160 year old Freo ‘old boy’ gets facelift

Conservation works being undertaken by the City of Fremantle at one of Fremantle’s oldest heritage buildings, the 160 year old Fremantle Boys’ School,  with stage one works due for completion in April 2015.

It’s a wonderful old building with a lot of history and character but certain aspects of the building have deteriorated over time.

The current works were focused on replacing the roof cladding to the eastern half of the building and have included:

  • replacing asbestos cement shingles with corrugated galvanised steel sheeting to match the roof cladding on the building in 1912
  • upgrading roof drainage
  • carrying out structural repairs to reinforce chimneys, parapets and roof structure
  • reinstating missing historic elements such as the stone finials to parapets and the roof ventilation system.

A tender process is currently underway for stage two restoration works, which will include further work to replace the roof. Additional future stages of work will focus on conserving external walls and timber joinery and lowering ground levels.

All work has been done in full consultation and collaboration with the City’s Heritage Coordinator and follows the guidelines set out in the nationally recognised ICOMOS Burra Charter for heritage conservation and the recommendations of the Princess May Reserve Conservation Plan.

boys school

160 years of history

Beginning life as a one room school in 1854, the Fremantle Boys’ School, along with the Perth Boys’ School in St Georges Terrace, was the earliest government-built educational building in Western Australia.

In 1909 the school became a ‘Central School’ to provide more advanced and technical education for intermediate level students. The building reached its current footprint in 1912 with the addition of the southern porch and teachers’ room.

The school stood in large open grounds surrounded by a high limestone wall until 1901, when the Princess May Girls’ School (Fremantle Education Centre) was constructed on the northern part of the site and separated from the boys’ school by a high limestone wall.

In the 1950s and after continuous use as a school for over 100 years, the students from both schools were transferred to the newly completed John Curtin High School. The site then fell into disuse in the 1960s and by the 1970s the Fremantle Boys’ School was described as ‘deserted and ravaged by vandals’.

Restoration of the building was carried out in 1973-74 and the interior was adapted and refurbished to accommodate the Perth Institute of Film and Television (PIFT). Further conservation works were carried out 1989 by the City of Fremantle with assistance from a Commonwealth Government grant as part of the National Estate Program.

Fremantle Boy’s School is owed by the State and vested to the City of Fremantle. It was permanently listed on the State Register of Heritage Places in 2001


About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

2 Responses to 160 year old Freo ‘old boy’ gets facelift

  1. It’s a great building to work on. It has some of the nicest spaces in Fremantle – especially the main hall. It would be brilliant if retained and managed as a high quality reception centre.

  2. The University of Notre Dame needs a performing arts space and dedicated space for film and television students. This would be perfect. I hope it’s given some serious consideration!

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