- Deco Restaurant
- Lounge Bar
- Wine Club
RAFFLES HOTEL A VIBRANT HISTORY 1896-2006
From 1896 and through the 1900’s, the Canning Bridge Hotel, located on the present-day ‘Raffles Hotel’ site, was a buzz of social activity.
The single storey structure, with a high gabled roof and a pavilion and dance hall alongside, provided a venue for social and sporting groups.
On 28 May 1830, Raffles Hotel site was acquired by Lionel Lukin as part of the largest land grant on the south side of the river (Swan Location 61). Although through much of the nineteenth century it remained largely undeveloped due to poor quality soils, hostility from the indigenous inhabitants and the threat of bushfires.
Swan Location 61 consisted of 1,096 acres that included all of Applecross and part of the Canning Bridge locality. It would change hands many times before 1896, when Scotsman, Alexander Matheson, purchased a large portion of the parcel.
Matheson had been attracted to Western Australia by the gold boom and also acquired Swan Locations 73 and 74, and Cockburn Sound Location 356.
His land holding included more than 1,200 hectares of Melville land and he intended for Applecross to be developed into a modern suburb and a place of ‘gentlemen’s residences’.
The birth of a landmark
Although there may have been an earlier structure on the site, the construction of the Canning Bridge Hotel (c. 1896) is likely to have resulted from its location on the southern route from Fremantle to Perth via the Causeway (built in 1843) and the building of a series of successive bridges across the narrowest section of Canning River.
Since the 1830s there had been several unsuccessful attempts to build a public house near the river on Canning Road. However, by 1900, even in its isolation, the Canning Bridge Hotel had become a permanent landmark.
The introduction of the 'Raffles'
In 1937 the Canning Bridge Hotel underwent extensive remodelling. It was renamed 'Raffles Hotel' after the famous ‘Raffles’ in Singapore. Perth architect William G. Bennett, a major exponent of inter-war art deco design, successfully tendered for the hotel’s modern face-lift and extensive additions. His firm, Eales, Cohen & Bennett, had also been responsible for the Applecross District Hall. These two buildings were representative of the stylistic shift, which occurred in Western Australian between the mid to late 1930s.
The hotel’s redevelopment coincided with upgrades to the Canning Road, which was renamed Canning Highway in the same year. A new Canning Bridge was also constructed alongside the older one, which was completed in 1938.
The hotel's improvements were spurred partly by a new sense of optimism after the worldwide depression and also by the announcement that a new distinctive modern Applecross District Hall (now called the 'Tivoli') would be built in close proximity to the hotel.
At a cost of nearly £10,000, the much-celebrated 'Raffles Hotel' reconstruction design was highly in vogue, incorporating an aesthetic of streamlined and function forms with an emphasis on ‘horizontal lines’. Its large curved loggias on both floors provided access to extensive views to the Swan and Canning Rivers.
Raffles Hotel was officially opened by Chief Secretary Mr. W. H. Kitson in front of 200 guests on December 10th 1937.
Raffles Hotel – a new era
In 1995, it was classified by the National Trust of Australia (WA) for its historic value to WA.
Its significance was further reinforced in 2002 when it became a permanent entry on the Register of Heritage Places.
In the same year, an agreement was reached between Appin Investments (a company controlled by colourful Sydney identity Abe Saffron) and Multiplex Limited for them to purchase the entire Raffles Hotel site.
In 2003, Melville City Council granted planning approval to Multiplex Limited for the total redevelopment of the site. This approval was conditional upon the redevelopment of the heritage-listed hotel and it re-opening as a fully operational licensed venue.
In the same year, Cross Fishwick and Associates and Bruce Robinson and Associates were commissioned to carry out the design and oversee the redevelopment of the heritage-listed building.
Leading Perth designer, Brandon Cross, has been principally responsible for the concept and design of the redeveloped Raffles Hotel, which was officially reopened in November 2006.
Raffles Hotel – A Chronology of Events
1829 Establishment of the Swan River Colony 1830 Swan Location 61 acquired by Lionel Lukin 1896 A large portion of Swan Location 61 and other lands in the Melville district acquired by Scotsman Alexander Matheson.
Building of Canning Bridge Hotel
1937 Extensive remodelling of the Canning Bridge Hotel, renamed Raffles Hotel 1938 Upgrading of the Canning Highway and construction of the new Canning Bridge 1995 Raffles Hotel classified by the National Trust of Australia (WA) 2001 Raffles Hotel given interim entry on the Register of Heritage Places 2002 Raffles Hotel permanent entry on the Register of Heritage Places 2003 Heritage Council gives conditional support 'in principle' for the planned redevelopment 2006 Planning approval received by City of Melville
Raffles Hotel officially re-opens