The Hon Colin Barnett MLA, Premier of Western Australia opened the newly refurbished State heritage listed Stirling House, as the new home of North Fremantle School of Early Learning at 101 Stirling Highway, North Fremantle on Wednesday 22 October.
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National Trust of Australia (WA) Chair, the Hon John Cowdell said a successful public-private partnership between the National Trust and childcare operator Schools of Early Learning had delivered an outstanding compatible and sustainable use outcome at a State Registered Heritage Place.
“A $2.35m investment in recognised State heritage values has been delivered through the substantial financial commitment from the Schools of Early Learning with National Trust capital and conservation expertise,” Mr Cowdell said.
“We are delighted with the results at Stirling House which provides 24 new jobs in childcare, while a further thirteen construction jobs were created during the project. Stirling House brings a vital economic and social benefit to North Fremantle,” he said.
The site was a summer camping place for the Whadjuk, later a convict depot, and has connections to government education from 1886. The North Fremantle Primary School designed by Government architect George Temple-Poole, was built on the site in 1894 and set a precedent in co-education.
“It’s a magnificent outcome 120 years later that an educational foundation set in the 1880s is underpinning innovative childcare and learning in Western Australia,” Mr Perrigo said.
Schools of Early Learning Director Brett Thomson said the beautiful architecture of the old North Fremantle Primary School is matched by a wonderful design which will accommodate 112 children per day.
“Schools of Early Learning prides itself on understanding the needs of the community and providing high quality care and education to children. We are thrilled to announce the latest addition to the Schools of Early Learning childcare centres which now provide services to more than 800 families in Western Australia,” Mr Thomson said.
“The partnership with the National Trust has delivered innovative facilities including a creative outdoor environment which offers children new sandpits, wet areas, the shade of established trees, a vegetable garden and fruit trees, a chicken coop, rainwater tanks and rain gauges all in a spectacular heritage site,” he said.
The place has links to Western Australian identities including Sir Paul Hasluck, Bon Scott, and John Tonkin who became WA Premier and who also taught at North Fremantle Primary School in the early 1930s. In the 1970s the name changed to Stirling House and a halfway house for prisoners was established. In 1983 the site became Australia’s first bail hostel. Clontarf Aboriginal College also used Stirling House for accommodation.
“The best heritage outcome is that the place is used for the purpose it was originally designed and built. The former North Fremantle Primary School continues its role in the care and education of young children,” Mr Cowdell said.