York – Oldest Inland Historic Town in Western Australia
Second day tour that I signed-up was estimated 1-hour shorter than my first day tour from Perth. But generally, the time spent in the tour, I can say it was almost the same. If the first day tour I had, went to south of Perth, the second day tour went to east of Perth, in Wheatbelt Region. The first stop of the tour was York, the oldest inland town in Western Australia state and located in Avon Valley. I already mentioned the name “Avon” in my previous photo post (Swan River). And then I realized that the Avon River where Swan River is connected also passing the town of York within the Avon Valley.
Stone commemorates the arrival of Ensign Robert Dale (which can be found in York Courthouse Complex)
Historically, the town of York has been discovered in 1830 when Ensign Robert Dale led a small party of exploratory journey over Darling Range (now Avon Valley). Then, a second party led by Lieutenant-Governor Sterling describe the land as “the finest imaginable sheep-land”. Then, the York name came from Yorkshire because of hills and valleys.
Our bus parked along Avon Terrace in the corner of South Street just beside the Sargent’s Pharmacy heritage building. During the tour, I am only aware that we are going where Wave Rock is, but when we got out of the bus and our guide gave us time to explore this historic town in Avon Valley. I got curious. Though I was not aware at that time where we are exactly aside from the name of the town which is York. I walked towards Joaquina Street.
The colourful mosaic art in the wall of York CRC (Community Resource Center) along Avon Terrace caught my attention and captured a photo of it. Based on the information that I looked-up about this mosaic art, it’s a group effort of talented people who volunteered to make this for York CRC. This has been installed in the wall last 2016.
And I walked again and only stopped when I saw a building nearby. Honestly, during the visit, I only knew that we were exploring historic town of York, but I was not aware which building are heritage or not, but by just looking at each building that I passed on, one thing I can say that most or probably all buildings along Avon Terrace are historical or heritage building.
Looking at the information about Imperial Hotel, I was amazed how old the building is. Though time-tested which resulted to some changes of what it has originally, still shows how the materials used to build it were reliable since the building still standing up to this time. The building was built because of a demand of additional accommodation at the time when Eastern Railway opened in 1885 where the hotel located just few minutes walk from York Station (Joaquina Street Station). It opened its doors to guest in 1886 that made this hotel 132 years old as of this writing. But we knew that if the old town has story, the building has story as well. If the building experience its glory, it has also time for its down where it has been closed. During the tour, the building was closed and just recently back in business when it was bought and renovated by group of farmers in the town with the objective to put the hotel back in business and to attract visitors to York.
Reaching Joaquina Street, gave me a chance to see the magnificent building called Town Hall in York. I admired the grand architecture design of the building. I think it is the most fascinating structure built in York as it has Federation Free Classical style and located in the corner of Avon Terrace and Joaquina Street, the other side of the corner where Imperial Hotel stands. Historically, it was a former Mechanics Institute and converted to a Town Hall in 1911. The heritage hotel considered to be the most impressive building in York. Because York Visitor Centre is inside this magnificent building, anyone has a chance to get inside to have a glimpse of the town hall. Based on history, at the time that this building was built, it has the largest public halls in Western Australia.
While I was in Joaquina Street, I tried to walk further to check if I can still see other heritage building in the said street and after passing Shire of York office, I saw Masonic Hall or Freemason’s Hall building.
Shire of York
Based on the tablet in the wall that can be seen in the building, the heritage building was built for the independent Order of Oddfellows in 1887, then sold in 1925 to a similar society, the Freemasons. The building became Lodge No.5 of the Grand Lodge of Western Australia. And its architectural design categorized as Victorian Classical Revival Style.
I returned to Avon Terrace to continue my exploration in the town and stopped again when I saw another heritage buildings. One of them was York Castle Hotel or simply Castle Hotel is located in the corner of South Street and Avon Terrace. Based on history, this hotel is the oldest inland hotel not only in the town but in the whole state of Western Australia which has been established in 1853 and managed by Craig family until 1990. As of this writing, this historical hotel still in business and offers combinations of accommodations, shops, bistro, bars and swimming pool.
The opposite building of Castle Hotel which also stands in the corner of South Street and Avon Terrace is called Sargent’s Pharmacy. The name of the building was after Obeithio Sargent who built the shop in 1904. His family lives in the top floor while the pharmacy in the ground floor. His son named Oswald Hewlett Sargent who was also trained as pharmacist and his wife Gertrude Victoria Onions continue the pharmacy business. Historically, Oswald received the first Webster Memorial Prize for achieving the highest marks in the final examinations and his collection of plants became part of Western Australian Herbarium.
Another heritage building opposite of Sargent’s Pharmacy and Castle Hotel, still in the corner of Avon Terrace and South Street, Davies Building can be found. The building was built in 1908 as improved of former business Garden Valley Fruit Palace that was built in 1903 which stands in the same site and owned by the same person William Thomas Davies. The historic two face clock that the mayor of York at that time requested to be installed in Town Hall but did not happen are still visible along Avon Terrace.
So far, the walk for me was still satisfying, even though I walked along Avon Terrace in current modern time, imagining what the road will look like after more than 100 years was kind of intriguing. Seeing a heritage or building to survive after a long time was a fascinating and worth learning. As I continued my walk along the historic road hoping to see more heritage and historic buildings, it seems my hope and wish were granted as more old buildings still standing waiting to be seen and appreciated.
