Fremantle Stuff > Ewers

John K. Ewers 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].

Chapter 16:
Fremantle in the Post-War Years

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Before World War II, Fremantle had three main road outlets. The oldest and most used was across the North Fremantle traffic bridge to Stirling Highway through a heavily built-up area to the city of Perth. Less used was the Canning Highway, a narrow ribbon of bitumen on the south side of the river. It began east of the traffic bridge and passed through the old-established town of East Fremantle and the newer and only partly built-up residential area of Melville. Beyond that there was very little building until it crossed the Canning River and led through the older suburb of South Perth, eventually reaching Perth by a somewhat roundabout route over the Causeway. The third outlet was to the south, through the market-gardening district of Spearwood and thence through mostly undeveloped bushland to the holiday resorts of Rockingham and Mandurah, turning inland at that point to Pinjarra, then south to the fruit-growing, farming and timber country of the south-west.

The Stirling Highway outlet is today much the same as it was then, except for the deviation made possible by Tydeman Road in North Fremantle to give access to North Quay and to link up with the Port Beach Road.* The other two have changed dramatically. Canning Highway, considerably widened and in parts a dual carriageway, now goes entirely through residential areas with their associated shopping centres, and its approach to Perth is more direct, via the Kwinana Freeway and the Narrows Bridge which was opened in 1959. The southern outlet now passes the Kwinana industrial complex [described in the previous chapter], with offshoots to its satellite towns of Medina and Calista. These changes need to be appreciated in relation to a rapidly expanding metropolis. Suburbia is

* Described in Chapter Fourteen.

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spreading over much of the area south of Canning Highway and will in time merge with residential and industrial areas moving eastward and northward from Kwinana. Already a network of roadways runs through these parts, with several major roads running eastwards. One of these. High Road, is really a continuation of High Street and joins Albany Highway near Cannington.

A new traffic bridge is planned to begin on the north shore of the river near Bruce Street, North Fremantle, and will cross at somewhat of an angle upstream, reaching the southern shore near King Street. This bridge will supplement the present one, not replace it. Its purpose will be to by-pass traffic destined for, or originating from, points south of Fremantle. In the first stage, south-bound traffic from the bridge will flow along Silas Street and into Wood Street, while north-bound traffic will approach the bridge via Amherst and King Street. Ultimately, the Fremantle Eastern bypass highway will be constructed from Canning Highway, which is to be diverted to a new location south of its present one and widened to Rockingham Road connecting with Cockburn Road.

But this is for the future. Looking back at the end of World War II, we find that the Fremantle City Council was poised ready for the changes it felt were inevitable with the coming of peace. Few people would have been sure of exactly what those changes would be; certainly none could have foretold the speed at which some of them would take place. In Fremantle, as elsewhere, development had been restricted during the 1930s, over most of which hung the shadow of the economic depression. During the war, development came to a standstill because of the over-all preoccupation with defeating the enemy and with national and personal survival. But even during that dark period the Council looked ahead and made plans. There were, for instance, hints of establishing a free library, and preliminary discussions on a town planning scheme. But naturally enough, immediate priority had to be given to overtaking work suspended during the war, and even here progress was slow owing to the general shortage of materials in the early post-war years.

Chapter Eleven has mentioned the inauguration of the Fremantle Tramways and Electric Lighting Board, with both trams and power extending over an ever-widening area. This joint enterprise had

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been authorized by act of parliament in 1903 and was vested in the municipalities of Fremantle and East Fremantle in the proportions of six-sevenths and one-seventh, respectively. 1 Both the tramways and the electric light and power services were a sound source of municipal revenue. It is amazing to realize that until 1948 there had been no increase in tram-fares since its inception. There were still ‘penny sections’ on all routes, and special workers’ tickets were still available up to 8.55 a.m. for 4d. return, with transfer privileges, so that a journey from the Road Board office at Bicton to the terminus at South Fremantle (a distance of over 10 miles, there and back) could be made for fourpence! Transfers and penny sections were abolished in 1948 and there was an over-all rise in fares.

Actually, the writing was on the wall for the trams themselves. Even before World War II, omnibuses had been introduced on some sections and early post-war work included the total replacement of trams by buses and the removal of tram-tracks. The latter work was spread over many years, so that it was not until 1958 that all tram-lines had been lifted, a total of 8 miles 68 chains, the necessary road repairs effected and the steel rails sold.

