History of Leederville

On the 14 May 1830 the Rockingham dropped anchor off Garden Island. The Master had a difficult task of bringing the ship to the mainland due to a lack of knowledge of the area. Fortunately a mano’-war’s boat came from the mainland and a naval officer took the ship in to a point off Clarence, about 13 miles south of Fremantle. Even though weather conditions were not good. Thomas Peel who had brought out a number of immigrants, ordered all the single men to embark on Garden Island in four of the ship’s boats, but due to the gale that was blowing they landed on the mainland. The ship itself ran into difficulties and ended on the beach. At the same time the quarter-boat, which was drifting by, was secured. All the married men and their families attempted to land using their boat, but due to the wind and the breakers the boat overturned and everyone was plunged into the water. However, the men on shore were able to assist and everyone was brought to safety.

Among those that arrived in the ‘Rockingham ’, which is regarded by many as Western Australia’s ‘Mayflower’, were many heads of families whose names are well known today, one of them being a Mr. William Leeder. He arrived here with his wife Hannah and their five children.
He obtained land grants in 1833 for 288 acres east of Lake Monger, then known as the Great Lakes, or Galup to the Mooro aboriginal tribe. Lake Monger provided food, shelter and water to the aborigines, who used the paperbark from surrounding trees for huts, drinking vessels and for cooking game.

In 1832 a government food depot was established even though natural supplies were plentiful. Many settlers found the social customs of the Aborigines unacceptable and hoped that the depot would frighten them away. However, in 1890 increasing tension between the two races, the Aborigines launched an attact on Paton’s home, now the West Leederville Railway Station site. The natives outnumbered and no match for gunfire, were driven back and they retreated to inner lake areas.

It was William Leeder’s initial regard for the land that aroused an interest from other settlers. A report in the West Australian dated the 23 September 1909 illustrates this.

‘After the first season Mr. Leeder was so favourably impressed with possibilities of life in his new land that he proceeded to realise the balance of his English estate and transferred the whole of his capital to WA’

He showed great foresight in not only securing the Leeder Hotel on the corner of St. Georges Terrace and William Street, but also some of the best sites in Perth. He also had begun sheep farming over the hills when life beyond the Darling Range was not without peril. Leeder’s wealth of land eventually consisted of areas around Lake Monger, Northam and sites in Perth. William Street was named after him, as is the area of Leederville today. Three men in the mid 1830’s – William Leeder, B.B. Ranford and J.H. Monger, owned Leederville. In 1890 with the start of the gold rush, private subdivisions began, and five years later the area was declared a road board district and gazetted on May 3.

In 1918 Leederville was described in ‘The Encyclopedia of Western Australia’ Vol 1 as:

‘As a healthy and populous suburb to the north and west of the city, Leederville may be reached by either tram or train. Situated so conveniently, fed by both services, the town has rapidly expanded during the past few years. It is electrically lighted by current supplied at wholesale rates by the City Electric Light Works and retailed to customers at a profit by the local authorities, who find the method cheaper and easier than maintaining a local lighting plant. The suburb is mainly residential, there being nearly 1,400 homes, 80 per cent of which are owned by the occupiers.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is built on land once owned by the Leeder family.