$23 million committed to the adaptive re-use of heritage buildings in Fremantle

A good article in today’s West Australian articulating Freo’s commitment to the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.

Courthouse hotel plans recommended for approval

The proposal to convert Fremantle’s state heritage-listed Police and Courthouse complex into a hotel and restaurant precinct has been recommended for conditional approval by the City of Fremantle’s planning committee.

The development plan includes a 62-room hotel on the police station site, adapting the courthouse into a bar and restaurant and adapting the lock-up and police quarters into shops and commercial units.

The original concept included a six-storey hotel but, following advice from the City’s planning and heritage officers, that was scaled down to five storeys which is consistent with the maximum discretionary height permitted under Fremantle’s local planning scheme.

The City’s recommendation will now be considered by the South West Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP), which has the final say on the proposal.

Should JDAP approve the development, it will be the third major development involving adaptive re-use of important heritage buildings to be approved in the past three months.

In December we saw the approval of a boutique hotel in the Warders Cottages, and in January the redevelopment of the Manning Buildings was approved. If the Courthouse proposal gets the green light from JDAP that will mean more than $23 million has been committed to the conservation and re-use of some of the most important heritage buildings in Fremantle.

Projects like this are an excellent way to attract the significant investment that is required to preserve these important buildings, while also adding the vibrancy of the city and giving people even more reasons to visit Fremantle.

The original Courthouse and Police Station on Henderson Street was built between 1899 and 1903, with further extensions and additions in 1957 and 1978. The complex has been vacant since Fremantle Police relocated to High Street in 2013.

Some of the conditions the planning committee recommended included measures to limit the impact of neighbouring noise on the hotel, the retention of original verandahs and ballustrades and a requirement to submit further details of all conservation works for approval before building work starts.


Vale David Hutchison 1927-2017

Fremantle has sadly lost one of its preeminent historians. David Hutchison passed away a couple of days ago.

Garry Gillard (on his Fremantle Stuff web page)  describes David’s  book Fremantle Walks as the most accessible and popular local history publication. He goes on to reproduce Prof Bob Reece’s citation for David Hutchison’s Life Membership of the Fremantle History Society which is worth repeating here:

David is one of those rare people we can call a true authority on Fremantle and its history. As someone once said to him, ‘David, you have forgotten more history than I will ever know!’ From the time of his appointment as Senior Curator in History at the Western Australian Museum in 1970 with oversight of what was then the Fremantle History Museum at Finnerty St., David immersed himself in the town’s past. His later activism on behalf of the History Society, his prolific research and writings and his celebrated Fremantle Walks, all contributed towards making him a local ‘identity’. His 1986 book, Fremantle Walks, published by Fremantle Press, brought his extensive local knowledge together in a highly readable format for the benefit of visitors to the city. Closely associated with a movement in the early 1990s to set up a ‘clearing house’ for Fremantle research, David became a member of the History Society and served on the Committee from 1999 until 2004. One of his major contributions was his submission on behalf of the Society to the Fremantle Prison Heritage Precinct Master Plan. Perhaps his most solid and enduring achievement, however, was his establishment in May 1996 of Fremantle Studies Day, which in turn stimulated the appearance in 1999 of the journal Fremantle Studies, to which he became a frequent contributor. He brought a scholarly standard to the work of the Society, at the same time preaching the down-to-earth virtues of community history. Bob Reece.

I’ll miss seeing David walking the streets of Fremantle, almost always with library books in hand, passionate about history, Fremantle and especially Fremantle history.

Archaeological dig set to unearth Freo’s first church

An archaeological dig planned for Fremantle’s historic Kings Square early next year will shed new light into what life was like in Fremantle during the late 1800s.

The dig, taking place across four zones in Kings Square from 15-21 January 2018, will look for evidence of the 1840s-built predecessor to the current St John’s Church which used to stand in the centre of the square.

The archaeologists expect to unearth the foundations of the first church, which was demolished in 1882, as well as other historical material such as glass bottles, clay pipes; and fragments of ceramic bowls and plates from this period.

The City hopes to be able to showcase the findings as it upgrades public spaces as part of the Kings Square Renewal project, which began earlier this year.

“Kings Square has a lot of stories to tell and we’re really looking forward to seeing what will be uncovered, particularly given an earlier dig in June 1986 identified the foundations of the first church,” said Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

“As well as the church foundations, we hope to find artefacts in public spaces outside the former Myer building which were once the sites of buildings spanning the early-mid 20th century.

“We want to incorporate the findings into the upcoming Kings Square public space upgrades. To do this we’re looking at opportunities to include ground viewing areas to provide visitors to Kings Square with a real window into the past,” Mayor Pettitt said.

