It’s no surprise that one of WA’s oldest towns, Guildford, is still brimming with history! Guildford was established in 1829, when WA was settled. The town was named by Captain James Stirling after his father-in-law’s electorate in Surrey. To delve even deeper, you can visit the Guildford Historical Precinct, located at the Swan Valley Information Centre in Guildford. Guildford soon became an inland port, providing a river link between Perth and the country districts. The thriving market town was also home to a convict ticket-of-leave hiring depot and today the precinct is still intact – a courthouse (the information centre), a jail and more.
Swan Valley Information Centre
We stared at the Guildford and Swan Valley Information Centre in the corner of Meadow and Swan St. We’d driven past the street lined with old buildings many, many times – though never really noticed that you could visit these buildings. Here, as well as picking up brochures for attractions and wineries in the area, there’s a free exhibition.
The “Cradle of the Colony” exhibition has been put together by the Guildford Historical Society.
We enjoyed browsing the small exhibition, which is packed with historical tit bits like when the Swan River Aboriginal People made their first contact with Captain Stirling’s party in 1827 and many artefacts.
I was particularly taken with the dresses and wedding dresses of times gone by.
Originally located at the rear of Meadow Street I the quaint Taylor’s Cottage. It’s believed that the 1860’s cottage was actually first built as a horse stable and then converted to a home for the Taylor family.
In the 1980’s it was dismantled and relocated piece by piece to the Guildford Heritage Precinct. If you peer through the windows, you can see just how cramped living quarters were back then – by my, it is sweet!
Be sure to peer into the nearby washhouse too, filled with a large copper, rinsing troughs and wringers.
The Colonial Gaol
Built in 1867, the Colonial Gaol was the local lock up for petty criminals awaiting trial at the courthouse, as well as serious offenders awaiting transport to the larger Perth or Fremantle gaols. Infamous bushranger, Moondyne Joe, was one of the most notable people to serve time there. The goal was in operation right up to 1969! For a $5 fee, you can tour the goal (five days a week).
The Guildford Village Potters Club is an art co-operative, gallery and shop found in the old police quarters. Here you can purchase local crafts, speak to artists and see demos.
If you’re looking for something to eat afterwards there’s plenty of heritage options within walking distance. Poste Café is found next door in the neighbouring old post office. Walk around the corner onto Swan St to dine at WA’s oldest pub, the Rose and Crown.
The wonderfully preserved Colonial Gaol and Taylor’s Cottage are found in the same grounds as the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford.
Find the Guildford Historical Precinct at Guildford Courthouse, Cnr Meadow and Swan Streets, Guildford
Opening: 7 Days, all year (closed Christmas Day). From 9am to 4pm
Phone: 9207 8899
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