The Barracks Arch
The Barrack’s Arch is a four storey Tudor arched gateway sitting at the top of St George’s Terrace and is all that remains of the Pensioner’s Barrack. The barracks was built to house soldiers (and families) of the Enrolled Pensioner Forces. These soldiers, known as the Pensioner Guards, were made up of soldiers and veterans who had been honourably discharged from the British Army . Their role was to guard the convicts whilst they were being transported to the Colony from 1850-1865.
The Pensioner’s Barrack was built in 1863 by the British Imperial Establishment and the Public Works Department of the Western Australia Colonial Government. Captain E.M. Grain and James Manning drew up the original design of the barracks which included wings extending either side of the arch. The wings consisted of a 120 rooms. Famed architect Richard Roach Jewell was responsible for the detail and the later additions.
Convict labour was used to build the barracks and they used hand made bricks from Brickfield Reserve, now Queens Gardens.
After the recall of the British troops in 1868, many of the soldiers stayed in Perth . By 1878 the Pensioners Guard was fully disbanded and some chose to live at the barracks until 1904 when it was converted to offices. Following the closure many retired to farming lots which had been granted to them in return for their services.
In 1904 The Barrack became the Public Works Department headquarters. The Chief Engineer C.Y.O’Connor had his office immediately above the archway and it was from there that Goldfields Water Pipeline was planned.
In 1966 the state government announced that the two wings of the Pensioner’s Barrack were to be demolished to make way for the Mitchell Freeway and give the newly built Parliament House a clear view down St George’s Terrace. Needless to say the public were outraged. Unfortunately, despite the public’s disapproval the State Government went ahead and demolished the Barracks. What a different landscape Perth’s Central Business District would have been had it been preserved. The only compensation was that the Barrack’s Arch was saved from the same fate.