Fremantle Stuff > Hotels > Royal George Hotel
Royal Hotel, aka Royal George Hotel, George St, East Fremantle, cnr Duke St
The Royal Hotel, in East Fremantle, was built by J. Vetter (Ellen St, Fremantle) at a cost of £5200 for the Mulcahy Brothers. It was opened 12.10.1903 with Joe Tippett as Licensee. Later the association with George Street and the flagship Royal George led to the change in name to the Royal George. Photograph 912 from the Fremantle City Library Local History Photographic Collection, c. 1906, with the text from the Library entry.
Designed by Emil Mauermann, the hotel was built by Theo Vetter, originally for John Meagher, but the title had already passed to the Mulcahys before the hotel was opened (Graham). Daniel and Michael Mulcahy came to WA at the time of the goldrush, and owned hotels in Kalgoorlie and Boulder as well as the National, Commercial and Terminus in Fremantle. Their still extant house in Preston Point Rd is known as Knocknagow. This hotel was sold in 1916 to the nearby Castlemaine Brewery, and then to the Swan Brewery in 1926, for the next fifty years. The next owner, in 1977, was Goff Burgess, who sold it to Carnac Nominees. They built the Royal George Tavern in their shopping centre on Canning Highway, and the liquor licence was transferred to it. Main Roads Dept acquired the building in 1981 with the intention of demolishing it in favour of the Stirling Hwy southern extension. It housed a school for five years, and was then leased to the EF Council and used as an Art and Community Centre. It was then in the dubious care of the National Trust, and the state government had plans to sell it. In early 2018, elaborate plans have been announced.
Photograph by Steve Doig
Built as the Royal Hotel in 1903 for brothers Michael and Daniel Mulcahy, this is a typical example of a Western Australian gold boom hotel. It ceased to be a public house in 1979 and since then has been used as a school and artist studios. A National Trust Property for WA, the Royal George Hotel is an external view property.
The Old Royal George Hotel is a good example of a Federation Free Classical style, typical of the ebullient confidence of the boom years. It is handsomely proportioned and well balanced about its corner tower/cupola, which strongly marks its corner site. The architect showed considerable skill in producing a coherent and notable building, in the style of the day, whilst successfully addressing the design problems of a difficult site. Town of East Fremantle.
Simone McGurk MP and sculptor Tony Jones agree something needs to happen to the decaying Royal George hotel, but she's dead against selling it and he's not sure. Photo by Steve Grant
ROYAL FOR SALE
STEVE GRANT, Fremantle Herald, March 13, 2015
THE historic Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle is being lined up for sale to a private developer.
Owned by the WA government the iconic Duke Street property has been left to rot under the six-year stewardship of the National Trust.
Now, WA lands minister Terry Redman has confirmed to the Herald he's ordered his department to consider the derelict property for the government's asset sales program.
"The department of lands has been in discussions with the National Trust and Westbridge Property Group in an effort to determine the best use of the site which would add to the vibrancy of the local community," Mr Redman says.
The hotel is on the state's heritage register and held in "conditional tenure" by the Trust, which has come under heavy criticism for allowing it to fall into disrepair since wresting its management from East Fremantle town council. Tenants and artists were evicted in 2009 and the sprawling landmark building has been empty since, with vandals tearing out pipes and daubing walls inside and out with graffiti.
Mr Redman says the government informed the Trust of its plans late last year.
Town mayor Jim O'Neill doesn't oppose the sale.
"I think to be realistic there's a significant amount of money that needs to be spent on the Royal George and in the current environment I can't see any government being able to spend the $5 million or so that's needed," he told the Herald.
He says if the building's sold he hopes developers are prepared to work with his council and the community to do a sensitive restoration "as per the conservation plan".
Fremantle Society president Henty Farrar, who's sat on advisory boards for the council and once recommended it move its HQ to the hotel, is also backing the sale.
"It's good that something is going to happen to it, and it's got heritage protection so there'd be no massive changes to it," Mr Farrar says. "Clearly the National Trust were incapable of marshalling the necessary funds.
"I think at one point the Trust had an enormous appetite and bit off more than it could chew."
Mr Farrar hopes a corner or two of the hotel, such as a gallery space, will be opened to the public.
Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says anyone who cares about the hotel will "despair" about its potential sale.
"The big worry is that a private owner will have the town and the local community over a barrel when it comes to any development of this site," she told the Herald.
"The George is of huge importance to the people of East Fremantle. As the current owners, the state government has a responsibility to ensure there is a feasible plan to restore it. Instead, they are using assets like this as a cash cow to fix their budget mess."
Local sculptor Tony Jones has been involved with the George since the 1980s when Main Roads announced it wanted to bowl it over to widen Stirling Highway: community outrage led to the department having to curve the extension around the building.
"Personally I don't know what the best solution is for the Royal George, other than it's a scandal, a shame and a disgrace," he told the Herald.
Mr Jones says the Trust has "wasted everyone's time". He says CEO Tom Perrigo once "swanned around drinking coffee" after assuring a George Street community group of his once-revered organisation's commitment to the town.
The artist says whatever comes of the hotel, it needs to be "respectful, intelligent and community-based".
Meanwhile, the scaffolding's gone up this week on another ailing WA government asset in Fremantle: the first conservation works have started on the warders' cottages on Henderson Street, which are being tarted up and sold one at a time, with profits from each sale rolled into the next property's upgrade.
ROYAL REVEAL FOR OLD GEORGE
Fremantle Herald, 20 April 2018
SARACEN Properties released the first images of its planned 18-storey tower behind the old Royal George Hotel this week. Saracen says it will be targeting local down-sizers with the luxury apartments, with a Melville council report recently highlighting large number of elders stuck in big, old homes because of a dearth of appropriate small homes nearby.
The developer is also aware the height will be a shock for many, and already a Duke Street resident has contacted the Herald to highlight concerns about the additional parking burden on locals, as well as questioning whether Saracen’s claim it needed 40 apartments to make the development viable was more an ambit claim.
“Forty apartments with these views at $2 million each. Hmmm, do the math, please,” they implored.
Sketch of a proposal as @ December 2018
The hotel as it was in 1986, from a Facebook page giving no other information than the date. It may be from the State Library (Graham).
Allen Graham's Facebook page for this hotel.
Garry Gillard | New: 20 September, 2014 | Now: 15 December, 2018