Heritage restoration reveals hidden history of Notre Dame’s Law Library

A major heritage restoration project to preserve the façade of The University of Notre Dame Australia’s 130- year-old Law Library building has revealed its links to the West End of Fremantle’s early mercantile history.

Decades of paint were painstakingly removed to expose the Croke Street building’s cement-rendered frontage, along with hand-painted signage bearing the name of the property’s original owners, J & W Bateman Ltd.

The Bateman family were some of Fremantle’s earliest residents, arriving from England in 1830. John Bateman supplied provisions for the Swan River Colony until his death in 1855. His son’s John and Walter carried on the family business, becoming the colony’s leading importers and exporters with their own fleet of sailing ships.

Bateman Building, Croke Lane, Fremantle, ca turn of 20th century

By 1893, they owned several buildings in the West End, known collectively as the Bateman Buildings, which are now owned by the University and are clustered together on Mouat, Henry and Croke Streets.

Rachel Loughlin, Manager of Notre Dame’s Project Management Office, said the Croke Street building was already painted over when the University purchased it in the 1990s. She said the discovery of the original signage was a special surprise for the restoration team.

“Given the age of the building and its delicate condition, this proved to be a very complicated restoration project, taking some nine months to complete,” Ms Loughlin said.

“We were absolutely delighted when we uncovered the signage and simply amazed how good the condition of it was after all this time. It is great to think that our students and the community will now be able to enjoy it for many more years to come.

The Bateman Building as recently restored, Croke Lane facade, July 2023 2023

“We are also delighted with the overall finish of the building, which has been lovingly restored to the way it would have looked in the 1890’s when it was being used as storerooms for the shipping operations run by the Bateman family.

“The University is grateful to the Heritage Council of Western Australia who gave us a $40,000 grant to help fund this work, as well as our building team and the City of Fremantle for their guidance.”

The full scope of works carried out during the project included:
* Remove paint.
* Rebuild brickwork bracketed buttress to parapet wall
* Remove and replace steel brace to eastern parapet like for like. Repair parapet wall head and cornicing, reseal to halt water ingress. Remove corroded lintels and replace like for like.
* Replace corroded steel bars in windows to match original and paint. Rebuild cracked and damaged masonry and repair render to façade. Apply dry packing to steel cleats for internal steel bracing.
* Replace windows and paint per approved colour by CoF.


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