Freotopia > Fremantle Park > Hutchison

A History of Fremantle Park

David Hutchison

Published here by permission of the author, whose estate retains copyright. The text is from the Conservation Management Plan for Fremantle Park, prepared for the City of Fremantle, 2009.
An earlier version of this paper, 'Fremantle Park', copyright 2005, first presented 2004, revised 2008, is also on this site.
Copyright © David Hutchison 2009
50 Attfield Street
Western Australia 6160
David Hutchison was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1927, and lives in Fremantle. He is married and has a daughter and a son. He has degrees in civil engineering and in history, and a diploma of education. He taught physics, lectured in the history and philosophy of science and was an adult educator.
In 1970, he became the First Curator of History at the Westem Australian Museum. His first task was to set up the Fremantle Museum. He is an Inaugural Honorary Fellow of the National Museum of Australia. He retired in 1985 to work as a museologist and heritage consultant. Publications include a study of the Benedictines of New Norcia (A Town Like no Other), a guide to Fremantle heritage (Fremantle Walks), a novel, Many Years a Thief, and articles, essays, poetry and short fiction‚ his own and translations from Modern Greek—and botanical illustrations.


I was stimulated to research the history of Fremantle Park when the Fremantle Society invited me to talk about its history in April 2008. I also talked about this to a meeting of the Fremantle Park Precinct in October of that year.

I decided to end my research at the time of the construction of John Curtin High School in 1956, as by then the present boundaries of the Park were determined.

It has not been possible to write this history as an easy-flowing manuscript, as the story includes reference to many uses, to many people, and to many clubs and societies.

Access, at the Local History Collection of Fremantle City Library, to Australian newspapers on line (created by the National Library) facilitated research up to the end of 1899. At the time of my research, no Western Australian newspaper after that date had been included. Research for the later years depended upon consultation of Council minutes and Education Department files. It was not possible to research newspapers in so much detail for the latter period.

It was beyond the scope of my research to look for plans to identify the locations of various buildings that were erected on the Park.

The first part of this paper treats the story chronologically. The second part analyses in detail the negotiations between the Fremantle Council and the Education Department for the revesting of a substantial part of the Park in the latter as a site for John Curtin High School.


'The Green'

The first recreation area in Fremantle was known as The Green. The Fremantle historian, Hitchcock, in an early article in the journal of the Royal WA Historical Society',1 wrote that

In the early days, the area between Phillimore Street and Pakenham Streets [note that the area actually extended from Cliff Street to Pakenham Street] was shallow water. The present irregular line of buildings along the south side of Phillimore Street marks what was once the river foreshore. The townspeople, by constituting themselves working bees, reclaimed the land and planted it with couch grass, thus creating the old recreation ground, which was known as 'The Green'. Naturally, the people were very wroth when it was proposed to resume this land for railway purposes ... 2

Reece and Pascoe in their book, A Place of Consequence, state that The Green 'was the recreational and social centre of Fremantle'. 3 lt was also 'the place to meet passengers from the Perth ferry and to take an evening constitutional when the temperature made it more pleasant outdoors.' 4

When extension of the Eastern Railway to Fremantle was planned, The Green was selected as the best site for the railway station, workshops and associated buildings. The citizens of Fremantle objected to losing their recreational ground and, a public meeting was held on 5 May 1879, chaired by Robert M Sutherland, the Manager of the National Bank, to discuss

a subject of great public interest — namely, what steps should be judiciously taken to induce the Government not to allow the Recreation Ground to be interfered with.

The meeting decided unanimously to elect a deputation to wait upon the Governor, Sir Harry Ord. Those elected were R M Sutherland, J J Harwood, D K Congdon, G Parkes, W B Pearse, E A Stone, E Solomon and W E Marmion. The visit of the deputation was reported — somewhat wordily — in The Herald on Saturday 24 May 1879. It is quoted at some length as evidence that it was intended to retain Fremantle Park for public recreation as well as organised sports. The object of the deputation, the paper reported, was,

if possible, to induce the Governor to reconsider the decision he had arrived at to appropriate the public green for railway purposes  Mr M. Sutherland, as the chairman of the public meeting nominating the deputation [spoke] in forcible terms [of] the great value the people of Fremantle set upon the piece of land they were threatened to be deprived of and begged His Excellency in the interests of the health and recreation of the inhabitants of Fremantle, to reconsider the intention of appropriating the only present recreation ground in Fremantle for the purpose contemplated. He respectfully submitted to His Excellency that the inhabitants had acquired the land — for, if it had not been actually reclaimed at the expense of the people of Fremantle, it had certainly been improved by them, and made what it now was, by the outlay of private individuals, and the Municipality. In fact, it was this expenditure of private and municipal money that had made the piece of land suitable for the purpose for which the Government wanted it. He submitted that waste land to the East of The Green would answer the purpose of the railway station and workshops equally as well as The Green, and again begged His Excellency to reconsider his decision in the matter, and, if possible, reserve The Green as a public recreation ground.

The Govemor asked to be shown on a map the alternative site to the east that Sutherland proposed for railway needs. He then asked the Commissioner of Railways to comment. The Commissioner was adamant that The Green met the requirements of the railway and the alternative site did not. The Governor said that

He was fairly alive to the importance of open space in towns as a means of recreation and as conducive to public health. but he spoke professionally when he said The Green was the only place in Fremantle adapted for the railway station, workshops and other buildings  and that he felt himself bound to concur in the opinion of the Commissioner of Railways that the appropriation of the land was an unavoidable necessity.

Mr W Marmion, a member of the deputation thanked His Excellency

for the attention he had given the matter and as it appeared necessary that The Green should be appropriated for railway purposes he would suggest that some compensation might be given to the town, for the loss of The Green, in the shape of another and a better piece of land; he thought a portion of the land be reserved as a Public Park, [which], with some outlay might, if His Excellency saw his way to convey it to the town in a comparatively short time, to be made available as a cricket and recreation ground.

The Governor asked the Commissioner of Crown Land if he knew of any objection to this piece of land being given for the purpose mentioned. The Commissioner said that there was none, and the Governor said that he 'was willing to do all in his power to give the inhabitants of Fremantle compensation for the loss of The Green, which he knew they prized highly.'

Not all residents liked the exchange. A 'ratepayer' wrote to The Herald (14 June 1879) that he was not very impressed by the quality of the land at the new site offered by the Governor:

in return for the cheerful inexpensive greensward by the sea [sic] — it must be acknowledged a very magnificent one — but it is as costly as worthless and it is magnificent in every sense a white elephant.

At its meeting on 30 May, the Fremantle Town Council decided to defer consideration of a communication from the Commissioner of Railways 'relative to the Fremantle Park' until the following Wednesday, 4 June.

With some force, but somewhat pompously, The Herald attacked the Govemor in an editorial on 31 May 1879

It is all very well for His Excellency and Mr Thomas [Commissioner of Railways] to ask us to take their word as engineers, but the present is not an engineering question but one of common sense, in which anyone who can use his eyes and is not an idiot, may be as good a judge as the greatest engineer who exists.

The editorial continued in a more conciliatory tone:

We have a great respect for the opinion of professional men in matters concerned with their profession

but goes on to question some of the comments made by the Governor and the Commissioner of Railways on the selection of the site for the railway buildings but, later, adds that the Governor 'has said nothing to show that the appropriation of The Green was not 'an act of spoliation utterly unwarranted'.

The Editor claimed that the principal reason for selecting The Green was that reclamation of that site had already been completed, but the eastern site would require more reclamation. He added

as for the proposed substitute [for The Green], there is certainly no part of the reserve which is facetiously called the “park”, which could be made into a recreation ground except at great expense or to which any but a few nursemaids and children would resort after such expense was incurred.

The Perth newspaper, The Inquirer, had joined the fray on 14 May, claiming that

the people of Fremantle have at length awakened to a true sense of the danger in which they stand of losing not temporarily, but for ever, the plot of ground lying on the riverside of the town, and which, to almost everyone who has visited Fremantle is known as the Recreation Ground or more popularly, The Green.

There can be no doubt that Fremantle Park was the quid pro quo for surrendering The Green and that it was intended that the Park contain a substantial park for public recreation as well as sporting facilities.

Figure 1 is part of an 1833 map of Fremantle. It shows the quarry then on a large area of the western portion of the proposed Park, bounded by Parry and Ellen Streets.

Fremantle Park

At its meeting on 4 June 1879, Fremantle Town Council, decided, after lengthy discussion that

it would be the wisest plan to accept the whole of the Park on the conditions specified to ascertain the probable cost of fencing the whole property, and of clearing and rendering the Westerly portion, a suitable place for recreation and for a cricket ground, then to lay the matter before the Govemment and ask for an annual grant to carry out the work.

The meeting then adjourned until 6 June, when it was unanimously agreed

I. That the piece of land for public Park containing 45 acres as marked on accompanying tracing be taken over by the Council from the Crown on the conditions named in the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands letter: viz
(a) The Council to subvent the plans for bringing the ground into the condition intended and which is desired
(b) To engage that improvement will be carried out as the funds at their command admit
(c) That they are willing to take the grant in trust, guaranteeing to His Excellency's satisfaction that the ground will be always kept up in a proper manner and in an orderly condition.
II. That the Council having gone into the question of cost of bringing the whole 45 acres into the condition intended for a Recreation Ground and finding that it would be too great to recommend to the Govemment to be done at present, it was unanimously resolved that a portion only of the whole can be laid out, fenced, cleared, etc, mainly that portion extending from Parry Street on the West to the Asylum Road in the East. The Council likewise finding that the portion only would require a sum of not less than £500, and an annual grant of £100 from the Legislative Council.

Figure 2 — a copy of a map in the Local History Collection — shows the approximate boundaries for the Park. However, this map must have been drawn before 1852, the year in which the Skinner Street Cemetery was dedicated. That cemetery remained in use until 1899. Asylum Road, shown by dotted lines on the map, was the track that would have linked the Asylum to the Prison. Part of it was close to the alignment of present Ord Street. An Old Boy of Fremantle CBC said that, when he was a boy at the college, that road still existed, and the boys called it 'the goat track'. Ord Street was not laid down until the 1960s.

It appears that part of this land was vested in the town already, in 1873. That part is described as 'ground in the vicinity of the Lunatic Asylum.' 5

The Council's decision confirms that Fremantle Park was the quid pro quo for surrendering The Green and that it was intended to contain a substantial park for public recreation as well as sporting facilities. This is confirmed also by a report in The Inquirer of 5 November 1880, quoted in The Herald on 18 April 1998 that

Fremantle Park, situated in Ellen Street, was set aside by the then council for the people of Fremantle in 1879.

