THE City of Joondalup could lose some of its rare pioneer history if plans to demolish Duffy House in Woodvale go ahead.
It has called on the WA Heritage Council to “urgently consider” including Duffy House on the State Register of Heritage Places to “ensure the existing structure is protected from demolition and from falling into further disrepair”.
Mayor Albert Jacob said there were about 1300 State heritage-listed places in WA.
“The City of Joondalup has about 161,000 residents – so more than 5 per cent of the state’s population – yet of the 1300 places, we only have one, being Luisini Winery in Kingsley,” he said.
“If we were to have a second, it would be Duffy House; a facility that has fallen into disrepair but is really quite a beautiful old heritage building, an original in many ways, and the closest thing we have to original settlers still within the City of Joondalup.
“We are a new city, we are a young city and we celebrate that, but we have very, very little heritage in this City and that’s why I believe Duffy House is certainly worthy of consideration again for inclusion in the State heritage registry.”
Joondalup chief executive Garry Hunt said the site at 108 Duffy Terrace was reserved for the purpose of parks and recreation and was owned by the WA Planning Commission.
“In 2009, the site was included on the City of Joondalup’s heritage list but it did not meet the threshold for entry on the State Register of Heritage Places,” he said.
He said in July 2015 – when Mr Jacob was the Heritage Minister – WAPC contacted the City to advise it was “considering doing some work on the building to prevent further deterioration” and that “dollar-for-dollar funding was requested from the City”.
“At that time, the City declined, given the building was on land owned by the WAPC,” Mr Hunt said.
“WAPC is now seeking to demolish the building and has sought the City’s feedback on the proposal.
“The City has advised it does not support the demolition of Duffy House but the WAPC has asked the City to reconsider its position.
“The City intends to respond again to the WAPC that it does not support demolition of the building; however it is uncertain whether WAPC would proceed to demolition despite the recommendation.”
Mr Jacob said it was “vitally important” to save Duffy House “for future generations”.
“If the decision is made to have it state heritage-listed, that’s only the first step,” he said.
“We also need to find ways to see it not only maintained but also restored and brought to future use that maintains its viability in to the future.”
In 2012, the Heritage Council resolved that Duffy House was unlikely to meet the threshold for the State Heritage Register and did not warrant a full assessment.
It is due to consider the City’s re-nomination at its meeting tomorrow.
Mr Jacob said discussions had been held between the City and departmental and ministerial representatives to “explore possible long-term solutions for Duffy House and these discussions are ongoing”.
WAPC chairman Eric Lumsden said the commission bought the Duffy House site in 2014 “for inclusion in the Yellagonga Regional Park”.
“The house is currently in a poor state of repair and attracting antisocial behaviour,” he said.
“The WAPC will continue to consult with the City of Joondalup on its future management.”
Duffy House began life as a farm
ORIGINALLY part of a working farm, and later a dairy, Duffy House is next to Beenup Swamp in Yellagonga Regional Park.
A report to Joondalup council in 2009 stated it “may be the oldest surviving building in the City of Joondalup”.
“Duffy House is a limestone cottage, in a simple Victorian Georgian style, with brick quoining and a corrugated iron roof,” it said.
“An unusual feature of the house is that it intentionally lacks ceilings.
“The house is approached down a long laneway from Duffy Terrace and faces the swamp, away from the road.”
It said the house was “adapted to suit local conditions through the addition of a veranda”.
“The house, together with the setting, is important evidence of the history of occupation of Woodvale and demonstrates the original development of the site as a farm,” it said.
“It is associated with the prominent Duffy family, early Wanneroo settlers and long time Wanneroo residents.”
Its history dates back to 1859 when Bernard and Sarah Duffy emigrated from Ireland to WA on the Hamilla Mitchell.
They had a son, Barney, and four daughters: Mary, Margaret, Sarah and Catherine.
In 1873, Barney married Catherine Hughes and they had six children: Bernard James, Frederick John, Sarah Ann, Henry, Ernest and William.
In 1877, Barney became a farmer with 100 acres near Lake Goollelal. He was one of the first European settlers in the Wanneroo district and built a limestone house on his property, which was demolished in 1977.
Son Frederick John took up farming at the family estate in Wanneroo before taking up his own farm in the district, on part of which now sits Duffy House.
“Part of this farmland was cleared and a market garden cultivated, producing a wide variety of vegetables,” the report said.
“Frederick also kept horses and cattle.”
In 1907, Frederick married Eva Matilda Cockman, daughter of Wanneroo pioneers James and Mary Ann Cockman, who had settled in Wanneroo in 1852. Frederick became the first secretary of the Wanneroo Roads Board in 1903 and the first secretary of the Wanneroo Agricultural Society in 1909.
Frederick and Eva had eight children: Frederick William ‘Bill’, Bernard ‘Bob’, Harry, Claude, Roy, John ‘Jack’, Norman and Doris Eva.
In 1911, Frederick had the now Duffy House built of limestone from Perry’s Paddock. It had four rooms – three bedrooms and a kitchen – and was constructed by local builder George Dawson, taking two years to complete.
According to the report, Bill Duffy said his father “never had time to get the house plastered or sealed inside”.
The homestead was originally 25 acres and Frederick worked the swampland as a vegetable garden until his death in 1924.
After that, the garden was abandoned, so Eva started a dairy, which the sons helped to run. “At its height, the dairy milked up to 70 cows a day and sent the milk to Brownes Milk depot in North Perth,” the report said.
“However, in 1941, Jack enlisted in the Australian Army but was manpowered out in 1944 to help his brother Bob run the dairy.”
“Jack and Bob continued the dairy until it moved off the homestead in 1962.
“The dairy finally finished production in 1976.”
In 1982, Jack was awarded a Shire of Wanneroo plaque in recognition of more than 50 years of continuous living in the district.
Why Duffy House has no ceiling
The late John ‘Jack’ Duffy, who was born in 1913 and lived all his life in Duffy House until his death in 2009, said his family’s house was “one of the most modern homes in the district”.
“Dr Haines, who lived in East Wanneroo, told Dad it would be healthier not to put a ceiling in the house, so he didn’t,” he recalled.
“We certainly had plenty of fresh air through the place.
“Visitors sometimes said it was a bit cold in winter but I never felt cold there in 80-odd years and there isn’t anywhere cooler in summer.
“All the walls and floorboards are original and still in good condition.
“Under the lino the jarrah floorboards are all clean and strong.
“We held dances on those floorboards, when we had birthdays or surprise parties.
“We’d roll everything up out of the way and have a good dance.”