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Guildford's 'bend in the river' heritage listed

Jan 31, 2017

Photograph of Bebo Moro Guildford

  • Bebo Moro was part of the early colonial settlement of Guildford and includes a house, and a rare 1837 intact freestanding store and cellar
  • JJ Talbot Hobbs designed the residence for the elite colonial merchant class

An 1890 stone and iron-roofed residence on the west bank of the Swan River in Guildford has been recognised by its inclusion in the State Register.

State Heritage Office Acting Executive Director Harriet Wyatt said that Bebo Moro is important for the story it tells about the early development of the area, especially as an example of a residence designed for the elite colonial merchant class.

“This historic property dates back to the early colonial development of Guildford, with the land being acquired in the 1830s as part of the original subdivision of the townsite,” Mrs Wyatt said.

“The unusual name is said to be an adaptation of a Nyungar word for ‘bend on the river’ which aptly describes the position of the property within a bend of the Swan River.”

Colonists began to settle in the Swan District area as early as 1829, with a series of long, thin ‘ribbon’ grants surveyed along the banks of the Swan River. By the following year, lots were open for selection in the newly-established townsite of Guildford.

While originally conceived as a market town, Guildford soon became a stopping point for transport on the Swan River, a converging point for early roads, and later rail, to the Wheatbelt, and an important centre for agriculture and horticulture.

The current residence was built in 1890, possibly on the site of the earlier homestead, and was designed by renowned Western Australian architect JJ Talbot Hobbs. Further additions were made up until 1930.

Bebo Moro is closely linked to three generations of the Pratt family who lived there from 1837 to 1936, beginning with merchant and shipowner Captain Charles Pratt and his wife Anne.

However, the oldest structure on the property is a rare intact freestanding store and cellar, likely dating from 1837 at the time of Charles Pratt’s occupation. The store was used to stockpile bottled preserves and wine, which were kept in the underground cellar.

In 1957, The Daughters of Charity bought the property and converted the place to an aged care facility with a supporting hospital. Currently, it is managed by Catholic Homes as St Vincent’s Aged Care for more than 60 residents.

For more information about Bebo Moro, go to inHerit

inHerit - an online portal for heritage listings

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