Destination WA episode on Fremantle Tours

This Destination WA episode on Fremantle Tours is good fun and worth a look.

Fremantle Town Hall Restoration the Best in the Nation

The meticulous restoration of the historic Fremantle Town Hall has taken out a national construction industry award.

McCorkell Constructions, the City of Fremantle’s contractor on the $3.1 million project, won the ‘National Commercial Historical Restoration/Renovation’ award at the Master Builders Australia National Excellence in Construction awards on the weekend.

The 2018 MBA National Awards Dinner was held on Saturday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

 The Town Hall restoration became eligible for the national awards after winning the state award in July. The project was also recognised with a WA Heritage Award earlier this year.

Everyone involved in the Town Hall project should be proud of their achievement.

The Town Hall is obviously a very important building for Fremantle and one that we all cherish. The level of skill and attention detail that was required to return the Town Hall to its original splendour was quite remarkable, so for the project to be recognised as the best historical restoration in Australia is a well-deserved reward.

The restoration of the 130-year-old Town Hall, which was completed in May 2017, was the largest heritage conservation project ever undertaken by the City of Fremantle.

It reinstated the building’s traditional appearance by stripping the paint off the walls to reveal the original stucco exterior, and also included reconstructing the slate roofs and refurbishing the historic clock.

A further $250,000 has been allocated to begin restoring the interior of the building.

The recent demolition of the adjoining 1960s City of Fremantle administration building has revealed the rear walls of the Town Hall for the first time in around 120 years.

City Heritage Officer Gena Binet said the original limestone on the east facing wall was in much better condition than anticipated.

“We could not conserve or inspect the rear walls of the Town Hall during our recent external conservation project because they were hidden by the old administration buildings,” Ms Binet said.

“We were concerned they may have been damaged when the 1960s building was built or that they may have been rendered with cement, which would have caused the stone to deteriorate.

“This part of the wall is like a time capsule recording how the building has changed over the years. You can see where new openings have been made and then blocked up, plus the scars of earlier structures like fire escape stairs.


“However, we are puzzled by one of the blocked up openings – the upper level one closest to the High Street Mall. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, so if anyone has any ideas why it’s there we’d love to hear from them.”


Fremantle Oval in 1968

With the Fremantle Oval redevelopment coming into focus I thought it timely to share this gem from a 1968 South Fremantle Football Club training session.

Not only will you see John Todd, Graeme Scott, Norm Cox, Kevin Miller, Gary Greer and Peter Troode kicking the ball around the Fremantle Oval but the last minute or so has some great historic footage of Fremantle viewed from the oval including the Knowle and other historic buildings.


1960s City of Fremantle Administration Building Almost Gone

The not greatly loved 1960s built City of Fremantle administration and library building in Kings Square will be completely gone in a matter of weeks.

The building was assessed as being asbestos-free last month, following a four month asbestos removal program to prepare it for the final demolition phase.

This final phase will see the building demolished with the majority of the structure recycled.  The site will then be prepared for the construction of a modern, competition-winning new civic, administration and library building as part of the broader Kings Square Renewal project.

Demolition activities are currently focusing on the delicate separation of the building from the Fremantle Town Hall, some of it done by hand to protect the heritage-listed building.

Pleasingly it has gone well and the original limestone wall of the Fremantle Town Hall are now visible for the first time in decades and will be a feature in the new civic building.



Grants support State’s cultural heritage announced today

Today the State Government announced funding of $1.22 million allocated to 22 heritage places including two in Fremantle.  The program, overseen by the Heritage Council of Western Australia, offers dollar-for-dollar funding of up to $100,000 to help private owners conserve and revitalise their properties.

The full list is here:

The Freo ones are:

St John’s Anglican Church, Fremantle – $87,812.04

Adjacent the Fremantle Town Hall, St John’s in Fremantle has served the local Anglican Community for almost 140 years, standing near the site of its predecessor, which was built in 1843. The church employs random coursed limestone in its walls, with raised mortar pointing giving a distinctive appearance.

This year’s funding will assist with the underpinning and repair of the collapsing north west corner of the church and assist with the replacement of rainwater goods for the building, ensuring it remains structurally stable and can continue to serve the local Anglican community for many years to come.