Meanwhile, an act of parliament passed in 1952, (1 Eliz. II, No. 66)2 authorized the sale of the electricity undertaking to the State Electricity Commission for the sum of £700,000. Later, the transport facilities were sold to the Metropolitan Transport Trust for £182,150 and another act of parliament, the City of Fremantle and the Town of East Fremantle Trust Funds Act (10 Eliz. II, No. 78), established a Trust to handle the balance of the money received from both sales, after a certain amount had been allowed for capital expenditure. The interest was to be divided—six-sevenths to the City of Fremantle and one-seventh to the town of East Fremantle Fremantle’s share of this Trust Fund now stands at $1,312,880 and the interest it earns has proved a valuable annual supplement to the city’s finances. For the year ending 30 June 1970 it was $90,776.

In 1947 the death occurred of Mr James Shepherd who had been with the Council for more than 40 years, 25 of them as town clerk, during which time he had given sterling service. Mr N. J. C. McCombe was appointed Acting Town Clerk and his position was confirmed in 1948. Born in Caulfield, Victoria, he had come to Western Australia in 1928 and begun business on his own account.

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but a succession of difficult years during the depression had led him to seek employment with the Fremantle City Council in 1939 as a temporary clerical officer. That he quickly impressed his employers by his efficiency is shown by his being appointed Assistant Town Clerk in 1942. As town clerk, Mr McCombe was to be actively associated until his retirement in 1966 with many policy-framing decisions during what were perhaps the Council’s most productive years. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1967.

Even during the war, the Council had given thought to the need for a limited zoning plan for building in Fremantle, and in 1947 had ratified an earlier decision of its Town Planning Committee to make land available for housing on the south side of South Street and for industry on the north side. The story of the new housing areas and the development in various stages of the industrial centre which later came to be known as O’Connor is told in the next chapter. This was the first scheme of industrial planning to be undertaken by a local-government authority in Australia.

Because it realized the need for specialist advice on planning, the Council in 1947 appointed Mr Harold Boas, a well-known architect and planner, to draw up a town planning scheme. His report, completed in 1950, made sweeping suggestions for over-all planning and zoning. The appointment of a full-time City Engineer, Mr K. G. Bott, M.I.E.A., in place of the Consulting Engineer, Mr R. A. Oldham, M.I.E.A., who had resigned, gave the Council greater flexibility in implementing its plans. However, in 1953, it decided to hold its own town planning scheme in abeyance because of the state government’s decision to prepare an over-all plan for the metropolitan area. A highly qualified English planner, Mr Gordon Stephenson (now Professor of Town Planning at the University of Western Australia), together with the State Town Planning Commissioner, Mr J. A. Hepburn, made a detailed and far-sighted study of the problems involved and issued their joint report in 1955. This paid a special tribute to the City of Fremantle for its initiative in establishing an area for industry, although this was then far from fully developed. It said: ‘It stands as an excellent example of a combined operation, in which a local authority and private enterprise join forces to promote better civic development.’ 3 We shall see later in this chapter how the Fremantle City Council proceeded to put

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into operation its plan for the re-development of the city proper, amending the recommendations of its own town planning scheme in accordance with those put forward in the Stephenson-Hepburn plan, and also in accordance with new thinking regarding those stages demanding priority of treatment.

As early as 1940, Councillor E. M. Davies, M.L.C., had raised the question of establishing a municipal library and in 1941 the Council appointed a special committee to investigate the possibility. It consisted of E. M. Davies (chairman), J. Stevens, W. F. Samson and B. W. Lee. The growing financial difficulties of the Fremantle Literary Institute in South Terrace suggested that here was an already established library which the Council might acquire. This was approved in principle by the Council in October 1944, and four years later it adopted the draft bill prepared by its solicitors for presentation to parliament. The City of Fremantle (Free Literary Institute) Act (12 & 13 Geo. VI, No. 65) was finally assented to on 21 January 1949. The library was opened on 5 September 1949 by Dr J. S. Battye, State Librarian. With 5,000 books on its shelves it became the first wholly rate-supported municipal library in Western Australia. Its first librarian was Mrs F. Kirtley Anderson. In the next few years membership grew steadily, and in Sir Frank Gibson’s final Mayoral Report in 1951, there was a hint that when the Library Board which the government was then planning was established, Fremantle would be one of the first municipalities to participate in the new scheme. It then had 1,365 registered members, extensive renovations had been completed in the old Literary Institute building and some of the rooms were being used by the Adult Education Board for classes in a variety of subjects.

