Freotopia > West End > High Street.

See also: photos of High Street; index of all streets.

High Street

The original High Street of the early 1830s (gazetted 1833) ran from Cliff Street to the intersection of Adelaide and William Streets. It did not continue through Kings Square (now Walyalup Koort) until 1877, when the Town Hall was built.

Heritage Council:
High Street was named by Surveyor General Roe - as was customary in English towns, the main street of the town was named High Street. Eastward from William Street the roadway was completed by convict labour after the Town Hall was built in 1887. High Street around the Town Hall closed to traffic in 1966. The High Street Mall was trialled in November 1973 and made a permanent pedestrian mall in 1975.

From the Round House to the Town Hall, west to east. Click/tap on images for larger version.


High St begins (or ends) at the 1831 prison, the so-called Round House (it has twelve sides), with the Whalers Tunnel (1837) beneath it.

The Round House is the oldest building in the state. Both it and the Whalers Tunnel were planned by engineer Henry Reveley.


High St looking east from the Round House c. 1890, RWAHS R2225. The 1898 Fremantle Hotel has not yet been built.

The building middle right was the first dedicated police station.

Further east is Mayor W.F. Samson's two-storey house which was in existence from the mid-1850s to 1954-55.

Looking back west, the Tramways Building, number 1 High St, is on the left. Next to it to the east is an NDU carpark, where W.F. Samson's house stood for a hundred years from the 1850s.

Opposite to no. 1 is 2 High St, the other end of the Samson bond store, formerly Dalgety's building (1901), the other end of which may be seen as 1 Phillimore St.


The facade of the Fremantle Municipal Tramways Car Barn, at no. 1 High St. Architect: J.H. Eales. Builders: Abbot and Rennie. The Car Barn was designed by J.H. Eales, trams began operating from it in 1905 and the system was fully operational by April 1906. Eventually Fremantle Metropolitan Tramways had four major routes: to South Beach; via High and Marmion Streets to Marmion to the east, with a branch to Fremantle Cemetery, to Bicton via Adelaide Street and Canning Highway and to North Fremantle via Adelaide Street and Stirling Highway. The tramways powerhouse was on the foreshore near Arthur Head. Trams stopped running in 1952. The block of apartments, built in 1986, retains only the facade. There are offices and a coffeeshop on the ground floor.

The Seamen's Chapel 1937, dominated by the Samson bond store on the left and the (former) Union Bank on the right. Both Chapel and Bank are now part of NDU.

See also Flying Angel Club.

union bank

The building on the NW corner with High St is the former Union Bank building, no. 4 High Street. Architects: Robertson and Inskip (Melbourne). Perhaps the first building on the site, on Town Lot 5, c. 1855, was Captain Daniel Scott's residence. The Union Bank of Australia purchased it in 1879 and operated in it until the present building was constructed in 1889. The monogram ‘UB’ can be seen above the doorway. The Church of England bought it in 1930 for use by the Flying Angel Mission to Seamen. The Seamen’s Chapel, next to it, was built in 1937 and functioned until the 1960s; it was deconsecrated after 1966 when the church sold the former bank building and moved to new premises in Queen Victoria Street. It is now Notre Dame building 32: Arts & Sciences. NDU has preserved the name of a previous occupant on top of the door, and on the corner first-floor window: G. S. Murray, Customs Brokers.


Hotel Fremantle, 6 High St, on the NE corner with Cliff St, lacking its corner turret and flagpole, like the P&O Hotel. This was designed by Wilkinson & Smith and built in 1898-99 for Bacon Forrest Co. At the rear, part of W.D. Moore's house survives, converted for use as a kitchen. During the defence of the America’s Cup, the hotel was headquarters for the New Zealand team, with Steinlager on tap. At that time application of a heavy surface coating masked the texture of the limestone and detail of the stucco mouldings. It lacks its original corner turret and flagpole. The garden area to the north was created in 1986. It is now the NDU Chancellery and includes, I believe, the staff club.


