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Kerosene Store

aka Harbour and Lights boatshed, Joan Campbell Workshop, Kidogo Arthouse
See also: Arthur Head.


The building currently known as the Kidogo Arthouse was built in 1884 on reclaimed land and was used to store dangerous goods away from other buildings. It is still known to some as the Kerosene Store, but was also called the Dangerous Goods Store. Harbour and Lights Dept took it over and it was used a boat shed, among other things. It was threatened with demolition but was saved when potter Joan Campbell leased it in 1975. It was extensively renovated in 1987. Joanna Robertson took it over in 1988, giving it a Swahili name (meaning 'small') because she had grown up in Tanzania.


Joan Campbell's gallery, 1980, photo Betty McGeever, Fremantle Library image #1288A

David Wood, 1990:

Kerosene was used for lighting in the nineteenth century until replaced by gas and then electricity. Large quantities were required for street lights and domestic use. Storing more than 10 gallons (45.46 litres) required a licence from the Fremantle Council under the terms of the 'Act for the Carriage and Safe-Keeping of Explosive and Dangerous Goods', commonly known as the 'Dangerous Goods Act' of 1871. It stipulated that such goods were to be kept "more than fifty yards [45.72 metres) from a dwelling house or a building in which goods are stored'.
The State Government decided in 1884 to build a dangerous goods store on land reclaimed from the sea during the construction of the long jetty and its sea wall. The site was ideal as it was a safe distance from other buildings near the long jetty where kerosene was unloaded from ships. (The sea wall is at the back of the kerosene store, and the remains of the long jetty can now be seen in the bay in front of McDonald's [Beach House].) In the same year the store was built of stone by Harwood and Son for a cost of £585 ($1170), possibly using convict labour.
By around 1888 two lean-tos had been added to the stone building. One, on the north wall, housed toilets and was demolished early in the twentieth century. The other, on the western wall, is still standing.
The building was only used as a kerosene store for a short time; by 1919 the Harbour and Lights Department was using it as a boatbuilding shed and a store for lighthouse equipment. To protect the equipment from water, repairs were made to leaks in the roof. The lean-to by the sea became a carpenter's shop and its roof was replaced with malthoid (sheets made from a mixture of paper and bitumen) because the iron cladding had rusted. In 1927 the Chief Harbour Master wrote that: "the malthoid roofing on the carpenter’s shed is continually being washed away by rough seas" and recommended replacing it with iron. The entire building was re-roofed in 1930. Originally, the tin had been fastened directly to the wooden boards (sarking) which can be seen inside the building, in 1930 battens were attached to the upper side of the sarking, and the new corrugated iron roof was fastened to the battens.
In 1934 the Manager of Harbour and Lights requested that the door be enlarged so that a 32 foot (9.75 metres) launch could be built in the store and movement of acetylene gas cylinders made easier. A further opening was cut in the southern wall in 1946 to allow for the removal of a thirty five-foot (10.66 metres) pilot launch. Most of this opening was filled in 1987, and will be completely walled up when the adjoining corrugated asbestos building is demolished. The asbestos building, now Joan Campbell’s pottery workshop, was erected in 1957 to allow the Harbour and Lights Department to build a forty foot (12.19 metres) patrol boat for the Fisheries Department.
In 1960 the floor of the stone building was reported to be in poor condition. It consisted of lime mortar between wooden beams and had become worn and damaged. A decision was made to replace it with concrete. A small portion of the original floor, or subfloor, was discovered in the north-west comer of the room during conservation work in 1987. Its surface is corrugated and there is a channel running along the back wall, probably designed to drain spilt kerosene from the building. This section of original floor and the channel are preserved under the new timber floor, built in 1987.
The slit windows on the eastern wall are another reminder of the building's original use. These would have minimised damage caused by flying glass if there was an explosion.
In 1972 the Public Works Department called for tenders for the demolition of the building as it was 'considered to be reaching a dangerous condition particularly if subjected to strong winds'. Joan Campbell expressed interest in using it as a ceramic workshop and training centre so demolition did not proceed. The State Government leased the building to the Fremantle Council in 1975 and the Council then sub-let it to Joan.


In 1987 the Arthur Head Bicentennial Project conserved the kerosene store to look as it did in the nineteenth century except for the addition of electricity, a wooden floor, and skylights. Research undertaken for conservation revealed a lot about nineteenth century building technology and enabled the project team to choose materials, such as stone and mortar, similar to the original. The north and south walls of the main gallery will eventually be restored and the asbestos shed removed.
City of Fremantle February 1990
This information sheet was compiled by David Wood from reports by Debby Cramer and David Wood. The reports are available lor inspection at the Fremantle Library.


Photo by Skip Watkins, 1985, image #E000130 from the Fremantle History Centre. It shows the landward side of the building, and Joan Campbell's pottery kiln outside on the left.


Joan Campbell outside her former studio, exact date and source unknown (1987-1997)


2008 photo by Gareth Nicholson, image #E000820-31 from the Fremantle Library


The area before current developments c. 1980, Fremantle Library photo #LH003432

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

Rie Heymans, John McPhee, Ted Snell 1984, Joan Campbell: Potter, Fremantle Arts Centre Press; ed. Lucille Hanley, photographs Roger Garwood.

Webb, David & David Warren 2005, Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle: 12-13.

See also: mortuary.

Wikipedia page

Garry Gillard | New: 17 June, 2015 | Now: 23 January, 2024