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Fort Quarters


Fort Quarters, Workshop & Laboratory

These are the only buildings remaining from the Fort Arthur’s Head battery complex. The quarters and toilet were built during the initial construction (1905-06). Other buildings, including the workshop (barracks) and laboratory, were added later.

Plans for the battery and associated buildings were prepared in Melbourne. A draftsman, A.E. Francis, was sent to Perth in early 1904 to complete drawings and specifications under the supervision of Major J.T. Hobbs, Staff Officer Engineering Services for the Australian Army in Western Australia.


Hobbs wrote to the A.A.G. for Engineering Services in Melbourne stating: “With regards to Sergeant’s quarters at Arthur’s Head, I have altered the walls of the building to brick as it will cost little more than a good wooden building, will make a much better job, and the cost of maintenance, especially with regard to painting, will be very much less”.

Early in 1905 finished plans were sent to the Western Australian Public Works Department, responsible for the Commonwealth funded construction, and tenders were advertised soon afterwards. The successful tenderer was C.H. Carter for a sum of £4935 ($9870). This included construction of the quarters and toilet.

The hand coloured plans for the building are located at Swan Barracks in Perth and one is marked, on the reverse, ‘Major Hobbs copy’. The plans are the same as the building in almost every detail. The only differences being the concrete front verandah, originally specified to be timber, and a corrugated iron lean-to, which houses a toilet, at the rear of the quarters where there used to be an open porch. The drawings also show details for a brick ‘earth closet' (toilet) which can be seen close to the edge of the cliff.

Following the completion of building in 1906, an ‘Abstract of Authorised Alterations’ was prepared. It and accompanying documents included items relating to the quarters and toilet. The roof of the quarters was painted with “oxide of iron” (red paint) and a “small door” was formed “at the back of the E.C. [toilet]” to provide “for pan services required by the Local Board of Health".

Later works on the quarters and surroundings included gravelling the drill ground in 1907, connection of sewerage in 1914 and the addition of the lean-to toilet in the 1940s. It is possible that the front verandah of the quarters was replaced with concrete when the drill ground was gravelled, changing levels.

From the time of construction until the 1950s, the quarters were variously known as ‘sergeant’s quarters’, ‘kitchen’, ‘men’s quarters’ and ‘district gunner’s quarters’. This reflects the changing uses of the building.

During the 1950s it was occupied by an army caretaker. When the Fremantle Harbour Trust regained possession of the military reserve in 1959-60 they renovated the quarters and leased it to a tenant, Mrs Gerrard, who lived there until 1986. From 1986 until 1988 the quarters was the Arthur Head Bicentennial Project office.

City of Fremantle February 1990

This information sheet and the reports on which it is based were prepared by David Wood. The reports are available for inspection at the Fremantle Library.

The Arthur Head Collection

The Arthur Head Collection was a project coordinated by the City of Fremantle with funding from a grant available from the Federal Government to celebrate the Bicentennial year in 1988 [resulting in] a huge collection of materials in various formats including documents, reports, photographs, maps, bibliographies etc. to help research the site. ... Pam Harris, Librarian, Fremantle History Centre. May 2018.

The Arthur Head Collection 1990 Report

The City Council in 1990 published a folder containing a summary of the research Pam Harris mentions above, consisting of a page about each of these buildings. This is one of them.



References and Links

Wikipedia notes on Arthurs Battery – and Harbour Battery.

Garry Gillard | New: 25 May, 2018 | Now: 17 January, 2024