The Bank of NSW building, at 7 High St, on the SE corner with Cliff St, was designed by Wilkinson & Smith, and built for the Bank on land owned by Pearse and Owston in 1899. On the south-east corner at No. 7 High Street. This was constructed for Captain W M Owston in 1899, and he operated a branch of the bank there until 1916-17. It has a superb carved jarrah ceiling, typical of the sober opulence of older banks. On the top of the facade are scallop shell mouldings, a decoration found on other buildings in the West End.
The building was fully leased to NDU when it was sold in 2014. Now NDUA Comms Lab and offices. See also: Wikipedia page.


Owston's Building, at 9-23 High Street (architect: F W Burwell, builder: R Rennie) occupy almost all of the space on the southern side of High St from Mouat St to Cliff St. It was built in 1903 for Captain Owston, a pioneer shipowner—he founded the shipping firm of Pearse and Owston. Owston died the same year, after commissioning the building. The former Sandover buildings were demolished to make way for it. The property was inherited by his grandson William Mason Owston. The ground floor facade is not original. One of the early occupants was Watsons Ltd, a smallgoods business, which was so successful that it opened several other stores in Fremantle and Perth under the name Watsonia. The building housed the Waterside Workers Federation, which purchased it in 1955. The federation subsequently moved to a new building in North Fremantle. In 2005 part of the building housed Notre Dame University's College of Business; at the other end of the building is the Roma Restaurant, established by Frank Abrugiato and his family in c. 1940. It was taken over by Nunzio Gumina when long-term owners the Abrugiata family sold out, and the name changed a little to Villa Roma. Nunzio now has a restaurant in his own name in Essex Street, and the Roma has been renovated and opened again by Abrugiato family members as the Cucina Roma. Unfortunately, the Laminex has gone.
Some of the building is now occupied by NDU.


Tannatt Chambers and Cellars Building. Nos. 8 and 10. Architect: E.H. Dean Smith. This architect designed several idiosyncratic buildings in the city. Tannatt Chambers was built in 1900 and the Cellars Building probably at about the same time. The former has unusual 'Moorish' architectural elements. The latter was originally known as Craig's Chambers and housed various business enterprises, including the ‘Roo on the Roof’ restaurant in the basement, which was opened in the 1960s by the popular press cartoonist, Paul Rigby, who later moved to the United States where he worked for an American newspaper. It is said that, not long after the building was opened, a sailor was found in an attic room with his throat cut and the murder was never solved. Various owners of the building have claimed that the man’s ghost still haunts it.


The Cellars Building, 10 High St, 1900, aka Craig's Chambers, once housed Paul Rigby's Roo on the Roof restaurant in its cellar in the 1960s.
The restaurant was later (or also) known as The Cellars, giving the building its current name.
Paul Rigby, together with Alec Smith, of the Fremantle Hotel, lobbied Tony Samson to save the Liebler building, nearby in Cliff Street. Samson saved only the facade, which still stands.
The cellar is now the premises of spaceagency, Michael Patroni's architectural design firm.
This building was the last one in the street to still have on it the decoration which was part of the Arcs d'Ellipses installation, put up in October 2017 by Swiss artist Felice Varini as part of the 'High Tide' Biennale. It was removed in 2022 when owner Michael Patroni did a renovation of the facade.


12 High St is a commercial building apparently built 1897. It could be called the Webb Building - from the name of its first owner.


National Bank, 1887, 16 High St, was NDU's Study Abroad Offices and before that part of the School of Arts and Sciences, building ND20. In 2021 it is occupied by The Museum of Perth.

18 High

Bank of Australasia, 1901, 18 High Street, Wilkinson and Smith, architects, possibly designed by W.J. Waldie Forbes. The sign suggests it's the offices of winemaker Leeuwin Estate. The Commonwealth of Australia logo near the door indicates/d the tenancy of a Federal Dept.

20 High

The Commercial Bank, 1901, at 20 High St, on the NW corner of High and Mouat Sts, was later a branch of the National Bank of Australia. The Habgood family had a five-roomed cottage here in the nineteenth century. After Robert Habgood’s death in 1882, his wife sold the vacant portion of the property to the National Bank of Australia in 1884. The bank appears not to have been built until 1902. In 1960 the architects Hobbs Winning and Leighton designed renovations.

