The history of The Western Australian Club is closely interwoven with the history of Western Australia and has been an integral part of the State's commercial, business and political activity for 123 years.
Established as the Exchange Club in 1893 by some of Western Australia's leading citizens, it was formed to create a meeting place for men working for the growth and betterment of the Swan River Colony.
Two of the Club's original signatories were Sir John Forrest and his brother Alexander, along with other pioneers of the vast tracts of land from the far north to the south of the Colony. Other prominent Perth businessmen who have been associated with the Club include; J. B. Hardwick, A. B. Bunning, Sir George Shenton, Newton Moore, Sir Edward Horne Wittenoom, Sir Ross McLarty and Honorary Life Member, Sir Charles Court.
From 1893 to 1970, the Club resided at a large two-storey building on what is now the site of St Martins Tower and during that time shared in the shifting fortunes of Western Australia - through world wars, the Great Depression, period of growth and stagnation.
A Move and a Change of Name
In 1897 The WA Club moved from its original premises at Samson House and leased the property next door at 46 St Georges Terrace from Sir William Loton, a Liberal politician, Mayor of Perth several times and the only Life Member of The Club at that time. That year, the Exchange Club changed its name to The West Australian Club.
It was at the Club that the major discussions outside Parliament were held concerning Western Australia entering the proposed Federation of Australian States. On 31 July 1900 Western Australia became the final Australian colony to vote for Federation and within six months the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1 January 1901. For 73 years The Club remained at 46 St. George's Terrace.
Preparing for Loton House
In 1926 the President and Committee resigned as a body over lack of support to purchase either Loton House or another property on the corner of William Street and The Esplanade. A new Committee levied all members thirty pounds to assist with the purchase of Loton House, and members resigned in droves. After a lengthy battle spanning several months a special interest loan from J S Duffy helped secure Loton House and the committee resolved to cease the levy payment.
The Change to an Association
In 1948, the Club's solicitor, Quinton Randolph Stow, a senior partner in Parker and Parker, successfully partitioned Parliament for a private Bill called The Western Australian Club Act to change The WA Club to an association. Brian Walton served his articles under Quinton Stow and went on to become Club President in 1967-68.
Moving to The Esplanade
The Committee of 1954 bid for a site at The Esplanade without consulting the Members and announced its decision three days later to an unprepared Annual General Meeting attended by 61 Members who supported the decision.
New Club premises were then built at 18 The Esplanade site and in 1970 The Club moved "off the Terrace" for the first time in its history, where it remained for 26 years. The Club made the final name change to The Western Australian Club Inc. in 1979.
101 St Georges Terrace
In 1995 the Esplanade site was sold and The Club moved to 101 St George's Terrace, Perth. The building was in need of refurbishment and this was undertaken by the architectural firm of Ian Watson and Associates, and the work being carried out by John Holland Construction and Engineering Pty Ltd.
The Western Australian Club began to operate out of the newly refurbished building at 7.30 am on 26 August 1996. In 1996, The Western Australian Club was awarded the Heritage, Conservation and Property Value Award.
Membership for Women
1995 marked another enormous change for the Club with the opening of membership to females. Ms Susan Robertson, whose father Jim Robertson had been a member of the Club for many years, was the first female to join in 1995. Eight years later, Susan Robertson became the first female Club President of The Western Australian Club in 111 years. This was an exciting shift and created the opportunity to change the old perception and ensure that the new growth of The WA Club continues strongly in the future.
The Western Australian Club Today
Today The Western Australian Club resides in the Grosvenor building, which is located on the Penthouse level at 12 St George's Terrace, Perth.