The Council did not receive a satisfactory response to the request for funds, until about a month later. At its meeting on 9 July, the Chairman reported a communication from the Colonial Secretary that His Excellency would recommend Council's application for a sum of £500 and annual grant of £100 to next session of the Legislative Council. In the meantime he had authorised that £100 be placed at the Council's disposal. It is possible that that annual grant to Fremantle Council has never been rescinded.

Development of the Park


By mid July 1879, work on preparing the cricket ground had started and, apparently, the Council planned to remove turf from The Green to use on the new ground. At the meeting of the Town Council on 15 July, it was reported that the Commissioner of Railways had telegraphed that the Council could not remove any of that turf without permission of the Railway Contractor.

Some surprise was expressed at the receipt of such a telegram after the correspondence and promises that have been held forth. It was left in the hands of the Chairman to see Mr Barnfield [the Railway Contractor?] and try to arrange matters amicably. lf not able to do so, to appeal to the Governor.

Work on developing the Park had already begun. lt was reported on 28 July that 'half a dozen men were put to work clearing and grubbing to prepare a cricket ground'. It was decided that one of the men should be put in charge of the gang and Waylen was appointed, being granted a wage rise from 4s 6d to 5s 6d per day. On 6 August, the Council resolved that the fencing around the Green and rubbish reserve be removed and temporarily erected where required at the Park.

On 12 August, the Chairman reported to Council

that on the motion of Mr Marmion, the Legislative Council had passed a resolution praying H[is] E[xcellency] to place £500 on the estimates for the Park instead of £400.

On 22 August the Chairman of the Council,

gave a full account of the vexed question [of removal of turf from the Green], the letter to Col. Secretary was forwarded on the 13th inst but up to the 20th no answer was received, he therefore called on Col. Sec. & Dir. of Public Works who promised to forward the letter on the same day. Letter was received and read, which now stated that 30 ft [9.14m] from the centre of the [railway] line is to be reserved for sidings, Buildings etc, and beyond that Council is at liberty to remove the Turf ... The Chairman stated that he saw Mr Bamfield, who said that he had no objection only he should want it in writing from Mr Thomas direct. Another letter was therefore forwarded, asking for reply by retum mail, but no letter had come to hand. Cr Howard moved that the Turf be removed from Marine Tce or any other part of the Town until the matter of the Green could be settled.

The letter must have arrived in due course, because, on 14 October the Council resolved to approve payment to six men for 'carting turf from Green.' The turf of that part of Fremantle Park is indeed hallowed.

On 6 November, it was decided to call tenders for a well at the Park. The site for the well was on the Ellen Street side of the part of the Park under development.

In his Annual Report to a meeting on 17 November, the Council Chairman reported that

he had recently received a letter from the Commissioner of Crown Lands announcing that the Deed of Grant had been prepared and signed by His Excellency conveying the piece of ground known as the Public Park Reserve  ... to the Municipal Council and their successors  ... it would be forwarded in a few days.


On 19 January 1880, the Council moved to provide a suitable pump for the well in the Park and to have it erected without delay. However, it was not actually received until 6 May 1880. Early in 1881, at a meeting on 5 January, the Council decided to call tenders for raising stone and levelling portion of the Park also Quarry Street and James Street. A week later, the Council accepted a tender for erecting a fence around part of the Park; the fence was to have top rail and four wires. On 22 April, a tender was accepted for the erection of a pair of large gates and four small gates.

Beautification of the Park was also put in hand when, on 7 June 1882, the Council accepted an offer by 'a gardener in Perth named Jefferson to supply and plant trees', and ordered 30 'ornamentals at 2/6 each and 50 gums at 1/6 each'. On 3 February, the Council resolved to employ men to water those trees.

The Park must have been ready for cricket by the summer of 1883-84, because a report in The West Australian of 20 March 1884 observed:

Cricket seems to be the rage just now amongst the youth of Fremantle and the Park of an afternoon presents quite an animated appearance when the several school clubs are at practice. Taking a walk in the direction of the Park a few days ago, 1 found a party of ladies and gentlemen playing tennis and no les than four sets of wickets pitched. As this ground is so much used, it is a wonder the Municipal Council does not vote some money towards keeping the tennis court, and otherwise improving the place. I notice, however, that a man is constantly at work attending to, and watering the shrubs and trees that have been planted around the fence of the Park.

The turf must have been established by then, as on 23 September 1884, the Council considered a letter from Mr Jus. J. Broomall asking permission to

lay down about 38 sq yds [31.8 m^] of 9 in [22.9 cm] in the Park for a Cricket Pitch, as the present ground was so unfavourable for good cricket.

The Council so moved. Nearly two years later, at a council meeting on 28 March 1886, Cr Snook said that the cricket pitch in the Park was 'in danger of being destroyed by football from the position of the goal posts.' The Mayor offered to look into it. This shows that football had also been played on the Park for some time.

The Pavilion

Further evidence that cricket had been played at the Park for some time is shown by an approach to the Mayor ~ reported by him at that meeting on 28 March 1886 — by a cricket club's members asking to have a pavilion erected on it. That member offered that, 'if the Council would start the matter by making a donation from the funds that he would undertake to collect subscriptions for the same'. The Council agreed to contribute £20.

Thirteen designs were received for the Pavilion, and a prize of £25 was awarded to the architect, F W Burwell, who designed several distinguished existing heritage buildings in the West End. Approval was given for construction of the 'first part' of the building. The Council had £1,500 on hand for the work. 6 However, at the council meeting on 20 April, two plans were considered: one from Mr Hartwell and one from Mr Foreman. The latter was asked to provide specifications. At a subsequent meeting, a tender, for the erection of the pavilion, by Mr Joseph Banfield [Barfield?], 'in accord with plans and specs drawn by Mr Geo. Forman, for sum of £175, was accepted. There is no record of why Burwell's plans were not used.

The pavilion was reported to be near completion on 5 October 1886. At a meeting on 2 November, it was agreed that the building was 'a credit to all' and a vote of thanks to the architect was carried.

Construction of the Pavilion must have been delayed, because the Governor was invited to open the Pavilion on 16 October 1897. He had a previous engagement, so the Premier, Sir John Forrest, and his wife were invited to perform this ceremony. 7 The Pavilion was named the Victoria Pavilion. The construction cost was £4,000.

Rules for the management of the pavilion were resolved at a Council meeting on 2 November. The Park Caretaker, who was granted rent-free accommodation in the Pavilion, was to be in charge and was required to charge admission and not to admit anyone who did not pay. However, players could be admitted without charge. The admission charge for upstairs was 6d, and for downstairs 3d. It was also stated that money so raised was to be 'paid to Treasurer of Municipality to be applied to reduction of debt until whole paid off'. After that, 'sums realized to be applied to improvement of grounds'.

At a meeting on 15 July 1897, the Council agreed to call tenders for alterations to the Pavilion, but these were not specified. 8

In the early days, the Park was terraced, with upper and lower playing fields.

Other use for the Park

On 10 February 1888, the Fremantle and Perth Fire Brigades had a 'friendly competition' on the Park.


At a Municipal Council meeting on 23 June 1891, the Park Keeper, S B Duffield, resigned. The standard of his work had been criticised at a previous meeting. Subsequently, Edward Walley [Whalley?] was appointed to the post. In March of that year, Walley complained to the Council about larrikinism in the Park. In October, he complained of a smoky chimney in his quarters in the Pavilion. In December, he asked whether horses and carriages were allowed on the Park. The Council instructed him to keep the gates closed so that they could not enter. In April 1892, he was given permission to erect a fence at the rear of the Pavilion 'in order to plant trees and make a garden'. In January 1893, he again complained about larrikinism in the Park and that, the police were 'not rendering him assistance when necessity arises in the Park'. Conditions in his quarters must have been primitive. At its meeting on 7 August 1894, his request for water to be laid on to the Pavilion was approved, also the provision of an oil lamp.

On 16 September 1892, the Council resolved to write to the Colonial Secretary respecting the enclosure of the Asylum Grounds — the new portion recently taken from the Park Reserve at the western end of the cemetery. The proposed extension of the Asylum grounds, as far as a proposed extension of Skinner Street, can be seen by comparing Figures 2 and 3. A letter from the Colonial Secretary was tabled at a meeting on 4 October

pending the decision of the Government with reference to the contemplated removal of the Lunatic Asylum, it is not proposed to enclose the additional land referred to as a part of the Asylum Ground.

On 6 December 1892, the Council considered a letter from the Secretary of the Imperial Cricket Club asking for permission to lay a concrete pitch on the Fremantle Park similar to the one laid by the Fremantle Cricket Club as the present pitch is claimed entirely by the Fremantle Club. Permission was granted. It is interesting that in those days matches between the Fremantle and Perth Cricket Clubs were called 'Test Matches'.

At its meeting on 21 February 1893, the Council's Works Committee reported on a meeting with the committee of the Fremantle Cricket Club on

the matter of leaving part of the Fremantle Park for the purpose of enclosing and making a cricket and football oval. The measurements for the work had been made by the Town Surveyor and a tracing was submitted to Council.

The Council recommended that this be done, subject to the Secretary of the Fremantle Cricket Club submitting a copy of the rules and regulations applying to the Adelaide Oval lease. However, cricket pitches were still used on The Esplanade until July 1896.

It was obvious that the Park was used for social sporting matches. For example, cricket teams representing employees of J & W Bateman and of Simon, Hubble & Co, played on 17 March 1892. The Bateman team also played a match against the Imperials on 21 March 1896.

On 22 August, the Council considered a letter from the Secretary of the Fremantle Cricket Club seeking permission to lay a clay pitch for match purposes and a second clay pitch for practice in Fremantle Park. The request was left in the hands of Councillors Kelly and Holmes to negotiate.

On 12 September 1893, the Council moved to patch up 'the worst portion of Point Lane leading to Fremantle Park'. This is probably that section of Point Street between Josephson and Parry Streets. Metalling of the full width of the Lane would follow in the next year.' 10 Yet another cricket club, the Port Club requested, on 17 November 1895, that Council contribute one third of the cost of a new cricket pitch on the Park. In the following month, the Council received £1,000 from the Under Secretary of Public Works 'for improvements to the Park Reserve'.

