Fremantle Stuff > Buildings > Belle View
Wilkins Street, Bellevue
Belle View was the property of Edward Robinson, who arrived in Fremantle on the Success with his mother and siblings in 1843, his father dying during the voyage. After his mother re-married with John Seabrook (Snr), the family moved to Brookton. Robertson worked as a shepherd before later entering into a partnership with his brother in which they established the property ‘Croydon’, near Roebourne, in 1874. In 1886, Robinson sold his share and purchased 750 acres in the Helena Valley (formally part of Stirling’s Woodbridge grant).
The Helena Valley property was developed into a dairy with an 1887 residence including attached service areas (kitchen, servant’s quarters etc.), various outbuildings and stables. After the death of Robinson’s wife in 1909, the property was leased before later being sold by his nephew after his death in 1913.
In the late 1870s, and prior to his purchase of the area later to be known as 'Belle View', Edward Robinson had pastoral interests in Croyden Station, a sheep run near Roebourne in Western Australia's north-west. 'Belle View' was part of James Stirling's original 4,000 acre Woodbridge Grant, which Henry Brockman purchased in 1883, and subsequently sub-divided. Robinson, uncle of Percy Robinson of Undercliffe (Site 77) bought 750 acres (304ha) and built the single-storey 'Belle View' home. It was constructed of local clay bricks, made on the property and provided a more substantial residence than the mud brick house dating from the 1840's, which was demolished in c. 1973/4. 'Belle View' also featured servants quarters, kitchen, baker's oven and a smoke room for curing meats, attached to the rear of the main building by a wide veranda.
The weatherboard and iron roofed stables, located north-west of the house are thought to predate 'Belle View' and include the remnants of a 'blackboy'/grass tree trunk floor. This flooring material, of which few example are thought to remain so close to Perth, was installed to protect horses hooves. The farm which began as a dairy, was considered a model of its era. Edward Robinson was extensively involved in the community, serving as a Justice of the Peace, member of the Greenmount Road Board (1908-1913) and financing the building of the Anglican Church in Clayton Street, Bellevue in memory of his wife. Following her death in 1909 he built a new house called 'Melita' which is of considerable significance and still exists nearby in Clayton Street. After Robinson's death in 1913, the property, minus the northern areas he had already sub-divided and sold, was purchased in 1921, by the pastoral company, Elder Smith. Until his death in 1959, the 'Belle View' property was occupied and managed by Jack Goodchild, Robinson's former coachman and resident stockman for Elder Smith. Nearby Goodchild Oval is named after him.
Since writing the original assessment the place has been placed on the Interim List of the State Register to avoid possible demolition of the place (see note above). There have also been talks between the owners of Belle View, local authorities and the Primary School about a possible land swap to relocate the oval adjacent to the school. These negotiations are still on going as at Sept. 1997.
Statement of Significance
'Belle View' homestead has very high aesthetic, social and historic significance as one of few remaining examples in the metropolitan area of a substantial early farming property that retains high authenticity and integrity and was considered a model farm of its time. As such it is very significant for its rarity and representativeness.
Belle View is still located on a large, urban farm holding whereas most of the surrounding land has long since been subdivided for housing. It sits on an embankment over looking the Helena River flood plain in the western extremity of the Shire of Mundaring whereit borders with the Shire of Swan. The house or homestead is in a very open position and faces north from which it is approached. The rear of the house faces south across the river and some former outbuildings at the edge of the embankment have taken advantage of the fall in land to incorporate a cellar below them.
To the north of the house, adjacent to the driveway, is an old weatherboard stable building which is thought to pre-date the house and originally was next to a small mud brick cottage. The stables still contains their original stalls and compartments and have very high authenticity and integrity. The timber is starting to deteriorate at ground level and is in need of stabilising before the damage is irreversible. South of the stables, and closer to the house, is a corrugated iron farm shed, which may be part of, or on the site of, an old barn.
The homestead also is in an extremely critical state of disrepair where money and/or the right incentives could easily save it, but where continuing neglect will see its condition rapidly decline in the coming years. Belle View is a large but simply decorated Federation period, red brick, single storey homestead, having a wide frontage and being only two rooms deep. The front room on the east end projects forward and has a parapet gable end which gives the elevation an asymmetric appearance. The gable has a small rendered panel inscribed "Belle View AD 1887". The projecting room also defines the entry point on the full width of verandah which also surrounds the house. The verandah is in a bad state of repair with the original timber posts, which supported the concave corrugated iron roof sheeting, having been replaced with pine columns. The front north-east corner is unroofed and the deterioration of the verandah across the back has resulted in its complete removal except for some floor boards.The interior was not inspected however it is believed to be in a deteriorating state. From the outside it appears the layout has formal rooms to the east end of the homestead where two bay windows project onto the verandah. Further assessment is require to determine the extent and significance of the original fabric.
Note: In May 1997 the consultants carried out a Heritage Assessment for the Heritage Council of WA following commencement of demolition of the place. A full description of the significance of the place, interiors and the extent of the demolition commenced is noted therein. Demolition was halted and the place entered into the Interim List of the State Register. Mostly the doors, windows, skirtings, architraves and floorboards have been removed whilst the structural fabric remains intact.
Heritage Council page for Belle View.
Shire of Mundaring heritage impact statement for the farmhouse and area - all of the above images come from this document.
Garry Gillard | New: 30 September, 2014 | Now: 7 November, 2019