Another heritage building in the town called York Co-op became familiar with lots of people as it was a market place, where people exchange money and goods. In 1872, William Edwards Junior constructed the single story as a new place for his stores which previously located near in Castle Hotel. His sons named Charles and Kenneth continued the business until 1936. In 1950’s, the York and Districts Co-Operative purchased the building as an outlet for produce from local farms (now an IGA-Independent Grocers of Australia) which pushed the interior of the building to be change to accommodate the needs of modern supermarket. The outside of it such as balustrades and archways that framed the original verandah are still intact and visible.
Not far from York Co-Op building, the next building to see was Settlers Front Shop and Settlers Gift Shop. The two buildings are part of heritage building called Settlers House & Village which I missed to see as I was only able to capture photos of building that stands along Avon Terrace. One of the thing that was fascinating to learn about it was that these were also owned by Craig family, the one who owns the Castle Hotel. Widowed Mary Craig bought it as she saw an opportunity of the business. In 1877, it was leased by George Inkpen for district’s first newspaper – Eastern District Chronicle. Then, Inkpen family bought the property in 1929 where the whole building called as Inkpen Building. Only in 1972 where its name change to Settler’s House.
Settlers Front Shop
Settlers Gift Shop
This hotel along Avon Terrace has a different story to tell, as the old times, it reflects or remind people the controversy or scandal that relates to the building. York Hotel was built by a former farmer named Matthew Ryan and called it as Palace Hotel. And at that time, the hotel was considered luxurious because of its tiles, fittings and furnishings. But such splendid hotel comes with a price. Mr. Ryan had financial difficulties which resulted him to mortgage the building to a pastoral company. In the end, the hotel was sold but Mr. Ryan still stayed in the hotel and did not want to leave the property. There were news that he even threatened the new owner of the hotel. They heard at that time that Mr. Ryan will blow-up the hotel if he was forced to leave the premises. Then, he got arrested and police found evidence of this plans. But Mr. Ryan went into trial but his claim and explanation was changed which made him found not guilty on the incident. The name of the hotel changed to York Hotel after it was bought by Swan Brewery in 1937. Some parts of hotel has already been changed since its renovations in 1990s with the new owner named Mr. John Hay.
This building was a former Council of Chambers and when the municipal council moved to its new location – Town Hall, it was bought by Mr. William Thomas Davies (the owner of Davies Building). A great discovery about Mr. Davies was he sold the building to Fire Brigade without a profit, it was like a donation. Currently the Fire Brigade already moved to its modern home in Henrietta Street. The heritage building is now used as community centre and owned privately.
Western Australian Bank building is the building that considered unchanging because it’s almost remain the same since 1889. And the unique about this building is, it has always been a bank building ever since up to this day. It was home for decades for York branch of Western Australian Bank (now Bankwest), then followed by Bank of New South Wales, and Challenge banks. Currently the building is being used as Westpac bank.
As I was looking for information about this building, I crossed with the name for the second time with the designer of the building – George Temple Poole. Then, I remembered where I first encountered its name, it was the time that I was writing about “The Perth Mint” heritage building. This post office and even the York Courthouse were both designed by the same person, and looking at the design of the post office, there is part of it that has resemblance on the mint building. This building’s foundation has been laid in 1893 by the first Premier of Western Australia – John Forrest. The first post office was built in 1866 but its original building didn’t last that long but still made York Post Office to have the long period of unbroken postal service.
Another heritage building beside York Post Office is York Courthouse Complex. Looking at the structure of both building, at first I thought it was just one whole complex, but I realized that the post office is a separated building. This building hosted both the police station and a courthouse where lots of cases has been served since 1852 until 1981 where the police station moved to its new home.
As I do not have photos of it separately so I combine featuring them here. First, about Old Backpackers, is one of the building that had been re-purposed many times. If only walls can talk, most likely it already told us a lot of things happened inside the building. This building started as Gentleman’s club in 1884, then it became Dinsdale Shop (after owners William and Alfred Dinsdale) and also run as a temperance boarding house by Mrs. Charlotte Pyke – wife of Albert Pyke (manager of Settler’s House). It also became antique restorer, a shirt factory, a tailor, a saddler, an importer, a wartime tent-making factory and a block of flats. Most recently it housed a backpackers’ hostel. And finally about Union Bank building, it’s almost the same with Old Backpackers with lots of functional history. This building, was branch of Union Bank of Australia in 1878. From 1951 to 1996, it became an Australia and New Zealand Bank branch. After that, it became a jewelry shop and factory. And currently the building is a veterinary clinic. Both buildings still standing at this time and its amazing how these buildings is more than hundred years of time.
Old Backpackers (Left) and Union Bank (Right)
At first, this building was known as Windsor Building after Mr. J.C. Windsor who built it in 19th century. But then, it was mostly known as Ford Dealership in Western Australia. Currently, the building is now served as York Motor Museum since 1981, when Peter Briggs and James Harwood founded the museum in 1979 to display their collection of 140 vehicles. The museum also displays the finest private collections of veteran, vintage, classic and racing cars in Australia.
Other Old Buildings
This building still standing along Avon Terrace are the Central Buildings. The section on the left was built in 1907 while the section on the right built in 1892.
Next to the Davies Building is the Collins Buildings and the building was erected in 1907 as shops.
1. Plan to visit York ? Please check latest information here.
2. Location : York, Western Australia, Australia
3. Directions to the town of York:
a. Join Day Tours from Perth or
b. Take bus from Transwa Bay East Perth to Esperance or Albany and get off at Joaquina St in York Town or
3. Take train from Perth Station to Midland Station, then exchange train from Midland Station to Joaquina St Station in York.
Official Website : York