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Pilots Cottages

David Wood 1990:
Harbour masters, pilots and lighthouse keepers lived on the headland from the middle of the nineteenth century. There they were close to port installations such as flagstaffs and lighthouses, and could see ships approaching and leaving Fremantle. When the Rottnest Island pilot station closed in 1903, it was decided to transfer all the pilots to Fremantle. In the same year negotiations commenced between the State and Commonwealth Governments to establish a battery on the headland using land occupied by quarters and cottages housing port workers and their families. The Fremantle Harbour Trust therefore had to find new accomodation for these people and the pilots returning from Rottnest.
An agreement was reached to establish the battery and demolition of the existing buildings commenced in 1904. The two stone cottages (9 and 10) were reconstructed north of the Round House and two new brick ones (11 and 12) were built beside them. The builder was G. Fraser and the cost of construction was £2317 ($4634). There was a corrugated iron cottage beside 12, probably built at the same time. In 1968 it was demolished and public toilets were constructed on the site in 1987.
The four cottages 9, 10, 11, and 12 were similar in design, only differing in the materials used for their outside walls. The front of 10, the Round House Shop and Information Centre, looks as they did then.
Until 1906, when electricity was connected to the cottages, kerosene or gas lamps were used for lighting. Wood-fired stoves continued to be used for cooking for many years and some of the cottages still have these in their kitchens.
The first structural changes to the buildings occurred in 1912 with the addition of a brick section to the left side of the cottage beside the Round House. Within ten years the front rooms, on the right of 11 and the left of 12, had been extended changing the size and shape of their front verandahs.
When the headland was sewered in 1916, some of the pipes were laid in tunnels which remain intact at the rear of 11 and 12, about three metres below ground level. It was probably easier to dig tunnels than to cut a deep trench through hard surface stone.
Between 1920 and 1945 the cottages received minor repairs and a garage was built at the side of 9. By 1953 they were in such poor condition that extensive works were required. Some were re-roofed, verandahs repaired or rebuilt, services improved and all were painted. A lean-to at the rear of 10 was demolished soon after and a new section added. A garage was also constructed between this cottage and 11.
Little was done to the pilot's cottages between this period and 1986 when the Arthur Head Bicentennial Project commenced conservation work on them. Recent works included: demolition of the two garages; provision of new services; reconstruction of the fences; removal of paint from the stone front walls of 9 and 10; repairs to brickwork; and repairs to timber sections of the buildings. All the cottages except 12 have been painted to reflect the era in which they were built. In 1987 a bitumen road in front of the cottages was replaced with grass and limestone to provide an insight into the look of the area in 1904.
Until recently all the cottages were occupied by port workers or their families. Notable tenants include Mrs Elder who moved into the cottage beside the Round House with her husband in 1945, and the Trivetts who lived in a number of the cottages from the 1930s until they died.
You are welcome to view the cottages from the street and to come inside 10, the Round House Shop and Information Centre. The others are tenanted and you are asked to respect the residents' privacy.

This information sheet and the reports on which it is based were prepared by David Wood. The reports are available tor 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.



Garry Gillard | New: 25 May, 2018 | Now: 19 January, 2024