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City of South Perth

Place Number

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295 Manning Rd Waterford

Location Details

30/9/2011 Address includes: Lot 9001 Manning Road, Waterford. VFL.

Other Name(s)

Clontarf Boys Town
Clontarf Campus
St Joseph's Boys Orphanage

Local Government

South Perth



Construction Date

Constructed from 1901

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List Adopted 14 Nov 2000
Heritage Agreement YES 27 Jun 2011 Text of the Heritage Agreement
Heritage Council
State Register Registered 14 Dec 2001 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Art Deco Significant Bldg Survey Completed 30 Jun 1994

Heritage Council
Classified by the National Trust Classified 08 Jul 2002

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The following statement is taken from the Register Entry for Place 2401 Clontarf prepared by the State Heritage Office in 2001.

Clontarf, a large site containing buildings of a former orphanage, farm and school dating from 1901 to 1973 in a variety of styles, some later buildings, ‘Brother Keaney’s Gardens’, sports grounds, swimming pool, gardens and wetlands, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons:
• the place is important for its schooling of day boys and boarders, residential care education and supervision of orphans, vagrants, children from suffering families, child migrants and Aboriginal children from 1901 to the 1980s. It represents memories and associations for those in whose lives it played an important role and is a tangible reminder of the institutionalisation, abuse and exploitation suffered by some boys at the hands of those charged with their care;
• the buildings constructed in the period 1935-41 (including the clock tower) are examples of the technical achievements of the Christian Brothers and the children who worked under their supervision;
• the elegant proportions and fine interior detailing of the Inter-War Romanesque style chapel is of aesthetic value and demonstrates the level of technical excellence achieved by the boys and Brothers through the progressive construction process on the site;
• the main building is a fine example of Victorian Romanesque style by Architect Michael Cavanagh, constructed in local limestone with soft red brick detailing;
• the chapel is associated with architect Marie Jackson;
• is valued by the Christian Brothers as a demonstration of the organisation’s philanthropic educational basis;
• is valued by the Aboriginal community of Perth and Western Australia as a place of education and self-determination integral to the formation of their modern culture;
• is of aesthetic value for its formal entry statements, driveway, mature trees, rose gardens, expansive lawns, wetlands and homogenous group of pale walled, terracotta roofed buildings; and,
the site has landmark qualities and contributes to the community’s sense of place.

Physical Description

Clontarf is located on the southern side of Manning Road adjacent to the Canning River. The site presents as a collection of buildings of assorted design, style and purpose, arranged around the centrepiece of the original 1901 building, central driveway and adjacent lawn areas. The site is unified by a number of similar wall/gate features containing semicircular
entry statements, tall pillars and/or low machicolated or solid walls constructed in smooth or roughcast rendered painted brickwork.

The site also features a number of statues and memorials including a statue of Christian Brothers’ founder Edmund Rice located north of the Brothers’ residence and statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph located in the central lawn area. Other structures in the grounds include an electrical substation, clock tower, handball courts, swimming pool, basketball courts and retaining walls.

Brothers’ Residence (1985)
This building is located in the gardens on the eastern side of the main driveway. It originally provided four bedrooms and shared living areas for the brothers but was extended in 1991 to provide a further self contained flat at the northern end, connected to the original building by a covered walkway.

Former Presbytery/Chaplain’s Residence (1936; 1973)
This residence is located on the eastern side of the central driveway between the Chapel and the Brother’s Residence. The former Presbytery is a brick bungalow with a hipped terracotta tiled roof.

Chapel (1940-41; 1972; 1974-78)
The chapel is located to the north-east of the main building on the eastern side of the central driveway. It replaced an earlier chapel located in the main building. The chapel is an Inter-War Romanesque styled rendered brick building with a terracotta tiled roof concealed behind parapet gables on the north and south ends. All windows and doors are set in round arched openings accentuated by a rendered hood mould detail on the surrounding wall. The windows are leadlight and the doors are in diagonal set v-jointed boarding.

Library (1974-75)
The Library in located at the south-east corner of the main building. It was constructed as a library and science block and is currently used by Clontarf Aboriginal College as a library and computer room. The Library is a long rectangular concrete block building with a tiled gable
roof. Pre-cast concrete box gutters obscure the eaves on the north and south elevations. The doors and windows are aluminium framed.

Gymnasium (former) (1938; 1957; 1962)
The Gymnasium is located at the south-east corner of the site on the edge of the embankment leading down to the foreshore and the adjacent wetlands. It was constructed as a mechanics workshop and changed to a Gymnasium in 1957 which involved bricking in of the lower part of windows and alterations to doorways. The timber floor was added in 1962.