22 High

Former Bank of New South Wales, on the north-east corner, at 22 High Street and 18 Mouat Street. This former bank building, completed in 1892, for the Bank of Western Australia, is a fine example of Fremantle's neoclassic buildings. It was later occupied by the Bank of New South Wales (now known as Westpac Bank). The ground floor has an ashlar effect above limestone foundations. The decorative parapet has a pediment featuring a decorative arch with ‘AD1891’ in stucco. The entrance has a pediment supported by pilasters; the first floor has engaged Corinthian columns, with engaged pillars below the windows. This building may be compared with another former Bank of New South Wales further east in High Street; the latter has similar elements of style but the engaged columns on this building are more slender.
The building to the east in High St is the Cleopatra Hotel. The flag on the left of the picture normally flies over the Adelaide Steamship Company building.


The P&O Hotel, Architects: Cavanagh and Cavanagh (1890s), Allen and Nicholas (1930s). On the south-east corner at 25 High Street, on the site of an earlier small hotel owned by the Pace Family. After the death of Mrs Pace—whose husband had died earlier—this hotel was managed by Mrs Scott and Pat Hagan and named the Victoria, although sailors who frequented it called it the ‘Cockpit’. In the 1890s it was purchased by Bernard O’Connor and Timothy Quinlan who commissioned a new building, which was completed in c. 1896. It demonstrates the architects’ liking for an exuberant style with a brick and stucco gabled facade. In the 1930s it was owned by the Bahen family, who held it for forty years. In 1938 they commissioned architects Allen and Nicholas to design internal alterations. Its verandas, removed in the 1960s, were reinstated in 2002, although, unfortunately, its clock tower, demolished in the 1930s, has not been restored. Now NDUA student accommodation.


Baird's Buildings at 33-37 High St, between the two hotels, P&O and Orient, recently housed two restaurants. Athena Lodge (1901, whatever it was) was at 35 High St, up the stairs through the entrance between the two other premises. In June 2015, this building was being completely renovated. In August 2015, the ground floor facades are now all glass. In March 2016, one of the shops is a pharmacy, and there is a yoga school upstairs.

24 High

Cleopatra Hotel, 24 High St, 1907. Architect: J H Eales. Builder: H C H Carter. Next to the Adelec Building at 24 High Street. This site was originally occupied by the Crown and Thistle Hotel (1868). Pearse and Owston bought the building in 1881 and leased it to Captain E.H. Fothergill, an English shipowner who previously carried lead ore from the mine near Geraldton to the smelter in Adelaide in his sailing vessel the Cleopatra. He decided to settle in Fremantle. At that time, he bought the hotel and renamed it after his ship. Fothergill was mayor in 1909-10. The hotel was demolished in 1906 and the existing one built the following year. It has a highly decorative facade. On the first and ground floors, banded piers and stucco arches form loggias. The hotel had a number of owners during the twentieth century and underwent some changes.
2005: Edmund Rice Centre, and NDUA. Me standing outside in the Google Street View photo.

36 High

The Adelec Buildings, 28-36 High Street. Architect: F.W. Burwell. Builder: J McCracken.

Opposite the Orient Hotel at 28-36 High Street. This was originally known as Fothergill's Building, as it was constructed for the Fothergill estate. It has had various occupants.


40 High

Marich Building, c. 1897, 38-50 High Street, on the northeast corner with High Street. There was a shop and residence on part of this site in 1844 and the Royal Hotel operated from one building. Other buildings were constructed during the 1880s and 1890s which had various occupants at a time when the site was owned by Edward Brockman. The property was then bought by Nicholas Marich and remained with his family until 1991. A development was proposed in 2005 for these buildings and for Nos. 28-20 in Henry Street adjoining. An application to build a 5-storey hotel/apartment complex at the rear was refused. The Rialto Apartments door is at 44, and they presumably occupy all of the upper floor. The original Town Lot numbers were 80 and 81.