The record long period of service as mayor of Sir Frank Gibson is summarized in the final chapter of this book. His successor, Mr W. F. Samson, introducing his first Mayoral Report, said:

During the past 15 years, and particularly since 1945, the functions of Local Government in Australia have expanded very considerably, and the City of Fremantle has been particularly active in expressing in a practical manner the new conception that Local Government accepts responsibility for- more than the physical improvement of the locality in which people live and gives attention to the social and cultural needs of the community. 4

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He was able to cite as examples the Free Lending Library, the Women’s Rest Room, the new Infant Health Clinic, the Ante-Natal Clinic, increased facilities for physical recreation and well-equipped children’s playground areas.

The Women’s Rest Room had been opened in the Town Hall block in 1948. It had a fully equipped first-aid room, a rest room with telephone and books, two rooms where babies could be bathed and fed, toilets, and a shower room with clean towel service. This rest room was immediately popular with women visiting the city for shopping or entertainment. In its first full year, 20,637 women used it and by 1960 the number had grown to 59,578. It has continued to be an extremely useful public utility.

The Infant Health Centre and the Ante-Natal Clinic to which the mayor had referred, were part of an over-all municipal enterprise which had first been suggested in 1943, and now bears the name of the Birmingham Infant Health Centre after Dr H. J. Birmingham who was a member of the Board of Management and an honorary medical officer to the Fremantle Public Hospital from its inception until he resigned in 1915. A competition for a design, conducted through the Royal Institute of Architects, was won by Messrs Marshal Clifton, A.R.A.IA., and Eric Leach, A.RA.IA. It occupies a site at the comer of Parry and Holdsworth Streets, adjoining the south-east comer of Queen’s Square. The Infant Health Centre was opened on 20 December 1950, and the Ante-Natal Clinic in November 1953. To it was later added a dental clinic and an immunization clinic. The initial work of the latter was directed to eliminating from the district two diseases, diphtheria and poliomyelitis, which had a high incidence of occurrence in most parts of Western Australia. Soon Fremantle was able to claim complete freedom from both. Since then there has been no relaxing of efforts to maintain this control and the clinic also administers the triple prophylactic (whooping-cough, diphtheria and tetanus).

A very recent addition, at a cost of $53,469, is the Esme Fletcher Day Nursery opened in 1967. Named after Councillor Esme Fletcher, at present Deputy-Mayor of Fremantle, it is situated on a portion of Queen’s Square alienated by special permission. An average of about 50 children, from babies to pre-schoolers, attend daily and there are three different areas for three age groups. A fully

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trained nurse, Sister L. D. Gomme, is in charge with a staff of 10 assistants. Parents who can afford to do so pay $12 a week, but others pay according to their ability and in special cases of hardship there is no charge. The facilities of the Health Centre and the Day Nursery are not restricted to children of parents living within the boundary of the municipality of Fremantle. For a while one youngster travelled with his father, all the way from Kelmscott over 20 miles distant, to attend the Day Nursery and arrived there at 7.30 a.m. At the time of writing, work is about to begin on an Occasional Accommodation Centre in Holdsworth Street, adjacent to the Health Centre. It will cater for residents of Fremantle who may, for a number of different reasons, find themselves in genuine need of temporary accommodation. It is expected that this will apply mainly to women and children. The Health Centre and other health matters in Fremantle had been the special concern of Mr W. G. Berry, the Council’s Chief Health Inspector, who retired in 1969 after 26 years of service. He was succeeded by Mr V. W. Now-land, whose position is now known as Chief Health Surveyor. Mr Berry is now secretary of the Esme Fletcher Day Nursery. Another who was closely concerned with the Health Centre was Dr C. R. Dunkley, the Council’s medical officer for 42 years. He retired because of ill-health in 1969 and died a short time afterwards.

Perhaps while speaking of health matters this is the place to review briefly the considerable extensions that have been made to Fremantle Hospital, the establishment of which was mentioned towards the end of Chapter Nine. This, of course, is not a municipal enterprise, but the Council shares the satisfaction of the whole district that such excellent medical facilities exist within its boundaries. A new children’s ward, the Adelaide Samson Ward, named after an aunt of the present mayor, was opened as recently as November 1970, replacing the original one of 1927 which bore the same name. Miss Samson had bequeathed a generous legacy to the hospital on her death in September 1921. The total bed accommodation is now about 320. This includes two annexes—one at Mosman Park where patients recuperate before discharge, and one in Moss Street, East Fremantle, for the rehabilitation of patients with physical disabilities after severe illness or accident.