Former Technical Trades Building (1935-37)
This building is located to the south-east of the main building, south of the Library and west of the former Gymnasium. It was constructed in stages from 1935-37. The north-eastern and southern wings of the building were demolished in late 1999 and conservation works carried out on the remaining portion including the original water tower and classroom/dormitory.

Main Building (1901; 1939-40; 1947; 1972)
The main building is located at the termination of the central driveway. It was constructed in 1901 as the St Joseph’s Orphanage. This two-storey Victorian Romanesque style rusticated limestone building has a terracotta-tiled roof set behind parapet gables. It has a symmetrical
façade with arcaded verandahs at first and second floor in between the gable ends. The building has brick detailing around windows, doors, elliptical arches of the ground floor arcade, first floor verandah balustrade, string-courses and chimneys. Some of the brick detail has been rendered over. The building is basically u-shaped and a two-storey verandah surrounds a central courtyard at the rear of the building and extends across the southern
faces of the two side wings. Original windows are double hung timber sashes with a central glazing bead. Some have been replaced with aluminium frames. Original doors are multi-paneled in solid timber or half-glazed French doors. Some of these have also been replaced with flush panel doors or filled with aluminium framed windows with solid base panels.

Classroom Block (1937-38; c1961; 1964)
The classroom block is located to the south-west of the main building on the edge of the embankment which leads down to the sports ground. It was constructed in 1937-38 to provide classrooms, library and handball court. By 1961, verandah piers had been replaced and the handball court was converted to a squash court in 1964. The building is constructed of rendered and face-brick and has a hipped tiled roof. In plan the building is essentially U-shaped with the long axis being in the centre of the “U” and extending along an east-west axis. A tower is located centrally along this axis. The tower has a hipped tiled roof and concrete cantilever balconies projecting to the east and west.

Keaney Memorial Hall, former shower block and toilets (Recreation Hall)
(c.1927; 1938; 1940; 1954; 1960; 1963)
The Recreation Hall is located on the western side of the main building. The Hall, which was originally timber framed with an iron roof, was apparently brought to the site from Mundaring Weir c.1927. The toilet block to the west of the hall was constructed in 1938. The shower block is probably that constructed in 1929 also referred to as a bathroom block. In 1940, the walls of the hall were replaced with brick and in 1951, the shower block was converted into a locker room. In 1954, a new brick façade was added to the east elevation, an additional set of double doors were added to the south elevation and a tuck-shop installed at the eastern end of the hall. The former shower block was renovated in 1960 and the toilet block in 1987. A roof was also constructed to join the three buildings in 1963.

Garage/work shop (1958; 1998)
The workshop is located on the south side of the east-west driveway, southwest of the former Dining Room/Kitchen. The workshop consists of a rendered brick building with a low pitched steel roof set behind a small parapet on the western end of the northern elevation.

Former Kitchen and Dining Room (1939-40; 1949-50; 1951; 1957; 1969)
This building is located at south-west corner of the central lawn area, at the junction of the western secondary driveway and the road which runs eastwest across the front of the main building. It originally contained dining rooms from the boys and Brothers, a kitchen, storerooms and cool rooms. A tower on the south-west corner was removed and the ceilings and floor replaced in the boys dining room in 1949-50. In 1951 the Brothers dining room was renovated and a new cool room installed and in 1957 the kitchen was renovated. The front of the building was tuckpointed in 1969.

Former Matron’s Residence and former Laundry (Noolbenger) (1952; 1962)
These buildings are located on the western side of the central lawn area adjacent to the secondary driveway between the former Kitchen/dining room and Jackson House. The laundry was constructed in 1952 and the residence in 1962.

Jackson House (Abmusic) (c.1942)
This building is also located on the western side of the central lawn area adjacent to the secondary driveway. It was brought to the site by the RAAF during World War II and was since used as a convent (c1948-1966), hostel (1966-81), MS Society (1981-86) and Abmusic College (1986-1999).

Abmusic Building (1998-9)
Located at the north-western corner of the site and having its main entry facing south, this is a collection of five single-storey buildings surrounding a central courtyard connected by covered walkways and verandahs, purpose built for the Aboriginal and Islander College of Music. The building is constructed in rendered brickwork and has a curved Colorbond steel roof and Aluminium framed windows. Salvaged pine power poles have been used to support undulating verandahs and walkways. This building is in excellent condition.


