Fremantle Stuff > Ewers

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

Author’s Note and Acknowledgements

The first edition of The Western Gateway was undertaken at the request of the Fremantle City Council to coincide with the centenary of the establishment of the Fremantle Town Trust in 1848. This revised and enlarged edition is the result of the City Council’s desire to commemorate the centenary of local government in Western Australia as a whole. This was brought about by the passing in 1871 of ‘An Act for Establishing Municipalities’ (34 Victoria, No. 6). A work of this nature must necessarily include matters outside municipal control but of significance to the growth and development of Fremantle generally. Consequently the narrative begins in 1829 with a broad outline of Western Australian history until 1848. Thereafter the concentration is increasingly upon the domestic affairs of Fremantle, with a general background of state and, indeed, of world affairs.

Preparing this edition was not merely a matter of adding new chapters to the old text. Chapters One to Thirteen had to be thoroughly revised in the light of later events and, in some cases, of new information revealed by research. The present Chapter Fourteen contains some material from the former Chapter Sixteen, but brings up to date the full post-war development of Fremantle Harbour, including the unexpected and comparatively recent opening up of the Outer Harbour and its consequences. Chapter Fifteen describes in brief the developments at Kwinana, which were quite unforeseen when the original book was written. Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen derive in some small part from the former Chapter Fourteen, but many things there mentioned as hints and promises, together with a great deal not even hinted at, are now functioning as a result of the Council’s planning and developmental schemes.

Because neither the Tramways nor the Electricity Supply are now municipal enterprises, they have been dealt with briefly instead of having a whole chapter devoted to them as in the previous book. Chapter Eighteen is a broader look at an important aspect of Fremantle touched on only briefly in the first edition. The final chapter combines the biographical sketch of Sir Frank Gibson given in the former Chapter Seventeen with one of the present mayor, Sir Frederick Samson.

It follows that my thanks are divided between two groups of people. For assistance with the 1948 edition and those parts of it used in this one, I am grateful to the then Mayor of Fremantle, the late Sir Frank Gibson, K.B., M.L.C., the then Town Clerk, Mr N. J. C. McCombe, and to members of the committee handling that publication. For material in the early part of Chapter 14, I received warm co-operation from the late G. V. McCartney, General Manager of the Fremantle Harbour Trust at that time, and other officers of the Trust. Mr J. K. Hitchcock's History of Fremantle (1929) provided some useful guide-lines for the original work.

For help given in preparing this later edition I am indebted to His Worship the Mayor, Sir Frederick Samson, K.B., the City Manager, Mr S. W. Parks, the former Town Clerk, Mr N. J. C. McCombe, the City Engineer, Mr K. G. Bott, M.I.E.A., and to other senior officers of the Fremantle City Council who supplied information on request. In particular, I wish to thank Mr John E. V. Birch, City Librarian, who not only acted as liaison between the Council, the publishers and myself through his Cultural Development Committee, but also assisted in innumerable other ways, not the least the provision of transport when I required it. Mr A. J. Smith, Secretary-Administrator of the Fremantle Hospital, gave later details of hospital development, and Councillor J. A. Minervini assisted with the story of the growth of the Fremantle Fishermen's Cooperative Society Ltd. For later information regarding the Fremantle Harbour, my sincere thanks go to the General Manager of the Fremantle Port Authority, Mr H. C. Rudderham, its Assistant Public Relations Officer, Mr M. Rann, and its Librarian, Mrs M. F. Tucker. The details of industrial growth at Kwinana are condensed from records kindly supplied to me by Mr H. Zeitlin, Public Relations Officer of the Department of Industrial Development and Mr Fosbery of W. W. Mitchell & Associates. For historical background material in both editions, I wish to thank the State Archivist, Miss M. Lukis, and the staff of the Battye Library who answered my endless questions on dates and other details.

Photographs have been generously supplied by the W.A. Historical Society, the Battye Library, the Perth Museum (through Mr G. Shaw), the Fremantle City Council, the Fremantle Port Authority, the Department of Industrial Development, West Australian Newspapers Ltd, and a number of private citizens who also, in their own way, contributed important items of information. The plan of Fremantle in 1833 (Appendix 15), the earliest in existence, is here produced by courtesy of the Lands and Surveys Department.

I crave indulgence for any significant omissions I have made, especially as regards individuals and families who contributed, to a greater degree than it has been possible to indicate, to the growth and development of the Fremantle community. Other than municipal activities, the record has been confined in the main to major issues.

Finally, I would like to thank all members of the staff of the University of Western Australia Press, and the printers, for their very efficient and expeditious handling of the manuscript. Special thanks are due to Mrs L B. Martyn for her research in checking sources of information and annotating them.

John K. Ewers


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