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A surgical block opened in 1928 was followed in 1934 by an outpatients’ department, known as the ‘Ron Doig Block’ and built out of public subscriptions to commemorate a popular local footballer who died as the result of injuries received in a football match. A new community ward was added in 1939—the ‘Alexander McCallum Block’, named after the Hon. A. McCallum, M.L.A. for South Fremantle from 1921 to 1935, and for his final five years in parliament the Deputy-leader of the Labor Party. More recent times saw the provision of a temporary major operating theatre, superseded in 1966 by a permanent building with every modem equipment for surgery, including an X-ray block. In 1960, a new wing was opened and named after Mr William Wauhop, a member of the Hospital Board since 1933 and its chairman from 1947 to 1970. The former Alma Street State School was acquired from the Education Department in 1962 and modified to become the hospital’s school of nursing. Later the South Terrace primary school also became available and was enlarged and remodelled into a Day Centre in 1964.

Nurses’ accommodation has over the years extended from one near-by building to another, but further accommodation costing $350,000, known as the ‘Olive Jones Nurses’ Home’ after a member of the nursing staff from 1928 and matron from 1943 to 1962, was opened by the Minister for Health, the Hon. Ross Hutchinson, on 20 July 1962. Today the hospital complex in Alma Street seems to occupy every square foot of available space and no doubt time will see extensions elsewhere or perhaps an entire re-siting. For the year ending 30 June 1969, the number of patients admitted totalled 8,562, there were 5,272 operations, and out-patient attendances totalled 91,082."

As already pointed out in Chapter Fourteen, Fremantle was the host city to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954 when, because of an epidemic of poliomyelitis in Western Australia, they lived aboard the Royal Yacht, Gothic. They were accorded a civic reception at the Town Hall and in his Annual Report for that year, the mayor expressed his pleasure at ‘the excellent manner in which the people of this City decorated and illuminated their buildings’, adding that ‘the warmth of the welcome they extended to Her Majesty must have filled her with pleasure and gratitude.’ 6 Fremantle has since been honoured by the

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visit of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was in Western Australia to open the Commonwealth Games at the Perry Lakes Stadium, Perth, in November 1962. In March 1966, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was also accorded a civic reception at Fremantle.

Meanwhile, the ordinary affairs of civic progress continued to move steadily. In 1954 more children’s playgrounds were provided, adding to the fifteen recorded in the previous year and in 1955 the total was twenty-three. More tram-lines were being lifted and road repairs effected, with a new concrete roadway in High Street replacing the jarrah paving blocks which for so long had carried its bitumen surface. The rehabilitation of quarry land for small factories and warehouses started a few years previously was continuing. Perhaps not the least important event of 1954, apart from the first Royal visit, was the acceptance of the Council’s application for its library to be registered as a participating body with the newly formed Library Board of Western Australia. This necessitated certain building alterations and in 1955, with a membership of 3,249, the library began to function in its new capacity, and became known as the Evan Davies Civic Library. Councillor Davies, it will be remembered, had taken the initiative in recommending the establishment of a free library in Fremantle in 1940.

The adoption of the Stephenson-Hepburn Plan for Regional Development in 1955 left the Council clear to go ahead with its own zoning plans and, as far as possible, a complete town planning scheme. Part one was ready in the next year and was duly advertised in the newspapers. So that the ratepayers would be left in no doubt of its intentions, the Council displayed the proposed details of land use in the Town Hall with an officer to explain them and answer questions. Among the projects the Council had in mind were a new civic centre and municipal offices, the opening up in the heart of the city of an extensive new retail shopping complex, the centralization of bus-terminals, the development of further industrial and residential areas, and the establishment of a Historical Museum and Arts Centre. There were also the re-development of Fremantle Park and additional recreational facilities in various places. These were all ready to be set in motion by 1960, a year in which the mayor had attended the sixth Annual Planning Congress in Brisbane, and

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on his return from which he reported that the planning of Fremantle’s industrial centre ‘was considered one of the highlights of the Congress’. (The details of these new developments are explained in some detail in the next chapter.)