The following information is largely drawn from the assessment documentation prepared for the inclusion of the place in the State Register of Heritage Places in 2001.

In 1802, the Christian Brothers’ organisation (the Brothers) was founded by Edmund Rice in Waterford, Ireland, to educate poor boys, this later developed to the institutional care of orphans. In 1868, the Brothers first arrived in eastern Australia, and then, in 1894, they came to Western Australia. On 23 November 1897, the Brothers assumed management of St Joseph’s boys’ orphanage in Subiaco, which had been established in 1872 by the Sisters of Mercy.

In 1897, Canning Location 87 and Canning Locations 57 and 65 were purchased for a new orphanage. The land was on the north bank of the Canning River and was uncleared bushland with a fresh water spring. The site was named Clontarf by Brother Treacy, the leaders of the brothers in Australia after a town in Ireland, and it was to be a place where boys could be accommodated and cared for, given primary education, religious teaching and receive basic training in manual skills and farm practices.

By 1900, plans were under way for the construction of the main building at Clontarf. The architect, Michael Francis Cavanagh, was commissioned to design the buildings and the building contract was awarded to Mr J. Coghill for the cost of £8500. Cavanagh, originally from Victoria, had been practicing in Western Australia since 1895 and had designed several other Catholic institutions.

Limestone and other materials used in the construction were shipped up the Canning River, but were off-loaded on the south side of the river due to the location of a small channel. A jetty was therefore extended most of the way across the river and a small rail-line was installed to move the stone on trolleys pulled by mules.

On 3 January 1901 the foundation stone of the main building was laid by the Most Reverend Matthew Gibney D. D., Lord Bishop of Perth. Although the site was named Clontarf, the actual orphanage was named St Joseph’s Boys’ Orphanage after the orphanage in Subiaco. On 8 September 1901, the main building, which included a chapel, had been completed and was ready for occupation. The boys from St Joseph’s, Subiaco, were relocated to Clontarf.

At the time of its establishment, the boys who resided at Clontarf were predominantly aged between six and fourteen. The boys were either orphans, or abandoned or had one parent (usually the mother) who was unable to support them. In its first few years, there were between 100 to 150 boys based at Clontarf under the care of five or six Brothers. After the age of fourteen, most boys left to either find work and/or return to their family. Those who did stay on - because of lack
of any other opportunity - assisted the Brothers in the day-to-day running of the institution, but no longer attended school.

In 1903, sports grounds for cricket and football were established between the main buildings and the river, as well as a jetty and boat shed. Additional recreation space was later provided by reclaimed swampland.

In 1908, the Brothers purchased a further 28 acres of land to the east of the Clontarf site, comprising Lots 80, 81, 82 and 83.

In 1914, a statue of St Joseph was placed in the grounds in front of the main building. In 1918, a bandstand was constructed as a performance venue for Clontarf’s newly formed brass band. In 1919, a manual arts block for carpentry and boot-making was erected to the south-east of the main building. In 1921, Lots 16 and 17 to the west were purchased.

By the early 1920s, Clontarf was a fully operational farm with orchards and vegetable gardens at the north-eastern end of the site, cultivated and tended by the boys. There was also a dairy, a poultry yard, piggery and stock runs. As a result,
Clontarf was near self-sufficient. The grounds were fenced with post and rail fences, and picket fences all painted white. A number of outbuildings (most of which are no longer extant) had been constructed including a bakehouse,
laundry, toilets, storerooms and a water tower.

Some time between 1926 and 1929, an area now referred to as ‘Brother Keaney’s Garden’ was established, and this included a lake surrounded by palm trees. Brother Keaney was the Superior of Clontarf for two terms until 1942.

In a 1927 report, the Recreation Hall is first mentioned. This timber and iron hall was relocated from Mundaring Weir to Clontarf and erected south-west of the main building. In addition to general recreational activities, it was used as a gymnasium and had a stage at one end for presentations and performances, and later as a cinema. In 1940, the timber walls were replaced with brick. Also in 1927, hot showers were introduced to the home. In 1929, a bathroom
block was added to the south-west of the main building.

In 1929, a grotto to honour Our Lady of Lourdes was constructed on the slope towards the Canning River. In 1954, this was moved to the south of the Chapel to make way for handball courts. The grave of student Michael Bowman, who was killed in a bus accident in 1955, is located behind the grotto.

By the late 1920s, a matron had been employed at Clontarf, and her quarters were located in a small building to the west of the main building.

