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Kelso House

1902, 111 South Terrace, near cnr Howard Street, assumed to be on Lot 608


Steve Grant:
Built by post master and whaler John Bateman ... Dr Sydney Hicks was the first to take up residence, followed by Dr Peter Garbin and then the notable Dr Walter Blaxland, who was related to the Blue Mountains explorer but more famous locally for his refusal to don a hat. ... Kelso was converted into a private hospital in the 1920s under Dr Charles Kerr, later reincarnating as medical suites.
Along the way some utilitarian changes were made to the property and the precious stables out the back have gone, but now it’s been bought back to its former glory and its medical history has been softened with some homely touches ... Steve Grant, Fremantle Herald, 28 October 2016.

There are three original Town Lots between Howard and Russell Streets: from north to south 608, 607, 606. In 1886-8, W.E. Marmion owned Lots 608 and 607, and H.M. Lefroy owned Lot 606. I'm assuming that Kelso House is one of two parts of Lot 608, the other being the business at no. 109, which is now Mark Negri's business Perth Pressed Metal; having previously been Ian Diffen's Tyre Service.

In 1897, the (earliest) Post Office Directory shows the tenants (in the order, lots 608-606) as being Otto Harling, Mrs Catherine O'Heaney, and Mrs Margaret Brunskill. In 1898 the Post Office Directory shows the tenants as being George Thomson (Queen's Laundry), Mrs Catherine O'Heaney, and Mrs Margaret Brunskill. In 1899 tenancies were unchanged. In 1900: Mrs S.A. Lawrence, Wm Eastwell, Mrs Margaret Brunskill (at the then no. 165).

Leaping forward to 1940, and the last available Post Office Directory, we find medical practitioners, Alan R. Bean and Frank H. Ebell at no. 111, and Pasquale D'Antonio with a mixed business at no. 117.

I'm guessing that the doctors were in Kelso House, as it has a long medical history, and, as no tenant is mentioned between it and Howard Street, that the land there could have been the garden or yard or outbuildings that went with the house. It's known that it had stables, as Steve Grant mentions above.

For information after 1940 one might have to look into the rate books in the Fremantle Library, which are currently (2021) stored offsite until the new library is available some time this century.

Ken Kelso told me in conversation that the House is named after one of the doctors - a Dr Kelso, apparently - who was not related to his family.

References and Links

Thanks to Steve Grant and the Fremantle Herald for the story, from which the image also comes. Thanks to Mark Negri for the inquiry that led to me finding out much of the above. Re 109 South Terrace, Mark tells me: "Before Ian Diffen ... this [109] was a garage for the BMC (British Motor Company), that used to have their dealership in Essex Street selling Minis, Leyland, etc. before the Esplanade Hotel bought them out and redeveloped the northwest part of the street to accommodate more rooms at the time of the America Cup."

Garry Gillard | New: 28 October, 2016 | Now: 5 October, 2021