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History of the Coogee Hotel & Post Office

History of the Coogee Hotel & Post Office

Above: A picnic at the hotel about 1905 – probably for a sporting event or a local business’s employee picnic.

In 1898, Walter Powell, an accountant in Fremantle, was granted a liquor license for a small hotel opposite Coogee Beach known as Four-mile Well, a property owned by his wife Letitia. He called it Powell’s Coogee Hotel in his promotions, though it was most often simply known as Coogee Hotel.

The Garden of the West.

He immediately set about extending and improving the property and turned the area into a sporting haven and picnic spot, calling it The garden of the West. It became known as the Honeymoon Hotel, attracting visitors from all over Perth and WA. Local clubs of cricket, hunting, cycling, shooting and horseracing all met at the hotel or stopped for a drink. Powell built a racecourse beside his hotel and set up prizes to encourage local owners to participate.

In the mid-1920s, Powell’s brother-in-law Jock McKinnon opened a small shop and post office in the hotel grounds. This took over business from the previous post office/store slightly further south, run by Powell’s siblings, Blanche and Fred, who retired to Fremantle.

Powell died in 1923, after handing the license over to his son. The license changed hands several times in the next few years, until in 1927 the De-Licensing Board decided there were too many hotels in the area and withdrew the Coogee Hotel liquor license. The hotel was offered for rent as a seaside holiday home the next year.

In 1931 the empty hotel was purchased by the Anglican Church to be a holiday home for their orphans

It was used only during the summer months for this purpose. In 1946, fearing it would be overtaken by squatters desperate for housing in a post-war shortage, they renovated it and opened a permanent home there.

The building was almost demolished.

The house remained an orphanage until 1968, when Main Roads announced it was resuming the land to build a high-capacity road to Rockingham and the building would be demolished. The orphans moved out, but the Hotel was not knocked down, instead becoming headquarters for the Coogee Progress Association and various other offices.

A north wing was added in the 1990s and the site was heritage listed in 2001. It is owned by Main Roads, and there is no concrete plan for its future.

Local history questions or anything to add? Please let us know by commenting below.

This article can also be seen on the Cockburn Libraries’ Local History blog and first appeared in the October 2015 edition of Cockburn Soundings

About The Author

Leah

Leah works as the Reader Services Librarian at Spearwood Public Library, where she orders the books, and takes requests for anything you can't find in the library! She also researches and writes local history articles for the Cockburn Soundings, and for anyone who has a local history question. Comment below to ask Leah a question.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Leah,

    I am a decendant of Walter and Letitia Powell, charlotte and jock mackinnon where my great grandparents!! My mother spent a lot of her childhood at Coogee, would be so very interesting to see more about the family history, perhaps a person at azelea lee homestead? A contact, I would dearly love to bring my mother for further discussion some time, do you have a contact person for the azelea lee homestead?

    Kind regards

    Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Peta,

      It’s wonderful that the Powell descendants still live in the Cockburn area! The volunteers and officer at the museum would love to hear from you and your mother, so if you’d like to send them an email through the contact form here then I’m sure they can arrange a suitable time.

      Regards,
      Leah

      Reply

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