Circa 1935, a small dormitory with a water tower - containing a concrete water tank - was built, south of the manual arts building. This was extended in 1937, originally for classrooms, but becoming the Technical Trades Block. All brick work and most of the carpentry was done by the boys.

From 1936, under the direction of Supervisor Brother Paul Keaney, Clontarf underwent probably its greatest phase of development to date both in the construction of further accommodation and facilities, as well as in the training
schemes for the resident boys. In order to achieve this, Brother Keaney attracted generous donations of money, materials and services, as well as substantial Lotteries Commission grants. In addition, c.1936, Locations 14 and 15 were purchased, extending Clontarf’s boundaries further westward, and 90 acres were purchased to the east. In 1936, the Chaplain’s Residence was built on the east of the entrance avenue.

In 1937, the British child migrant scheme began but it was not until August 1938 that the first boys went to Christian Brothers’ homes in Western Australia. The boys went to Clontarf, Bindoon and Castledare. By 1938, enrolments at Clontarf had increased to 208. To accommodate the extra boys, a new classroom block was built, officially opening on 20 March 1938. This new block was designed by architects Howard, Bonner and Tracey and included a tower with small balconies, a library with a large fireplace in the western room, and a large handball court and later (1940) a tennis court. Other works completed in the period 1938 to 1940 include a toilet block and a mechanics’ workshop, a bakehouse which included a clock tower, flour mill, laundry and servants’ quarters, new entrance gates at the Manning Road end, and a
pavilion on the oval (north).

In 1940, the dining and kitchen block was completed, containing the boys’ dining room, Brothers’ refectory, kitchen, refrigeration and storerooms Originally the building had two towers, but only the north-west tower remains.

In 1939-40, the timber verandahs were removed from the rear of the main building and replaced with concrete walled and jarrah floored verandahs on all but the north side of the building. Towers were also added at this time on the south-west and south-east corners, possibly being used as bedrooms for the older boys.
In 1940, a two-storey annex was added to the western side of the main building, resulting in the loss of the former matron’s quarters. This annexe was later demolished.

At the end of 1940, foundations were laid for the much needed larger chapel, designed by architect, Marie Jackson. The majority of building works were carried out by Clontarf boys and Brothers. The rose window was apparently designed and manufactured in Ireland, and the original bell was a personal gift of the Archbishop. On 20 December 1941, the new chapel was consecrated, with an official opening ceremony held the following day. It was at this ceremony that the name ‘Clontarf Boys’ Town’ was suggested.

During the Second World War, on 1 March 1942, the RAAF took occupation of Clontarf. The Brothers and boys were relocated to the farms at Bindoon and Tardun. On 1 February 1945, the RAAF moved out. Although some buildings were added to the site by the RAAF during its occupation, much furniture and equipment belonging to Clontarf has been either lost or destroyed, and the farm and grounds had become neglected. Upon returning to Clontarf, the Brothers and the boys set about bringing the institution back to what it was before the war.

In 1947, the main building was extensively renovated. Other works carried out after the War included the renovation and upgrade of the Dining and Kitchen block (1949-50), the reopening of the bakery (1948), reinstatement of partitions in the classroom block (1951) and re-equipping of the Technical block (1951-52). In 1949, an outdoor stage/auditorium designed
by the architect, Edgar Henderson, was erected in the quadrangle.

Some of the former RAAF buildings left on site were utilised by the Brothers after the War, and the remainder were progressively demolished. Some of the former RAAF buildings left on site were utilised by the Brothers
after the War, and the remainder were progressively demolished.

Works to the grounds and gardens and the farm were also carried out in the period immediately after the War. The palms along the entrance avenue and in front of the main building were replaced with roses and other flowering shrubs. In 1950, the quadrangle was cemented and a picket fence erected from the rear of the quadrangle to the convent. The farm was brought back to its pre-War state with clearing and fencing as well as improvements to the building and the building of a new dairy (1951).

In 1952, the artist Antony Paraphilaekos [sic] was commissioned to paint a mural of the crucifixion on the dome of the sanctuary.

After the War the Education Department reorganised and increased provision of secondary education in line with developments in other countries - particularly Britain. This meant that many of the boys were able to sit for their Junior Certificate at Clontarf, which previously had been undertaken at nearby Aquinas College. Some also went on to complete their Leaving at Aquinas while still residing at Clontarf. In addition, there was an influx of British and Maltese migrants from the late 1940s early 1950s. These two events resulted in an increase in residential numbers, which peaked at 249 in 1953.

