Locating the United Service Tavern

Wherein, I solve a mystery no-one had ever considered had been a mystery before and correct the historical record on a minor fact that — in the grand scheme of things — is completely irrelevant.

This is the earliest dated confirmation in the press that the United Service Tavern in Perth was now under the proprietorship of Mr Henry Laroche Cole (1809-1866). He rebuilt the popular meeting venue, watering hole and lodging place located on land he now owned on the corner of St George’s Terrace and Barrack Street. It was a strategic location near the administrative heart of the town, and consisted of the northern half of two Perth town allotments once in the possession of the Colonial Chaplain, the Rev. John Burdett Wittenoom.

The United Service Tavern as an institution long predated Coles’s ownership of the same, but there can be no question that Wittenoom owned or allowed to be operated a drinking establishment on his land. The Colonial Chaplain had his detractors. If they had a stick like that to beat him with, that stick would have been used.

Three months before Wittenoom’s land went up for sale, the original United Service Tavern was offered up for auction on the allotment next to his:—

The Perth town Allotments once in the possession of the Wittenoom and Hodges families.

This is the earliest known image of Cole’s Corner with the United Service Tavern on it, dating to 1861. He has rebuild the structure to the left of where it once stood.

Cole’s building, the United Service Tavern and west on St Georges Terrace from Barrack Street, Perth, A. H. Stone 1861 [SLWA: 6923B/177]
Map produced by Public Works Department held by SROWA

Cole’s Tavern was extended between 1861 and the end of the nineteenth century and it’s name was changed to the United Service Hotel. It is the floorplan of the building photographed below that is depicted in the map above.

The United Service Hotel, 43 St. George’s Terrace, Perth, W.A [slwa_b1429370_43]

After 1896, the interior of the building was gutted and it’s frontage extended to the footpath. I don’t pretend to care to too much about this iteration of the establishment, but apparently the stables and out buildings behind the main structure survived and were said to date all the way back to time of the original hotel in 1835. Of course, we now know that this is impossible and that they had to have been the work of H L Cole and no earlier than the year 1840. Don’t we?

THE UNITED SERVICE HOTEL. (1896, May 8). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 14

United Service Hotel, St George’s Terrace, Perth in 1972 just prior to demolition.
slwa_b3905953_1
It now looks like this. [Google maps]

1 comment

  1. I wonder when current day architects will take a long hard look at themselves and realise that almost anything is more attractive than their boxes with the compulsory balconies. It is not as if you ever see anyone sitting on a balcony. They could surely come up with something more attractive and charming with not much more effort or expense. Bring back the United Service Hotel.

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