Fremantle Stuff > organisations > railways.


Construction of the railway line to Fremantle began in 1879, and was formally opened by Governor Robinson 1 March 1881.

There have been two Fremantle railway stations, and two railway bridges over the river. One of each remains. The first station (1881) was at the northern end of Cliff Street on what was formerly The Green. The second is the current one (1907), on Elder Place (formerly Bay Street). There was also (1896-1907) a station in 'East Fremantle' opposite the Beach/Edward (Parry) Street corner and the Australia Hotel. (And there still is a station in North Fremantle –  though no longer one at Leighton.)

There was also a railway workshops complex in the West End of Fremantle, on Cliff and Phillimore Streets. It was re-established at Midland Junction in 1895 because the land on which the workshops stood was required for harbour facilities.


The first railway station was opportunistically constructed on the park known as The Green, a park and cricket ground which the citizens of Fremantle had made out of land reclaimed from the river and with couch grass planted by hand. In an attempt at recompense the government gave them Fremantle Park. The building in the photo was roughly where the 'Old Customs House' is today, at the western end of Phillimore Street.
The railway workshops were adjacent to the station until 1905 until the government removed them to Midland, taking hundreds of jobs out of Fremantle, to the dismay of citizens.
See also the 'Residency' for more photos.


This 1888 photo shows the 1881 railway station on what used to be The Green - to the left of the photo - with workshops adjoining.

This c. 1901 photo from Fremantle Ports/Facebook should ideally be seen in its largest size. The first railway station is just to the right of centre. Railway workshops in the middle distance.

Construction of the Fremantle to Guildford railway began in 1879. During the next two years land was reclaimed from the river for construction of the line, which was opened on 1 March 1881. Hutchison: 139.

The second railway station, 1907, soon after its opening (Dowson).

John Dowon:
A great photo, with sailors from HMS Hood marching past the Fremantle Railway Station. The Fremantle History Society should campaign to get the wonderful Victorian Gardens reinstated to give the station a proper forecourt, instead of the bitumen and diesel fumes from the buses, (which could be moved to the right of the station). I have lobbied for years, but the station management response is: "It's not our job to grow roses!" John Dowson, Facebook.

The 1907 railway station. The six swans were made by Walter Burvill (1875-1924), a local plaster modeller. Their colour has varied, but it was decided at the 2007 restoration that white was the original, and therefore preferred colour. The station was closed during the period after the Court government closed the Perth-Fremantle line in 1979. It was opened again by the Burke government in 1983 after much community agitation, notably on the part of the Fremantle Society, which claims the survival of the station building as one of it successes (cf. Davidson 2010).


The current railway station with its white swans. (Photo courtesy Roel Loopers.) The building is at the end of Market Street on the site where a market was intended (in the 1830s) to stand, but was never established.

In September, 1898, the railway line to Kalgoorlie was opened for traffic. The trade of Fremantle expanded rapidly; the large public works of the Mundaring Weir, the new harbour and new railways brought a continuous stream of people to the town. The building of hotels, banks, warehouses, shops and residences reached a high level, if not a peak period. Skilled tradesmen in all classes of trades had a good year. The increased gold yield gave confidence to financial, shipping, insurance and mercantile institutions, and their increased activities were reflected in the trade passing through the Customs and banks. (Hitchcock: 76)

East Fremantle Railway Station

1903c East Fremantle - photo from J. Arnold and R.A. Seubert Collection via Rail Heritage WA Archives.

East Fremantle Railway Station was opened Sunday 30 August 1896 and the signal station was closed 26 November 1905. The station still operated - probably until 1907 when the newer Fremantle Railway Station was opened (see the SignallingWA page and the book by Chris French.

References and Links

Davidson, Ron & Dianne Davidson 2010, Fighting for Fremantle: The Fremantle Society Story, Fremantle Society: 73-74.

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle, UWAP: 45, 100, 180.

Dowson, John 2005, Submission to Minister for Planning Alannah MacTiernan, Fremantle Society.

French, Chris. J. E. 2004, Signal Cabins of Western Australia, Historical Highlights, Chidlow WA.

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

Hutchison, David, s: 139-140.

Hutchison, David 2004, 'The railway workshops in Fremantle', Fremantle Studies, 3: 75-87.

Minchin R.S. & G.J. Higham, Robb’s Railway: Fremantle to Guildford Railway Centenary 1881-1981, Australian Railway Historical Society, 1981.

Signalling WA: page for the East Fremantle station.

Society newsletter, Fremantle, vol. 7 no. 1, 1979, on "Railway 79?".

See also: bridges, re the two railway bridges.

See also: the lamp room.

See also: Claremont railway station.

Diesel trains in Fremantle in youtube video.

Garry Gillard | New: 17 March, 2018 | Now: 21 September, 2023