WA-made history

Opening Ceremony of London Court, Perth, Western Australia, 1937. State Library of WA 004003D
London Court, Perth, Western Australia, 1960. State Library of Western Australia 145663P
London Court today, as passersby learn of its past.

A HISTORY of London Court was launched over Heritage Weekend telling the swank arcade’s 85-year life story.

Local history non-profit Museum of Perth recently branched out into a vacant shop there and set up the volunteer-run London Court Books.

Volunteer Nicki Blake set about writing the court’s history, delving into archives to discover the lengths founder Claude de Bernales went to in order to find specialist artisans to build it: “The project managers were incredibly lucky to find, living in North Perth, an expert on 15th century wood-carving — Edward G Madeley — to carve the window-boxes from local jarrah timber and add details in the form of Tudor roses and gargoyles.”

Mr de Bernales wanted as much as possible to be made in WA, but he had to abroad to get parts for the famous clocks, and had legendary horologist Frank Hope-Jones brought over to complete them: “They were based on Le Grosse Horloge de Rouen in France, constructed in England by the Synchronome Company of Middlesex and shipped out to Australia to be assembled by their maker, Frank Hope-Jones, who worked in cooperation with a heraldry specialist to incorporate the figures of St George and the Dragon and the four tilting knights.”

Over the decades London Court was home to the the Red Cross, the Communist Party, and London Court Matrimonial, an ‘introductions service’ to matchmake couples. It was run by Viv James, an anti-communist speaker with no love for his upstairs neighbours selling the Worker’s Star newspaper. 

Once thriving with residential life in its flats, modern zoning laws and insurance issues mean the flats are no longer lived in. 

The display is on in the windows at London Court Books and a printed pamphlet version is on sale for $2 (proceeds to help run MoP). 

Listed for sale

LONDON COURT has been listed for sale, the first time it’s been up for grabs since it was built.

Claude de Bernale passed it on to private family ownership not long after building it, and it’s remained in their hands ever since.

Agents Colliers are seeking expressions of interest, expecting offers to come in at a national and international level.

“London Court has stood as a unique and much-loved landmark in the Perth CBD for more than eight decades, and in all that time has had just two owners,” Colliers agency director Ian Mickle said.

It’s been on the state heritage register since 1996.


One response to “WA-made history

  1. London Court, Iconic, a visible attraction directly from as far away as the tourists and locals enjoying the sights of Elizabeth Quay – with a slice of heritage gleaned between the buildings of Sherwood Court.
    .Alas, after dark – the publics attraction to the C.B.D is not visible for lack of directional warm spotlighting, – but otherwise it would be like the Barracks Arch top of St Georges Terrace, as a Landmark Day and Night.

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