Panorama by Stout 1864. Buildings prominent on the skyline from left: Commissariat in Cliff Street, first lighthouse Roundhouse and second courthouse on Arthur Hill, Lodge's Castle Hotel in Henry Street, Manning's Folly (with the observatory on top) in Pakenham Street. Click/tap to see a little more detail.

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Stephen Stout


Hugh Kalyptus:
Journalist Stephen Montague Stout, a copy of whose photograph appeared among the Western Mail's illustrations a fortnight ago, commenced his Western Australian career as a photographic artist at Fremantle during the late sixties. His studio was in a room of the home of the old Duffield family in the vicinity of “Manning’s Folly,” a large building that is to be seen in Packenham-street today. Like many of Fremantle’s early built houses, the walls of Mr. and Mrs. William Duffield’s home were composed of glass bottles that were held together by pug - a combination which made very cool and comfortable living quarters. This building was one of the Port’s earliest telegraph offices, the first being in William Kett’s woodyard, at the rear of what are now Willshire and Feeley’s premises [in Pakenham Street]. In the middle seventies Stephen Montague moved to Geraldton, where big activities were directed in establishing that centre’s first newspaper - the “Victorian Express” which was owned by Isaac Walker, of Crowther and Co., and of which the old journalist was first editor. With the advent of Joubert and Twopeny’s exhibition, that was opened by Governor Robinson, on the Perth Esplanade, in 1881, Stephen Montague joined the staff of the Inquirer the parent paper of the Daily New” and in the establishment of the latter paper, in 1882, he exercised a lively interest. He was one of the State’s best French scholars, and an all-round newspaper man. Stephen Montague added a valued quota to early Western Australian journalism - his alert spare figure, long frock coat and white bell-topper hat being familiar features of the Terrace as his walking cane, each morning, aided his quick city walk from the Courts and other news haunts to the old Inquirer chambers, which, from the year 1840, stood upon the site that is now occupied by Saint George’s House. Horace Stirling, writing in The Western Mail in 1921, republished in Walter.

Of fundamental importance to the story of photography in Fremantle is ex-convict Stephen Montague Stout (1831-1886). Having operated a boarding-school for boys in the town, an enterprise for which he was commended by local identities Samson and Bateman, in 1864 he opened a photographic studio in Henry Street, later moving to High Street. He charged 7/6d for three carte-de-visite portraits and also sold "coloured photographs on glass by the new process, warranted not to fade". From Fremantle he would visit places such as Bunbury and Guildford for a week or so to fulfil commissions. He produced what are believed to be the earliest outdoor photographs of Fremantle. (Dowson, 2003: 12.)

stephen stout

Dowson devotes no fewer than eleven pages, 84-94, to reproductions of photographs taken by Stout.

The Fremantle City Library had an exhibition of Stout's work in May-June 2016 as part of Heritage Week.

Important photographs shown below include the first St John's Church, the Round House, the Convict Establishment, the Volunteer Rifle Brigade, William Pearse's butcher shop, the Mews Shipyard, and the Fremantle Green.

Stephen Stout's photograph of the first St John's, opened in 1843 by George King when WA was in the diocese of Adelaide, stood in the middle of King's Square, facing the Roundhouse Gaol at the other end of High Street.

Arthur Head, 1860s. Almost certainly the earliest photograph of the site in existence. The first courthouse (1835), top left, was renovated and expanded after 1851 and was the harbour master's house from 1869. The building in the middle with the flagstaff behind is the Round House, with the first lighthouse to the right rear. The second courthouse (1851) is top right. The Whalers Tunnel beneath Arthur Head was completed in 1838, paid for by Daniel Scott and under the supervision of Henry Reveley, who also designed the Round House. Photograph by Stephen Stout, c. 1864, Battye 88278P.


This photo of the prison was taken by Stephen Stout in about 1865, not long after the building was completed in 1859.


Another version of Stout's photo, from a different source, Battye 88282.

The Fremantle Volunteer Rifles was formed in 1861. It is stated in the Inquirer & Commercial News 30/11/1864, p.2 that photographer Stephen Stout was invited to record the occasion of C.A. Manning's appointment as Captain commanding the Fremantle Volunteer Corps, in a ceremony held at the Parade Ground. It is likely that this is that photograph. Fremantle Library photo #LH001756, 1864.


Heritage Council:
William Pearse's butcher shop dating from 1850s, was a Georgian style two storey building with she-oak shingled roof ... . It was updated with a cgi roof and verandahs c. 1870s, before being demolished c. 1906 to make way for [Central Chambers]. Stout's c. 1863 photo.

