Fresh start

Broome Advertiser - - HAPPENINGS - Carly Laden

The whim­si­cal art­works of renowned lo­cal artist James Down were re­cently given some new digs in the heart of Broome’s Chi­na­town.

The Broome Gallery re­cently made the move from Dampier Ter­race to Carnar­von Street, tak­ing up res­i­dence in a build­ing that used to be a fam­ily-owned pearl mer­chant store in the early 20th cen­tury.

Mr Down said he wanted to re­tain as much of the orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance of the build­ing as pos­si­ble, al­though some ad­just­ments were re­quired to meet to­day’s build­ing codes.

“We pur­chased the build­ing in Oc­to­ber 2016, thanks to some help from a friend of mine in Syd­ney and soon got into mould­ing the build­ing into how we en­vi­sioned it,” he said.

“(The con­struc­tion work) was quite a big job with some things fall­ing apart from old age but we wanted to keep the char­ac­ter of the build­ing and we are def­i­nitely happy with the end re­sult.”

The build­ing, at 23 Carnar­von Street, was orig­i­nally owned by Sri Lankan mi­grant Thomas Bas­tian El­lies, who came to Aus­tralia in the late 1800s to search for gold.

El­lies even­tu­ally moved to Broome and built a gen­eral mer­chant store known as TB El­lies Gen­eral Mer­chant in 1902, which he owned un­til his death in 1937.

El­lies’ son, Wil­liam, took over and con­tin­ued the fam­ily busi­ness un­til the Kin­neys pur­chased the build­ing from him. The Kin­neys con­tin­ued us­ing the build­ing for fam­ily-op­er­ated busi­nesses by con­vert­ing the mer­chant store into a cloth­ing store, toy store, and the ven­ture also in­cluded a small bank.

In 2006, busi­ness­man John Ditch­burn pur­chased 23 Carnar­von Street from the Kin­neys and the Kin­neys Gen­eral Store be­came Crys­tal Surf, which it re­mained un­til the Downs pur­chased the build­ing in Oc­to­ber 2016.

Mr Down said pur­chas­ing the build­ing al­lowed them to ex­pand their hori­zons with other lo­cal busi­nesses.

“From one premises, we have turned the build­ing into a po­ten­tial five dif­fer­ent leases,” he said.

“We’ve got the Broome Gallery, Azure Beach­wear, a lit­tle ice-cream shop called El­lies Ice-Cream­ery, which opened up last week, some ac­com­mo­da­tion up­stairs and we’re look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing a wine bar in the court­yard out­side.

“We re­ally wanted to make ev­ery square inch of the build­ing count as far as util­is­ing a prop­erty in the heart of Chi­na­town.”

Mr Down said he had a long in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing a prop­erty in Chi­na­town, but it was a long wait given the pop­u­lar­ity of own­ing a busi­ness in the area.

“Once this build­ing went up for auc­tion, we felt the need to take that op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

“It was def­i­nitely worth the wait and we’re very happy with how it all turned out.”

Pic­ture: Carly Laden

James Down and Os­car in front of the mu­ral in the court­yard out­side the Broome Gallery.

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