orient orient

Orient Hotel. Architects: Cavanagh and Cavanagh. Builder: Atkins and Law. At the south-western corner at 59 High Street. The earliest name of the hotel at 39 High St, on the corner of Henry St, from 1849, was the Commercial. From 1851 it was called the Emerald Isle Hotel, where the publican for a time was Frederick Caesar, and where, in 1876, the escape of six Fenian prisoners was planned. The Fenians were members of a secret society plotting the end of British rule over Ireland. They recruited many Irishmen serving in the British Army to their cause; as soldiers they were liable to the death penalty for mutiny. Seventy-two Fenians arrived on the last convict transport, the Hougoumont, in 1868. John J. Breslin arrived in Fremantle from America in November 1875 and took a room at the Emerald Isle Hotel. He arranged for six Fenians to escape to south of Fremantle, on Easter Monday 1876, where they were picked up by boat and taken to an American whaler, the Catalpa. This vessel was able to avoid capture by the colonial steamer, the Georgette, which pursued it.
The former hotel, which was renamed the Club in 1888, was demolished in 1902-03. The proprietor, Thomas O’Beirne, commissioned the new (existing) building, which was considered one of the superior hotels at that time. The hotel underwent various restoration works in the latter half of the twentieth century, most extensively in 1995 when the two-storey verandas were replaced, and again in 2014.
In 2019, the levels above the ground floor are being operated as a backpackers hostel.

Photograph by Alfred Pickering c. 1897, SLWA # 011525S (in Facebook).


On the SE corner of Henry and High Sts is the Union Stores building, 41-47 High Street, designed by architect Herbert Nathaniel Davis (Taylor; Hutchison has John McNeece as the architect) for J & W Bateman, and formerly the largest hardware store in Fremantle, Bateman's Hardware. The building was commissioned by John Bateman and completed in 1895; a second storey was added in 1902, probably after purchase by Union Stores. The stucco embellishment of the facade includes engaged Corinthian columns, pediments, string courses and entablatures: elements that can also be seen on other West End buildings. This building was also restored, in 1986, with the aid of an America’s Cup grant. Restoration, supervised by the architects Duncan, Stephen and Mercer, included reinstatement of the verandas. It's owned by the City of Fremantle, and has just at the time of writing had more renovations completed. The tenant in the corner store is now the New Editions bookshop, which was previously on the other side of High St. The Record Finder is now also in the building.

48 High

The pair of buildings at 48-50 High St are occupied by Bill Campbell Secondhand Books and an 'adult' store.

Bill's bookstore was an one time John Estinoff's Jeanette Fruit Palace.

54 High

The Buffalo Club is at 54 High St, and opened in 1938, and was associated with the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.

The building is on what was the original 1833 town Lot no. 105 which was granted to GF Johnson. It is now Lot 500.

Before it was the Buffalo Club, the building was used as the Madrid Restaurant, owned by the Andinach Brothers, who ran the Madrid Fruit Palace at the same address. Before that there was a cottage housing the telegraph office.


Between the Union Stores and the Ajax buildings is 49 High St, Hooper's building (1887).

Number 49 High St stands on original Town Lot 106 (up to its western edge). This building is sometimes discussed as if it were part of the Ajax Building, but it is a much earlier building than that.

'Hooper's building' still exists in 2019, currently as two small shops, one called Compendium, selling design materials, and the other trading as the David Giles Art Gallery.

64 High

The 1910 Bank of Adelaide building, originally of two storeys, is on the NW corner of Pakenham and High Streets at 64 High Street. With commercial premises on the ground floor, the Navy Club is now upstairs in the two-storey colorbond additions on top, straddling Nos. 62 and 60 as well. The Navy Club was previously in the Freemasons Hall in Marine Parade. The details of the original building include a crenellated cornice on the parapet and ashlar effect on the ground floor and engaged ashlar effect pilasters. This Lot (105) was allocated in 1829 to Robert Thomson who built and operated the Stirling Arms, one of the first four pubs in the colony.

70 High

Mason's Building. Nos. 66-70 High Street, on the NE corner of Pakenham and High Streets. Architect: John McNeece. Builder: J Anderson. This has been known as the former Commonwealth Bank Building, but the bank did not own the building until 1925. Part of the site (No. 66) appears to have been part of E.H. Fothergill's estate. From 1882 until 1921 the property was owned by Frederick Mason, alias May, a jeweller and entrepreneur. This two-storey building was built in 1908 as four shops with residences above. Its neoclassical style is ‘softened’ by the plump proportions of the engaged columns. Unfortunately, in 2005, one section of the facade was painted a different colour, disturbing its unity; the awning and shopfront for that section are not original.