On 5 January 1894, the Council debated the urgent need for a new 'cottage hospital' in Fremantle. lt rejected the suggestion by the Colonial Surgeon, Dr Barnett, that the 'Barracks' be developed for this use. A site in Fremantle Park 'opposite the Roman Catholic Presbytery' was preferred. 11 At a subsequent meeting, on 23 January, a letter was tabled from Dr Barnett agreeing that the Fremantle Park site was more suitable. 12 However, the proposal was not put into effect.

Quarrying of limestone from the Park continued evidently, because the Council, on 7 August 1894, moved 'that Dunn be called upon to level the Park where he had been quarrying stone'.

At the Council meeting on 4 February 1896, it was resolved that the Works Committee draw up a scheme for the expenditure of the £1,000 voted by the Government for making improvements to Fremantle Park. This must have been the annual grant promised by the government when the Park was vested in the Council. At a subsequent meeting, on 7 April, it was resolved to spend the grant on levelling the centre of the ground and planting it with couch grass 'in the same manner as Fremantle Oval' [the former Barracks Ground; see hereunder], to enclose the whole Park with an open picket fence 5 ft 6 in (1 .68 m) in height, and that ornamental trees be planted at once.

A number of commercial enterprises had apparently formed, by then, a Fremantle Mercantile Cricket Association. On 4 December 1899 a team, representing D & J Fowler Ltd and W D Moore, played a match against a team representing Burns Philip & Co under the auspices of the Association. 13

Bowling Club

On 29 June 1895 [actually 1896, Garry Gillard], a meeting was held at the Cleopatra Hotel to form a Bowling Club. A committee to represent this proposed club and a proposed Tennis Club was appointed to 'wait upon the Municipal Council for the purpose of obtaining a suitable site for green and courts'. They suggested a site opposite the Park Hotel. Mr Diamond 'urged the claims of the application and impressed upon the Council the claims of those who had become too old for cricket and football, and especially the claims of the ladies in respect to tennis.' 14

The committee inspected parks on the following Saturday and recommended sites in Fremantle Park for both clubs, and it was decided to approach the Fremantle Municipal Council. 15 On 13 August 1895 [actually 1896, Garry Gillard], a Fremantle Bowling Club provisional committee was appointed, at a General Meeting. That committee reported that the Fremantle Council had offered a site in Fremantle Park and a general meeting moved to 'form a ground without delay'. 16 At a meeting on 11 November 1896, the Council approved the leasing of portion of Fremantle Park to the Fremantle Bowling Club, 'for a period not exceeding three years, for the purpose of forming a bowling green and tennis courts'. 17

On 1 February 1897, The West Australian reported that

a portion of Fremantle Park has been cut off by the Municipal Council and leased to the Fremantle Bowling Club and Fremantle Tennis Club. The Bowling Club have laid down one rink with grass and members have, in conjunction with the Tennis Club, expended £170 in improving the fencing and the ground. 18

Tennis Club

The early negotiations for obtaining a site for the Tennis Club are described in the account of the Bowling Club above. At the Council meeting on 9 October 1896, a deputation from the Fremantle Tennis Club asked the Council to lay down the tennis courts to fulfil a promise made in April 1895. By that date, the club had 80 members. The club undertook to put down grass courts if the council would put down 'asphalt pitches'. The Lawn Tennis Club was opened on Saturday, 30 January 1897 by the Mayor of Fremantle (Mr E. Solomon MLA). 19 At a Council meeting on 10 May, a Mr Miles objected to the fact that non-members could not play on the bowling greens or on the tennis courts, as the Mayor had said that the expenditure on the two clubs was 'for the general recreation of the public.' 20 On 19 June of that year, the Club held its initial open tournament. 21

On 1 February 1899, an advertisement was published in The West Australian calling tenders for erection and completion of a wood pavilion for the club. On 4 April of that year, the club held a ball at Victoria Hall. It was described as 'a fitting closure to the tennis tournament at Easter.' 22

Military Uses of the Park

Various military units also used the Park at about this time. In the evening of 25 March 1891, 'a brigade parade of the volunteers of Perth, Fremantle and Guildford was held at the Fremantle Park'. The brigade was inspected by the Commandant, Major Phillips, and afterwards marched past'. After other drills, the brigade marched to the railway station. 23 Soon afterwards, on 11 April 1891, a handicap rifle match was held on the Park. It was won by Private Hayes. 24

A 'sham fight', conducted by the local infantry and artillery volunteer forces was conducted on the Park on 8 October 1892, observed by the Premier and other dignitaries and 20,000 spectators. They enacted the defence of Fremantle from possible attack by an enemy. The extensive account of this spectacle is given in Appendix 3. 25 One of the field guns was under the command of Lieutenant Hobbs. He was almost certainly J Talbot Hobbs who would become a distinguished army officer in World War I, and a leading architect who designed a number of distinguished existing heritage buildings in the West End of Fremantle.

On 22 March 1893, The West Australian reported, on the first full-dress parade of the Fremantle Mounted 26 lnfantry on the Park that afternoon. 27

The new corps, which has been organised and drilled with great diligence by Capt. Scott of the Fremantle Rifle Volunteers, and Sergt Ogilvy, now numbers 25 good horsemen, all of whom have arrived, in a very short space of time at a very creditable degree of efficiency in their movements. The uniforms for the new corps are now ready and are very attractive. The men will be clad in blue trousers, brown leggings, scarlet tunic and brown felt hat looped with brass hook.

The same newspaper reported on the annual inspection of Fremantle lnfantry on the 11 May 1895. The men wore their new tunics for the first time and 'had never looked smarter'. 28 There was another report of a military parade — of 'Volunteers' from Perth Fremantle and Guildford — in the Park on 10 October 1899. The Fremantle Corps was reported to be exceptionally strong, with 105 members. 29

After the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, the Park was evidently used at some time for 'military purposes', as the Church of Christ Cricket Club was granted use on three afternoons per week 'provided the ground is not required for military purposes'. There is a photograph showing an encampment for 'a citizen defence bivouac' in about 1914. 30 Any other military uses of the Park have not been determined.

Religious celebrations and services in the Park

St Patrick's Day was celebrated in the Park on 17 March 1893.

The celebration seemed to be not alone confined to the Hibernian section of the inhabitants but  to all classes of nationals. The members of the Hibemian Australian Catholic Benefit Society as usual marched in procession through the town ... Inspiring Irish airs were played ...

There was a sports meeting in the Park that afternoon. 31

In 1895, it is apparent that Muslims sometimes worshipped on Fremantle Park. This may be due to the Gold Rush of the 1890s when 'Afghans' (some came from what is now Pakistan) came to Western Australia to work camel teams. Some went into other businesses. The West Australian published the following letter on 19 April 1895:

One of the proudest boasts of the British Empire is that within her dominions there is complete religious toleration is theory. Now the practice. The Mohammedans of the colony apply to the Commissioner for Crown Lands for leave to present a deputation to him, asking that a portion of land be given them on which to build a Mosque. The Minister not only declines to grant the land, but will not even receive the deputation. This is gross injustice. The Government of this colony officially recognises no religion, and a member of that Govemment ought not to yield to personal bias and reject an appeal from our Mussulman fellow-subjects. The late Commissioner, the Hon. W. E. Marmion, a strict Roman Catholic, gave grants of land to sects of all kinds, from the noisy Salvation Army upwards. His successor, a man of professed evangelical opinions, takes it upon himself to refuse to men of another religion the privileges readily accepted by his co-religionists. The whole principle of State aid to churches is bad, but if Govemment grants are to be given at all, they should be distributed impartially. Christianity has no more right to official recognition than Mohammedanism. If some of the most valuable land in Coolgardie is given to the Salvation Army, justice demands that the sons of Islam should be assisted in like manner. Many of us can remember how the Mussulman's carried on their quiet unobtrusive worship in Fremantle Park, and they appealed to no one for monetary aid to enable them to worship in their own manner. The Christian bodies force their worship on everyone else, either by means of brass bands or tuneless bells, or begging appeals. I hope the Mohammedans of this colony will now bind together, show themselves superior to Christians, and ignoring the State altogether by buying a central block of land and building thereon a handsome mosque, in all the stateliness of Moslem architecture. Let them prove that even official persecution shall not crush them; or prevent them from proclaiming their great creed, that


Despite the 'signature', the latter appears to have been written by a non-Muslim. It is interesting that someone should have written, at that date, such a strong defence of religious tolerance.

Other uses of the Park

There was an advertisement in The West Australian of 21 October 1890 of a sports meeting on the Park during the day, with a fireworks display in the evening to celebrate the proclamation of the Constitution. During the day, the Mayor planted the Proclamation Tree — the Moreton Bay on the island in the road near St Patrick's Basilica. 32 On the evening of 24 December 1891, there was a fireworks display in the Park also to celebrate the proclamation of the new Constitution for the State. 33 This was to celebrate that the new Constitution would come into effect on New Year's Day.

On 16 October of that year, the Council formed a committee to 'welcome officers and men of H. M. Colonial Cruiser Katoomba'. One of the suggestions was to organise a sports meeting on the Park on the arrival of the vessel. 34

On 11 May 1893, The West Australian newspaper reported that Council had approved the placing of swing boats in the Park.

On 20 October 1893, the Council considered a letter from the Under Secretary for Works stating that the Minister for Lands was prepared to close the part of Stirling Street which crossed the Fremantle Park. [See Fig. 1] An Act of Parliament would be necessary to give this effect, and that the government would be asked to introduce the necessary Act in the next session.

On 20 February 1895, the Fremantle Caledonian Society held a sports meeting. 35

During 1895 and 1896 — no doubt as a result of the gold rush — 'newcomers to the State had formed canvas-town settlements at Willis's Point, Monument Hill and on Fremantle Park'. 36

At some stage, there must have been a pound on the Park. At a Council meeting on 28 April 1896, the following works on the Park were reported: 'levelling, fencing and making carriage ways, and planting couch grass, also the removal of the pound.' 37

Not all proposals for the use of the Park came to fruition. At a public meeting in the Town Hall on 10 August 1896, called to consider 'what steps should be taken to perpetuate the memory of the late Mr W E Marmion', it was proposed that a memorial to Marmion be commissioned and that it be sited in the Park, which would be renamed Marmion Park. 38

The Park was also used for massed strikers' meetings. Plasterers met there on 6 February 1897. 39 Carpenters met there on 13 February 1897 in pursuit of their claims against master builders for better terms of employment, 40 and striking lumpers met there on 2 April 1899; 2,000 people were present.“ The strike was then in its fifth week. It was reported that the Fremantle Members of Parliament had taken up the lumpers' cause, agreeing that they were unjustly treated. Those Members had tried to arrange arbitration, but failed. Prominent citizens of Perth took up the matter. Bishops Gibney and Riley, and others supported the lumpers at another meeting in the Park on 9 April, which 'showed the force of public opinion'. This helped to bring about arbitration and a final settlement. 42

On 15 October 1897, the Council granted permission for Fitzgerald Brothers Circus to operate on the Park, and on 18 February 1906, similar permission was granted to Wirths' Circus. It is probable that circuses operated in the Park at other times. An Old Boy of Christian Brothers College remembered a visit of Wirths' Circus — in the late 1950s or early 1960s. He particularly remembered seeing the elephants staked out near a fig tree that used to be on the Park. That circus, which was founded in 1880, was disbanded in 1963. 43

The Ways and Works Department of the Railway held their inaugural picnic, including games and sports, on the Park on 14 May 1898.

