Lists (None yet)

Login to create lists

Tagged (None yet)

Add Tags

Comments (None yet)

Add New Comment

1 correction by michaelgregg - Show corrections





DEAR "John".-In "The Western

Mail" of July 30 you published an article of mine entitled, "Our Wasted Rivers" wherein I tried to show how our rivers had been neg- lected and how they had been used for transport in earlier days.

We know that Western Australia is a large place and that there are many works to swallow up revenue. Railways ran parallel with the Swan and Canning rivers and to improve these rivers for transport would bring opposition to the railways which are government-owned but I feel sure that many would like to see more interest taken in reclaiming and beautifying the shores of the rivers. The best method would be to put the matter in the hands of a board with power to raise the neces- sary moneys and sell the reclaimed land; and I feel sure that the price received for the reclaimed land would repay the cost of the under- taking. I should say that it would oe possible to sell fully 200 acres of reclaimed land between the Cause- way and Bunbury railway bridge alone and still leave enough for garden strips and riverside drives. This work could be carried out con-

tinually year after year and provide steady work for a number of men

and in a few years we would have reason to be proud of our foreshores. Surely there are men in the councils and road boards through which our rivers pass who could form them- selves into a body and discuss this matter of improvement.

Early Reclamation Work.

It might interest people to know that the Imperial Government, in 1869, sent out a dredge in sections for the purpose of improving tne.rivers. The sections were rebuilt at North Fremantle on the site where Tilly's boatshed now stands but the dredge was not put into service until 1872, when it was worked by convict lab- our and dredged a channel to Wil- liam-street jetty from half way to the Narrows. After that the dredg- ing was continued up to the Barrack street jetty or King Cole's jetty as it was then known. Perth had four stone jetties in those days-Mill Lane, William-street, King Cole's and Government. The dredge then turned and made a channel to Mill street and the silt which was de- posited on the west side of Barrack street jetty was the beginning of the reclamation of Perth foreshore.

In those days from Point Lewis there was only the width of the road outside the fences of the grants under the Mount, the outside stone wall being in the water. This wall

continued to Mill-street with the ex-   ception of a small portion of low ground which ran out about 40 or 50 feet outside the road wall and ex- tended from about where the Swan Brewery bottling works are now to where their malting house stands. This piece of land was covered with rushes and paperbark trees and was said by Lord Forrest to have been the spot where Captain Stirling first landed. From Mill-street the bank of the river ran parallel with what is now Bazaar-terrace but there was no stone wall in those days. In- stead, a strip of sandy beach about 10 or 20 feet wide ran outside the road nearly up to Barrack-street jetty where the land widened out from 100 to 150 feet. To the east of Barrack-street jetty and up to Gov- ernment jetty the shore line ex-

tended some 200 or more feet fur- ther out and on this stood the old police lockup and stables. Eastward from Government jetty the foreshore

swept in through what are now the Governor's gardens and along the foot of the high ground to about Plain-street where the sand shore ran out about 500 feet.

The Birth of the Esplanade.

A little over a quarter of what is now the Esplanade was filled in by convict labour and then the dredge was laid up for some years. The City Council then decided to take a hand in the reclamation work; borrowed the dredge from the government and let a contract to Mr John Elsegood, a contractor, to carry on with the work towards William-street. Mr Elsegood carried out about half this work and then stopped. In 1887 Mr Wright, then director of Public Works, started a scheme to reduce the mouth of the river and open the bar to a great extent thus causing a larger scour to keep the river clear of sandbanks. The dredge, having been left on the mud of Perth water for so long, had rusted through in sev-

eral places so was taken to North Fremantle and given a jarrah bot- tom and reconstructed to allow her buckets to work through her bow instead of in the centre. She was named Black Swan and started the work at the mouth of the river in 1888. Some 2 or 3 years later C. Y. O'Connor brought out his Fre- mantle Harbour scheme and the dredge was put on to this work until the middle of 1892 when it was sent with convict labour to dredge a channel through the Canning river.

In 1896 Sir John Forrest, then Premier, placed some money on the estimates for improvements to the Swan River and the Department of Swan River Improvements was formed. The department was soon enlarged to take engineers, assistant engineers, surveyors, supervisors, foremen, etc, but the only dredging plants were the old Black Swan and a grab dredge which never worked properly. A sand pump was imported from the Mort Dock Company, Mel- bourne, and a vessel built to put it in but as all the money had then been spent no work was done with it.

By this time the first channel that had been dredged in 1873 had been re-dredged, a small channel 80 feet wide and five feet deep made from Barrack-street to Mends-street, and another channel made from Bar- rack-street to Coode-street. This latter was 50 feet wide and five feet deep. The silt from these dredgings was taken to Crawley and dumped in deep water, later being used to com- plete the Esplanade and a small piece of land on the west of Wil- liam-street jetty.

I don't know whether Sir John Forrest was dissatisfied with the work done but he donated no more money for this work and it stopped.

Improving the Channel.

In 1901 the channel from Barrack street to Mends-street jetty was dredged to allow the use of larger boats on this run. It was made 100 feet wide and seven feet deep, the silt reclaimed being used to make the garden in front of the Supreme Court. The Swan River Shipping Company then wanted dredging done around their wharves and out to the Narrows and the silt from this work was used between the Swan River Shipping Company's wharves and the Mill-street jetty. By the way, the ground on which this shipping company's buildings stood was all reclaimed by themselves. While the reclamatipn to the east of Mill-street jetty was in progress Mr Bell was appointed engineer for Swan River

Improvement and brought out a scheme for the beautifying of the foreshore from Point Lewis to May- lands. This included a rubble stone wall running the whole length except between William and Barrack streets, a wharf at William-street, Union Jack Square at Barrack-street, with its four .jetties for ferries and pleas- ure boats and the offices. This work went on until 1911 and by that time had reached from Point Lewis to just above Plain-street. The dredges Black Swan and Fremantle were used for this work and had been equipped with sand pumps in addition to the buckets. As well as these two smaller dredges, a grab dredge, barges and launches were used. The Narrows channel was widened to 200 feet by li feet deep up to Barrack-street; the Mends-street channel to 250 feet by 11 feet; the Causeway channel from Barrack-street to the Cause- way was made 150 feet wide and 11 feet deep; the whole of the space from William-street to Mill-street from the Swan River Shipping Com- pany's wharf to the Narrows channel was deepened to 11 feet. In 1911 a Labour Government was elected and as their Minister for Works thought the money could be spent more ad- vantageously on the Goldfields, the work ceased and the equipment was left to deteriorate. In 1926 or 1927 another Labour Government came into power and their Minister for Works, Mr A. Mccallum took a great interest in the reclamation work and wished to carry on with it. To this end he spent about £100,000 on one of the latest pump and grab dredges. The work then went on for two years when a National Government

was elected and as the Minister for Works thought the money was better employed helping farmers, the pro- cess of reclaiming was again stopped, this time for three years. By the time another Labour Government


Clod in a waterproof suit ond wearing a mask and goggles for protection against the bitter cold, this US Coast Guardsman uses a sub-machine gun to protect a boarding party going aboard a

suspicious vessel.

(US Office of War Information photo.)

came into power, much of the inter- est in improving-the river had gone. However, work began again on the south of the river near the Causeway but stopped again. I believe that the work done since then has been mostly at the cost of the South Perth and Nedlands road boards and the Claremont council.-G.H.P., Guild- ford.