In 1954, following the death of Brother Keaney, the recreation hall underwent a major renovation, including a new brick facade, and was renamed the Keaney Memorial Hall. In 1957, another memorial was established in honour of the founder of the Christian Brothers - Brother Edmund Rice. A garden, including a statue of Brother Rice, a rose garden and a pond, was developed between the presbytery and Manning Road.

Between 1957 and 1958 several works occurred. In 1957, the former mechanics’ workshop was renovated and converted into a gymnasium. In 1958, a new garage was built. On 7 March 1958, the first swimming pool was opened at Clontarf.

Between 1957 and 1958 several works occurred. In 1957, the former mechanics’ workshop was renovated and converted into a gymnasium. In 1958, a new garage was built. On 7 March 1958, the first swimming pool was opened at Clontarf.

The 1960s saw the beginning of the selling off of Clontarf land by the Brothers. In 1966, the Sisters vacated their convent, which was then renovated and turned into a hostel, named Jackson House. The hostel was used by both WAIT (now Curtin University) students and senior boys.

The 1970s were a transition period for Clontarf. In 1973, it was announced that Clontarf was to move toward becoming a treatment centre for adolescents with problems. From 1977, very few day boys were enrolled, and by the 1980s, the number of resident boys had more than halved.

The chapel also underwent several changes during the 1970s. In 1972, two stained glass panels from the original chapel in the main building were incorporated into the chapel doors, and between 1974-1978, the original chapel windows were replaced with five new stained windows. Circa 1974, the manual arts building was demolished to make way for the new science and library building. This building, designed by Henderson and Thompson, was completed in 1975.

In the late 1980s, allegations of sexual and physical abuse and exploitation were made against the Christian Brothers by former students/residents of their institutions. An organisation named ‘Voices’ was established by former students/residents to represent and provide counselling for those who had experienced abuse at the Christian Brothers’ orphanages. The Christian Brothers accepted that there was strong evidence that many of the allegations were true, and made a public apology. The existence of many of the buildings at Christian Brothers institutions built by staff and children
under their supervision is a tangible reminder of the perceived exploitation of the former residents.

In 1983, the treatment Centre for Adolescents closed which prompted two years of study and community consultation, which led to the decision to reopen, a school for Aboriginal youths aged 15 to 18. On 2 May 1986, Clontarf Aboriginal College was officially opened in the main building. Aboriginal children from all over the state attended the College. With increased use by the Aboriginal community generally, many fledgling Aboriginal organisations were offered low cost rental arrangements to utilise other buildings on the site.

The Brothers retained the use of the chapel and their two residences.

On 22 April 2013, after more than a decade of negotiations, the ownership of the 12.3 hectare Clontarf campus passed to the Indigenous Land Corporation in the form of a $26 million gift that had to be approved by the Vatican.

Clontarf Aboriginal College continues [2018] to operate at the site and develop its programs for Aboriginal boys and girls from all regions of the state.


Moderate / Moderate




Name Type Year From Year To
Michael Cavanagh Architect - -
Howards Architect - -
E Le B Henderson Architect - -


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Apperly, R. Irving, R. Reynolds, P. "A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture" Angus and Robertson NSW 1989
Molyneux, I. "Looking Around Perth: A Guide to the Architecture of Perth & Surrounding Towns" Royal Institute of Architects 1981

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
8707 Clontarf campus former gymnasium : archival record. Archival Record 2007
4681 Photographic extracts from : Clontarf management plan draft report : prepared by Allom Lovell Hocking conservation consultants for Provincialate of Christian Brothers : with funding from the Lotteries Commission : October 1998. Report 1998
9408 Marr Mooditj Foundation - Stage 2: Classroom and administration building. Heritage Study {Other} 2009
11775 Clontarf Place management & masterplan recommendations FINAL Heritage Study {Other} 2016
4233 Clontarf Conservation Management Plan : draft report : volumes 1 and 2. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 1998
5186 Former Technical Trades Building, Clontarf, Western Australia : conservation works report. Heritage Study {Other} 2001
5124 Clontarf : conservation management plan : draft report / prepared by Allom Lovell Hocking Conservation Consultants for Provincialate of Christian Brothers. Heritage Study {Other} 1998
9466 Signposts: a guide for children and young people in care in WA from 1920. Electronic 2010

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use RESIDENTIAL Institutional Housing
Present Use EDUCATIONAL Combined School
Original Use EDUCATIONAL Combined School
Other Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel

Architectural Styles

Victorian Romanesque
Inter-War Romanesque

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall STONE Limestone
Wall BRICK Rendered Brick
Wall BRICK Common Brick

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

23 Apr 2021


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.