popularity of thearea for its residential function. The suburbs that nowcomprise the Town of Vincent became attractive due totheir proximity to the central city and for the services andentertainment offered in Leederville, Mount Lawley andNorthbridge.The construction of the Northern Suburbs railway linedown the centre of the Mitchell Freeway, primarily builtto service the outer dormitory suburbs, also had benefitsfor the nearby inner suburbs with a railway station atLeederville and a footbridge across the freeway linkingthe divided sections of the Lake Monger Reserve. Morerecently, the construction of the Graham Farmer Freewayand tunnel has resulted in the widening and upgradingof Loftus Street as a major access road to the new trafficsystem. The suburbs to the south and east are now thatThe post-war boom in Western Australia was consolidatedin the late 1950s through to the early 1970s as a result ofthe growth of the mineral industry in the state’s north. As aresult, this period was one of considerable redevelopmentwhich saw substantial demolition of older buildings and
much more accessible to those within the Town.In recent years, significant numbers of younger individuals andyounger families have moved into the area and have gentrified olderdwellings or have demolished and rebuilt. There is also ongoingsubdivision of residential backyards to create new building lots, withright-of-ways proving attractive as a means of giving a back lot a‘street’ frontage.By the 1990s, the City of Perth was considered to have grown toolarge and populous, covering from City Beach through to VictoriaPark. On 1st July 1994 the Town of Vincent was formed along withthe Towns of Victoria Park and Cambridge. The Council offices forthe Town of Vincent were constructed on the corner of Loftus andVincent Streets in Leederville and were opened on 22nd March1996.ConclusionAs population, industries and transport patterns alter, suburbschange in function, character and status. The processesof building and re-building, and the cycles of land use andresidential developments are reflected in the dynamic nature ofthe inner urban environment. The communities which have beenestablished in the area now known as the Town of Vincent haveeach evolved in distinct ways, although the type of change has, toa significant extent, been caused by their close physical proximityto the central Perth district. Many people are attracted to innercitysuburbs because of their unique atmosphere and character,enhanced by their heritage component. Retaining this, whileallowing development for modern life, is the challenge of moderntown planning.Should you have any questions about the information in thisbrochure, you can contact the Town of Vincent and speak to oneof the Town’s Heritage Officers. Please telephone (08) 9273 6000.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTThe information in this brochure is based on the informationcontained in the document ‘Report on an ethnohistoricalinvestigation into the Aboriginal Heritage of the Town of Vincent’by Rodney Harrison and the history compiled by the HockingPlanning & Architecture Collaboration for the Town of VincentDistrict Survey & Municipal Heritage Inventory Review, and theTown of Vincent freely acknowledges the use of these documents.