Fremantle Library photo #2034A by Stephen Stout, c. 1890. Caption: The second lighthouse (1876/1878-1905) built on Arthur Head is to the right. Below is the TW Mews shipyard in Bathers Bay, established between 1840 and 1860. Next to the right is the abandoned building of the Fremantle Whaling Company, demolished in the 1890s.

This is Alfred Stone's 1860s (c. 1865) photograph of the Green. (Click to see it in larger size.) The thin white line extending across the middle of the photo out to the right is Cliff St. All of the dark grassy area in the foreground is the Green. The building complex in the centre is George Shenton's house, with his stables on the right. Where the stables stood is now the site of the Dalgety building, where the MSC now has its offices, on the corner of Cliff and High Sts. Behind the Shenton buildings, to the right, is the Residency, which was demolished in 1967 for the railway line and a carpark. Hard to pick out in the photo at the rear, just to the right of the stables, is the first lighthouse. The three-storey house on the left was built by the first harbour master Daniel Scott in or after 1855.

Photo by Stephen Stout, c. 1865, in SLWA, Clifton Album. The original size of this carte de visite is 4" x 2.5" (c. 10x6 cm). See Dowson 2003, p. 88 for more information. To attempt to identify the buildings, you might consult Hitchcock's 1919 description of how he remembered the street as it was in 1869. The crossing street in the foreground (right) might be Market Street. See the page for High Street photos.

Image 3: Lunatic Asylum c1864, (photographer Stephen Stout, courtesy Chaney family) [Web editor's note: This photograph can be seen to much better advantage on a full page of John Dowson's 2003 book Old Fremantle: 85.] Dowson: Stephen Stout’s evocative image of the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum soon after its completion in 1861, an inspiring design giving credit to authorities for their attitude to mental health. The building survives today as an arts centre with its gables recently reinstated, but it suffers the indignity of a major road now running in front of its front steps.


Traction Engine, 1871 (Stephen Stout, courtesy West Australian Newspapers Ltd Hist 198).
Dowson: Stout’s last photograph taken in Fremantle is of Thomson’s traction engine ‘Pioneer’ imported by the Rockingham Timber Company. When it arrived this smoke breathing machine was driven around Fremantle several times, astonishing the locals 30 years before the appearance of the first motor vehicle. It was also driven to Perth towing dignitaries in one of A. De Leech’s carriages in what turned out to be a rough journey. The three-wheeled beast with india rubber on its two driving wheels could be used as a stationary engine at a saw mill or used to haul wagons. Its six ton muscle could replace eight horses.
The image survives in a degraded copy, much like the rundown Fremantle buildings behind. Despite the damage, the image is important as a scientific document of dramatic mechanical progress and as a social document of a large and diverse crowd attracted to this new arrival. The crowd of schoolboys, probably from Fremantle Boys School, workers, and well dressed locals are all keenly focussed on the photographer as he captures a mid winter event, the result of which made the photographer ecstatic. Stout sold hundreds of copies of this photograph, advertising them for one shilling each including postage. Rival photographer Alfred Chopin upped the ante, advertising that he had sold ‘thousands’ and that his image was ‘brilliant and distinct without smoke’. But, it is only Stout’s smoky scene that seems to have survived.


High Street Fremantle, c. 1866 (Stephen Stout, courtesy the Chaney family) [Web editor's note: This photograph is better able to be appreciated on a full page of John Dowson's 2003 book Old Fremantle: 94.]
Dowson: The photograph can be dated by the Working Man’s Association sign on the side of the greengrocer’s shop highlighting the barque Norman under the heading ‘For the Mauritius’. The Norman only operated from Fremantle between 1865 and 1867. Standing outside Leach’s store to the left of the doorway is probably William Leach, bootmaker, with his daughter. On the right of the doorway are two of the twelve bootmakers he advertised for. Leach offered a discount to those who bought six pairs of boots.

References and Links

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle: Photographs 1850-1950, UWAP: 12, 84-94, from which comes the top photo, apparently a selfie. It is a daguerrotype (here cropped), one of a pair taken on the day of his wedding to Elinor Brown, 28 July 1868.

Dowson, John 2017, 'Rare and important: early photography in Fremantle'Fremantle Studies, 9: 1-14.

Walter, Irma 2014, Stout-Hearted: The Story of Stephen Montague Stout, Hesperian Press.

Walter, Irma 2017, 'Stephen Montague Stout - Convict Teacher, Photographer and Journalist', Fremantle Studies, 9: 48-64.

The banner at the top is Stout's 1860s photo of Fremantle from Monument Hill. Click on it to see in a slightly larger size.

Garry Gillard | New: 8 July, 2017 | Now: 12 November, 2023