Affiliation with the Library Board of Western Australia had resulted in a great increase in the number of books available in the Evan Davies Civic Library. By October 1957 it had 16,547 volumes, its membership had grown to 6,688, and the addition of a children’s library was being planned. In 1958, Mr John E. V. Birch, Borough Librarian of Taunton, Somerset, England, was appointed City Librarian. He took up his duties in December of that year, the children’s library opened in 1959 and the total membership of the Library increased to 10,517, of which 2,798 were children. Indeed, such was the influx of child-members that the stocks of juvenile books proved to be quite inadequate and had to be increased to cope with the demand. For some years, membership had been extended to elderly recipients of the meals-on-wheels service. In 1961 the library began to issue books to ships on the coastal service.

In that year, it supplied 8,243 volumes to ships’ libraries. Within a few years, hospitals and homes for the elderly were also supplied With books from the Fremantle Library. Later this service was extended to elderly recipients of the meals-on-wheels service. In addition, to catering for coastal ships, the library was soon making books available to lighthouses on the West Australian coast. Membership at 31 October 1969 was 11,276 and it was then also servicing 18 ships, 3 lighthouses and 7 local hospitals.

For a while the initial impact of television had affected reading habits, but by 1961 the city librarian was able to report that this was beginning to be less obvious. In 1966, the theatrette in the library building enjoyed a period of renewed activity when it began to be used by a number of cultural organizations, in particular a group of amateur players calling themselves the Harbour Theatre. This activity has continued. However, the building itself, erected before the turn of the century, was proving to an ever-increasing extent inadequate for a modern library service. The setting up by the City Council in 1969 of a Cultural Development Committee to advise on the organization of all forms of cultural activity in the community will ensure that the re-housing of the library will be

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given early consideration. Its natural site would seem to be within the centrally placed new Civic Administration Centre, adjacent to the old Town Hall.

It will be remembered from an earlier chapter that requests for a high school in Fremantle were made in 1924, 1929 and again in 1934. While agreeing on its need, the Education Department was unable to do anything except in 1947 it officially raised the status of both Fremantle Boys’ and Princess May Girls’ Schools to that of high schools. Actually they had been functioning as such for many years. However, on 29 October 1954 the foundation stone of the John Curtin High School was laid. This was one of the first of the new government multi-lateral, co-educational high-schools, and the site chosen was an elevated area of land in East Street overlooking Fremantle Park and made available by the Council for that purpose. A special guest on that occasion was Mrs E. Curtin, widow of the late Hon. John Curtin, Australia’s war-time Prime Minister, after whom the school was named. To symbolize the joining of Fremantle Boys’ and Princess May, the senior student from each placed their respective school badges in the cement of the wall.

The school was partially ready for occupation in 1956 when students from Fremantle Boys' began classes there. Building continued throughout 1956 and was still going on when girls from Princess May transferred there in 1957. In that year the enrolment reached a staggering all-time high of 2,527 and overflow classes occupied rooms at North Fremantle school, Fremantle Boys’, Princess May and the Finnerty Street annexe for some time to come. Its first headmaster was Mr Jack Howieson who faced a herculean task of administration during those early years. It was officially opened on 15 October 1958 by the Premier, the Hon. A. R. G. Hawke, M.L.A.

By that time, the building and laying out of the grounds had been completed, the latter supervised by the Fremantle City Gardener.

Today its enrolment has stabilized at about 1,300, following the establishment of other high schools in or near Fremantle. These include Kwinana High (1959), Melville High (1960), and Hamilton High (1963) . The latest is South Fremantle High School, opened in 1967. This architecturally pleasing building occupies a large, undulating area in Winterfold and has playing fields on two sides of it. Near by is the new Fremantle Technical College which opened in

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February 1968 and which, with the former building in South Terrace still housing some classes, has over 5,000 students. Not far away from both these new educational establishments is the Winterfold Primary School which was opened in 1967. 7

These are all conducted by the State Education Department, but Catholic schools have also been active in their growth. Because of Fremantle’s large migrant population, mostly of southern European origin and predominately Catholic, there have always been a number of Catholic boys’ schools and convents in the district. The best known of these is probably Christian Brothers’ College in Ellen Street, which the present mayor, Sir Frederick Samson, attended in 1903, two years after its opening. Of very much earlier origin were St Joseph’s girls school in Parry Street, now called St Patrick’s, and St Joseph’s College in Adelaide Street. Both started soon after the Sisters of St Joseph arrived in the colony in 1855. In 1968, the latter shifted to Hilton Park and was renamed De Vialar College. Among new post-war Catholic schools are Our Lady of Mt Carmel (1955), Maristella Kindergarten (1963), and St Brendan’s College at Winterfold which at present caters for boys to third-year high school but is building up to full five-year high school requirements. This opened in 1964, and in the same year Our Lady of the Missions High School, an amalgamation of three convents, opened in Tuck-field Street.

