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Convict Hiring Depots

See: Mount Eliza, North Fremantle, Freshwater Bay, Guildford, Albany, Bunbury, Toodyay, York, Lynton (Port Gregory), and Champion Bay (Geraldton).

After the establishment of transportation to provide a labour force for the struggling Swan River colony, it was necessary to provide accommodation for the convicts and associated infrastructure (guards, for example) near to where they could be set to public works, and where ticket-of-leave men (convict whose sentences had expired) were closer to where they could be hired: in Convict Hiring Depots, or Outstations. The one closest to Perth was on the riverside just to the west of Mount Eliza and is usually called the Mt Eliza Depot. There was one at North Fremantle (where the first North Fremantle Primary School was later built), one at Freshwater Bay (now Claremont), and another in central Guildford. Country stations were at Albany, Bunbury, Toodyay, York, Lynton (Port Gregory), and Champion Bay (Geraldton).

Before the Mt Eliza depot buildings were constructed to James Manning's design from 1852, the convicts there were accommodated - after its failure - in the former steam mill built by John Schoales and George Nash.

That depot was established in 1851, downgraded in 1856, and closed in 1872, after which it became an old men's home, until that function was transferred in 1906 to a building in Claremont - which is now the former Sunset Hospital in Dalkeith.

The man on the right probably lives in the Old Men's Home which was established in the former convict hiring depot under Mt Eliza, and was in existence 1872-1906, until the men were moved to a new home in Claremont (now Sunset Hospital, Dalkeith). Photo from the archives of WA Newspapers, n.d., from Austen. Mounts Bay Road passes in front of the Swan Brewery, as it still does in 2021.

References and Links

Austen Tom 1988, The Streets of Old Perth, St George's Books, Bell Publishing Group, Perth.

Oldman, Diane, 'Convict Hiring Depots', on her Sappers and Miners website. See also her 'Mt Eliza Convict Depot' page. And her page on the North Fremantle Depot.

WA Heritage Council has a page for the Mt Eliza Convict Depot site - but there is no data on it.

See also: depots at Mt Eliza, North Fremantle, Freshwater Bay, Guildford, and Lynton.

Garry Gillard | New: 27 June, 2018 | Now: 24 July, 2023