Fremantle Oval

On 28 April 1893, the Council received a deputation from sportsmen seeking to enlist its cooperation in endeavouring to obtain 'the Barrack Field' as a recreation ground. This was the Parade Ground below the Prison, which would become Fremantle Oval.

In December, a 'very large deputation of the various athletic clubs, townspeople and the corporation of Fremantle' met with the Premier to request that 'the Barrack Field be vested in Fremantle Municipal Council'. Forrest said that 'he noticed that whenever any deputation came from Fremantle, it came in great force, and that it always appeared to be most earnest in anything it undertook'. This suggests that community activism came early to Fremantle.

Forrest asked if the Council could put aside part of Fremantle Park to the sporting clubs. Cr Kelly said that the park had been surveyed and found unsuitable. It is possible that he was referring to that section of the Park between the present Ord Street and East Street, now the site of John Curtin High School, which was hilly and stony.

Cr Diamond referred to Adelaide Oval, which had been ceded from parkland. Forrest said that this was not similar to Fremantle. 'In Adelaide, 1,600 acres [647.5 ha] of parkland encircled the city and, therefore,' to give up a portion of that land was a different thing to giving up the Barrack Field, which represented a very large proportion of the land available in Fremantle'. A voice interjected that it was presently used by only a few cows. Forrest continued that the request for the Barrack Field could not be compared with the recent grant of land to establish the Perth Cricket Ground, because that land had been 'a perfect wildemess'. The Barrack Field, however, was in the very heart of the city and worth thousands of pounds. He was also not sure if the Fremantle residents were unanimous, as 'he had received a telegram that morning from a volunteer corps hoping that the right to use the field for drill purposes would not be taken from them, as it was the only place available.'

Cr Congdon interjected that 'only a few days ago the volunteers had asked to be allowed to manoeuvre in Fremantle Park.'

Forrest agreed finally to send a surveyor to determine the exact area of the ground, to ensure that enough ground could be left for Warders' Quarters. If it was possible for him to do it, he would hand over to Fremantle Council 'in the ordinary way'. 44

It is obvious that the government conceded the Barrack Field to the Council, as a deputation from the Fremantle Cricket Club attended a Council meeting on 28 September 1896, seeking permission to lay 'one good clay pitch in the 40 yards area but not in the centre, reserving the centre for a good turf wicket to be made by importing the turf from Marri Creek Victoria, also that practice wickets be put down, 15 yards and 12 yards, near the edge of the Oval'.

The acquisition by Council of Fremantle Oval is described because some sporting activities were soon transferred to it from Fremantle Park. The latter would appear to have become increasingly the venue for the social clubs and school teams. Junior clubs played on both the Park and the Oval. 45 In subsequent Council minutes, it is sometimes not certain whether the new Oval or the Fremantle Park is being referred to, although the terms 'Oval' and 'Park' are generally used.

It is probable that, when the Stevens Reserve was developed later, more sports would have moved to there from Fremantle Park.


Figure 3 shows the boundaries of the Park set out in a Crown Grant to the City, dated 10 May 1904. Lot 506 is the Lunatic Asylum grounds. The change of the Lot No. 1517 did not occur until 1963. The map is associated with a Cancelled Certificate of Title Volume 304 Folio 26. By this date, the cemetery had been excluded from the Park. Park Street, shown on this map was never constructed. On the back of the map is a long statement, signed by the Governor, Admiral Bedford, it is stated, inter alia, that

We, of our especial Grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, have given and granted, and We do by these Presents, for Us, Our heirs and successors, in consideration of and to the intent that the Lands and Herediments hereinafter described be used and held upon trust solely for the purposes of a Public Park to the satisfaction of Our Governor of Our State of Westem Australia, give and grant unto THE MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS of the Municipality of Fremantle in Our said State [the land as described in some detail].

Potential prospectors should note the proviso

And we do hereby save and reserve to Us, Our heirs and successors, all mines of Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin, or other metals, ore and mineral, or other substance containing metals, an all gems or precious stones, and coal or mineral oil, in or under he said Piece or Parcel of Ground, hereby granted ...

In the Council minutes for 10 April 1906, there was a brief mention of the 'question of inclusion of Asylum Grounds in Fremantle Park after removal of inmates to new Asylum'. There was no further reference to this, so nothing appears to have happened.

It is possible that, as the Council developed the Oval, the Park was neglected. On 18 June 1906, a letter from J H Lewis was tabled. 1t drew attention to 'the disgraceful state of the Park' and urged the Council to lay out the Park as a place for the enjoyment of citizens, [author's italics] and to 'effect improvements'. The letter was referred to the Ovals, Parks and Reserves Committee.

For the next two decades, there are frequent references to the use of the Oval, to its development, and to improvements on it, but far fewer references to the Park.

At the Council meeting on 6 August 1906, the following motion was carried:

That, at the expiration of the present football season, the Park be absolutely closed against all sports; that it be ploughed up, planted in couch, & otherwise improved; and that it not be reopened until in a fit condition for usual sports; sports bodies to be immediately advised of the Council's decision in the matter.

On 3 December 1906, the Council adopted a recommendation from the Ovals, Parks and Reserves Committee

That the refuse of the Municipality be deposited in the Fremantle Park, and trenched in so as to level up the ground as required; the Council to give the Oval, Parks and Reserves Committee power to act in the matter, also with regard to necessary alteration and improvement to the fence at the top end.

It is not surprising that a deputation from sports bodies attended a Council meeting on 21 January 1907 to ask the Council 'to reconsider the decision in the matter of closing Fremantle Park against sports.' The Oval, Parks and Reserves Committee moved successfully to recommend 'that the work of depositing refuse [on the Park] be discontinued at once'. Whether this was due to the objections of the sporting bodies, or whether the dumping of the refuse was not proving satisfactory, is not known. It is, therefore, probable that the original couch from 'the Green' survived.

The developments on the Park in 1907 are shown on Figure 4, a part of a PWD sewerage map. By that date, the Bowling Green was established and three asphalt tennis courts had been laid down. The building labelled 'A' is almost certainly the one that became the caretaker's cottage referred to in Alfred Boyd's reminiscences quoted later in this study. The steep cliff shown to the west of this cottage is most likely due to earlier quarrying.

At a meeting on 19 June 1908, the Council discussed the question of obtaining a grant towards Park improvements, but nothing was decided. In April of the following year, the Tennis Club applied to have its courts changed from 'tar' to turf, but this was rejected, as no funds were available. The Bowling Club, however, appears to have been flourishing. On 19 July 1909, the Council discussed a request from the Club 'to exchange land in front of Parry Street in lieu of land on Ellen Street frontage, to include the whole of the Tennis Courts to rhe right-of-way. The 'new Bowling Club' would not be opened until October 1911.


At some time in 1910, sewers were laid across the Park. On 19 April, Council resolved to request the Government to 'put back the Park in the same condition as it was before sewage works were commenced'.

There is further evidence that the condition of the Park was not well maintained when, at its meeting on 3 March 1913, Council considered a request from the Caledonian Football Club that the Park be levelled off 'for the purposes of football'.

Wirths' Circus was given permission to use the Park again, at a Council Meeting on 16 January 1915. The dates for its use were from 28-30 January on the same terms 'as last time'. Evidently, the outbreak of World War I had not caused the circus to stop performing. By this time, the surface of the Park must have deteriorated, because the Council on 15 February 1915 authorised the Town Engineer 'to have the land [in the Park] scarified, top covered with soil which accumulated in the Park, rolled, grassed and watered'.

On 21 August 1916, the Council received a report on the condition of the Caretaker's Cottage in the Park. It was described as 'a two-roomed building with a skillion attached'. The rent was 7s 6d per week. The lavatory accommodation 'was inferior'. Sanitary improvements were approved. This is almost certainly the building labelled 'A' in Figure 4.

Request by Education Department

It is of particular interest that, at its meeting on 20 August 1917, the Council considered a letter from the Director of Education, asking 'that a portion of the Fremantle Park be set aside for education purposes.' The Council undertook to consider the request. There was another letter from the Director of Education tabled at a meeting on 3 September, 'suggesting Council make about 6 or 7 acres of the eastem end of Fremantle Park for school purposes'. The Council decided to reply, 'that the land asked for is available, and that the Council pledges itself to hand over the area asked for as soon as it is required for the building of a Modern School, in consideration of the Government handing the two blocks voluntarily surrendered some years ago for Workers' Housing purposes and which are still undeveloped, the Mayor be authorised and requested to wait upon the Hon. Minister and explain the wishes of the Council in respect thereto.'

These negotiations were not concluded until 1956 and they are related in detail in Part 2. The decision of the Council to agree to transfer the eastern portion of Fremantle Park to the Education Department when needed, explains why no development occurred on that part of the Park until John Curtin High School was established.

On 19 June 1918, the Council decided to move swings from Queens Square to the Fremantle Park. On 1 July, it decided that those swings 'be erected on the square on the opposite side of Parry Street, which, for the present, shall be reserved entirely as a children's playground'. This must have been part of the land now forming the precinct for St Patrick's.

On 4 August 1919, the Council considered a request from the Bowling Club to extend further their grounds along the Parry Street frontage to Quarry Street, giving them the existing right-of-way off Parry Street. Legal opinion on this transfer was sought, and, at the meeting on 15 December, the football clubs lodged an objection to the extension of the Bowling Club. However, the extension was granted on 16 February 1920.


ln 1920, the Fremantle Bowling Club again requested permission to occupy an extra 100 foot (30.48 m) frontage to Ellen Street. The Fremantle Council on 18 October gave permission for only a 20 foot (6.09 m) extension, and instructed the Club to remove the low picket fence now erected at the east end of the Park, and use it for fencing in the 20 foot extension. On 3 October 1921, the Fremantle Bowling Club's lease was extended a further twenty-one years by the Council.

