Fremantle Stuff > Buildings > Brush Factory
H. Albrecht & Co. moved their business to a new building on the corner of George and Duke Streets in 1901, the company having been founded in 1896.
The image is #3564 in the Fremantle History Centre, titled "H Albrecht and Co", dated 1901, and with the following text.
H Albrecht and Co was founded in 1896 and moved their brush factory to new premises in George Street in 1901. The two storey building with engine room and machine shed attached was at that time the only one in the state. WA woods were used in the manfacture. Later the business changed its name to WA Brushware and then to Swan Brushware. It moved to Spearwood in 1971.
The building was later the premises of Lauder & Howard Antiques (who have now moved to Blinco St). In 2015 the building was gutted by developer Manotel Pty Ltd, as reported by the Fremantle Herald 24 July 2015 in this article by Steve Grant.
A LANDMARK heritage-listed building in East Fremantle's George Street precinct has been gutted by a developer — and it's all completely legal.
Little remains of the 114-year-old brush factory on Duke Street — for many years home to Lauder & Howard antiques — but an incomplete facade.
Local heritage advocates are shocked while local town councillors who'd signed off on the planning application say they had no idea of the extent of what was to be lost.
Fremantle Society president Henty Farrar told the Herald he was "shocked and amazed" when he noticed the shell from Stirling Highway.
"As a member of the East Fremantle planning advisory panel that advised the council on the application for the development I am dumbfounded," he says.
"Who got it so wrong as to permit this wanton act of facadomy? The council must explain how it came to happen."
Local ward councillor Cliff Collinson, who'd voted to approve the development, was none the wiser.
"I was not expecting to lose the cellar, the floors and the interior of the building," he conceded when questioned.
"We probably did get it a bit wrong."
He says he and his colleagues may have been distracted by debates about the proposed development’s impact on the streetscape, as there was concern it might dominate the old Royal George Hotel across the road.
The original application was approved in 2011 and there have been three amendments since, including for a glass-clad penthouse to sit above the old building. That was approved by councillors against the advice of staff.
When finished the building, being developed by Manotel Pty Ltd, will include a jazz club/performance space where the now-demolished basement was, two storeys of commercial office and then the penthouse.
The Fremantle History Society’s Ron Davidson was horrified to learn of the gutting. He says the old brush factory had been an important landmark.
“It was a major link between working class East Fremantle’s small cottages and the fairly lush, expensive East Fremantle on the other side,” he says.
The brush factory was opened in 1901 by former WA premier John Forrest, who told owners H Albrecht & Co he’d organise for some local timber to be sent there after hearing their brush handles were mostly imported.
Mr Davidson says antiques dealer Les Lauder — for many years one of Fremantle’s most active heritage stalwarts — had gone to a great deal of trouble to save the building from demolition.
“There was a lot of detail left in the building and the character of the building was retained,” he says.
Mr Lauder and his partner Mark Howard sold the building some years ago and moved to the Blinco Street precinct. The factory is listed as category A on East Fremantle’s municipal heritage inventory, which says it should be afforded a “high level of protection”.
East Fremantle council CEO Gary Clark told the Herald he’d checked and the developer had complied with approval conditions.
This is what's left of the facade of the Brush Factory, indeed almost all that's left of the whole thing, as at 22 September 2015 in Roel Looper's photo from his blog entry of that date.
Charlesworth, Helene 1997, Small but Strong: a Pictorial History of the Town of East Fremantle 1897-1997, Town of East Fremantle: 50-51.
Fremantle Herald online
Fremantle History Centre has a number of additional photos of the brush factory.
Garry Gillard | New: 25 June, 2015 | Now: 3 January, 2018