Fremantle Stuff > buildings > Princess Chambers. See also: Princess Theatre, in Leake Street, adjoining.

Princess Chambers

21-33 Market Street: 1897, Edwin Summerhayes; 1912, John McNeece & Co.

Photograph of a painting by Toby Leek, courtesy of the artist.

Captain Frank Biddles had these commercial premises built in 1897. Although the two- (extreme left) and three- (centre) storey buildings were built separately a few years apart (1897/99, and 1912), they are now considered to be the one 'Princess Chambers', and communicate internally.

Princess Chambers with WA Chambers to the right in the centre of the Market Streetscape.

Heritage Council (this section applies to the three-storey building only)
History
Designed by Edwin Summerhayes for Capt Frank Biddles, and built in 1899. Biddles was a pastoralist, master pearler and land landowner.
Currently (2002), various retail outlets.
A Heritage Assessment was prepared in March 2010 by Heritage and Conservation Professionals for a DA submission to Council (DA0689/09) for minor internal alterations and a rear courtyard.
Physical Description
Three storey painted brick building with bracketed and balustraded parapet and a zero setback from the pavement. The building has four bays divided by engaged pilasters extending through the parapet. The ground floor has an awning (probably not original) with pressed metal lining intact, number 25 has a recessed shop front. The first floor has arched windows with decorative stucco sills; decorative stucco is also featured below the parapet.
Statement of Significance
The place is a modest example of a commercial building dating from the first decades of the twentieth century that forms part of a group of similar places and makes a contribution to the streetscape of the Old Port City of Fremantle. The place is a fine example of a Federation Free Classical style building, with elaborate stucco decoration above the ground floor level, that makes a significant contribution to the streetscape. The place is a significant landmark in the Old Port City of Fremantle. The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust. Original shopfronts, where they remain, are significant.
Integrity/Authenticity
Medium degree of integrity (original intent partially clear, current use compatible, high long term sustainability).
High degree of authenticity with much original fabric remaining.
(These statements based on street survey only).

Heritage Council (this section applies to the two-storey building only)
History
A two storey hotel, the Racehorse Hotel, was managed by Paterson and Cornish c. 1850s. It was reported as the principal building in Leake Street (No 2) in 1869. Whilst the rates records do not appear to make any reference to the Racehorse Hotel, a number of oral histories and newspaper references locate it on part of the Princess Theatre site. An arcade from the hotel lead to the theatre. Reference is made to the owners Cornish and Paterson in 1856-59, who were reported to be the managers of the hotel.
Rates records indicate residences on lot 125 & 126 from 1880.
The Princess Theatre was built in 1912. Whilst the building facade creates the impression of being a separate building, it is an extension of the Princess Chambers adjacent. An arcade originally gave access to the Princess Theatre behind (brick warehouse building at 2 Leake Street). The former Princess Theatre was designed by John McNeece & Co and built by Mr C. Moore. It was erected for Captain F. Biddles at a cost of £7, 000. In 1915 Capt Biddles made the basement of the Princess Theatre available to provide amenities for army and naval personnel. This was the early beginnings of the RSA, later to become known as the RSL. A more permanent structure was built the following year nearby. The building was extensively rebuilt in 1941. In 1969, after 57 years, the Princess Theatre screened its last film. The building was then converted to commercial use. The auditorium built on Lots 24, 125 & 126 became a panel beater's shop.
Currently (2002), various retail outlets.
Physical Description
Two storey highly decorative, rendered and truncated corner building with a zero setback from the pavement. The building has a bracketed and balustrade parapet, with decorative engaged low pilasters. The ground floor has a bull nosed veranda extending into Leake Street, number 29 & 31 has a verandah awning (probably not original). The first floor features; engaged balustrade below the stucco architraves, and pilasters surrounding the arched sash windows, which have six paned transom lights. Engaged Corinthian pilasters divide the pairs of windows and there is decorative stucco over the arches to the cornice.
Statement of Significance
This place is of historic and social significance as a former theatre and subsequently cinema which provided entertainment for the people of Fremantle until its closure in 1957. The place is a fine example of a Federation Free Classical style building, with elaborate stucco decoration above the ground floor level, that makes a significant contribution to the streetscape.The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust. Awning and shop fronts are not significant.

References and Links

Heritage Council.

Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks, Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

Many thanks to Michael Finn for some of the photos above of his Princess Chambers. (I wonder who the princess was? Frank Biddles' daughter? Princess May?)


Garry Gillard | New: 20 July, 2016 | Now: 20 May, 2020