General Post Office Perth

General Post Office Perth

General Post Office Perth is a heritage landmark building in Perth, Western Australia. Located on the western side of Forrest Place in the city’s central business district, its imposing stone facade is in the Beaux-Arts style. The building was completed in 1923 after almost a decade of construction, which was protracted by World War I and the resulting shortages of construction materials. At the time of its opening, it was the largest building in Perth.

On 28 November 1911, the Commonwealth Government bought 1.2 hectares (130,000 sq ft) of land across Wellington Street from the Perth railway station.[3] This land stretched to Murray Street[3] and featured an “unhealthy” shopping arcade named Central Arcade.[4] The land was to be used as a Commonwealth Government precinct, allowing the Commonwealth departments to move out of the cramped Treasury Buildings at the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street, which it shared with the State Government.[3][5] A proposal was made in 1912 for a 66-foot (20 m) wide street through the site featuring a new General Post Office building.[5]

Principal Architect (Western Australia) Hillson Beasley visited Melbourne, where he worked with Commonwealth Architect John Smith Murdoch to design the new General Post Office building.Architectural plans were drawn up and the construction contract with C. W. Arnott[6] signed on 7 July 1914 at a cost of £232,700. These original plans provided for five storeys above ground level, in addition to a basement.

Construction commenced in mid-1914, and initially experienced a delay due to sandy soil on the site. The foundation stone was laid by Minister for Home Affairs W. O. Archibald on 8 October 1915.The subsequent outbreak of World War I led to a significant delay in the building’s construction. The steel to be used in the construction became subject to an embargo by the British Government in 1916.[8][9] An alternative supply was finally sourced from Broken Hill Proprietary in 1920. Construction was later delayed due to a six-month engineers’ strike.The flooring and fittings were originally to be Australian blackwood, however Murdoch substituted jarrah which could be locally sourced.