Fishermen’s Hall to be demolished

Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Irwin Shire Council voted to demolish Port Denison's Fishermen's Hall and preserve the historic timbers. The former corrugated iron building was extensively re-modelled in the 1990s.
Camera IconIrwin Shire Council voted to demolish Port Denison's Fishermen's Hall and preserve the historic timbers. The former corrugated iron building was extensively re-modelled in the 1990s. Credit: Midwest Times, Geoff Vivian Midwest Times

Port Denison’s historic Fishermen’s Hall is to be demolished.

At its last meeting, Irwin Shire Council voted to remove the old building and preserve the historic timbers and other heritage items for potential future use within the shire.

The building began its life in 1894 as a bond store when merchants exported wool directly from Port Denison.

In her report to council, projects supervisor Peta-Jane Ruffles said Port Denison went into decline in the mid-1890s with the opening of the Midland Railway line and the shed fell into disrepair.

“With the formation of the Denison Progress Association in the 1940s with Herbert Cole as president, the shed was renovated with repairs to the wooden floor,” she wrote. “In the 1970s the Dongara Professional Fishermen’s Association leased the building from the Shire of Irwin and made repairs to the building.”

The association added a concrete block exterior and new verandas to the then corrugated iron building in 1996. It was a popular weekly social centre for the fishing industry before Southerly’s Tavern appeared over the road.

The Heritage Council gave it a “low” integrity or authenticity rating as little of the original building survived the renovation.

Council had considered preserving the building’s heritage significance by dismantling the 1996 additions and keeping the historically significant timbers on site to allow an “open visual aspect” as part of the foreshore development.

In a report to council, Shire governance and executive co-ordinator Danika Chandler said 80 people either attended consultation sessions or made formal submissions about the “Green Space” initiative, which included improved parking.

She noted they were all given a feedback form and 52 people returned them. Of these, 41 people or 87 per cent said the Fishermen’s Hall should be kept.

Another feedback form was provided and 46 people responded to a proposal to remove the Hall.

Of these, 27 voted to preserve and reuse the original material of the building. All councillors supported the motion except Cr Ian West, who unsuccessfully proposed to lay the proposal on the table for another month to allow further public comment.

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