3 Pakenham Street, Fremantle West End –  $40,105.10

Located in Fremantle’s historic West End precinct, the commercial building at 3 Pakenham Street was built in the 1920s and once presented with rendered bands and tuck-pointed red brick that is now concealed behind layers of paint. The windows have also been altered over time, along with the goods entrance (roller door).

This year’s Heritage Council funding will assist in reinstating the original tuck-pointed presentation of the facade, and is part of an overall plan to reactivate the building and create a bespoke gin distillery.

Beyond the False Choice for Fremantle Port

In recent years a false choice has been asked of Fremantle and its working port.

First, a few years ago Fremantle was asked to accept the Perth Freight Link – a tunnel that ran from Roe 8 to High St and would supposedly enable Fremantle Port to triple in size to over 2 million containers a year.

This was rightfully rejected. It was an expensive and incomplete plan that came out of nowhere and was a road to nowhere (or at least it was a road that was so poorly conceived that it didn’t even make it all the way to the port.)

As I said on my blog at the time: “I strongly support a working port in Fremantle – but not at any cost.”

I am glad the community won this campaign.

More recently, however, Fremantle has been told it must now give up its working port to Kwinana and accept just been a tourist and novelty port.

In the Fremantle Council’s view this would see not only Fremantle’s history and identify substantially eroded but a major loss of economic activity just at a time when Fremantle is rebuilding and diversifying its economic foundations.

Both the PFL and moving the whole of the inner Fremantle port to the outer harbour in Kwinana are bad choices to Fremantle.  They are also bad choices for the state and would require a huge infrastructure investment in the billions of dollars. The PFL was costed at around $2 billion. An outer harbour is likely to cost between $4 and $6 billion.

But there is a more sensible third way, a middle way between an oversized port and none at all.

This was outlined in a recent Fremantle Herald Thinking Allowed which in summary argues:

  • Container handling should be maintained at North Quay, provided the associated land-side transport arrangements have no greater impact on the local community than current port operations.
  • Victoria Quay should also be progressively developed for community, tourism and commercial uses – in particular with improved facilities for cruise ship passengers.
  • To facilitate this, car imports and other freight shipments coming through Victoria Quay should be transferred to another location such as the Outer Harbour as soon as possible.

This approach is not new. It is actually the approach that has been at the heart of Fremantle Port’s and the State Government plans for most for the last decade as can be seen from this graph from several years ago by Fremantle Ports.

This third way is also a cheaper option.

It will require an investment in a replacement for the old Fremantle Traffic Bridge so that it also includes a dedicated freight rail line. But the old bridge needs to be replaced anyway. There is great opportunity to create a Fremantle High-line with the old bridge too as Josh Wilson recently outlined.

It will also require smarter use of our current freight network so that quieter, cleaner trucks run fully loaded and more often in off peak hours.

This is not to argue that an outer harbour will not be required. It most likely will and we should plan for this as is pleasingly happening with the Westport Taskforce.

But there is no need to rush into making a one of Perth’s biggest ever infrastructure investments. There has been slow container growth over the last 5 years and there is considerable uncertainty around the growth in imports by volume. Much of what we consume is getting smaller. There is also the potential for the relocalisation of some manufacturing.

The Fremantle Council has been consistent in its support for both a working port in Fremantle and for the necessary long term planning for an outer harbour.

We have long argued that the port infrastructure investments should be broken down into smaller, more sustainable bits and that we should start with the moving cars off Victoria Quay.

Fremantle Port needs to evolve but let’s not hurry into expensive and damaging solutions whether it be the PFL or moving Fremantle Port in its entirety to the Outer Harbour. We have the time to invest carefully and wisely and find a better third way.

Mayor’s bike tour of the unbuilt and the historical saves

This year as part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival I am once again running a free alternative history bike tour called “Demolished and Unbuilt”. It was lots of fun last year but I know many of you missed out as it was fully subscribed. It is almost full again but there are a couple of spots left for Saturday afternoon’s ride.

The bike tour explores what could’ve been – the stories of the unbuilt and the historical saves. Be it the casino proposed for Victoria Quay in the 80s or the demolition of half of the West End’s High Street for a highway in the 70s, join the ride to muse, lament and celebrate Fremantle’s historical planning decisions. Meet under RAINBOW at 2pm, bring your bike. The tour ends in the Fremantle CBD. Numbers strictly limited, bookings essential.