Old Perth Technical School
The 1910 Perth Technical School is located at 137 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia, adjacent to the Old Perth Boys School building. A restrained and incomplete example of the Federation Free Medieval architectural style, designed by government architect Hillson Beasley, this is one of the few examples of the style surviving in central Perth.

Built form
The building is a three-level red-brick structure with limestone footings and Donnybrook stone trimmings. There is a square tower, originally intended to be central, with castellated parapets. The interiors exhibit fine craftsmanship in joinery, with jarrah timber panelling and art nouveau leadlighting and glass. A grand staircase of jarrah connects the three levels of the building.

The site of the former Perth Technical College was, in the early years of the Swan River Colony, part of the holding of Henry Willey Reveley. Plans show the manner in which Reveley's Mill and spring-fed mill-pond were linked by a mill-race down the steep slope to Bazaar Terrace (now Mounts Bay Road), along the Perth foreshore. In May 1900, the Perth Technical College (originally called the 'Perth Technical School') opened in the Old Perth Boys School building in St Georges Terrace, with courses available to both boys and girls. The curriculum included chemistry, assaying, engineering, art and design, woodwork and metalwork. With the unexpected death of the superintendent of technical education, Alex Purdie, in 1905, his successor, Frank Allen, who was also director of the Kalgoorlie School of Mines, improved the makeshift facilities in which students had initially been forced to work with an impressive purpose-built technical school, which opened in 1910. Its motto Truth, Beauty and Utility, emblazoned above the front entry, expressed the era’s high hopes for technical education. Allen also extended the curriculum to include blacksmithing, carpentry, engine-driving, fitting and turning, plumbing, commercial studies, pharmacy and surveying. The buildings were designed by the chief architect of the Public Works Department (1905”“1917), Hillson Beasley (who also designed the Government House ballroom (1899), Western Australian Parliament House (1900), Claremont Teacher Training College (1902), Perth Modern School (1909”“11), Midland Courthouse (1907), Fremantle Post Office (1907) and Fremantle Technical College annexe (1910)). Beasley is noted for his 'blood and bandages' style of red-brick public architecture. Perth Technical College was the venue for the first tertiary educational activity in the state. In an earlier manifestation, the college incorporated a School of Mines. The main stairwell in the College building contains trapdoors which, when opened, allow creation of a vertical shaft akin to a mine. The college also provided university courses under licence from the University of Adelaide until the University of Western Australia was established in 1914. The technical college later became part of the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) programme and several other substantial neighbouring buildings were built or adapted to accommodate disciplines such as art and refrigeration. The college site extended southward from St George's Terrace to Mount's Bay Road. Its facilities were increasingly supplemented by other campuses including the former boys' school in James Street where the college principal's office was located in the 1980s. Many significant people have studied at Perth Technical College, such as Sir Charles Gairdner ( Governor of Western Australia 1951 - 1963) and Sir Walter James ( Premier of Western Australia 1902 - 1904).

Redevelopment progress
Proposed demolition of all buildings on the St George's Terrace site was announced in 1985 by a state government agency, the WA Development Corporation, with the extraordinary support of the National Trust (WA), to facilitate major redevelopment tenders. However, premier Brian Burke was persuaded to order preservation of the 1910 building (only), following a public campaign waged by a pressure-group, "the Castle Keepers". At that time, the large site (including the various other college buildings) was valued at about $4 million. In 1986 Laurie Connell and Alan Bond, through his Bond Corporation, both bought 25% stakes in a larger amalgamated site which included Newspaper House, the Royal Insurance Building, and the 1890s WA Trustee Co building, in partnership with the State Superannuation Board. The consortium paid $33.5 million for the site. Two years later, the site was sold to Kerry Packer and Warren Anderson, who paid $270 million and had grand plans to build on what they called Westralia Square. In the early 1990s, plans for a $2-billion development by Indonesia's Samma Group fell through. Anderson later left the project, with Packer selling his Westralia Square investment in 2003 for $19 million, taking a loss of more than $200 million on the deal. The purchaser was a partnership of Multiplex and Ric Stowe. In 2008 the City of Perth granted approval to Multiplex for the construction of a 46-storey tower block on the site for BHP Billiton. The approval included strict conditions on maintaining the heritage values of the buildings along St Georges Terrace, including Newspaper House, the Royal Insurance Building, the 1890s WA Trustee Co building and the Old Perth Technical School. In October 2010, the four heritage buildings were advertised for lease as "heritage office space" and described as "meticulously restored" as part of the City Square development. The developer, now known as Brookfield Multiplex, plans to use the Old Perth Technical School and other heritage buildings as entry points for the complex as a whole.

Heritage value
The 1910 Perth Technical School building was entered into the Register of the National Estate by the Australian Heritage Commission on 18 April 1989 and was classified by the National Trust (WA) on 14 June 2004. The building is also included on the City of Perth's Municipal Inventory and was interim listed on the State Register of Heritage Places on 9 January 1998.

Building Activity

  • Kiril Pavlov
    Kiril Pavlov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com