THIS week from the Vincent library we have a guest piece by Friends of Local History volunteer MICHELLE VERCOE, who’s delved into the archives (and some old Voice newspapers) to bring us the story of a prominent lost building, the 1897-built Norwood Hotel.
THE Norwood Hotel stood on the corner of Windsor and Lord streets (formerly Old Guildford Road) for more than 100 years.
The hotel was built in 1897 by contractor Samuel Moore.
The original brick and iron Federation-style hotel had 17 bedrooms, four sitting rooms, two bars and a drawing room, kitchen, laundry, stables and wrap-around verandas. Mr Moore applied for a publican’s licence on August 17, 1897, but by May 1898, he applied to transfer his licence to the Empire Hotel (corner of Murray and George streets Perth).
By December 1898, Mr Moore was facing bankruptcy.
The hotel went into the receivership of Thomas Coombe who ran a financing company which leased the hotel to Swan Brewery Company.
From 1898, the Swan Brewery operated the hotel under a succession of different publicans including Robert Howson, Septimus Hughes and David Mulcahy.
In 1903, the pub was bought by competitors, the Stanley Brewery Company (which later became the Emu Brewery).
The company continued leasing the pub to David Mulcahy who remained publican until 1911.
From 1912 onwards, there was a frequent turnover of publicans at the Norwood.
As with many Federation-era Perth hotels, the Norwood served more than food and drink.
It also provided accommodation for the many newcomers arriving in Perth en-route to the Eastern goldfields looking to find fortune in the early 20th century.
The Norwood was also used as a meeting place by various politicians and clubs, such as the Perth Harriers’ Club and the East Perth branch of the Perth Ratepayers Association.
Given its proximity to the East Perth Locomotive Depot, which operated from 1917 until the early 1970s, the Norwood was a popular drinking place for many railway employees.
In the 1920s, it was also the finish line for the Beverley to Perth and Northam to Perth road races, which attracted thousands of thirsty cycling enthusiasts who gathered to cheer on the winners.
In 1928, extensive alterations were made to the Norwood including an extension of the public bar, reinforcing of veranda posts and partial tiling of the exterior.
Architectural plans show the ground floor consisted of a public bar, a saloon bar, two parlours, a billiard room, two stores, an office, toilets, kitchen, wash house and the manager’s private residence.
Upstairs was filled with guest accommodation.
Further alterations were made in 1937, with more updates in the 1950s and 1970s.
From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the hotel was run by Steve Spanbrook.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Norwood was “a hot bed of indie culture hosting such acts as bluesman Dave Hole and punk band The Saints”. (Perth Voice, 16 February 2008)
In 1999, the National Trust and the Town of Vincent assessed the hotel’s heritage value as part of a State-wide Survey of Hotels 1829-1937.
Given much of the original building and details were removed in alterations or destroyed by vagrants, it was not considered to be of state heritage significance.
It was however listed on Vincent’s Municipal Heritage Inventory and continued to operate as a hotel until 2001, when it was renamed Jackson’s.
After the hotel’s closure in 2001, the building fell into disrepair.
In 2003, a proposal for a three-storey mixed residential and commercial development was submitted but did not eventuate.
The building was removed from the Municipal Heritage Inventory in 2006 and knocked down in June 2008.
In 2015, the site was redeveloped by Finbar into the Norwood apartment complex, comprising 59 apartments, gym, pool deck and resident’s lounge.
I stayed a couple of weeks at the Norwood Hotel in October 1987 on my first visit to Australia. It was the quintessential Aussie hotel, full of character and full of characters — locals and visitors. It provided a great introduction to Aussie life. I vividly remember a jukebox in the downstairs bar playing George Michael tracks from ‘Faith’. There were tennis court(s) opposite the hotel. I got warned by a cop for carrying a beer in Lord Street outside, when I had no idea of the law on that subject. A bit later, I bought a clapped-out panel van and drove to Wave Rock one day and when I returned to the hotel I discovered a bloke had died in the room next to mine. Sad way to go, all alone in a dark, slightly dilapidated room with the sun blazing outside. I’m sorry to hear the old Norwood Hotel is no more as it holds so many memories for me of my time Down Under. In my view the hotel should have been preserved as a historic building.