The Exchange Hotel is one of the earliest buildings within the Pinjarra town site being built in c. 1866. The building was constructed as a dwelling for Dr. Bedingfeld before being converted to a hotel in 1871. The Exchange Hotel has been renovated and added onto many times over the years, not always sympathetically, rendering it a maze of interconnected rooms and passages.
The Resident Magistrate
Dr Bedingfeld was the Resident Magistrate and Medical Officer for the Murray District from 1864. He was initially based at Creaton Estate, 3.5km north of Pinjarra, on Paterson Road, which was the main population centre at the time.
Pinjarra was largely undeveloped, featuring only the St. John’s Church and Military Barracks. Though in 1865 the land in Pinjarra was formally subdivided and offered for sale in the Government Gazette. Within two years most of these lots had sold.
Bedingfeld purchased two lots between George Street and the Murray River, where he constructed a residence. The home featured two separate rendered buildings roofed in shingle. One building was built parallel to George Street, whilst the second at right angles to the first. These two buildings have remained largely intact and form the core of the Exchange Hotel.
What’s in a Name?
It is said that the Exchange Hotel got its name from a property exchange. Bedingfeld wanted to return to Creaton Estate so that he could be located closer to the people he was serving.
It also may have had something to do with the state of the roads at the time. The “roads” were little more that cleared tracks that became boggy, wet, clay during winter months. Dr Bedingfeld was forced to travel by cart drawn by two bullocks in the winter, often arriving at his destination covered in mud, as were the bullocks and cart.
James Rummer Greenacre was the licensee of the Queens Hotel at Creaton Estate. Greenacre wanted to relocate his business to Pinjarra to take advantage of the passing travelers from Perth to the Vasse.
The two men swapped properties in 1871, giving rise to the name, the Exchange Hotel.
Success and Competition
The Perth to Bunbury mail service began in 1880, passing through Pinjarra. The Exchange quickly became the most significant hotel in the area with coach loads of passengers now arriving.
The Exchange Hotel did not undergo major modification and addition until the 1890s with the extension of the rail line from East Perth, a gold rush in North Dandalup and the opening of the first saw mill in the District at Marrinup (east of North Dandalup). This new economic prosperity brought with it new people and further competition with the Premier Hotel being built in 1894 by Edward McLarty. The Premier was closer to the rail station than the Exchange Hotel, and more modern. The Exchange Hotel had to expand and modernize to keep up.
The motel units of the south west side of the complex were added in 1920. The increasing popularity of the car gave rise to a number of motel units throughout Western Australia at this time.
Major extensions in 1925 were halted for some months with the threat of new legislation- Prohibition. Ultimately the Prohibition Referendum failed and extensions were completed in 1926 including a new kitchen, server and dining room extension.
Being close to the Murray River, the Exchange Hotel has been inundated many times, though the floods of 1945 and 1955 caused extensive and significant damage. Major repair work and alterations were completed in 1956.
The biggest facelift was in 1962 and involved the demolition of the front portion of the hotel, which was at the time a front bar with verandah, and replaced with a modern saloon, public bar, store and cool room, as can be seen today.
The Exchange operated as a hotel, providing both accommodation and a public bar, until 2008, when the place closed. The Shire of Murray purchased the hotel in 2012 with the intent to redevelop and retain the significant heritage parts of the sprawling structure.