Central Chambers. Architect: F.W. Burwell (1906), Duncan, Stephen and Mercer (1991). Builder: R. Rennie. On the SE corner of Pakenham and High Streets at nos. 61-63 High Street. This is one of the most impressive of Burwell's buildings. William Pearse, who arrived in the colony in 1830, established a butcher's shop and premises on the site; he prospered by gaining contracts to supply merchant ships bound for the Cape of Good Hope with salted meat. The original shop was demolished in 1906 to make way for the present building, which was completed in 1907. One of its first occupants was a printer. New owners, J. and W. Bateman, in c. 1956 had a new facade erected, but the original was restored in 1991 during renovations under the direction of the architects Duncan, Stephen and Mercer. The highly decorative first-floor facade features ‘Central Chambers’ in stucco, a parapet with balustrade and five highly decorative pediments. Pilastered and stucco arched windows have decorative stucco above and engaged piers below. The original entrance is between the shops and has stained-glass leadlight highlights. The awning is not original.

The Ajax Building, 49-59 High St, architect: John McNeece (part, c. 1908) is on the site on part of which the Stag's Head Inn stood in 1834, on the SW corner of Pakenham and High Streets. The inn was rebuilt in 1848, and by the 1880s a boarding house, shops and dwellings had also been constructed. The building was sold to John Church, whose company became a substantial enterprise with bulk stores in Pakenham Street. The present building appears to have been built in two stages: in 1900 and c. 1908—the latter to the design of John McNeece. From 1955 to 1981 it, together with adjoining buildings, was occupied by a furniture retailer, who commissioned internal renovations in 1958 to the design of Eric Moyle.


High St looking west from near Pakenham St corner c. 1894, RWAHS UNCR2227.

73 high

Commercial building 71 High St, between Central Chambers and Jenkins & Co.


Jenkins & Co. store, at 75-79 High St, was built in 1929, and in March 2016 was threatened with demolition by the architect who owns it, and who has his offices upstairs.

72 High

Pearse's Building, 72-78 High St, 1899. James Pearse bought the property in 1899 and it remained in his family until 1945. Wilkinson and Middleton, a tailoring company, moved into the buildings in c. 1900. Both of the partners were born in Ballarat but moved to Fremantle in the 1890s, perhaps attracted by the gold boom. The business prospered. They shared the building with other tenants, including the Singer Sewing Machine Company and several commercial agents. The balcony was altered in 1945. The building's exuberant style may reflect the optimism of the gold boom.
80 High

Commercial Hotel, 80 High St, 1908. Architect: John McNeece. Builders: Bradley and Rudderham. There has been a hotel on this site since 1869, first called the Albert Hotel. In 1888 it changed its name to the Commercial. The hotel was rebuilt in 1908, with John McNeece as the architect. Not to be confused with the hotel which is now the Orient, which was also called the Commercial Hotel at one point in time (1849-1851). The proprietor, Captain Thomas, was one of the first arrivals in 1829 on the Gilmore; he also had a shipping business. The hotel was known subsequently as the Southern Cross and as the Exchange. That building was demolished in 1907, after Thomas’s death, and the present building was completed in 1908. It was subsequently owned by the Castlemaine Brewery, from 1920, and by the Swan Brewery from 1930 to c. 1972. It has recently been converted to backpacker accommodation, and called Sun Dancer.


The Hicks building - later the Wyola and then RSL Club - is at 81-83 High St. Architect: Thomas Anthoness (1903), Allen and Nicholas (1946). Almost opposite the Commercial Hotel, at 81-83 High Street. This was the headquarters of the RSL (Returned Services League). It was built in 1903 for the tailors J.A. Hicks and Company. Soon after its opening, the building was damaged by the explosion of a gunpowder store in the harbour; the blast resonated through most of the West End. It was extended, using designs by Allen and Nicholas, in 1946 and the RSL probably moved in at about that time.
The building remains, though the club has been wound up. The name may have come from that of a tugboat, which in turn may have come from the name of a small town near Cunderdin. In April 2022, a(nother) tavern is proposed.


