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Stag's Head Inn

On original Town Lot 106 (part of which is now 49 High Street*). Anthony Curtis, 1834. Possibly Fremantle's first brewery. The building now on the site (shown below) was built in 1897.


It is not known what happened to the Black Swan when Curtis left to open his own place, which he called the Stag's Head in High street. (79) ... It has been mentioned previously, in part 1, that Anthony Curtis, who had been doing well in his two-storey Stag's Head Hotel on the south corner of High and Pakenham Streets, became ruthless (like so many of his ilk) and, for reasons best known to himself, announced that his hotel would be closed for a few months during his temporary absence. In 1841 he was back again as the licensee. (98) In 1840, Anthony Curtis's Stag's Head Hotel was still going strong. (99) Tuckfield.

Franc Koning, owner of 49 High St:
In 1834 Anthony Curtis opened his house as an Hotel, Stag's Head Inn. Its position was directly where 49 High St is now, and fronted the high street.
Later he kept adding extra stone houses for accommodation, store, butchery, brewery, bakehouse, yard and stables until 1843.
See the map [below]: the stone house location and position of the Inn is written, no laneway, except at Pakenham St end, and that does not go all the way through.
Also, lot 107 had a laneway, but there is a wall in between lot 106 and 107.
The Fremantle Race Club was founded by Captain Walter Page at the Stag’s Head Inn on Wednesday 19th March 1834, and also Masonic meetings were held there.
Evidence suggests recitals were popular and added classical seasoning to a rich, but limited literary diet. In October 1852, for instance, Thomas Cullen, who had previously performed at the Theatre Royal in Dublin, recited several readings from Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello at the ‘Stag’s Head’ Inn, in Fremantle. Many years later, in February 1879, colonists witnessed a different approach to Shakespeare owing to members of the middle class, who included George Leake and Capt. G.F. Wilkinson, combining acting, reading and singing with scenes from Macbeth.

royal map

Snell Chauncey map, 1844, redrawn by Robin McKellar Campbell.

The Ajax Building, 49-59 High St, is on a large site, part of which was where the Stag's Head Inn stood in 1834 in High Street between Pakenham and Henry Streets. What follows is the information available from the Heritage Council.

* The Council's entry below 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 lot 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 fmr Stags Head Inn. Heritage Council.

References and Links

Many thanks to Franc Koning for the information included above.

Tuckfield, Trevor 1971, 'Early colonial inns and taverns', Early Days: Journal and proceeedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, Part 1, 7, 3: 65-82; Part 2, 7, 7: 98-106.

Garry Gillard | New: 30 September, 2014 | Now: 18 November, 2023