Fremantle Prison was the main convict barracks and prison in Western Australia. Constructed by convict labour between 1852 and 1859, the Prison is representative of the use of penal transportation to expand Britain’s geo-political spheres of influence, to punish criminals and deter crime in Britain. The site is also associated with the abolition of transportation to Australia, and the rise of domestic penitentiaries in Britain.
Fremantle Prison was built as a convict barracks in the 19th century and remained in continual use as a prison until 1991. The first convicts sailed into Fremantle Harbour in 1850. The Convict Establishment, as the Prison was first known, was built by convict labour between 1852 and 1859 using limestone quarried on the site. The first prisoners moved into the Main Cell Block in 1855. The Establishment was renamed Fremantle Prison in 1867, before the transportation of convicts ceased the following year, when the Hougoumont carried the last convicts to Fremantle. Nearly 10,000 male convicts passed through Fremantle Prison between 1850 and 1868.
The Gatehouse complex surrounds the entrance to the Prison. Adjoining the western perimeter wall on the outside of the prison compound are the Convict Warder's Guardroom, stables and several two-storey residences built to accommodate the Gatekeeper, Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chaplain and Surgeon. Several buildings in the Gatehouse now house the artefacts and artistic records of those convicts who were incarcerated at Fremantle Prison.
The Convict Establishment
Fremantle Prison includes 16 intact convict-built structures surrounded by a 6 metre high limestone perimeter wall. Eight of the buildings are located within the perimeter wall and eight just outside. Nearly all the buildings are constructed from locally quarried limestone. The design of the Prison was modelled on the modified panopticon design of Pentonville in Britain and has features that reflect the penal principles of the ‘Separate System’.
Address: 1 The Terrace, Fremantle, Western Australia 6160
Telephone: (08) 9336 9200
Fremantle Prison The Convict Establishment, Fremantle Prison Collection Significance Assessment, prepared by Heritage TODAY and Fremantle Prison Heritage Team, courtesy of an Australian National Library Community Heritage Grant, October 2017