Cottesloe Jetty, c. 1920
In the 1890s Cottesloe Beach was accessible to people by carriage and by train. From the station there was a short walk down Forrest Street to the Sea Beach which consisted of many sand dunes, an outcrop of rocks, a rocky cliff-face and an area appropriate for swimming. At the foot of the rocks was a reef covered by 2 feet of water. It was a favourite fishing place.
There were several reasons for the construction of the jetty:
- to make life easier for fishermen
- to enable visitors to come close to the ocean without necessarily swimming in it, i.e.promenading
- to attract visitors to the Sea Beach
- to add to the means of entertainment, e.g. band concerts.
In 1899 the Roads Board initiated a move which was to lead to the construction of the jetty, by seeking advice from the Under-Secretary for Public Works as to ‘the best mode of giving effect to the erection of a platform or mole on the reef abutting into the sea at Moodoorup Rocks’.
By October 1903, Mr Shields of the Engineer-in-Chief’s Department had submitted plans for a jetty which the Roads Board subsequently decided to build. The jetty was described as 400 feet long and to cost 1400 pounds, the Government to pay 900 pounds and the Board 500 pounds. The Board promptly set aside its share. The Public Works Department prepared the plans and its engineer carried out surveys, favouring two locations – Beach Street and Forrest Street. Much attention was given to planning the approaches during 1906 and the jetty was completed in August (Guardian 25/8/1906) and handed over to the Roads Board which had been busy preparing draft by-laws for its control. These were adopted in October. In one day 16,000 people travelled to Cottesloe by train! Lighting was installed for evening activities.
The pier, as it is often referred, became a major attraction for tourists and residents and was central to the establishment of many stalls, kiosks and tearooms as well as pleasure activities which brought financial rewards to many and financial responsibilities to the Council. The Government placed the Sea Jetty under the control and management of the Council on 26 May 1909, it to be repaired and maintained by the Council to the satisfaction of the Government. The Council had the right to charge for admission.
Repairs were carried out from time to time as winter storms took their toll. However, in 1914 an inspector found the pier unsafe, it had been weakened by a wood boring mollusc, the Teredo Worm, and by 1923 several piles were missing so the jetty was shortened. Improvements and extensions were being considered in 1925, but July storms again caused damage and parts of the jetty were cut away. The Council sought help from the Government to carry out repairs. The Government agreed, provided that the Council undertook payment of costs within 12 months.
By 1946, the Council was considering whether to repair or demolish, a very difficult situation, as financially it was not capable of doing either! Technically, the jetty was owned by the Government and leased by the Council so the matter was really in the hands of the Public Works Department. Winter storms in 1947 took away more piles. Danger notices and barricades were erected the following year. In August, 1948 the Council intended to relinquish control of the pier in accordance with the terms of the lease. In February, 1949 an attempt was made to share the cost of jetty repairs amongst all Local Authorities in the metro area in proportion to population and valuation – on a 50/50 basis with the Government, bearing in mind that there were jetties in other areas. All to no avail.
By July 1949 the Government was set on demolition. The Council expressed regret and hoped a section could remain as a short promenade. Businessmen wrote to the Government to appeal and in December the Council made one last attempt to save the jetty and advised that it was prepared to make a 50/50 contribution (to maximum of 200 pounds) for repairs. The Government replied that demolition would be the best option and quoted a cost of 200 pounds but also suggested that Council should pay half, this was the last straw! The remains of the ill-fated jetty disappeared in August 1952 when it was blown up using gelignite.
Adapted from Loisette Marsh’s article in The Cottesloe Society Newsletter, June 1998 with generous permission from Ruth Marchant James – EF06303
The Diving Jetty
Not many people realise that there were in fact, two jetties at Cottesloe! The photograph, snapped by Town Clerk, N. F. Haynes was taken at the opening of the Diving Jetty on 7 January, 1922. It provides a rare view of the stalls, kiosks and tearooms on Cottesloe Beach north of the main jetty (visible to the right of the picture) and thus it has great value.
According to Council minutes, in October 1921 Mr L Grant offered to erect the spring board and diving platform at a cost of up to 400 pounds. The Council referred the offer to the Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club who offered to pay 100 pounds over three years to facilitate the structure. The diving jetty was planned as a facility for the club to offer encouragement to poor swimmers. By-laws prevented swimmers from diving from the main jetty so the diving jetty was regarded as a potential attraction for the beach.
Mr Grant’s tender was accepted and the Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club undertook to pay 50 pounds for three years, 150 pounds in all. The club and the Council conferred over the proposition and agreed it should go ahead, the club to look after the structure.
When Mr Grant submitted an amended price for the diving jetty, Council took the opportunity to ask him for a price to drive piles from the main jetty towards Moodoorup Rocks. The quote being subsequently accepted. The work began in November 1921 and in December it was noticed that an error had been made in the starting point of the jetty. Work proceeded however and 180 feet of jetty was completed and the additional piles driven to take sheeting a distance of 100 feet south from the main jetty.
According to the Civic Centre News (V.6, No.5, Feb. 1957 p.1) the diving jetty, although greatly appreciated, was swept away by a storm four months after it was completed.
Adapted from Pat Adamson’s article in The Cottesloe Society Newsletter, June 1998 with generous permission from Ruth Marchant James – EF06303