We feel so fortunate that each of our seven WA showrooms are located in enchanting, iconic locations. Our newest showroom Cottesloe is no exception to this, and we are delighted to share with you some of the captivating history of our new home.
Napoleon Street’s Amazing History
Walking down the bustling terrace of Napoleon Street, with its inviting cafes, bespoke boutiques and wellness hubs, it is fascinating to imagine the street’s early days over 120 years ago as a central point for locals to purchase staple household products and services.
Cottesloe was put on the map when the Perth Fremantle Road was officially declared a highway in 1872 (later becoming known as the Stirling Highway). Following this, the railway line was constructed in 1881, leading to a total population in 1898 of 1,000 (compared to the 6,641 we have residing in the town today).
Located on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar, Cottesloe’s beachside position once served as a haven for holiday homes. With its appealing beachside location and access points, it’s easy to imagine that so many wonderful memories were created in the area. Around 1935, the building now housing our Cottesloe Showroom was created, accommodating the Commonwealth Savings Bank at what used to be number 44 Napoleon Street (later renumbered). Neighbouring businesses included a chemist, hardware store, greengrocer, plumber, hairdresser, radio engineer and butcher. Predominantly they were long standing, family-owned businesses with the owner, who worked in the business, growing strong relationships with customers, hence the ‘village’ reference to the area.
Napoleon Street Cottesloe, 1935
In the 1940s, the depression and WW11 saw Cottesloe grow into a residential suburb, as families moved in from the country. The most noticeable difference between the Napoleon Street of old to the street of now is the café culture, with the Albion Hotel the only outlet of its time available for customers to stop and purchase food (operating since 1890, the Albion was once a popular layover for horseback travellers between Fremantle’s port and the City’s business district).
Back then, shopping for fresh items such as meat and bread was a daily occurrence (due to the rarity of owning a fridge), and typically the housewife would come in to collect these items and then carry them home by hand. You can almost image the clean silhouette of a 1940’s female strolling down the street, complete with crisp shoulder pads, short sleeves and skirt below the knees as she went about her daily tasks. At that time, friends would stop to say hello in the street rather than the organised coffee catchups we enjoy today.
Napoleon Street, Cottesloe 1962
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Napoleon Street started to resemble the upmarket shopping and dining experience of our present day. With house prices in the area increasing, there became more of a demand for quality, bespoke goods and services. Today you will still be greeted personally by many business owners, and the community ‘village’ feel endures. The spirit of Napoleon Street is embodied by the local customers who continue to visit regularly.
The connection between Broome and Cottesloe
Overseeing Western Australia from 1883 – 1890 was Broome’s namesake, Governor Sir Frederick Napier Broome. In 1886, Governor Broome bestowed the name Cottesloe on the district in honour of the brother of Captain C.H. Fremantle, who, in 1874 became Baron Cottesloe.
Willie Creek Pearls in Cottesloe
We are so thankful to all of our neighbours, friends and customers who have welcomed us with open arms into the ‘village.’ It is such a privilege for us to join a street with such heritage, particularly in our beautiful building. It truly is a stunning location and for those of you yet to visit, we cannot wait to offer a warm welcome through the doors to our showroom as you experience our Napoleon Street hospitality!
We would love for you to share with us your favourite memories of visiting Napoleon Street! Please email us at email@example.com and we will share a compilation of these in our next enewsletter.
A special thanks to The Grove Library for sharing with us the historical timeline of Cottesloe.
All images courtesy of The Grove Library.