Fremantle Stuff > places > Clarence (Woodman Point)

Clarence/Peel Town

In 2022, Peel Town has been included in the State Register of Heritage Places.

Wikipedia: Clarence, also known as Clarence Town or Peel Town, was an early European settlement on the coast of Western Australia. It was planned by Thomas Peel, with help from various other colonial backers. The first ship of settlers landed in December 1829, and the settlement was abandoned by the early 1830s.

It is thought to be sited in the vicinity of Woodman Point, though recent archaeological discoveries [led by Shane Burke] have also found evidence of settlement further south, near Mount Brown in the Beeliar Regional Park. The name was chosen in honour of the Duke of Clarence, the heir to the throne at the time of naming. Thomas Woodman was purser on HMS Success in 1827.

Burke, Shane. 2007, 'The archaeology of "Clarence" - a settlers' camp from the 1829-30 Peel Association at Henderson', Early Days: Journal of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, vol. 13, no.1: 145-163.
Abstract: Data from archaeological excavations and primary historical records such as maps and letters are reanalysed to determine the true location of the 1829-1830 Peel Association camp known as 'Clarence Town'. The discovery of the remains of a camp indicates that 'Clarence' was not located at Woodman Point, as traditionally believed, but further south near Mount Brown.

Statham-Drew, Pamela & Ruth Marchant James 2008, 'The enigma of Clarence: Woodman Point or Mount Brown', Early Days: Journal of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, vol. 13, no. 2: 173-196.
Abstract: The site of the first camp set up by Thomas Peel's settlers in 1829-1830 has recently been asserted as at the foot of Mount Brown. Pamela Statham-Drew and Ruth Marchant James, however, maintain the camp is far more likely to have been sited where it has always thought to have been located - south of Woodman Point.

Heritage Council of WA:
Statement of Significance
The site of early European settlement has remained undisturbed due to its bush location. It is highly valuable as it has not been built over, when comparable sites in Perth have been. Peel Town Archaeological Sites has the potential to reveal information on the colonisation of new places, the effects on the environment by a new group, adaptation to new physical and cultural environments, and understanding the mindset of an emigrating group. Peel Town Archaeological Sites is rare as a place associated with the first phases of colonisation.
Physical Description
Archaeological site near Mount Brown, within Beeliar Regional Park. Claimed to feature remains of the abandoned Clarence settlement of 1829-30, now called Peel Town to avoid confusion with the later and larger Clarence Town which is further north near Woodman Point. Artefacts include four collapsed limestone structures, five artefact scatters and numerous individual artefacts. Artefacts are of ceramics, glass, metal and clay. Includes a tent pad with tent pegs and pole. Clarence was one of the earliest European settlements in Perth, it was abandoned after two years. A new settlement of the same name was established further north from 1836.

History:
Thomas Peel proposed that a township to be known as Clarence be established at Woodman Point. Early maps show the Clarence Town site occupying the area between Cockburn Sound and Lake Coogee. Peel brought 490 settlers with him from England on the Gilmore in order to establish his new colony. Owing to a series of disasters and mistiming the settlement was abandoned within three years, leaving approximately sixty graves behind. However, there is some dispute as to where exactly Western Australia’s earliest arrivals established Clarence Town in 1829. For many years it was believed the site was at Woodman Point, about 10km south of the port city. However, Notre Dame archaeologist Dr Shane Burke claims the archaeological evidence shows Clarence was at Mt Brown, about 8km south of Woodman Point. Dr Burke has unearthed many artefacts, from bottles and coins to limestone structures believed to be part of settlers’ homes. The site also contains a gravesite with what Dr Burke claims are the remains of settlers, mostly women and children, who succumbed to the harsh and isolated conditions. However, historians Pamela Statham-Drew and Ruth Marchant James disagree with Dr Burke, and state that Clarence was at Woodman Point and the area Dr Burke excavated was a small settlement made by people moving away from the initial camp in 1830.

References and Links

Burke, Shane, 2007, 'The archaeology of "Clarence" - a settlers' camp from the 1829-30 Peel Association at Henderson', Early Days, vol. 13, no.1: 145-163.

Hasluck, Alexandra 1965, Thomas Peel of Swan River, OUP, Melbourne.

Oldman, Diane 2004, 'Was Clarence Beach one of the first "schools" in the colony', Between the Lines: Family History Society of Rockingham & Districts Newsletter, June.

Statham-Drew, Pamela & Ruth Marchant James 2008, 'The enigma of Clarence: Woodman Point or Mount Brown', Early Days, vol. 13, no. 2: 173-196.

Fremantle History Society newsletter January 2021.

Fremantle Shipping News article on the inclusion of Peel Town on the Register of Heritage Places.


Garry Gillard | New: 21 March, 2019 | Now: 16 December, 2022