Fight to restore historic building

Fight to restore historic building

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Robert Micklewright would like to see the Whitby Falls Coach House and Tearooms restored to its former glory. Photograph – Richard Polden.

A descendant of the original owners of one of Mundijong’s oldest buildings is hoping to step back in time to discover the history and hopefully breathe new life into the old beauty.

Edward Cockram, one of the region’s earliest pioneers, built Whitby Falls Coach House, formerly known as the Jarrahdale Inn, in 1873.

The Victorian Regency-style building on South Western Highway was often frequented by many of the region’s timber workers, but many centuries on, the building is now undoubtedly looking worse for wear and is lacking significant purpose.

Robert Micklewright vividly remembers growing up and listening to stories of the Cockram family and hearing how his relatives settled in Western Australia and the accomplishments they achieved.

He is now hoping to dive into the history books and follow his long-lasting family tree to find out who the current owners are and discover what vision they have for the future of the historic site.

“The building is important to me because it makes me feel like I have a long-standing connection to Western Australia,” he said.

“It upsets me to see no repairs being done.

“I have spoken to a couple of family members, descendants like myself about the Coach House and I can honestly say that we would be overjoyed to see it restored back to it’s former glory and for it to have a purpose again.”

The building was added to the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale’s Local Heritage Survey in July 2000 and was referred to the State Heritage Council for assessment in 2003, however it is yet to be assessed.

Mr Micklewright said he would love to see the building restored and brought up to a standard where it could be used as it was once intended.

“Ultimately this place probably means more to some people than they realise,” he said.

“It’s been many thing things to many people over the years, even if it was just a curiosity to people driving past thinking what a beautiful old building it is, completely out of place in the surrounding environment.

“It was in walking distance from the old rail line siding, it was the social centre of the Serpentine and Jarrahdale area, it provided a service to the local timber workers and it was a rest stop for people travelling to and from the areas down south.

“It was also an important stop for stage coaches that delivered passengers and mail.”

However with the expansion of the nearby residential area, Mr Micklewright now holds grave concerns for the future of the historic site.

“I believe the Whitby Falls Coach House should be Heritage Listed because it’s an important part of the history to the area,” he said.

“If I was disgracefully wealthy I’d love to try and buy the place and do something more with it but until I win Lotto, it’s only a dream.”

Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale acting chief executive officer Helen Sarcich said buildings like this contribute to the living history of the region and the shire encourages the conservation of places of historical significance.

However as the site is privately owned, the shire cannot assist with the funding of the restoration.