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Ajax Building

51-59 High Street

The Ajax Building, 51-59 High St, on the corner of Pakenham and High Sts, occupies a large site, part of which was where the Stag's Head Inn stood in 1834, on Town Lot 106 (now numbered 49-59)*. Following is the information available from the Heritage Council.
*The Council's entry which follows says that the current street numbers of what was Town Lot 106 are 51-57, but it seems quite clear to me that the eastern half of the block starts at 49 and goes to 59. It also says that the Ajax Building is nos 51-57, when it should clearly be 51-59.
Statement of Significance
The place is of historic significance as an example of a commercial building in the Old Port City of Fremantle dating from the gold boom period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The place is significant because, when viewed from the street, it is a substantially intact example of a commercial building which contributes to the very significant Old Port City of Fremantle. The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust. Awning and shop fronts are not significant.
Physical Description
Two storey rendered row of conjoined and corner shops, nos 51-57* are similar in design; a decorative parapet with balustrade, engaged pilasters aesthetically separating the shops and timber sash windows with stucco architraves. The ground floor has pressed metal lining under the veranda awning. The first floor façade on No. 49 has a decorative parapet with engaged pilasters, a central and left side window, and no window exits on the right side.
High Street was named by Surveyor General Roe - as was customary in English towns, the main street of the town was named High Street. Eastward from William Street the roadway was completed by convict labour after the Town Hall was built in 1887. High Street around the Town Hall closed to traffic in 1966. The High Street Mall was trialled in November 1973 and made a permanent pedestrian mall in 1975. According to National Trust assessment documentation, the original town lot 106 (Nos. 51-57)* was the site of the Stag's Head Inn from 1834. Extensive research by City of Fremantle Local History staff in 2013 shows that No 49 was built in 1887, and Nos 51-59 was built by 1899. No. 49 appears in the rate books as a new building in 1887 (originally No 69). It was for William Hooper, business, watchmaker, jeweller and optician. He had earlier established himself in the same line of business in Barrack Street in 1881. Post Office Directories show several businesses operating between Henry and Pakenham Streets by 1893. Apart from Hooper, there was a boarding house run by John Waldron, S & R Edwards, drapers, and George Edwards, storekeeper. By 1895, John Church & Co, merchants were operating in this location alongside S & R Edwards, Drapers, and when numbers were assigned to businesses in High Street (c 1900), this was listed as No 77. By 1899 the other shops are listed in the post office directory, suggesting the large building, now 51-59 High Street, was built by 1899. Original occupants were: 71: Stephens, Mrs Anne R, restaurant 73: Rendell, William, bootmaker 75: Evans, Ephraim E, draper 77: Church & Co (John), merchants Originally 51-59 High Street was not adjoined with No. 49. An early photograph (c1888, appearing in Dorothy Erickson's "Gold and silversmithing in Western Australia', p 54) shows that Hooper’s business was in a stand-alone, two storey building with verandahs and balcony, with wrought iron Federation Filigree details. By 1916 all buildings between Henry and Pakenham Streets are adjoined, as shown in Sewerage map No 54, in the Fremantle Local History Collection. The place is known as the Ajax Building because Ajax Furnishing Company operated their business from it between 1955 and 1981. Currently (2013), various retail and commercial uses.
On the site of the former Stags Head Inn. Heritage Council.

References and Links

Heritage Council of WA

Garry Gillard | New: 30 September, 2014 | Now: 18 March, 2024