Hard sell at start for suburb

A group standing in the water near Attadale Jetty in 1914.
A group standing in the water near Attadale Jetty in 1914.

A new riverfront home

At the time, prospective buyers were taken to view waterfront residential blocks by ferry to the Attadale Jetty, near the foot of the current Page Street, and then along the foreshore on a horse-drawn tramline to Alfred Cove.

Here they could view the different plants that could be grown at the Attadale Gardens, run by Matheson’s gardener John Muir.

The tramline was also used by the brick clay quarry at Alfred Cove to take goods to the jetty, which became known locally as Brick Landing.

The subdivision proved to be too isolated for the settlers and remained sparsely populated for many years. T.M. Burke & Co. prepared a new town plan in 1936 but it was only in the 1950s that the suburb was really developed.

Many of Attadale’s streets were named after people associated with Matheson and the London and West Australian Investment Company, of which the Melville Park Estate was a project.

Other streets were named after men on the muster list of HMS Challenger, Captain Charles Fremantle’s ship in 1829.

Attadale is part of the Wadjuk Beeliar culture area and was used for seasonal movement, hunting game and ceremonial purposes.

The river foreshore provided a plentiful supply of fish, shellfish and birdlife for food purposes and thus became a favoured camping place.

Well-established community

Santa Maria College, a Catholic girls’ secondary school in Stoneham Road, opened in February 1938.

This was in response to the increased demand for boarding places, so the Sisters of Mercy decided to expand from their original site in Perth (now Mercedes College).

The original structure (now the administrative building) was the result of a design competition and based on the Spanish influence, which connected the arrival of the Sisters and the Spanish Benedictines in 1846.

‘Santa Maria’ is Spanish for Holy Maria, and the college is listed on the Municipal Inventory List of the City of Melville.

Thanks to the City of Melville Museums and Local History Service for providing the photos and information for this feature. Next month, The Times will focus on the suburb of Willagee. Readers with photos or stories can submit them to the Melville Discovery Centre. Call 9364 0158 or email mdc@melville.wa.gov.au.