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As you drive along Payneham Road toward the city your concentration is likely to be closely focused on traffic as you near the Fullarton Road intersection. It's a busy area, and important to be in the right lane to reach your destination.
But if the traffic lights are red you may well need to pause your journey. Your eyes may be drawn first to the State Heritage listed Maid and Magpie Hotel on your left, then across Payneham Rd to an unusual collection of buildings.
Closest to North Terrace is the Bon Marche building. It is an imposing two storey terrace from around 1883, and is State Heritage listed. A quite unusual collection of tenants range from a bow re-hairer to a fossil merchant - somehow appropriate for this building surviving from another time.
Furthest from North Terrace is the Local Heritage listed Duke of Leinster building. It too boasts unconventional tenants, a doll's hospital and a belly dancing and yoga school.
Bell's Plumber shop in 2009 - Image Courtesy National Trust SA
The Plumber Shop You will probably not spend much time glancing at the building in the middle, largely hidden by a corrugated iron facade. But it too is State Heritage heritage listed, although the Bell's Plumber shop is having a difficult time surviving in the 21st century.
Its story was told in the Eastern Courier Messenger on 19/1/2011. In a letter by Evonne Moore, spokeswoman for St Peters Residents Association, she details the background of the Bell's Plumber building:
The building was erected in 1883 by John Colton and Thomas Miller. John Colton was a leading colonial Methodist who went on to become Premier of South Australia.
The shop was sold to David Charles Bell, a plumber and gasfitter who emigrated from Scotland. His family was born in an attached residence at the back of the shop.
The property was owned by the Bell family for more than 100 years and in 1984 it was made a State Heritage Place. In 1997 when the Bell family sold the shop to Hamilton Hill Pty Ltd, the property was run down but it was still essentially in its original condition. It's a great pity that the last owner neglected the property. An explosion inside the shop in 2008 accelerated the building's deterioration.
In January 2010 when Hamilton Hill applied to the council for permission to demolish the building, engineers employed by the council and State Heritage Branch advised that the building was redeemable with suitable treatment. Two heritage architects also gave advice at this time that the building should not be demoilshed as it could be reasonably restored, and was worth retaining.
Ms Therese Willis of McDougall and Vines Architects submitted that the building still reads as an early Victorian shop with attached residence. She said that the important elements such as the remaining shop front, the verandah over the pavement, the side entrance with bluestone wall and rendered detail to the main residential entrance remain clearly visible.
It is not uncommon to reconstruct heritage places where some damage has occurred.
Our Association strongly supports the retention and restoration of this place. Bell's Plumber's shop is part of an important group of State Heritage buildings in this locality including the Maid and Magpie Hotel and the Bon Marche building. We are opposed to Hamilton Hill being rewarded for its neglect of the building by being allowed to demolish it.
Heritage buildings are an important part of our social fabric.
The Sensational Adelaide forums are not renown for their pro heritage views, and the site moderator somewhat rabidly boots people from the forum if their views are too divergent from his own. Despite that, a post titled Increasing incidence of ignition of heritage-listed places implies that there is good reason for concern about spontaneous combustion of properties that are in the way of development.
This shop (which is on the State Heritage Register) is believed to have been built in about 1883, and was purchased by David Bell in 1893. It was in use as a plumbing business until at least 1985. It is significant as an example of a Victorian era shop and dwelling in what was until last year in an unusually original condition.
While the Department of Environment etc took legal action to protect the Bell's Plumber shop under State Heritage legislation, it ultimately appears to have been unsuccessful. The building is once again not secured, and open to further damage.
At one point fencing was erected to protect the building, and attempts were made to secure the property. There is no longer any fencing present, and there are several ways to enter the building easily from the rear.
I did not enter the building myself due to concerns about the structure, but was able to take a number of photos from outside. It seems that it is long overdue for DEWNR to again remind the owner of their obligations under the Heritage Places Act.
It is worth noting that the building was heritage listed long before being purchased by the current owner.
There are some who will suggest that the building should be demolished, allowing the owner to go ahead with development plans for the area. In my opinion, that is a specious proposal, denying the intent and implementation of heritage legislation.
Buildings in worse condition than this can and have been salvaged, loving restored and re-purposed for life in a new century.
Grafitti and Interior Damage to Bell's Plumber Shop
While the community continues to show that it cares, the Department of Environment, Water & Natural Resources and the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters will continue to perform their jobs and conserve places like these.
You should be made aware that DEH is not pusuing the current owner. They still have Hamilton Hill P/L in the ERD court. Hamilton Hill cannot legally go into the property and do the work requested by the former minister (Caica). Why is DEH still pursuing the former owners? There is always two sides to an argument unless you are involved (or become emotional).
Maybe the government should compulsory aquire these type of premises that are clearly not being protected by the current owner, as a way of punishing owners that are disregarding their responsibilitys ( They might need to put an amendment put in the Heritage Act) The fees paid to the owner should be nominal, as its obvious that the current owner has no intention of restoring it to its former glory and is only waiting for someone to accidentally ignite it. The government should not waste so much tax payers money on the so few AFL supporters, by building expensive footbridges to no where. ...maybe do something better for us all by helping to save our history and heritage, IMHO without our history and our heritage we are nothing...
Sorry What is not clear? Do a title search and see who actually owns the property and then encourage DEH to pursue the owners, and not the previous owners. Maybe they should chase David Bell who let the property get into a poor state as described in its original heritage listing in 1985.
Very interesting - I didn't know about the John Colton connection. I can't believe the government is not enforcing its own legislation - if there is a problem with the Act, for anything else they would have rushed an amendment through.
A doll's shop, belly dance academy, and sea shell shop (selling shells which have been stripped from coastal areas). Clearly there is an image problem for heritage here. Regrettably, conservation efforts to other significant buildings in the area have also been poor and much of the character is being lost.