Commonwealth Bank building, 82 High St, 1934. Architects: Forbes and Fitzhardinge (alterations 1967-68). This building, with its massive columns, is of a markedly different style to other buildings nearby. Thomas Bousfield established a menswear business in 1902, doing a good trade fitting out diggers heading for the Eastern Goldfields. He occupied the premises for three years. They were demolished in the 1930s and the existing building was constructed in c. 1935 for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Alterations were carried out in 1967-68. The Hospital Benefit Fund bought the place in 1977 and restored the c. 1935 building. In 2005 it was occupied by Indigenart and the Mossenson Gallery. (Hutchison, 2006)
Now commercial premises whose tenants often change. New Editions Bookshop was here before moving to the corner of High and Henry Streets. More recently: Common Ground. In 2021, Fremantle Pharmacy.


ANZ Bank building, 86 formerly 84 High Street, 1930, originally the Union Bank of Australia. Architects: Hobbs, Smith and Forbes (1929), Summerhayes and Associates (1959), Forbes & Fitzhardinge (1960). Builder: R.V. Ritchie (1929), A.H. Thompson (1959). By 1928 there were four shops on this site. The Union Bank of Australia Ltd purchased the property and commissioned the building in 1929. lnitially, besides the bank, other tenants included a wool company, a hairdresser, a medical practitioner, a dentist and solicitors. Renovations were carried out in 1959 and 1969. The property was transferred to the Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd (ANZ) which continued to operate a branch there until 1990. The bank, on moving to new premises in 1991, sold the property. It was used briefly by a ‘market’ selling handmade knick-knacks and keepsakes. The new owners were granted approval to convert the premises to a restaurant. However, in 2005, they were vacant. Since 2005 there have been various tenants. In 2018: World of Renovation. In 2021 the building still has that name and is occupied by more than twenty renovation, building, and home-design businesses, including Barefoot Renovations and Bauen Projects, with a display room, design studio, a range of products, a cafe in the rear courtyard - and the space is available for functions.

80 High

Davies Building, 1905. Nos. 85-89. Erected in 1905 for George Alfred Davies, a town councillor and mayor (in 1895), this property was divided in two, as part of his estate, in 1950. The eastern half, bought by the Totalisator Agency Board, was demolished in the early 1970s and replaced by the present TAB Building, which was set back to allow for the proposed widening of High Street, which fortunately never happened, except on this one site. The western half of the original building remains in use for commerce and residential purposes. The Record Finder has moved west, but Breaks, a coffee shop, is currently still there.

The former TAB agency building has been at 91 High Street after the eastern half of the Davies building was demolished in the early 1970s. It now houses three businesses which service other businesses, and is a salutary reminder of what 'development' and 'progress' may bring. It would be funny if it weren't such a disgrace.


Now, temporarily, the local police station, 88 High St was previously a branch of the National Australia bank.


Bank of Australasia (2). Builder: Richard Rennie. Nos. 93-95 High Street. Economic Stores, a small department store, occupied an earlier building on this site from 1900. The Bank of Australasia bought it in c. 1934 and the original building was demolished. The existing building was completed in 1938 and comprised banking chambers, strongrooms and a shop. The manager’s residence was upstairs, a common practice at the time. The bank continued to operate there until 1952, when it was bought by the government and became the Fremantle Radiological Clinic. To attempt the eradication of tuberculosis, which was epidemic in the early 1950s, the government introduced compulsory chest X-rays in 1952. This reduced the number of cases significantly by the end of the 1950s and the clinic was eventually closed in 1984. For the next ten years the building was occupied by the Fremantle Coastal Districts Branch of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hutchison.


Lapa Brazilian Barbecue was at 96 High St in what was effectively a new building, c. 2020. It is the most hideous building in the West End, in the most inappropriate place: next to the magnificent National Hotel. It is 2022 tenanted by Palace Arcade: 'A bar dedicated to 100% original arcade machines from the 80s and 90s alongside Fremantle’s finest craft beers and cocktails.'


