Freotopia > hotels > Esplanade Hotel Fremantle.
See also: Esplanade Hotel Perth.

Esplanade Hotel

October 1895 [Graham], 44-54 Marine Terrace.


From 1850, this site, Town Lots 150, 151, 152, and 172, was leased for the use of the Convict Establishment from Captain Daniel Scott, who had there a woolstore and other buildings. There was a large house built on the corner of Collie St and Marine Terrace for the occupation of Thomas Dixon, Overseer of Convicts.


Local History Collection image 1027, Spear & Wall c. 1907. The Esplanade Hotel was designed in 1897 by J H Eales. Additions costing 1831 pounds were made in 1903 by F W Box. Mrs John Beresford Junior is on the verandah and her husband is standing in front of the hotel. John Paterson Beresford was the proprietor from 1904 to 1908. On his death, John Junior took over the lease for a year. In September 1984, Dave Johnson Motors and the Essex Street Woolstores were demolished to allow for extensions, designed by Parry and Rosenthal, to be added to the hotel: the Esplanade Plaza, which opened in June 1986.

The main entrance to the Esplanade Hotel is now on the corner of Marine Terrace and Essex Street. It used to be at the other corner, with Collie Street, as shown in the photo above. It's a luxury hotel now, but the area was very different in the 1860s and 1870s, before there was a hotel building, as Hitchcock describes in his 1929 History.

The most notable event of 1850 was the arrival, on June 1st, of the ship Scindian with the first batch of convicts, the date synchronising with the twenty-first anniversary of the foundation of the colony. In addition to the convicts and military guards with their wives and families there arrived by the Scindian, Captain Henderson, R.E., Comptroller-General of convicts, and a large staff of officials, including Dickson [Dixon], principal overseer, and James Manning, clerk of works. Later a number of tradesmen were brought from South Australia to instruct the convicts in the various trades in which they were to be employed. [34]
As no preparation had been made for the reception of the convicts, the first batches were quartered in premises rented from Captain Daniel Scott, fronting Marine Terrace, Collie Street and Essex Street, extending half-way-up to Essex-lane. The only part now [1929] remaining is used as a warehouse and extends from the Esplanade Hotel to Essex-street.
That temporary prison reverted to Captain Scott when the convicts were transferred to the new prison erected by themselves on the hill. The numerous outbuildings at the rear of the main building were then converted into tenements which, in the course of time, degenerated into mere hovels and what was known as the Old Establishment Yard became the slum quarters of Fremantle in the sixties and seventies, the tenants being mostly ticket-of-leave men and their consorts, the demimonde always to be found in a seaport town. Hitchcock: 33-34.

The Esplanade Hotel is at the left on the corner of Collie Street and Marine Terrace. To the right is the picket fence of the Esplanade Reserve. The Hotel was designed by J H Eales and built in 1897 with several subsequent additions and renovations. (Photo from SLWA from Facebook; click/tap for large size.)
The photo shows the hotel after the 1903 additions, but before the 1986 expansion to Essex Street. The building there would Scott's warehouse, which had been used in the early 1850s to house the first convicts.

Originally a private residence built around 1880 for Philip Webster, the building was modified for use as the Esplanade Hotel in 1895 and the exterior remodelled in 1903. Architect Herbert Nathaniel Davis was responsible for the 1895 creation of the Hotel from existing buildings. The place was redesigned by architect J. Herbert Eales in 1903. The photo above is from c. 1905 and so shows Eales' 1903 building. It also appears to show the warehouse mentioned by Hitchcock (above) which was used to house the first convicts in 1850.

The proprietor and licensee in 1908 was John Beresford, who shot himself.

In 1984, Dave Johnson Motors and the Essex Street Woolstores were demolished to allow for extensions to be added to the hotel: the Esplanade Plaza, which opened in June 1986.

The Esplanade Hotel 9 May 1919 on the occasion of the funeral of Tom Edwards, working class martyr. The cortege was departing the Trades Hall building in Collie St, opposite the Hotel.

There is an extensive history on the Wikipedia page. The building has been used as a hotel since 1895, tho it has been redesigned and renovated many times. Premises were converted to form the Hotel in 1895 by architect Herbert Nathaniel Davis. The place was redesigned by architect J. Herbert Eales in 1903. The version in the 1919 photo above is Eales' 1903 building. The 2006 photo below is by Moondyne and from Wikipedia.

The West Australian
Another noticeable feature in the improvements at the port is the reconstruction of the premises formerly occupied by Messrs. Symon, Hubble & Co., on the South Beach. These buildings are being converted into the Esplanade Hotel. Under the arrangements contemplated on the ground floor will be public bar 22ft. x 18ft., with fittings of kauri pine and ante-rooms in close proximity. Adjoining the public bar will be a saloon bar 18ft. x 15ft., with cedar fittings and which will be lavishly furnished. The cellarage will be placed under the public bar and will be 20ft. by 18ft. The entrance hall to the dining room will be from Marine Terrace, and will be 7ft. 6in. in width. The dining room, which is 36ft. x 20ft., will be fitted up with panelled ceilings and enriched cornices, and adjoining the dining room are to be reading and smoking rooms, divided by a passage 12ft. wide, forming an entrance to the main vestibule. The kitchen, scullery, etc., are arranged in a convenient position to the dining room. The bedrooms, fifteen in number, are to be situated on the first floor. There will be four double bedrooms suitable for families, which, if desirable, can also be arranged for single bedrooms. The single bedrooms will be erected apart from the main building, and access to them will be from balconies and covered ways. The bathrooms have been conveniently arranged on the first floor. The billiard room will be connected with the building and will be replete with all the latest appliances. Verandahs and balconies 7ft in width will be carried round all sides of the building, and particular attention will be bestowed on ventilation and sanitary arrangements. Messrs. Mell and Todd are the contractors, and Mr. H. N. Davis the architect. The cost of renovation and furnishing will, it is anticipated, amount to about £3,000. The West Australian, Monday 20 May 1895: 5.

SLWA photo 013171PD: the Wild Club [?] Esplanade Hotel, 1935?


The Norfolk Street main entrance in 2017.


The Collie Street corner bar is now (2017) called The Ball and Chain (Pub).

References and links

Campbell, Robin McKellar 2010, Building the Fremantle Convict Establishment, PhD, UWA (Faculty of Architecture). Available online to download (not from this site) as a 40MB PDF.

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Webb, David & David Warren 2005, Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle: 42-3.

Rydges website

Wikipedia page

The Ball and Chain

See also: the Esplanade (place).

See also: Daniel Scott's warehouse.

pubsofwa, Allen Graham's Facebook page, from which the first photo, and the date of opening.

Garry Gillard | New: 23 September, 2014 | Now: 28 November, 2023