Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?

The West Australian yesterday (Kent Acott

A nice way to start the year in Freo:

Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?

You could mount a fairly strong argument that Fremantle’s High Street is the most historically important street in WA.

That is certainly the view of the port city’s mayor Brad Pettitt.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on High Street looking east.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on High Street looking east. Picture: Sharon Smith

“From a heritage perspective, the west end of High Street is probably the most significant street in WA, with the Round House — WA’s oldest public building — at one end and the magnificent Fremantle Town Hall — built in 1887 — at the other,” he said.

“It’s a wonderfully intact street at the centre of a wonderfully intact heritage precinct.

Fremantle Harbour, blasting, 1894.
Fremantle Harbour, blasting, 1894.Picture: State Library of WA

“In 2017, the entire west end of Fremantle became the largest single place to be permanently included in the State Register of Heritage Places thanks to its incredible collection of gold-rush-era buildings, which reflect the growing confidence and civic pride in WA at the turn of the century.

“Interestingly, the heritage streetscape along High Street that we all love today was only made possible through the demolition of dozens of buildings dating from the original settlement of Fremantle in 1829.

Construction of Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour, circa 1892-97.
Construction of Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour, circa 1892-97.Picture: State Library of WA

“In the context of the current renewal of the east end of Fremantle, it’s a reminder that Fremantle has always been a dynamic place, renewed and refreshed over time.

“It has been especially gratifying to see the adaptive reuse of these heritage buildings into a new range of interesting 21st century businesses and seeing this part of High Street come back to life.”

High Street, 1895.
High Street, 1895.Picture: State Library of WA

Of course, at Fremantle’s heart is its harbour.

In the early days of the settlement, shipping was served by a jetty that extended into the open sea from Bathers Beach.

High Street, 1890-1900.
High Street, 1890-1900.Picture: State Library of WA

In 1897, government engineer C.Y. O’Connor oversaw the deepening of the harbour and removed the limestone bar and sand shoals from its entrance — thus creating a serviceable port for commercial shipping.

The two moles were built to protect the harbour entrance and land was reclaimed to build quays and warehouses. The inner harbour was opened on May 4, 1897. The harbour’s basic structure and layout remain the same today.

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

2 Responses to Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?

  1. Matt says:

    Hi Brad,
    Last year the “Arcs D’Ellipses art installation has caused damage to some heritage buildings” (https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/fremantle/fremantle-artwork-removal-costs-blow-out-tenfold-ng-b88931008z). Why was The City of Fremantle allowed to approve a change to the look and feel of “Fremantle’s High Street” being “the most historically important street in WA” causing damage without having what seems any understanding about the effort to remove it? Maybe this is why The West asks a question as a banner: “Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?”
    Maybe Perth Now got it wrong. Media can be shallow.

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