Cottages come back to life

The collection of heritage listed cottages along Williwa Street, once an unwelcome reminder of the towns decline after the closing of the Portland cement Works, are slowly returning to their former glory thanks to a multi million dollar restoration by The Foundations.

The six duplexes are being restored in line with heritage guidelines and will be among the first residences on the site. The renovation began in 2021 and after a painstaking development process, the end is in sight.

The whole street-scape is now reinvigorated with the new paint, roofs, and windows proudly facing the street once again.

“At this stage, we believe the upcoming bed shortage with contractors in the region will be the most likely use of the cottages, bringing people in to town which will help lift the local economy,” said Martin O’Connell, The Foundations Managing Director

Work in progress

“The process has taken a little longer than we anticipated, but when you are renovating heritage buildings you sometimes uncover unexpected hurdles. We are however very proud of the way the renovation is turning out, we know these residences mean a lot to the local community,” Mr O’Connell continued.

Internal fix outs will be completed in coming months as will the landscaping and the residences will be able to be tenanted once again. The fence coming down in front of the buildings will be a great achievement, taking away the barrier that has stood in front of much of the site for over three decades.

The cottages have all been restored to their original layouts and structures added over the years have been removed. The work completed will ensure that the buildings will now stay as part of the street-scape for decades to come.

Former residents in the Williwa Street Cottages – Kelley Crane and her mum Dot

One of the more rewarding aspects of the renovations has been hearing the stories of previous residents and hearing their memories of growing up in the cottages. Many have been back and visited the cottages, with a tour being planned once renovations are complete to let everyone see just what work has been done.

It is the next step in a long process as The Foundations begins to reposition from temporary activation projects to a more permanent focus, with many large scale events being planned along with other permanent activations being developed at the moment.

“It will be great to have that chain mesh fence down, as we have done in front of The Annexe and other parts of the site,” added Mr O’Connell.

The last five years have seen the former Cement Works site completely reinvented to an arts and cultural precinct hosting a range of events, including the popular Twilight Markets, returning on the Easter Long weekend.

Another building on the site that has been fully restored is The Annexe now open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.