On 1 November 1920, the Council discussed a request by the St John's Tennis Club to be allowed to play on the Park. The request was granted, subject to the Club providing details of its fixtures.

On 19 September 1921, the Council approved a site for the Catholic Young Men's Society to establish tennis courts on a site adjoining the croquet lawns attached to the Bowling Green with a 150 foot (45.72 m) frontage to the right of way and a depth of 195 feet (59.44 m).

The additional tennis clubs led to some complaints from the public, which Councillor Shepherd aired at the meeting on 5 December 1921. He said that 'the several tennis clubs recently granted portions of the Park were erecting close picket fences around them which absolutely prohibited the public viewing the grounds.' It is clear from his remarks that the Park was still valued as a Park that was open to use by the public for recreation. The Mayor said that 'there was nothing to prevent any person going inside to watch games'.

On 18 January 1922, the Council considered a request by the Fremantle Cricket Club to have sole right to two of the cricket pitches on the Park. However, the Council decided that the Club should construct a cricket pitch near to East Street and the Council would grant them free use of it for a term of years. This appears to be the first suggestion to develop sporting facilities on that part of the Park where John Curtin High School now stands. There is no evidence that the Cricket Club adopted this suggestion.

On 22 August 1922, the Council extended the Fremantle Tennis Club lease from three to ten years. On 4 September, the Club was granted use of the 'cottage in the park' for a caretaker's dwelling.

Several major developments occurred during the period from 1922 to 1924. On 6 November 1922, the Council approved an advance of £350 for the Fremantle Tennis Club to have their clubhouse connected to sewerage. Sewerage to the various clubs on the Park was not completed until 1924.

During these years, the Park was beginning to suffer from over-use. On 3 March 1924, the Council adopted a recommendation from the Oval and Parks Committee that the Park was 'a recreation area that should be improved with a post and top rail fence to keep stock out,' and that 'the Park be closed to all sport for the ensuing season in order that it may be top dressed and thoroughly prepared for next season.' This advice was reinforced by a letter from the Principal of Christian Brothers College Fremantle, considered at the Councils' meeting on 15 April 1924. The letter complained about the condition the Park.

On 16 June 1924, the Council decided that rubbish could be used to fill some hollows in the Park so that the ground could be levelled or turned into graded slopes. The rubbish would be covered with sand. On 4 September, the Council considered a request by the gardener who reported that portion of the Park required reticulation, otherwise all the work of levelling and planting 'would be rendered useless for want of proper watering'. The park was reticulated in that year.

Because the Park was out of use, Stevens Street Reserve was enlarged. 46

By 5 October 1925, the Park was ready for cricket to be resumed.

Facilities at the Park must still have been primitive. On 12 April 1926, the Council received a deputation of representatives of various junior football clubs and associations and the junior lacrosse club, which addressed the need for 'dressing room accommodation for those playing games in the Park. The Council moved that a house near Fremantle Oval 'recently purchased from a Commonwealth Authority' be removed to the Park to a site to be selected for this use. On 16 May, the Ovals and Parks Committee reported that it has inspected this building. It was 'a substantial one, lined with asbestos cement in good order and condition and entirely suitable for the purpose required in the Park'. The Committee recommended that tenders be called immediately for the transfer of the building to a site in the Park 'about 50 feet (15.24 m) from the present caretaker's cottage on the rise on the left hand side of the Parry Street entrance'. A tender was accepted on 24 May 1926.

In the Centennial Year, 1929, as part of the celebration of Fremantle becoming a City

a ceremonial tree planting had councillors and local parliamentarians vying for a position to place 'their' Moreton Bay fig trees into a prepared hole.

Those trees were planted along Ellen Street as well as the future alignment of Ord Street. Some of those in Ellen Street were ripped out in 1960.


On the eve of the Depression, the Park, according to a report at the Council meeting on 17 February 1930, was well maintained with a good cover of couch grass. The trees planted to mark the Centenary were doing well. It was recommended that a belt of trees be planted on the terrace, between the playing ground and the fence from Ellen Street to the Old Women's Home (former Asylum). This would have been approximately along the western side of the future extension of Ord Street.

The first reference to possible development of the Park to the east of the future Ord Street was made at a Council meeting on 3 June 1930. The Ovals and Park Committee reported that the Park 'above the playing area' was in a very unsatisfactory and unsightly state, owing to the dumping of rubbish there. The Committee recommended levelling off a sufficient portion for a playing field by quarrying out the stone, which could be used for road building. However, possibly because of early signs of the Depression, it was agreed that the work should be stood over until the next year. It does not appear to have been done at that time.

The effects of the Depression were reflected in a report delivered to the Council, on 7 July 1931, by a 'special unemployed committee' The Council agreed that 'all men on the list supplied by the Unemployed Coordinating Committee, who were resident in Fremantle, were to be notified that, commencing on Monday next  work will be provided to the extent of the sustenance provided by the Government.' The Council had arranged a Registration Bureau in the Town Hall, where men could report for work. The first four public works listed did not include work on the Park.

On 3 August 1931, the Mayor drew the Council's attention to the badly worn condition of the Park which 'was used practically every day, morning, afternoon and evening, so there was no chance for the man in charge to do anything'.

On 16 November 1931, the Council was informed of a letter from the Town Planning Commissioner, suggesting that it plan improvements in the Park. However, it was not until 9 September of the following year that the Council received a report from the consulting engineer. Among improvements proposed were to construct a road through Ord Street to Shuffrey Street, and provide for tennis and hockey grounds on either side. This work was not carried out.

A new well must have been sunk in the Park in 1932, because the Oval and Parks Committee reported to a Council meeting on 16 January 1933 that it was satisfied with the water supply from the newly constructed well.

Development of the eastern portion of the Park (originally proposed on 3 June 1930) was proposed again in a report to the Council on 5 September 1932. Levelling of a site was recommended to make it suitable for playing areas. The balance of the land to the east (including the present John Curtin High School site) was to be 'beautified by grassing and planting trees and shrubs'. The Oval and Parks Committee were asked to prepare plans. This work must have commenced by mid 1933, because on 17 July of that year, Council received a letter from Barney Silbert of Ellen Street complaining about blasting in the Park. Hockey grounds were established on this portion of the Park, now part of the John Curtin High School site.

The Park was closed again, because of wear and tear, from 18 December 1933 until September or October in 1934.

Later in this decade, despite the Depression, developments continued in the Park, if at a slower pace. The Council employed some unemployed men, paying them full-award wages. The government sustenance for unemployed men formed a third of these wages. 47 For example, some were employed in September 1931, to plant grass on worn areas of the Park.

The Park continued to have heavy use. This is shown by the rapid decline in condition during 1933. On 30 March of that year, the Park was reported to be 'particularly well grassed all over, with the exception of a few parts. However, by 16 September the Council decided to close the Park for at least six months after the end of the football season 'for the purpose of 'improving and top dressing playing areas'. On 20 November, the Council decided that the Park would be closed until October 1934.

The Park was not, in those days, made available for organised sport on Sundays, as shown when the Council, at a meeting on 19 April 1937, would not allow the Western Australian Baseball League use it on Sunday afternoons. Golf was prohibited at all times.

Because of the increased number of women playing competitive hockey — on the new grounds west of the Ord Street alignment — they needed a changing room on the Park. The Council decided on 4 April 1938 to 'erect a timber lean-to in north-east corner abutting the wall of the Old Women's Home' [former Asylum]. This simple structure was supplied with water. 48

In January 1939, a band concert and a cycling carnival were conducted on the Park.

At a Council meeting on 4 September 1939, the Mayor, F E Gibson, spoke about the start of the war and its possible implications. In particular, he said

We have many people of different nationalities in our midst, especially in Fremantle. As individuals they are not responsible for the present state of affairs, and against them we have no grudge or hatred. I would like to appeal to all citizens to extend to these people that courtesy and consideration which we ourselves would appreciate if we found ourselves in their position.

It is a pity that the authorities did not listen to him. Had they done so, fewer, if any, of Fremantle's Italian men would have been interned. Some of them had sons serving in the AIF.

A boyhood by the Park

Eric Silbert in his autobiography relates how the Park was a major influence on his life.

Its size and importance were the equivalent for a boy who had been bom and who grew up opposite a lake, a river or a valley that was the backdrop of his very being. For my first eighteen years, this was the environment I was in every time I walked outside the house, which was right opposite the Park [55 Ellen Street]'. 49

His description of the Park at this time is valuable:

From a planning aspect, this green area was at that time the biggest playing field by far in the State. (Langley Park was not commenced, let alone available until I938.) To appreciate its size, it took comfortably two full-sized cricket grounds. This did not include the Fremantle Tennis Club, the Fremantle Bowling Club and the Fremantle Croquet Club in the fenced section to the south nor did the two hockey fields cut in a wedge-shape halfway up the hill to the east. In winter Australian Rules football, soccer and lacrosse were all played at the same time in it. To me it was more than a sporting facility; it was part of growing up and a sense of neighbourhood belonging. 50

Note that the Tennis, Bowling and Croquet Clubs were on the southwest corner of the Park.

Eric Silbert's reminisces include accounts of his own and others' uses of the Park. Therefore, a substantial extract from his biography is given in Appendix 4 [and 4b].


Although World War ll had begun in September 1939, there is not much sign of this in Council Minutes before Japan entered the war on 7 December 1941. Wirths' Circus obtained use of the Park again on 13 and 14 September 1940, a year after the war had started. The Council considered, at a meeting on 21 October of that year, 'an application from Military Authorities for use of the Oval and the Park.' This use was approved provided it caused 'the least inconvenience to the sporting bodies which have been in the habit of using them'. This suggests that the Council, probably reflecting the mood of it citizens, was not yet on a war footing.

It is also apparent that vandalism was as prevalent at that time as it is now. At a Council meeting on 1 November 1940, Cr Frederick Samson expressed his concern that

children, probably big ones, cross the Park and swing on the trees and break the boughs off. On two Friday nights running, pickets had been pulled off his fence and smashed and two of his trees had been pulled up.

The Council decide to seek the restoration of police patrols.

On the 19 July 1942, the Air Training Corps (cadets for the RAAF) were allowed to use the Park. Probably the entry of Japan into the war had altered the Council's priorities.

