Our History The Beverley Railway Station, built in 1886, was once a vibrant hub of travel activity for it serviced the community, surrounding regions and travelling public as they journeyed between Perth and Albany by coach and train on the Great Southern Line. Until around 1902 the terminus of the Government railway was Beverley, all trains stabling overnight, and refreshment rooms were built to accommodate through passengers. It was also the last stop for sandalwood cutters heading east. The last passenger service ran in about 1975 then continued as a freight depot for many years and was considered for demolition in 1982, but was saved by conscientious townspeople. In 1983 a letter was written from the Beverley Art Gallery Committee to Beverley Shire Council requesting it consider “the possibility of stalling the demolition of the old railway station and whether a quote had been obtained for the cost of restoring the building as it would make a good Art Gallery.” The Station building was saved albeit its service closing in October 1984 and it was leased for many years to the public in various guises of shops and private residences.
It wasn’t until 2000 that Beverley Art Gallery Society Inc (now Beverley Station Arts Inc) was formed with the intent of fundraising to restore the Station as an Art Gallery to house the Shire of Beverley’s extensive art collection which was commenced in 1967 with bequests from Sir Claude Hotchin and has accrued with purchases from the Annual Art Exhibition held at Easter (this renowned competition now with a prize pool of $14,000 has run annually since 1967 in the Town Hall).
The Beverley Shire Council, Heritage Council and Westrail became involved with the restoration project and renovation of the main Station building was completed in 2006 enabling BSA to move the art collection into the “Station Gallery” and refurbish the old Station-master’s residence to become a residency for visiting artists. As the long term dream for the Art Gallery was realised, the vision of encompassing all the arts seemed a natural progression to make good use of the grounds and available buildings. So plans were made to enhance the Gallery by beautifying the station surrounds and to incorporate an outdoor theatre thereby embracing the performing arts as well as the visual arts.
Progress of the new building was slow to begin, so work was commenced on the station entrance by constructing a path loop (stipulated by Heritage Council to simulate the original horse and carriage turn-around), installing a gazebo/bandstand, an historic railway carriage, a uniquely designed clock arch, and gardens to welcome visitors to the Station Gallery. All designing and physical work has been by Shire, community donations, and loads of volunteer effort. This even extended to a Perth based art group ‘Circle of Colour’ who when visiting Beverley, became infected with our enthusiasm and volunteered their talents by painting a mural to further enhance the entry to the Station.
The clock arch and gates marking the entrance to the Station Gallery and Platform Theatre, was designed by Claire Broun and her mother Jenny, and constructed to not only complement the Victorian Tudor style of the station, but also suggest train motion of the steam era. The clock, in the tradition of station clocks and made by renowned clockmaker Derrick Morrison, illuminates the area at night and has become a feature of the town. Since completion the Station garden has been the hub for various parties, picnics, art exhibitions, markets, school activities, and several weddings to date as well as a book launch to celebrate a booklet presenting the history of the Beverley Shire Art Collection when visual artist Phillip Cooke spoke on behalf of his father Allon Cooke whose painting was amongst the original Sir Claude Hotchin bequests in 1967.
Station Gallery and Artist Residency What was once the station master’s house is now an artist’s residency and the adjoining station itself has been converted into an art gallery and studio. The surrounds have been transformed into a carriage garden and an impressive outdoor theatre built to cater for all types of performing arts. The Station Gallery houses the Shire Art collection which was initiated in 1967 with bequests from Sir Claude Hotchin and added to ever since with mainly prize-winning works from the annual Easter exhibition (now Beverley Art Prize). The collection is open to the public Thursday to Sunday from 11am to 3pm, excluding January. Beverley Station Arts also hosts an Artist-in-Residence Programme with regular exhibitions and workshops run by the visiting artists. Accommodation consists of the two storey Station Residency, refurbished with great natural light and high ceilings. Upstairs – two bedrooms 1 x double, 2 x singles + and small office/bed; downstairs – kitchen, sitting room, bathroom; toilet and laundry; reverse cycle air-conditioning, linen, and basic kitchen essentials provided; studio space within the gallery.
Platform Theatre The Beverley Platform Theatre, so named because the timber floored stage actually adjoins the old railway station platform, was the vision of the community group Beverley Station Arts and was officially opened in March 2011. This majestic outdoor theatre stands resplendent where once stood the old railway station tea-rooms. The large jarrah decked and iron roofed stage with sliding mini orb zincalume walls open into a roomy back stage set into the old platform. The surrounding buildings of the old guard’s hut and latrines have been renovated into a kitchen/kiosk and green-room/performers’ change-rooms and sit either side of the newly constructed contemporary outdoor stage. This and the grass tiered seating area have been designed to be flexible, functional and family friendly and formally seats 450, picnic style around 300. It has become the cultural centre of town, and proudly no stone has been left unturned to ensure it becomes an icon in the Avon Valley and beyond. Each season sees an eclectic mix of comedy, music, movies, circus, drama and dance under the stars on a monthly basis from September through to April.