The Stephenson-Hepburn Report had noted that Fremantle had ‘a very distinctive community life, flavoured not a little by the cosmopolitan character of its inhabitants and its close contact with sailors and visitors from all over the world’. 8 At the outbreak of World War II the then mayor, F. E. Gibson, had reminded the Council that Fremantle’s population included people of many different nationalities and had made a plea on their behalf. He said: "As individuals they are not responsible for the present state of affairs ... I would like to appeal to all our citizens to extend to these people that courtesy and consideration which we ourselves would appreciate if we found ourselves in their position.’ 9

This migrant population of Fremantle has played a very significant part in the city’s affairs and prosperity. It is mainly, but not entirely, centred round the fishing industry. As we have seen in an earlier chapter, the Council had for a time been involved in the

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marketing of fish but had abandoned it. A system of open auctioning had come into being but this was far from satisfactory and in 1947 a small group of fishermen, about nine or ten, held a meeting to see what could be done to their mutual benefit. As a result the Fremantle Fishermen’s Co-operative Society was formed and today it has about 500 members—Italians, Portuguese, Yugoslavs and some Australians. They operate for crayfish as far north as Freshwater Point, just south of Dongara, and for large fish and prawns as far north as Onslow. They have various receiving depots along the coast and their major exports are crayfish tails, or ‘rock lobsters’ as they are called for sale in the United States. Their present building is being extended to cope with the great increase in trade in recent years.

The fishing fleet is housed during the off-season in Fishing Boat Harbour, a well-protected area of over 80 acres controlled by the Harbour and Lights Department. Quite recently, a new-angle breakwater was completed, rendering it safe in all weathers. For a fee any fisherman may berth there, and there is an additional fee for those wishing to have their own private mooring pen. The foreshore is fringed by various service companies who supply gear and service the fleet when in port. Each November there is great activity as the fisherman prepare to put out to sea, and since 1948 this has been preceded in the third week in October by the Blessing of the Fleet, a colourful ceremony which never fails to attract large crowds.

Until comparatively recently, the retail trade at the co-operative and at Cicerello’s next door to it attracted large numbers of people anxious to buy fresh fish or fish meals which they could, if they wished, eat under the trees on the near-by Esplanade. However, the coming to Fremantle of the standard gauge railway led to the erection of a high wire fence which can only be surmounted by an overway for pedestrians. Motorists are forced to leave their cars on the Esplanade side of the railway and cross the overway on foot, or cross the line by a vehicular approach about three-quarters of a mile away. But there is limited parking space on the waterfront side of the fence and this has greatly inhibited the retail trade in a location that looked like growing into a popular ‘sea-foods' centre.

It should not be imagined that Fremantle’s southern-European migrants are entirely concerned with fishing. They and their children

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follow many different walks of life. Perhaps one of the most unusual was Yugoslavian Kris Martinovich. The newspapers of the 1950s carried stories of this man who for many years had treated fellow-miners in Boulder for spinal and other bone injuries. They told of people travelling great distances, some interstate, to wait in Kalgoorlie as long as two or three weeks for their turn. In 1957, he and his family shifted to South Fremantle where he soon had a large local clientele. After his death in 1967 his three Australian-born sons, now registered as chiropractors, have carried on using the simple but skilful techniques their father taught them.