Archae-aus, a cultural heritage management consultancy based in North Fremantle, has been appointed by the City of Fremantle to undertake the investigations as part of the broader redevelopment of Kings Square.

Community invited to become archaeologists for a day

Archae-aus and the Museum of Moving Objects will be conducting public archaeology engagement programs and workshops in Kings Square alongside the excavations.

Archae-aus Executive Archaeologist Fiona Hook said the public will be invited to come and discover first-hand what it’s like to be an archaeologist.

“It’s a very exciting project and we want the whole community to share in the thrill of discovery,” said Ms Hook.

“Not only will the public be able to view the excavations as we uncover Fremantle’s history, but people of all ages can also participate in hands-on activities and events including lunchbox excavations, historical object drawing and sustainability workshops, as well as free on-site talks.”

For public safety and to protect the contents of the dig sites, areas of Kings Square will be fenced off during the archaeological investigations. (Map attached)

For more information and links to book workshops and activities through Archae-aus visit https://mysay.fremantle.wa.gov.au/kings-square-dig

Fremantle Prison Big Winner at 2017 WA Tourism Awards

It was a big weekend for Fremantle Prison at the 2017 WA Tourism Awards.

Fremantle Prison was awarded Gold for the Cultural Tourism category and Silver in the Major Tourist Attractions category..

Adding to a fantastic night out for the Prison team, tour guide, Janine Della Bosca was recognised as the best in the business, taking away honours as the FACET Golden Guide Award winner.


Manning Buildings facelift out for public comment

You’ve until the end of the month to have your say on the planned refurbishment of the Manning Buildings in the city centre.

The heritage buildings – bounded by Market Street, High Street Mall and William Street – were built between 1902 and 1906.

The development proposal includes the restoration of original shopfronts and facades along High Street and Market Street, internal alterations and conservation works to the upper floor offices and ground floor shops.

The plans also include the partial demolition of some existing buildings at the rear of site, with the addition of two-storey offices off Paddy Troy Mall and a new building for a brewhouse, bar and restaurant at rear of existing buildings on William Street, including an undercroft carpark with 25 car bays.

A community information session will be held in the Reception Room on the first floor of the council offices at 8 William Street on Thursday 16 November from 5.30-6.00pm.

More information can be found on the My Say Freo website or by calling the City of Fremantle on 9432 9999.

Was Building the Fremantle Town Hall in 1887 a Waste of Ratepayers Money?

This is classic and just shows how in local government while some things change, many remain much the same …. The Kings Square team have dug up a letter to the editor of the West Australian from 1885!

In it a local resident questions spending £13,000 of ratepayer money to build the Fremantle Town Hall and argues it would be a waste of money and better spent on improving local roads.

The letter is a great example of how local issues of the past are really not much different to the local issues of today.


To the Editor of the West Australian.
SIR,-I will ask you a little space in
your paper to make a few remarks about
the proposed Town Hall which is going
to cost about £13,000, and I am sure that
such an amount of money to be expended
on a Hall is quite absurd considering the
present condition of our streets. In all
Fremantle you find but two good streets
namely High and Cliff streets, and the
idea of spending such an amount upon a
Hall when money is so much needed
for necessary works is preposterous.
Start first with the North Ward –
Beach and Skinner streets are in their
natural states; Quarry, Finnerty and Bay
streets are in a disgraceful state, and
James street only half done.
We go now to the West Ward, the
least and most important ; we find Leake,
Bannister and Colley streets without curb-
ing and needing a through repair though-
out and Packingham street flooded after
any rain.
Now we go on to the South Ward,
we find South, Lord, Gray, Russell,
Howard, Mary, Alma, and Attfield streets,
are now as they were fifty years ago, and
some of them worse on account of the
sand draft ; Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk,
in a disgraceful condition, the only good
street in the ward being Arundel street –
that having no curbing – South Terrace
half done and the remaining portion all
sand ; Fitzgerald Terrace, above Suffolk
street, a sanddrift.
Now while these works are so urgently
required it is proposed to expend in
round numbers about £13,000, on a Town
Hall. Is it common sense? Look at it
from a financial point ; if the money be
expended on the streets as it certainly
should be it would bring in a large re-
venue, as all the property situated in the
sandy streets, would increase three fold in
value, and, further, the owners could
build, which they cannot do in the present
condition of things.
The Town Hail would bring in no-
thing but gratification to a few of the
town’s people; it would ruin all outside
property, and be a heavy tax on the
people. This matter is before the rate-
payers and a poll is demanded to settle
the question. Let the ratepayers look at
the streets mentioned, and ask them-
selves which is the most important, to
have a Town Hall or make the streets.
The one a tax and no profit, the other
a necessary work giving people a road to
their doors and employment to many.
Yours truly,
Fix this textFremantle, 2Sth May, 1885.