Bousfields Building. Architect: C.L. Oldham. Nos. 97-99. Samuel Pearse, a confectioner and baker, had a dwelling, sheds, shops and bakehouse on the site in 1895. In 1897 the original buildings were demolished and a new building was begun, owned by William de Lacey Bacon until c. 1904. Alexander Wright purchased it three years later and remained its owner for forty years. There were various occupants in the first half of the twentieth century; the photographer Charles Nixon had his studios here from 1901. Ownership of the two halves of the building was divided, Frank Bousfield owning No. 97 and Arthur John and Arthur Noble No. 99. Caris Brothers jewellers acquired the latter half later and installed a new shopfront to the building in 1966. The Bousfield family retained an interest in the property until the 1990s. Bousfield's Menswear was established by Thomas Bousfield at 82 High Street and also in Market Street, moving to this building in 1958. The business was inherited by Thomas’s son Frank; he worked for forty-five years in the store until his retirement. The business still trades under the original name, but was bought by two long-term employees in 1988.


Higham's Buildings, 101 High St, cnr Market St. Architects: Oldham and Cox. On the corner of Market Street. This building dominates the western side of this section of Market Street to Bannister Street. John and Mary Higham arrived in the colony in June 1853 on the Sabrina. John opened a bakery, confectionery and grocery business on the north-west corner of Pakenham and High Streets, and the date on the present building, 1853, suggests that he began this business soon after arriving. The couple’s infant daughter and second child, Mary Ann, died soon after they arrived. They had three other children before John died in 1858. His wife continued to run the business and became a highly respected businesswoman. Higham (1994) tells the full story of her achievements. She bought the site of the present building in 1861, and expanded the business by building larger premises, under the name of M. Higham and Sons. The company sold imported drapery, dresses and hats so successfully that a large store was erected alongside the first; the two were amalgamated in 1882. Mary died in the following year. The family maintained the firm. Edward, the eldest child, died in 1885. His widow, Alice, married William S. Pearse in 1895 and commissioned the present premises, including fourteen two-storey shops and a bulk store. In 1924 the property was sold to Edward J.G. and W.M. Higham and remained in the family for another fifty years. It has housed various retail outlets. The plaque says ESTd 1853, referring to the business; the building is from about 1890. The left-hand end of the building in Market St once housed the Palladium Theatre (cinema).


National Hotel, 98 High St, on the corner with Market St, 1902; restored 1995, 2001, 2013. A branch of the National Bank operated on the site from 1880 in a former shop. Six years later the bank relocated and the building was converted to a hotel for J.J. Higham, opening in 1886 as the National. It underwent major reconstruction in 1895. Its first manager after reconstruction was William Conroy, who had the tragic distinction of being the last man to be hanged at the old Perth Gaol. On 23 June 1897, the day after the Town Hall was opened, the event was celebrated with sports and a ball in the evening. Early in the evening, Councillors Elias Solomon and W.J. Snook, with the Town Supervisor, Mr Gliddon, had difficulty keeping a group of unruly men out of the hall. One of them was Conroy, who returned after midnight and gatecrashed a supper at which the mayor was congratulating officials on the happy conclusion to the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee—the day of the Town Hall opening. Conroy left after a few minutes, but was seen, soon after 1am, in the courtyard. A shot was heard; Conroy had shot Councillor Snook, allegedly because Snook had refused him entry. Snook eventually died of his wounds on 25 September. Conroy, although pleading temporary insanity, was found guilty of murder at a trial in the Supreme Court on 6 October. Although the jury recommended mercy, he was sentenced to be hanged.
The original hotel was demolished in 1902 and replaced with the existing building in September of the same year. The top floor was destroyed by fire in 1975. In 1995 renovations by architect Michael Patroni saw the reconstruction of the original first-floor balconies. The facade was restored in 2001. In 2019 the hotel is fully restored and trading once again as the National Hotel.

High Street looking southwest from near the Market Street end, perhaps 1890s.


