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Villa Maria

115 Cantonment Road (now Queen Victoria Street). Also known as Branksome and Torrington House.


Torrington House was originally built for the German Consul, C P L Ratazzi, and known as Branksome. From 1920 to 1940 the substantial two storey building with magnificent staircase was run by the Church of England Girls Friendly Society as a guest house. It was demolished in 1964.

villa maria

Fremantle Libary Local History collection 1924 photo #3168, with this caption: Villa Maria was the home of Carl Peter Ludwig Ratazzi, born in Frankfurt-on-Main on 21.09.1865. He arrived in WA in 1900 and established a partnership with Otto Lurman as the agents for the Imperial German Mail Line. He was Consul for Germany and Consular Agent for Italy. Villa Maria was on Queen Victoria Street [known as Cantonment Rd until 1892] between James and Burt Streets.

villa maria

Fremantle Libary Local History collection photo #3170, with this caption: A side view of the Villa Maria, home of Carl Peter Ludwig Ratazzi and his family, on Queen Victoria Street. The archway is similar to that at 5 Mouat Street (built in 1902 and designed by architect E H Dean Smith), where Ratazzi conducted his business and attended to his Consular duties. Taken 7 April 1919.

References and Links

Boch, Sebastian 2014, 'The Kaiser's spy on Queen Victoria Street', Fremantle Studies, 8: 37-46.

Webb, David & David Warren 2005, Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle: 16-17. [The authors retail the unlikely rumour that Ratazzi spied on shipping movements from the attic of 5 Mouat St.]

There is an excellent photo of Villa Maria in context in the 1899 photo near the top of the Cantonment Hill index page. The Library's caption reveals that it was later called Torrington House - probably after Rattazzi was interned during WW1.

Garry Gillard | New: 9 March, 2015 | Now: 17 August, 2021