Craftsman booted from iconic workplace
Leadlight window artist, Bob Mainstone in his Beaufort Street business. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

An 81-year-old Northbridge craftsman is contemplating his retirement within weeks after the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority handed him an eviction notice to vacate the iconic Beaufort Street store where he has worked for more than 30 years.

Mainstone Glass and Leadlights owner Bob Mainstone was shocked when he was handed the notice last week without discussion or prior notice.

“I just thought it is an impossible thing to do, it is not only packing up and getting out, it is finishing jobs I have got – I have got orders,” he said.

“People aren’t like they used to be when I was younger, you talked about it and gave somebody a chance but today it’s that’s it ‘get out’.”

Mr Mainstone, who worked on the stained glass during the Parliament House and Perth Town Hall refurbishments, said he had hoped to pass the business at some stage to his daughter and granddaughter, who also know the trade.

The lane behind Mr Mainstone’s business is named Leadlight Lane acknowledging its significance to the area.

“Now they might pull it down and call it Elizabeth Street and make the Premier happy,” he said.

Mr Mainstone, who has been on a month-by-month lease for 27 years, had watched his neighbouring businesses vacate when the Graham Farmer Freeway was opened.

“They have never been re-let, beautiful shops but for some reason, I don’t know why, they have never let people come in them.

“Maybe they will do that with this – they will close it up and leave it empty for another 10 years, who knows?”

Shadow arts minister John Hyde said the eviction was madness.

“They are the only actual residents living on this block with a viable business and the Government wants to kick them out so the buildings can be refurbished to attract residents and businesses,” he said.

“Any redevelopment project in the world would be screaming out to attract a resident leadlight artisan to move in, and the Barnett Government wants to kick a genuine craftsman out."

MRA Acting chief executive Veronica Jeffery said ownership of the property was transferred to the MRA in 2000 as part of the new Northbridge project area.

She said the authority had always intended to sell the property and had made their intentions clear to Mr Mainstone on a number of occasions. However she did not say when the building would be redeveloped.

“Given its strategic location, the property presents a unique opportunity for redevelopment that will complement the award-winning work undertaken by the MRA in the Perth Cultural Centre and along Newcastle and William streets,” she said.

“Mr Mainstone has not made any direct contact with the MRA since the termination notice was issued.”

Mr Mainstone is encouraged to contact the MRA to request an extension of time to complete vacation of the premises, she said.

The West Australian

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