High Street looking west from Market Street c. 1894, RWAHS UNCR2223. On the right is an earlier, two-storey version of the National Hotel with J.P. Hearns in the corner pediment. On the left is the Higham store with 1853 in the corner pediment and the initials MHS in the iron lace on the verandah.


The Broadway, Stevenson & Finch's mercery, as shown in a c.1900 postcard; now a 7/11 American-style junkfood store.


Barney Silbert's Corner, c. 1900, on the corner of the Mall and Market Streets at No. 109 High Street and built c.1900. By 1907 it was occupied by Freedman and Company Ltd., one of a number of drapers then operating in High Street. Barney Silbert operated his shoe shop and drapery business in the premises until the 1950s. The Silbert family came from the area known as The Pale, between eastern Poland and the western border of Russia. As a corner site, it was a convenient rendezvous for citizens and became known as ‘Barney's Corner‘. 1n 2005 it was occupied by another shoe store. [In 2019 there is a clothing retailer in the ground-floor corner store. The sign with 'Barney Silbert's Corner' has been removed from the first-floor corner window.]


Manning Chambers, 1906, Architects: Cavanagh and Cavanagh. Builders: Abbot and Rennie principally. This building occupies the remainder of this side of the Mall. The Manning family arrived in the colony in the 1830s and prospered quickly, having large landholdings in Fremantle, Cockburn and Rockingham. Their Davilak property in Cockburn is now a reserve and the house there is a local museum. Manning Chambers was constructed between 1902 and 1906 as an investment by the trustees of the Manning brothers’ estate. The chambers originally housed the Majestic Theatre. From c. 1940 it was in commercial use. Tenants included the Swansea Cycle and Motor Company, E Moore and Company and the English and Scottish Australia Bank. The chambers were refurbished substantially in 1986 and, despite public protests, in the process three shops were demolished to provide access to the arcade mall. In 1990 the Majestic Theatre was renovated and converted into a new arcade of eleven shops, under the direction of architects Bruce Robinson and Associates. [In 2019 the Majestic Theatre auditorium in the first floor still exists, but is completely empty.]
One of the early tenants of the chambers was a German gold and silversmith, Adolph Kopp, who moved into No. 121 High Street, part of the building, in c. 1902. He had arrived as a migrant in the 1880s, and during World War I was a victim of anti-German sentiment. His home and business premises were damaged during a riot in 1915. 1t was also, probably falsely, rumoured that he was a spy and he was placed under surveillance and may have been interned on Rottnest lsland. Two of his staff took over the business after the war when, probably due to his ill treatment, Kopp sold the business. However, they refused to employ him.


Atwell Buildings, 112-122 High Street, was completed between 1895 and 1929, by architect J. McNeece, and occupy most of the northern side of the High St Mall. There was a delightful Atwell Arcade through the building, designed by Harold Boas, but a large glass box office building has been constructed on the site, and the Arcade was not preserved in its original design.
Amelia Lloyd owned a shop and dwelling on the site, which were leased to Henry Atwell and J.H. Pellew. A new shopfront was built in 1895, and Atwell purchased the property in 1903. Two years later some buildings were demolished and a new building erected in 1906, which was incorporated with earlier buildings behind a new facade. Pellew’s drapery business continued to lease a shop. The name of the business was retained when it was acquired, in 1905, by Herbert Oxbrow, who operated the business until his death in 1950. The business survived for another forty years.
The arcade in this building, originally planned by Henry Atwell, was commissioned by his widow, Sarah, as a memorial to him when he died. The Arcade was a good example of arcades of that period. Culley’s tearooms and cake shop opened in the arcade in 1935.

In 2017 the arcade was renovated and completely transformed. Culley's moved to the other side of the arcade in new premises. A new steel and glass building was erected above the existing buildings. The arcade no longer exists except as a passage between the glass walls of shops.

References and Links

Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks.

Note about the (non)-widening of the eastern end of the street in Fremantle, the newsletter of the Fremantle Society: Vol 4 No 3 1976.

See also: High Street tenants 1893.

Top photo of High Street courtesy of Roel Loopers.

Historical Panoramas: Curtin/SLWA site.

Garry Gillard | New: 28 September, 2014 | Now: 15 May, 2024