The Department of Education wrote to the Council again requesting, as it had done in 1917, the handing over of portion of the Park for education purposes. The request was referred by the Council, on 19 June 1944, to the Oval and Parks Committee. At a meeting on 17 July, that Committee recommended inquires

as to the Department's intention to improve the land, if ceded, and to point out that it was the Council's intention to beautify this area in the near future and that the Council would not favourably consider handing over the land if it is to remain for many years in its present unsightly condition.

The land referred to was the eastern portion, now the site of John Curtin High School.

On 15 January 1945, that Committee recommended

(a) that the Council do not agree to the closing of Vale Street [across the cemetery; see Fig. 2]
(b) that the Council would be prepared to hand over that portion of the Park east of the hockey grounds, conditionally on an assurance being given by the Govemment that the grounds would be converted into a park or improved by planting of trees and flowers, within two years after the cessation of hostilities.

The hockey grounds were those to the west of the Ord Street alignment. Subsequent negotiations are detailed in Part 2.

On 15 October 1945, the Council considered a proposal for a new dressing room in the Park. This was referred to the Oval and Parks and the Works Committees.

During 1945, there were fewer references to the war. After the war's end, the Council began to consider future developments. On 17 February 1947, however, the Council deferred considering 'planning of Fremantle Park for future community purposes' pending the convening of the 'Youth Organisations operating in Fremantle'.

On 19 January 1948, the Council considered a letter from the Fremantle Youth Committee requesting 'consideration of an Olympic Arena' in the re-designing of Fremantle Park'. lt was agreed that that Committee be informed that the Counci1's plans for the Park were not yet sufficiently advanced, but the matter would be considered when competitive designs are invited. Nothing seems to have come of this attempt to plan the future of the Park in more detail. On 19 April 1949, it was reported that consultation about a Youth Centre for Hilton Park had been deferred again.

On 18 August 1947, the City Architect reported that he had inspected buildings at the Melville Park Military hospital. He recommended that one of these, of timber and galvanised iron, should be purchased of possible for £150. The building could be halved; one section to be added to the present dressing rooms, and the other half to be erected at South Beach.

At its meeting on 17 May 1948, the Council considered a letter from the Young Women's Christian Association to say that a Fremantle branch had been formed and would like to make use of the YMCA building on the Park. This building has not been identified. On 21 June a letter from the YMCA was tabled, in which it was stated that the YMCA headquarters on the Park had only one set of conveniences and another set was necessary to allow for use by the YWCA. This was referred to the Oval and Parks Committee. This proposal apparently developed slowly because, on 23 May a letter from the Fremantle Branch of the YMCA for financial assistance for erecting the additional conveniences was referred to the Finances and General Purposes Committee; it was referred to that committee again on 20 June.

Reminiscences of a Park Caretaker

Alfred Boyd was the Park Caretaker of the Park from 1947 to 1953. He was interviewed in May 2008. His father was a miner who, because of illness, moved to a Group Settlement until forced off by the Depression. He became Caretaker in 1947, after service during the war with the RAAF Spitfire Squadron 457. Alfred and his wife Beryl lived in the caretaker's cottage 'on a hill near where the Power Museum is now', certainly the cottage shown in Figure 4. The cottage had limestone walls with brick quoins; all of its woodwork was Oregon. The Boyds had to pay rent. Sometime after they left (in 1953), the cottage was demolished and the hill levelled; that was the then proposed site for the Aquatic Centre.

Alfred mowed the tennis courts with a 14-inch Scott-Bonner motor mower, which had replaced a mower hand-built by Merv. Smith, Captain of the Tennis Club. He had to shift long-arm sprinklers on long hoses. He did not have to mow the cricket oval; that was mowed with the Counci1's tractor-drawn mower. His last job at night was to lock up the buildings. Sometimes hoboes were sleeping under them. Alfred used to let a legless ex-serviceman sleep in one of the buildings. His annual wage was less than $400 per annum until his last year, when it was $404.

He said that during his time, the YMCA were 'down-hill'. During his time, the unlined well in the Tennis Club fell in. The well by the cricket oval was lined and survived.

During his service, circuses set up each year in the Park. There were three circus companies: Bullen's, Silver's and Ashton's. Elephants used to pull boughs off the Moreton Bays, presumably to eat. One of them pulled the main tap, near Ellen Street, out of the ground.


There are relatively few references to the Park in the Council Minutes during the 1950s; mostly about relatively minor matters, apart from references to negotiations with the Education Department, dealt with in Part 2.

On 21 March 1955, the Council considered an application by YMCA Fremantle for a basketball court on the Park to measure 100 ft x 50 ft (30.48 m x 15.24 m). This was referred to the City Gardener to determine if space was available for such an allocation. No report was recorded in subsequent meetings. At its meeting on 19 September 1955, the Council again discussed a plan for the Park but referred it to the City Gardener 'to report on the best use of the whole area'. Once more, no report was discussed at a later meeting.

The Bowling Club was thriving. It reported to Council on 19 March 1956 that it now had 198 members but that their rinks could support only 80. The Club wished to know what progress the Council had made in planning for new rinks. The City Gardener reported on 16 April 1956 that more consideration of the proposal was needed. The proposal was put to Council over a year later, on 15 June 1957. It involved a major exchange of ground between the Bowling and Lawn Tennis Clubs.

The latter was to 'relinquish a width of 60 ft (18.29 m) in lieu of the 55 ft (16.76m) shown on the plan.' The Club would retain the first two tennis courts immediately east of the Bowling Club and this would extend the full distance of their three sets of courts. ln other words, the Tennis Club is prepared to relinquish to the Bowling Club the three courts furthest east, stretching from north to south.' The Tennis Club would also 'acquire the complete area of the Bowling Club, that is to say, the front bowling green on the corner of Ellen and Parry Streets, the green immediately to the right of the Bowling Green's present clubhouse, and the bowling green and croquet lawn immediately to the rear of the present Bowling clubhouse.' This suggests that croquet was no longer being played on the Park. The Bowling Club had agreed to the proposals.

By this time, John Curtin High School had been built and the present boundaries of the Park determined.


In 1961, Christian Brothers Old Boys Association Football Club converted the house at l3 Barnett Street, on the northwest boundary of the Park, for use as change rooms. The house, therefore, had a close association with the Park for some years. For this reason, and because the house is included in the Municipal Inventory of Fremantle heritage buildings, the heritage assessment of it is reproduced in Appendix 5.


Changes to the boundaries of Fremantle Park

The map in the Local History Section file (Fig. 2) shows the proposed original boundaries of the Park — labelled Reserve 222A — as lying between Parry Street on the west, Finnerty Street on the north, East Street on the east and Ellen Street on the south. Two areas were excluded: the Lunatic Asylum and its grounds, and a triangular section bounded on two sides by Quarry and Stirling Streets. Part of the latter area now houses the Leisure Centre. Stirling Street at that date is shown as extending from Ellen Street, but that extension was not made. The part of Stirling Street to the north of the cancelled section is shown as being renamed Shuffrey Street. Ord Street did not then exist; it was constructed in the 1960s, following approximately the line of the southern part of 'Asylum Road'.

On file, 51 there are printed copies of the exchange of letters between the Government and the Council regarding the vesting of the land as a Public Park. The Council accepted as a stipulation in the vesting deed

That, in the event of any of the land being allowed for any other purpose, other than 'for the recreation and enjoyment ofthe public, the Crown can re-enter and resume [it].'

It might be argued that a sports stadium would be eligible as a place of 'recreation and enjoyment for the public'; but it was clearly the intent of the Council and the Government that the park should be accessible for informal public recreation — as was reasserted in the Crown Grant of 1904.

The more detailed map associated with the 1904 Crown Grant (Figure 5) shows that Lot number 1517 was changed to 1826 in 1962. lt has on it a note that it is 'associated with a cancelled Certificate of Title 304 Folio 26 and later updated in 1962 to show the new lot 1826.' On this map, the Park is reduced by the exclusion of the cemetery east of the Asylum grounds. That cemetery was consecrated in 1852. The cemetery was closed in 1899, but the land was not finally resumed until 1935, when the headstones were removed to the present Fremantle Cemetery. Most of the bodies were exhumed for reburial in the present cemetery. 52 The intention at that time was that the area of the cemetery should be revested in the Park for recreation. 53

An application for a Crown Grant, dated 26/2/1963, created a new lot No. 1826 being Reserve 24833 to be held in trust for the purpose of Park, Recreation and Community centre. On the back of that document is the statement:

Subject to the condition that the land shall not be leased or mortgaged in whole or in part without the consent of the Governor.

Figure 6 — associated with Crown Grant, Vol. 349 Folio 88A — shows the current Crown grant for Fremantle Park after transfer of land East of Ord Street to the Education Department, lt is Lot 1826, Reserve 24833, registered on 6 April 1970 as to be used and held solely in trust for the purpose of Park, Recreation and Community Centre.

Negotiations between the Department of Education and the Fremantle Council to arrive at this situation were spread over forty years.

Negotiations between the Council and the Education Department for land for John Curtin High School

The history of these negotiations is detailed in an Education Department file held in the State Record Offrce. 54 The negotiations began in 1916 and show considerable foresight on the part of citizens of Fremantle and several Directors of Education.

On 2 July in that year, Angus McLeod, the Honorary Secretary of the Fremantle Schools Committee wrote to the Director of Education:

The Committee has for some time watched the progress of the Boys' and Princess May Schools and consider as years go on the necessity for additions will take up the present playgrounds. The Committee has in view the Govemment reserve overlooking the Fremantle Park (portion of Lot 1517) and would be glad if you would give the matter consideration.

The Director replied on 1 December 1916:

Are you proposing that we should get a piece of this land taken from the middle of the Park although there is no probability of its being used at present? I should like to have a little further explanation on the subject and to know if the Mayor and Councillors are in favour of giving it up.

McLeod replied on 17 March the following year that his Committee would consult the Council. He wrote again on 3 May to say that

his committee had resolved to ask the Fremantle Council for two acres of the Park lands, and that the frontage of 5 chains on Ellen Street by a depth of 4 chains would be suitable.

The Director replied on 5 June that it would be desirable to get a considerably larger piece of land. Three days later, McLeod wrote to say that the Mayor of Fremantle, Mr Wray, suggested that the Director inspect the site before approaching the Council. The Director wrote again to McLeod on 25 June, after the inspection of the site. He suggested that the upper end of the Park would be a more suitable site.

The ground there is considerably higher and also more level, and probably a suggestion to cut off the end of the ground there would be more favourably received than a proposal to take out a portion from the middle of the reserve.

