History & Heritage

The Town's History - A Brief Overview

Beginning as a small settlement called West Guildford in 1829, Bassendean was renamed in 1922. Bounded on two sides by the Swan River, Bassendean became a separate local authority in 1901. The Town now has a mix of housing, parks and recreational areas, as well as light industry and commercial areas. It also has riverside public open space, some of which was land used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years as ceremonial places.

Bassendean participated in both World Wars, and, as a working-class suburb, it was severely affected by the 1930s Depression. It saw rapid population growth with the migrations of new residents from Britain, Europe and Asia during the post-World War II period. Through it all, Bassendean has retained its strong sense of identity and community, to become the thriving township it is today.

Archaeological evidence has shown that Aboriginal people have inhabited the Perth area for more than 45,000 years before James Stirling and his exploratory expedition arrived in Western Australia in 1827. Bassendean has numerous sites of cultural significance to the Noongar people. The importance of Bassendean for Noongar hunting and gathering activities, and as a meeting place, is affirmed in many documents and personal narratives from the 1830's to the present-day.

After the colony's foundation in June 1829, the fertile alluvial flats along both sides of the Swan River, including Bassendean, were chosen as prime agricultural land. Settlers acquired parcels of land and farms were established.

By July 1831 Guildford needed to expand elsewhere as its town lots had run out. Across the river and to the west was a Government Reserve and this was selected for a new townsite and called West Guildford.

Peter Broun, the 1st Colonial Secretary, took occupation in 1832 of Stoke Farm in West Guildford and of its existing homestead. He named the dwelling Bassendean after the name of his family seat in Berwickshire - in 1922 when West Guildford cut its residual ties with Guildford, Bassendean was the new name chosen.

Initially populated by gentleman farmers and Pensioner Guard families, West Guildford grew rapidly during the goldrush years of the 1890's, breaking away from Guildford to become a separate local authority in 1901.

In the 1900's, the establishment of industries, and the demand for labour at the Midland Railway Workshops, gave the suburb its distinct working class character and further accelerated its development. Post-World War II emigration saw an influx of European nationalities, giving Bassendean a more cosmopolitan flavour.

State Register of Heritage Places

The town has several significant historical buildings, 11 of which are on the State Register of Heritage Places as follows:

  • Daylesford
  • Earlsferry
  • Guildford Road Bridge
  • Bassendean Oval Entrance Gate
  • Bassendean Oval
  • Bassendean Oval Grandstand
  • MacDonald Grandstand
  • Bassendean Fire Station (fmr)
  • Success Hill Lodge
  • Pensioner Guard Cottage
  • Bassendean Masonic Lodge (fmr)
  • 1876 Pillar Box

Additional places for inclusion within the state register can be nominated for assessment by members of the public by contacting the State Heritage Office.

Local Heritage Survey

The Heritage Act 2018 requires each local government to identify places of cultural heritage significance in a Local Heritage Survey (LHS – formally Municipal Heritage Inventory), which are used to identify and record places that are, or that might become, of cultural heritage significance.  The LHS helps the Town make decisions that reflect local heritage values, and supports the creation of a heritage list or heritage areas, which identify places to be protected under the local planning scheme.

The Town is undertaking a general review of its existing LHS.  As part of that process, the Town invited community input seeking feedback on the current categories of existing heritage places as well as nominations for new places. Nominations closed on the 14th of May 2021, and no nominations were received. 

The Town will now compile a draft LHS, which will be publicly advertised in late 2021.

Municipal Heritage Inventory (MHI) current

Heritage Information Sheet

Heritage List

Local Studies Collection

Further information on the district’s History and Heritage is available from the Town’s Local Studies Collection.

Bassendean Memorial Library Local Studies Collection