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Lot 6

Town Lot 6 was granted 5 September 1829, according to Des Lambert (in the Fremantle Society newsletter article discussed below), to Edward Barrett-Lennard. However, the list of original purchasers provided by the Fremantle City Library has the first grantees as Wood and Okeley.

William Dixon was the licensee, in 1830, of the George IV Public House, which was on the SW corner of High and Cliff Streets. A house on the lot was later occupied by W.F. Samson c. 1881-1900. The house was not removed until about 1955, when Elders demolished it to erect an iron shed for wool storage.

William Frederick Samson's house was built c. 1855-1857 on Lot 6, the SW corner of Cliff and High Streets, diagonally opposite the Fremantle Hotel. Demolished by Elder Smith in 1954-55, the site was from 1976 part of the Marina Village development. The site is now owned by NDU and used as a carpark. The university planned a new building for it, but the proposal was not accepted.

William F. Samson's House, Cliff Street with the offices of The Herald on the left. City of Fremantle, Local History Collection, 1435.

We have an exact date for this Fremantle Library photo no. 4753: 27 October 1900. The P&O Hotel (1901) has not yet been built; nor has Dalgety's warehouse (also 1901). Samson's house is towards the right, next to the police station, the building on the front right of the photograph. Fremantle Library caption:

Photo taken by Frank Mousley from the Roundhouse, looking east along High Street. On the left side is the Union Bank and the Hotel Fremantle. On the right side is the two storey house belonging to W.F. Samson, on the south west corner of Cliff and High Streets, and on the opposite corner of Cliff Street is the Bank of NSW. Taken 27 October 1900.

police station

The rear of W.F. Samson's house is near the centre of this c. 1901 photo, taken probably from the Round House steps. On the right is the police station. Samson's house faces the 1899 Bank of NSW, beyond which Owston's buildings have not yet been built, tho the P&O Hotel is now prominent near the centre of the photo. The Fremantle Hotel is diagonally opposite the house, still with its spire. The tramway carbarn will replace the police station within five years. FHC photo #1038 with this caption:

The railway line is in the foreground with Dalgety's Building, completed November 1901 on the left. The architect was J Talbot Hobbs. Beyond is the Hotel Fremantle (1898) and in the centre background is the Town Hall. The turreted building on the right of the Town Hall is the P&O Hotel (1901). At the front left [sic: should be right] is the Police Quarters, demolished in 1905 for the Tramways Car Barn. Beyond this are the home and garden of W F Samson and the Bank of New South Wales (1899).


Fremantle Library photo no. 1888 (cropped) taken 1905 by George Keane showing the front of WF Samson's house. Caption:

The western aspect of High Street. The Whalers Tunnel surmounted by the Round House. The jarrah paving blocks are being removed for the laying of the tramlines. Note original type of electric lighting adopted for central area. W.F. Samson's home (1885-1887) at left, Tramways Carbarn (1905), Dalgety's (1901), Union Bank (1889) [the last two cropped out].


The police station has been replaced by the tramway carbarn in 1905, radically changing the view from the back of WF Samson's house. Fremantle Library photo no. 2141 with this caption:

Tram No 2 entering the car barn on opening day (first day of Tramways service). On the right are Owston Building (1903), Bank of NSW, corner High and Cliff Streets and the rear of the Samson home, Cliff Street. Horse drawn lorries are in the foreground by the railway tracks. Taken 30 October 1905.


In 1976, FHC photo #990A, taken by Noel Doyle, shows that Samson's house is long gone, and the trams are no longer running. Both the Fremantle and P&O Hotels have lost their spires. (Why? Can they be put back, please?) Here's the FHC caption:

High Street looking East: on the rightfront is the Carbarn built in 1905 for the Fremantle Municipal Tramways and Electric Lighting Board. Next is the vacant lot which is the site of W F Samson's home, c1885-1955. These two properties were at the time of the photo being incorporated into the Marina Village development. Also on the right is Owston's Building, built on the site of the old Sandovers premises in 1903 and the original Bank of New South Wales, built 1899.

Since then, the Samson site has been cleared and is used as a carpark. The carbarn retains its facade, with new commercial premises on the ground floor and four floors of new Marina Village apartments above that.


What the site looks like in late 2016. Tramways facade with new apartment complex to the right, Liebler facade to the left. Notre Dame University plans to develop the site, with a five-storey building including a theatre, a bar/cafe, and a function centre/exhibition space.

New Uni Plans

Stephen Pollock, Fremantle Herald, 7 October 2016

THE university of Notre Dame is planning a new building on the south west corner of Cliff and High Streets, home of Fremantle’s famous “Wedding Wall”.
They will reveal their plans at an information session on Monday, 3.30pm at Fairweathers, the old Fremantle Hotel diagonally opposite the proposed site.
The university told the Chook it would keep the facade (which is frequently draped in bridal parties lining up for wedding snaps), but were keeping tight-lipped on any other detail.


William Frederick Samson’s house was built on the proposed site in 1855.
It was demolished by Elder Smith in 1954 and from 1976 onwards was part of the Marina Village development, and these days the site behind the wall is a carpark.
The Mediterranean Shipping Company recently opened its well-received new HQ on Cliff Street, a few doors down.

Notre Dame Plays Height Hardball

Stephen Pollock, Fremantle Herald, 18 November 2016

NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY is playing hardball over the height of its planned $17 million nursing and midwifery school in Fremantle’s West End.
Next week the uni will submit a proposal to Fremantle council for a five-storey school at the south-west corner of Cliff and High Streets, despite the town planning scheme only permitting four storeys in the heritage precinct.
When the five storey plan was first unveiled at a public meeting last month, Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the height would be 'challenging' for council, but after consulting with the WA Heritage Council the university has decided to press forward.


'There are very few scenarios where we approve that sort of height in the West End,' says Dr Pettitt. 'But we take every case on its merits and will have to look at how far the fifth storey is set back.
'I know city officers were concerned it could be visible from the street and we’ll need to look at that very closely.'
The upper floors of the planned building will be home to the nursing and midwifery school and the ground floor will include a 200-seat theatre, a small cafe/bar on High Street, and retail on Cliff Street, accessible through the heritage 'Wedding wall' facade.
Notre Dame released its controversial plan on the same day WA heritage minister Albert Jacob announced that Fremantle’s West End would be added to the state heritage register to provide more protection.

Fremantle Council has put pages with drawings of the proposed building here. Note that the drawings show the spire on the top of the Fremantle Hotel - which was [removed many years ago - giving a false impression of height relationships.


The 1905 photo of the front of the house above was used on the cover of the Fremantle Society's newsletter (Fremantle) for the Special Edition 2000.

See the article on this corner of High and Cliff Sts and the buildings that were on it, including of course the Samson house, in the Fremantle Society's newsletter (Fremantle) August 1991 issue, pp. 1, 3-5. A note at the end of the article credits 'Des Lambert, formerly of Samsons, for the historical notes for this article'. This is the first page.


References and Links

See also the page on this site for the Liebler facade.

For a report on the 10 October 2016 presentation, see Roel Loopers' blog entry.

Garry Gillard | New: 30 April, 2016 | Now: 3 December, 2022