He suggested that they try to obtain a site

bounded by Ellen Street, East Street and Park Street, the remaining side being formed by a line parallel to East Street, starting from a point in Ellen Street six chains from the East Street corner. This would give a block of ground in a fine situation, between six and seven acres in extent, not more than three quarters of a mile from the central station and immediately joining the tramline.

McLeod wrote on 1 August, offering to assist the Director in his approach to Council for his preferred site. Five days later, the Director wrote to the Town Clerk of Fremantle commenting

that representations had been made to his Department that it would be advisable to secure land for future educational developments in Fremantle, and a portion of the Public Park might be obtained for this purpose.

On 18 September, the Town Clerk replied to say that, at its meeting the previous evening, the Council had pledged itself

to hand over the area asked for as soon as it is required for the building of a Modern School, in consideration of the Govemment handing back to the Council the two blocks of land voluntarily surrendered some years ago for Workers' Homes purposes and which hitherto have not been required.

The Workers' Homes Board was established by the Scaddan Labor Government in 1912, in the latter stages of the Gold Rush. The Board was established to 'help wage-earning families to own their own homes (a bungalow of three rooms and a kitchen for £410).' 55 The scheme, sensibly, avoided creating large 'ghettoes' and had reserved relatively small lots throughout the suburbs for it purpose.

The negotiations to effect the exchange of land lasted over a year. A new Director of Education, Cecil Andrews minuted his Minister on 26 September 1917 requesting that he ask the Colonial Treasurer to obtain a report on the proposal from the Board.

The Minister, in his minute of the following day, explained that there was no immediate intention to establish a school on part of the Park, 'at the same time it is felt that the time is opportune for securing the land if the Workers' Homes Board is agreeable'.

The Board, in a minute to the Under Secretary for Works and Industries, agreed that 'under the present circumstances [wartime] the land cannot possibly be utilised for the purposes, and upon the conditions for which it was surrendered, the Board, therefore, have [sic] no objection to the land being again revested in the Council'. The Under Secretary minuted the Colonial Treasurer on 1 October to inform him of this decision. The latter minuted Cabined on 12 October, 'It looks as if this can be done for mutual benefit'.

The Director of Education wrote to the Fremantle Town Clerk on 26 October:

The Govemment has agreed to the retum to the Council of the two blocks of land voluntarily surrendered some years ago for Workers' Homes purposes, on condition that the Council hands over to the Government the areas asked for as site for a Modem School at Fremantle.

The Town Clerk replied on 6 November that the Council has agreed to the proposed exchange.

The two lots of land are outlined in red in Figure 7. The larger (Lot 1532) became the Stevens Reserve. The smaller, on the corner of Amherst and High Streets, now contains houses except for a small corner lot.

A series of exchanges followed. The Under Secretary for Lands minuted the Director of Education on 31 October 1918 that it might require an Act of Parliament to effect the exchange and the matter had been referred to the Crown Law Department. The matter dragged on until the Under Secretary of Lands informed the Director of Education on 22 January 1922 that the requisite Bill had been passed in Parliament.

There matters appear to have rested until 1940 (when another war was in progress). On 5 November 1940, the Director of Education wrote to the Mayor of Fremantle

In an endeavour to cater more adequately for post-primary education in the Fremantle District, the Govemment has had plans of a Technical High School prepared by the Principal Architect and other preliminary investigations have been carried out ... the site of the school at Ellen and East Streets consists largely of limestone, is very rough and broken, and will entail considerable earthworks to make it at all suitable for a school of the size contemplated ... the total area of the site is 6 1/2 acres but the total usable area will be totally insufficient to accommodate the buildings required, and at the same time, allow of anything approaching even minimum requirements for the conduct of organised sport.

He requested an area of land adjacent to the site, bounded by Finnerty, Skinner, and Vale Streets be set aside for the purpose.

The Town Clerk replied on 19 November that the Council had agreed to rhe request, writing

As you are aware, the land was originally a cemetery under the control of the Fremantle Cemetery Board. The Board handed the land over to the Council on condition that the ground would be utilised as a children's playground or a park or garden. lt is this condition which the Council had in mind and which would be the only bar to the transfer as far as the Council is concerned.

The Minister for Education replied to the Town Clerk that his Department would not object

to these grounds being available for other recreational purposes when not required for school activities, and I have instructed the Director of Education to discuss the matter with the Crown Law Department so that the necessary steps might be taken to put the same in order.

The Director of Education wrote a long minute to his Minister on 29 May 1942 in which he listed the future educational requirements in Fremantle:

1. Fremantle Technical Senior School — only approximately 1 acre
2. Fremantle Boys' School. The present site was very old, the buildings dating from 1850, and with limited playground areas
3. Princess May Girls' School, which had been on the same site since 1935 and submitted 'a comprehensive policy for future development'

At present ... the trade block of what will be the Fremantle Technical School is in course of erection and the site consists of 6 acres, l rood, 38 perches. To this has been added  the old cemetery on an area of 7 acres for the provision of a sports ground. This will be acceptable provisions for a boys' post-primary school with a technical bias.

I now submit for the Government's consideration the further suggestions
1. That the Old Women's Home site be set aside for a future senior Technical School
2. That the Fremantle Council be asked to excise an area of 10 acres adjacent to the Technical High School site for a future Girls' post-primary school

By this proposal all forms of advanced education are provided for on one site, which by the proximity of the recreation ground, make an excellent Youth Centre, which would become a source of pride to the people of Fremantle.

On 7 January 1943, the Minster suggested that the Director obtain more information regarding the site of the Old Women's Home. The latter replied on 15 January

The Old Women's Home site is invested in the Lunacy Department on behalf of the Crown. At present, the buildings on the site are being used for storage of equipment belonging to the Public Works Department. The Area of the site — Reserve 17i77, is approximately 14 acres.

By this time, the United States Submarine service would also have established their headquarters in the buildings.

On 1 April 1943, the Under Secretary for Lands minuted the Minister for Education that 'the matter of the Old Womens' Home' had been referred to the Works Department. Nothing seems to have happened until 9 February 1944, when the Town Planning Commissioner wrote to the Director of Education that

The Town Planning Board concurs in the proposition which includes the closure of several streets, which are, as yet, not constructed, and the endorsement of the Board's approval will be made upon any Diagram of Survey establishing the lands in one title for education purposes.

On 16 May, the Under Secretary for Lands informed the Under Secretary for Works that his Minister agreed to the proposal. The Minister of Education informed the Mayor of Fremantle on 31 May. The Town Clerk replied on 18 July that the Council had decided that

inquiries be made as to your Department's intentions to improve the land, and to point out that it was the Council's intention to beautify this area in the near future, and that Council would not favourably consider handing over the land if it is to remain for many years in its present condition.

The Director of Education minuted the Under Secretary for Lands that he had communicated to his Minister that he appreciated the points made by the Fremantle Municipal Council and that it was evident that the Council was prepared to concede the land for educational purposes provided that the Government and the Council could cooperate in some improvement scheme. He suggested that the Principal Architect consult with the Council to draw up ground plans of education buildings to be placed in this site and the Government cooperate with the Council in the grading, terracing and laying out of the grounds. He added a minute, on 8 November 1944, that the Principal Architect had seen the Council and that a surveyor was working on the site. On the same day, he wrote to the Town Clerk

The Lands Department wishes to frame a bill for Parliament to amalgamate into one area all the parcels of land to be set aside for educational purposes, viz:
1. The present school site
2. A21511 and Public Utilities Lands and Surveys 5586/02
3. The eastern half of Lot 1777 (Asylum Site)
4. The closing of the Streets Park, Skinner and Vale
and, if your Council agrees to the excision
5. A portion of Lot 15l7 contiguous with the southwest boundary of the school site cut off by a line which will be as near as possible, due consideration being taken for your own immediate plans, a continuation of the southwest boundary of the Asylum portion.

The Town Clerk replied on 20 February 1945 that the Council had decided to offer no objection to the land being handed over to the Education Department for educational purposes, and that the Council understood from the Minister that buildings would be commenced as soon as possible after the war.

On 5 April 1945, the Under Secretary for Lands informed the Director of Education that the Minister for lands would seek Parliamentary approval for the proposal. The latter reported to his Minister on 9 October 1945 that, following negotiations with the Fremantle Council, his Department now had at its disposal a compact site consisting of

1. Two parcels of land lined red in East Street
2. An adjacent parcel of land lined green and shaded in pencil on Ellen Street
3. The portion of the old Asylum site lined blue
4. Park Street and portion of Skinner Street. Vale Street, at the request of Council to remain open.

These parcels are shown in Figure 8. Not all of these proposals were proceeded with. However, the Fremantle Technical School operated in the Old Asylum for some years before it became the Art Centre.

The Minister for Education wrote to the Hon. Premier on 26 November to inform him of the proposal to house a Technical School in the Old Asylum Site, on the part outlined in blue.

On 5 March 1946, the Headmaster of Fremantle Boys' School wrote to the Director of Education about the site of the former cemetery, which had, by then, been nearly cleared of the military equipment associated with the anti-aircraft unit based there during the war. He wrote that the clearing of the site was being carried out by Italian prisoners of war, who told him that they would leave for home next month. He added

As the area contains a cricket pitch, a tennis court and many huts, I would recommend that you make immediate application for early possession and for the gift or sale of a hut containing showers, so that the East Fremantle branch of the School and the manual training classes may have a place to play in away from primary school children.

The Director replied to him on 8 March that the hutments on the area west of the Fremantle Technical High School were to be converted for temporary use to relieve the housing shortage in East Fremantle.

The Town Clerk wrote to the Minister of Education on 26 March that

Council wish to retain a strip of land 3 1/2 chains deep from Ellen Street to the Old Women's Home for the purpose of establishing a Community Centre on this land, therefore respectfully requests that any survey or transfer of the land which may take place in the future will take this request into consideration.

He wrote again on 6 April 1946, reaffirming the Council's wish to retain part of the land on which

it is intended to erect in the near future a building for the use of the Youth Movement and the Fremantle Committee of the Community Youth Centre already have a considerable sum of money in hand for this object.

To complete the full development of this scheme, it will be necessary for the Council to reduce the amount of land originally offered to your Department.

The area required is  a frontage of 5 chains to Ellen Street (from the boundary of the Hockey Ground East by the full depth of the property to the southem boundary of the Old Lunatic Asylum).

The purpose for which the land is required is of an educational character and will be in harmony with your objective.

The Director reported that his Department was agreeable to the excision of the necessary frontage of two [?] chains on Ellen Street so that a frontage of 5 chains on Ellen Street is available for the Youth Centre.

