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Hicks Building

1903, 1946, 81-83 High Street, designed by Thomas Anthoness, formerly J.A. Hicks & Co., aka RSL Wyola Club. Because of its early arrival in the street, plus its height and strikingly elaborate facade, this building has been a landmark for some time.
There is a curious overlap in the facades of this and Davies Building next door at 85-7.
After the club closed in 2016, the ground floor was renovated to house retail premises; currently the Artisan Store. The facade was renovated 2021 and the first floor interior is about to be renovated 2022 for office space for High Street Fremental.

The 1903 building was designed by T. Anthoness, and built for tailors J.A. Hicks & Co. It was extended to designs by Allen & Nicholas in 1946.

The name Wyola precedes the RSL association. There is a street in South Fremantle named after a tugboat of that name (photo below). Pam Harris, history librarian, told me (personal communication) that the club was named after this 1912 boat. It may in turn have got its name from a small town near Cunderdin.

The Wyola Club also used to own lots in Bannister Street adjoining the High Street property, including the Grosvenor Cellars building; a news item from The West Australian, 27 April 2010, headed 'Members fume over club deal', was online here.

Heritage Council entry. Built 1903 by architect T. Anthoness. Original use was not RSL, which was formed in 1920s. Various changes and restorations were made to the building in 1946 for the Wyola Club and again in 1955 (Allen & Nicholas Architects). 
Currently (2013), Fremantle RSL Wyola Club Inc.
Two storey rendered building with prominent and decorative parapet and pediment, with a zero setback from the pavement. The parapet has an engaged balustrade and low piers topped with spheres at the corners of the façade; the crowned pediment is tall with highly decorative stucco. The first floor has three stucco arched timber casement windows and fanlights, flanked by engaged ashlar effect pilasters. The ground floor has an awning over the timber and glass façade, which is not original

The c. 1905 photo following shows the J.A. Hicks sign on the side of his building.


Corner of Pakenham and High Sts c. 1905. Fremantle Library Local History Collection image no. 578. Looking East along High Street from the Pakenham Street corner. The Town Hall is in the centre left background, with, on the right; J.A. Hicks & Co. (No 81-83, later the Wyola Club) , W.J.Beisley, hairdresser and tobacconist, Manchester Dye Works, M. & F. Hamer Newsagency and J. & L. Baker, Butchers. The road is closed due to the laying of tram lines for which the jarrah blocks (6" by 3" by 5") which made up the road bed were lifted. FHC.

Beginning December 2014, the front of the Club was boarded up and a notice said that entry is from the rear, in Bannister St. It's also obvious that there's no ceiling in the upstairs room.
In 2015 the building was renovated.
Update August 2015: the Wyola Club is no longer on High St. The greater part of the facade is now a homewares shop, while the left hand portion is a very strange long, large, empty hall (bigger, for example, than one coffee shop in the street) which allows entry to upstairs as well as through to whatever remains of the RSL Club, the Bannister St portion, perhaps half of the former Club.
Update March 2016: As far as I can tell, the Wyola Club no longer exists. The laneway at the back leads to no evident entrance to any premises.
Update June 2016. A notice was sent to members to call a meeting 1130 24 June 2016 to wind up the Wyola Club as it has no assets.

Broke Wyola Closing

Steve Grant, Fremantle Herald, 25 June 2016.

THE Wyola Club in Fremantle is broke and set to wind up this week.
Club president Christine Dunbar sent out a letter to members late last week notifying them of a special meeting which was due to be held yesterday (Friday, June 24).
The letter says members will be asked to vote to confirm the club, which until 2010 owned two properties stretching between High Street and Bannister Street, ”has no assets”.
If the resolutions are passed, the club will close immediately and the office bearers will fill in the necessary paperwork to cancel its incorporation.
“Refreshments will be served at the close of the meeting,” was the closest Ms Dunbar came to a flourish for the demise of the historic club.
If Wyola is broke, it means that since 2009 it has churned through somewhere around $3 million, the price it’s believed to have received for the two properties.
One of the sales caused headlines because club manager Phil Douglas had purchased the property for a quarter of its market value thanks to a clause in a lease he’d signed with the club in the early 1990s.
The uproar from current and former members caused WA’s commerce department to step in and initiate Supreme Court action against Mr Douglas.
In the end they reached a settlement, with Mr Douglas agreeing to pay an additional $500,000, reaping Wyola $982,559 all up.
A club member the Herald spoke to said in recent times just a dozen or so stalwarts would turn up for drinks on Friday nights.
Commerce said the Herald’s call was the first it had heard about the wind-up of the club.
No one was answering the phones at Wyola when we called.
It’s been a tough time for Fremantle’s social clubs. The Fremantle Club and the Fremantle Workers Club have both had to sell their CBD premises and have had to move into temporary accommodation.
The Workers Club is hoping to move into a new hub with the local bowls and tennis clubs on Fremantle Park.



Photo from Wilkinson.

In April 2022 it was rumoured that the building might become another tavern. The ground floor at present houses the Artisan Store. City Ward Councillor Adin Lang stated in Facebook 3 May 2022 that the first floor space would be renovated for offices for High Street Fremental.

References and Links

Parker, David Dare & Ron Davidson 2010, The Clubs, FotoFreo, Fremantle.

Wilkinson, Danielle 2013, From Beef to Reef: The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Robb Jetty, dissertation, Flinders University.

State Heritage Office entry for this building.

Artisan Store webpage.

See also: Davies building.

Page for the Wyola on the Tyne Tugs website.

Garry Gillard | New: 1 October, 2014 | Now: 3 May, 2022