Tuesday, April 14, 2015


This may not be of much interest to those who are not Western Australian as Paul Ritter was so well known here in Perth.  He was quite a controversial figure but I know my mum thought the world of him.  The story of the old barracks is one that people in Perth still speak about and considered the retention of the arch was essential as part of our early history.

Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 178-179)

When searching for good speakers for the Council of Social Service we were fortunate in being recommended to ask Paul Ritter (1925-2010) to speak to us on the latest architectural planning overseas, as he ahd just arrived from Europe, and brought with him slides of new ideas which he and others had developed.  (This is Paul Ritter taken in 1964, aged 39)

For the first time we saw suburbs where children could walk to school quite safely by the use of small bridges over, or subways under, busy roads.  We were intrigued with this new idea and saw the possibility of developing our new suburbs on these lines with benefit to us all.

We were impressed as other had been, but I remember one of our officers saying to me "this man is ten years too soon for W.A. and they will crucify hm".  History has shown that we were not prepared to accept these ideas from a newcomer, but they are now quite commonplace, adopted and adapted by others, and we wonder if Paul Ritter is given any credit for introducing them.

Without warning they started to pull down the Barracks at the top of St George's Terrace and Paul set out to preserve the Barracks Arch, which became known as "The Battle of the Barracks".

Paul warned that there was a move to destroy it and architects in Western Australia swung the National Trust and others into action.  Concerted action saved the lovely old arch and as Professor Peter Hall from Reading, England, said 'THE ARCH IS ON THE AXIS (of St George's Terrace (AND SHOULD STAY ON THE AXIS".  People in thirty, forty, fifty years time will say "MARVELLOUS!  WE SAVED THAT ARCH".

We supported Paul in his fight for the arch and were pleased to permit him and his colleagues to meet occasionally in our Board Room.  (The first picture shows the entire Barracks before it was demolished; the second picture shows the Arch which was retained and remains standing proudly at the top of the Terrace.  There were/are many who thought the entire barracks should have been retained as part of Perth's heritage):

Christmas followed soon after the saving of the arch, and Paul's Christmas card, sketched him him for the occasion, is very apt, and so typical of the man!  (Note Mum, Dad, six children and dog).  (I do have that Christmas card somewhere but unfortunately can't lay my hands on it right now).

Paul's wife, Jean, is herself a well-known personality.  She is a B.Sc., Depl.Ed (L'pool) and MACE.
They are co-directors of the P.E.E.R. Institute in Perth and are teaching Sculpcrete Technology in Western Australia.

They have published numerous books on the subject and we wish them success.  Paul sculpted a magnificent chess set and sent it to the Expo Centre Exhibition in Kiev, by invitation."


  1. Someone else who was ahead of his time. No wonder your mama warmed to him.
    A minor quibble. Should his date of death be 2010 rather than 1910?

    1. I did reply yesterday but it didn't take so here goes again.
      He was quite a phenomenal person and I know mum kept in touch with he and his wife for some years.
      I intend to make you my official editor and thanks for noting that 'typo'. Have now rectified said fault and thanks for drawing my attention to it.

  2. I think I've seen that arch, can't be positive though. My brother drove me around one day and we saw so many things, too many in one day to remember really.
    I'll never understand how people don't take hold of great new ideas when someone proposes them, but years later these things get built and everyone says "oh how marvellous!" with the original ideas person often being forgotten.

    1. I am sure you brother would have taken you to Kings Park and if you drove up St George's Terrace you would have seen it for sure.
      You are so right about people who have original idea being forgotten overtime and not acknowledgement of then when something finally comes to fruition.

  3. Hari OM
    A name I didn't know - so did the wiki search! Interesting bloke, if a bit 'edgy'; but anyone who sees the need to preserve existing architecture gets kudos in my book! YAM xx

    1. I am glad you checked on Paul Ritter and you would doubtless have read the full story.
      No matter his faults he certainly was ahead of his time and worked so hard to preserve history right here in Perth. xx