The Fremantle City Council has always advocated the extension of the area and population of local governing authorities by amalgamation. It believes that this will strengthen local government by making facilities, not always economically possible for smaller districts, readily available to all. To this end, it conferred several times with the North Fremantle Town Council, the East Fremantle Town Council and the Melville and Fremantle Road Boards, but nothing came of it. In September 1953, it prepared a statement to place before a commissioner appointed by the government to enquire into the boundaries of Municipal and Road Board districts. The mayor in his Annual Report for 1955 commented on the fact that amalgamation with North and East Fremantle had been deferred but the attitude of the Fremantle City Council remained unchanged. He made it clear the Council had ‘not attempted to influence an amalgamation by offering any inducement to contiguous local Authorities, other than an offer to share with them the amenities and facilities [it has] developed and by unity of purpose to give strength and status to Local Government generally’. 10 Nothing happened until, following a petition of the mayor and councillors of North Fremantle and the City of Fremantle, the two municipalities were united by an order of the governor in Executive Council as from 1 November 1961. Actually, North Fremantle had once been part of the Fremantle municipality but had broken away in 1895. 11

From 1 November, however, the two came together again and until the following May nine previous councillors from North Fremantle sat with the councillors of the City of Fremantle, with the former Mayor of North Fremantle, Mr W. H. Walter, acting as deputy-mayor. At the new elections in May 1962, North Fremantle

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became an additional ward of the City of Fremantle, the North Ward, with three members the same as other wards, and at the June meeting of the Council, Councillor the Hon. E. M. Davies, J.P., M.L.C., resumed his office of deputy-mayor by unanimous vote. However, within a short time of this amalgamation, the Minister for Local Government excised 260 acres of the North Fremantle area and annexed it to the town of Mosman Park. This moved the mayor, Sir Frederick Samson, to point out in the Annual Report to SO June 1963 that ‘this decision was made at a time when the City of Fremantle, for very good reasons, [was] seeking an expansion of [its] Local Government territory’ which he considered to be ‘inadequate for a commercial and industrial centre as important as Fremantle’. 12

On 10 April 1963 the City of Fremantle suffered an even greater loss, in the death of Councillor E. M. Davies. He had been a councillor since 1928 and under both Sir Frank Gibson and Sir Frederick Samson was invariably chosen as acting-mayor during the mayor’s absence. He was the strong man of the Council whose views were never uttered until he had given full consideration to the matter under discussion, and his opinion was invariably respected by all members. He had been expected to stand for the position of mayor when Sir Frank Gibson retired in 1951, but he decided against it. He had served on numerous committees and was chairman of many. He had been the Council’s representative on the Advisory Board set up by the government in 1955 to co-ordinate local planning with the recommendations of the Stephenson-Hepburn plan of regional development for the entire metropolitan area.

When North Fremantle amalgamated with Fremantle, its town clerk, Mr S. W. Parks, became Deputy Town Clerk to the City of Fremantle. He was born in Subiaco and after war service with the R.A.N. he found employment with the North Fremantle Town Council in 1949. When he became its town clerk in 1953 at the age of 27, he was one of the youngest holding that office in Western Australia. On the retirement of Mr N. J. C. McCombe in 1966, he was appointed Town Clerk of the City of Fremantle, with the new title of City Manager, and is now assisted by a deputy town clerk, Mr M. J. Edmonds.

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This chapter has given a broad picture of many aspects of development in post-war years, not all of them directly connected with the Fremantle City Council. It is now time to look specifically at the outcome of the Council’s wisdom in taking the initiative in establishing its own Town Planning Scheme.


1 3 Edw. VII (Private Act), Fremantle Municipal Tramways and Electric Lighting Act. 1903.

2 1 Eliz. II, No. 66, The Fremantle Electricity Undertaking (Purchase Moneys) Agreements, 1952.

3 Gordon Stephenson and J. A. Hepburn, Plan for the Metropolitan Region, Perth and Fremantle, 1955. (Perth: Govt. Printer, 1955).

4 C.F., R.S.A. 31 Oct. 1952, F.T.H.

5 For further information see J. M. Scrymgeour and A. J. Smith, 'The Fremantle Hospital’, Appendix in J. H. Stubbe, Medical Background (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1969).

6 C.F., R.S.A. 31 Oct. 1954, F.T.H.

7 Information on state schools supplied in private communication from the Director-General of Education, 18 Sept. 1970, and from certain of the schools themselves.

8 Stephenson and Hepburn, Plan for the Metropolitan Region, Perth and Fremantle.

9 M.F.M.C. 4 Sept. 1939, F.T.H.

10 C.F., R.SA. 31 Oct. 1955, F.T.H.

11 Government Gazette of Western Australia, 13 Sept. 1895, pp. 14, 65-6.

12 C.F., R.S.A. 30 June 1963, F.T.H.

Go to Chapter 17: Early Results of Council Planning.

Garry Gillard | New: 5 July, 2021 | Now: 12 July, 2021