The Town Clerk wrote to the Minster of Education on 16 April I946 to inform him that the Council had moved

that the Education Department be informed that the Council are retaining as trip of the land on the eastem end of the Park for community purpose, such strip to be 5 chains deep from the Hockey Ground fence and extending from Ellen Street to the Old Women's Home.

Figure 9 (Diagram 12882) shows the revestment of the western part of the Park between Ord and East Streets, presumably increasing the area of land available for John Curtin High School. The revestment is dated 6/6/1952. This is the date at which the present boundaries of the Park were determined. It is evident, from this map, that either the Fremantle Council did not pursue its attempt to retain the strip of land at the eastern end of the Park, or that the Education Department decided not to agree to the Council's request.

There is also a map (Figure 10) showing 'a reserve search of the old John Curtin Reserve 1777 occupying part of the old Lot 506.' This reserve was transferred, in May 1969, to the City of Fremantle to be used as an Aquatic Centre from the Director of Education and is the current location of Reserve 30391 Lot 1928 being the Leisure Centre. The area is bounded by Finnerty, Ord, Shuffrey Street adjacent to the Park. This transfer was, no doubt, partial compensation for the revestment of the western part — between Ord and East Streets — of the original Park in the Department of Education.

The Future of Fremantle Park

Michal Bosworth in her 2001 study of Fremantle's Landscape recommended that Fremantle Park be entered on the Municipal Inventory without further ado'. 56 In 2008, the Fremantle Society began a campaign to have the Park heritage listed. In the same year, the City Council proposed appointing consultants to plan for the future of Fremantle Park. At this point, the author would like to offer a few suggestions.

Although John Curtin High School is a major community asset, it is a pity that a large part of the original Park was lost.

Some of the strip of land along the eastern side of Ord Street — probably that strip which the Council had sought to retain in 1946, or part of it — is not used by John Curtin High School. It might be used for a purpose proposed by the present author in a letter to the Fremantle Herald of 31 August 1991:

The land between the Arts Centre and Samson House [should] become a botanic garden of plants indigenous to the Fremantle environment, providing a pleasant walkway from the Arts Centre and Museum, through Samson House and on to Fremantle Prison.

The late George Seddon later developed a similar idea in more detail. 57

If the East End of the City is developed, as is currently discussed, to include denser residential development, the Park will become even more valuable as a place for informal recreation, but it will need improved facilities, including a public toilet, and a playground for children.

If the Park is heritage listed the many and varied uses of the Park could be marked in some way. Various users of the Park could be consulted, such as the sports clubs, military units, and Christian Brothers College — for which it has been a major facility since the College was founded. The Muslim community of Western Australia could be invited to mark the use of the Park for Muslim ceremonies in the 1890s.


I am grateful to Graeme Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Fremantle and his staff, and Pamela Hartree and Kristy McNulty of the Local History Section of the City of Fremantle Library for help in locating relevant records. I also had the pleasure of talking with Alf Boyd and his wife Beryl. Alf was Caretaker of the Park from 1947 to 1953. I also thank the staff of the State Records Office for their valuable assistance.


Abbreviations used in Bibliography and endnotes:
West Aust: The West Australian
SRO: State Records Office

Books and pamphlets

Dowson, J 2003, Old Fremantle, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley
Ewers, J K 1971, The Western Gateway: a history of Fremantle, 2nd ed., University of Western Australia, Crawley
Fogarty, Jim 2000, The Wonder of Wirths', Wirths'Australian Circus 1880-I963, J B Books, Sydney
Silbert, Eric 1981, Dinkum Mishpochah, Artlook Books, Perth

Unpublished documents

Bosworth, Michal 2001, Fremantle's Landscape: A study for the Municipal Heritage Inventory

Archival records

Fremantle Council Minutes

In the Fremantle Library Local History Collection:
On Microfilm: minutes from Jan 1856 to May 1920

In the State Records Office
Cons. No. 1377. Series No. 809:
On microfilm: Items 1-20: 1/1/1856 — 17/5/1920
Originals: Items 21-55:25/5/1920 — 12/11/52


Administrative periods for local government in Fremantle

1848-1871: Fremantle Town Trust
1871-1883: Fremantle Town Council:
1883-1929: Fremantle Municipal Council
1929 to date: Fremantle City Council


Fremantle Clubs and other bodies that have made use of Fremantle Park

The dates are dates recorded at Council Meetings or in newspapers, and are early uses of the Park. Some of the clubs will have used the Park over many years. A detailed history of all these clubs and societies is beyond the scope of this study. However, the list below will give some idea of the wide range of sporting bodies that used the Park. There are other references in the text.


Dec 1887: Fremantle Grammar School

Bowling Club

This club is treated with some detail in the text.

Cricket Clubs

Jan 1891: Mar 1894: Fremantle C C
Dec 1892: Imperial C C
Jan 1893: Fremantle Mercantile Junior C C
Sept 1893: Port C C
1894: Fremantle Mercantile Cricket Association
Feb 1895: 17 Nov 1895: Port C C
Mar 1895: Beaconsfield F C
Mar 1895: 19 Nov 1895; North Fremantle C C
Dec 1895: Combined Loc & Stores Department
Apr 1897: Railways C C
May 1898: Imperial Juniors F C
Mar 1899: Fremantle Butchers
March 1899: J Fowler v. L Wood, Son & Co.
Sept, 12 Sept 1904: Fremantle Mercantile Cricket Association
Sept 1904: Senior Matting Cricket Association
Oct 1904: Beaconsfield C C
Oct 1904: South Fremantle C C
Dec 1912. Fremantle C C.
Sept 1914: Church ofChrist C C
Sept 1928
1930s: Italian Club

College, Fremantle

Christian Brothers College has used the park as its school oval since 1901

Cycle Clubs

Sept 1891: Fremantle Cycle Club

Oct 1897: Fitzgerald Brothers Circus
Feb 1906: Wirths' Circus

Fire Brigades

1888: Fire Brigades Competition

Football Clubs

Sept 1888: Fremantle F C
Sept 1888: Rovers FC
Sept 1888: Ports F C
Jun 1889: Unions F C
Aug 1891: Rovers FC2
Sept 1895: Fremantle Mercantile F C
July 1891: Loco F C
Jul 1891: Ports F C
Jul 1889: Norwoods F C
May 1906: East Fremantle F C
May 1906: South Fremantle F C
May 1906: British F C.
May 1906: East F remantle Juniors
April 1908: British Football Association
March 1913: Caledonia F C
Apr 1914: Harrison F C, Fremantle
May 1916: Fremantle Junior F C
April 1920: Church Football Associatio
April 1928: Fremantle Suburban Football Club

Hockey Club

Feb 1938: Scots Church Hockey Club
Apr 1952 WA Temperance League
Ladies Hockey Association

Lacrosse Club

May 1906: Lacrosse Club

Rugby Club

Sept 1887: Fremantle R C
Jun 1895: Fremantle R C
Jun 1895: Zingari R C
May 1906: Rugby Union requested use of the Park on alternate dates with YAL players

Marching Clubs

The Fremantle Parakeets Midget Marching Team won the national marching title in 1977.


Dec 1895: Fremantle School Annual Sports
May 1898: Football, Fremantle School v Alexander Scotch College
Nov 1890: Football, Fremantle School v. Perth High School
Fremantle Christian Brothers College since its foundation
Dec 1934: Princess May Girl's School, for practice

Tennis Club

The Fremantle Tennis Club treated with some detail in the text.
Nov 1921: St John's Tennis Club
Sept 1921: Catholic Young Men's Society

Young Australia League

May 1906: Request to alternate use of Park with Rugby Union
June 1911: Request to 'place Goal Posts and behind posts, 8 in all, for Fremantle Park so that schoolboys can play football'.



Note that a major source for this paper were the Minutes of the Fremantle Town [later Municipal] Council, available on microfilm at the Local History Section of the City of Fremantle Library and at the State Records Office.

1 Hitchock, J K, 'Fremantle, 1829-49', Early Days of Fremantle, 1, 1, 21
2 Local History Section File 712.5
3 Reece, R and Pascoe, R, A Place of Consequence; a pictorial history of Fremantle, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 1983, 25
4 Op. cit., 26
5 Ewers, op. cit., 67
6 West Aust., 23 Jan 1897
7 West Aust., 16 Oct 1897
8 West Aust., 16 July 1887
9 West Aust., 24 July 1896
10 West Aust., 15 Sept 1893
11 West Aust., 8 Jan 1894
12 West Aust., 26 Jan 1894
13 West Aust., 4 Dec 1899
14 West Aust., 1 July 1896
15 West Aust., 219 [?] Jun 1895
16 West Aust., 13 Aug 1895
17 West Aust., 1 July 1896
18 West Aust., 1 Feb 1897
19 West Aust. 23 Jan 1897
20 West Aust., 11 May 1897
21 West Aust., 21 June 1897
22 West Aust, 7 Apr 1899
23 West Aust., 27 Mch 1891
24 West Aust., 13 Apr 1891
25 West Aust., 11 Oct 1892
26 West Aust, 13 Apr 1891
27 West Aust., 22 Mar 1893
28 West Aust., 11 May 1895
29 West Aust., 10 Oct 1893
30 Dowson, op. cit., 149
31 West Aust., 20 Mch 1893
32 West Aust., 21 Oct 1890
33 West Aust., 24 Dec 1890
34 West Aust., 17 Oct 1891
35 West Aust., 21 Feb 1895
36 Ibid., 88
37 West Aust., 29 Apr 1896
38 West Aust., 11 Aug 1896
39 West Aust., 4 Feb 1897
40 West Aust., 15 Feb 1897
41 West Aust., 30 May, 3 Apr 1899
42 West Aust., 12 Apr 1899
43 Fogarty, op. cit.
44 West Aust., 20 Dec 1893
45 West Aust., 30 March 1895
46 Bosworth, op. cit., 34
47 Ibid., 35
48 Ibid., 36
49 Silbert, op cit., 68
50 Ibid.
51 File 712.15
52 Bosworth, op, cit., 16
53 Ibid., 35
54 SRO Cons 1497
55 Crowley, F K 1960, Australia's Western Third, Macmillan & Co, London, 188
56 Ibid., 50
57 Dowson, John 1997, Lunatic Asylum built 1861, 19-23

Above is the version of the 2009 article I've written in HTML. I've also provided these:

Other documents

First version of the paper, presented 2004, published 2005

Version of the 2009 article with the pages photographed (scanned)

Document with all (but only) the attachments to the 2009 paper

Garry Gillard