Submission to Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan December 2005
Fremantle Railway Station
Celebrating its centenary in 2007
The Fremantle Railway Station below opened in 1907, the same week as the Market Street Post Office
nearby. The handsome new station replaced an earlier one which had been built 20 years earlier a few
hundred metres further westward, at the end of Mouat Street.
As it approaches its centenary, the opportunity exists to reinstate some of
the former glory and signifi-
cance of this public transport hub. Some suggestions are made in this document. These are personal
views of John Dowson, Deputy Mayor of Fremantle, and do not necessarily represent a council view.
Fremantle Railway Station soon after it opened in 1907. From John Dowson’s
RWAHS photo (detail).
Fremantle Railway Station- Full Restoration Deserved
For over 100 years the railways of Western Australia have been central to
the development of the state and its consequent booming economy.
1. Station soon after opening in 1907
2. Centenary restoration for 2007?
The boom began when the railways came to Fremantle in the 1880s and
report on opening
carried prospectors and supplies to the goldfields of Kalgoorlie and
4. Significance of railway station
Coolgardie in the 1890s.
5. Former railway workshops
6. Unfinished Business
In the past few years the booming economy has been quite remarkable.
7. More Unfinished Business
We are a wealthy state. This gives even more weight to the argument that
8-9. The story of the swans
the railways, and their history, deserve serious funding for, among other
10. Draft proposed improvements.
things, restoration and interpretation. In particular, 2007 will be the cente-
11. Suggested Queen St. bus entry
nary of the opening of the current 1907 Fremantle Railway Station, and
12. Key recommendations
projected works for a commercial/tourist precinct on Victoria Quay make
13. Visitors’ Centre
this the time to consider what works are needed for the area.
14-18. Appendix of articles
Rare interior photograph c1920 showing subway to second platform
(Courtesy Fremantle Local History Collection)
: Fremantle Railway Station c1907 (from John Dowson’s
1 July, 1907
New Railway Station at Fremantle Opened Today
The new railway station at Fremantle opened this morning. The
et windows opening upon the entrance hall...A well stocked
new building is a handsome structure, which does credit to the
bookstall occupies a corner of the hall
There are separate
Port. The entrance-hall, which faces market -Street, is spacious
offices provided for the receipt and dispatch of luggage,
and comfortable, and is furnished with seats for the accommoda-
and special provision has been made for handling the large
tion of persons waiting the arrival of trains
there are four tick-
quantity of fish that passes through the station.
Sailors from HMS
sweep past the railway station in 1924 between the two gardens. The footbridge beyond, demol-
ished recently, acts as an attractive vantage point and was a clear link between the port and city. HMS
itself looms over the
station. (Izzy Orloff photograph from
by John Dowson)
The formerly attractive station forecourt is now in 2005 an ugly sea of bitumen and buses.
The Significance of Fremantle Railway Station
Statement of Significance- from
Conservation Plan for Fremantle Railway Station
Kelly Aris, 1999.
Fremantle Railway Station has cultural heritage significance for the following
- the imposing style of the place serves as an important reminder of the
historical importance of Fremantle as Western Australia’s principal port town.
- the place has historic value as the former location of the railway workshops,
prior to their relocation to Midland in 1904
- the place is aesthetically and historically linked with Fremantle’s maritime
history and is one of a number of important buildings built at the turn of the
century associated with rail, port, and maritime operations.
- the place has scientific value to Western Australia as an archaeological site
which can yield information on activities and technology associated with the first
railway workshops in Western Australia, the people who worked in the first
railway workshops in Western Australia, the goods passing through the station
from 1906, and the material culture of passengers passing through the station
Very rare unpublished view (detail) of Fremantle’s first railway station at
the end of Mouat Street, built 1881 (Dowson collection).
The first railway workshops in Western Australia lie beneath the current railway station and its forecourt.
John Coulsen Pearson (1866-1934) arrived in Australia from England and photographed the Fremantle
railway workshops he worked in. Visitors to this area should be made aware of the significant railway his-
tory they are walking over (
courtesy Battye Library
Unfinished Business- the never
completed west wing (above)
Untidy Business- acres of hot
Some Key Conservation Policies
(Conservation Plan for Fremantle Railway
Policy 3.17: Visibility from the platform of the
station to the port related activities is to remain
in order to retain the significance of the place as
an important reminder to the community of the
historical importance of Fremantle as Western
Australia’s principal port town.
Policy 3.27: Phillimore Street forecourt is to
remain a key public space to enable the facade of
the station to be appreciated and to facilitate free
movement and mingling of high volume pedes-
Policy 4.1: The significant fabric of such spaces
(zones of considerable significance) is to be pre-
served, restored and reconstructed as appropri-
ate. Reconstruction is desirable provided suffi-
cient detailed information is available.
Question: Have the recommendations of the
adopted Conservation Plan been carried out?
access to Queen
Street at top right of
leads to Market
The Story of the Swans
Three swans straddle each side of the entrance to the railway station. Walter Burvill (1875-1924), a local plaster mod-
eller, made the swans which, for many years, were all white. At one stage, the swan on the far left was damaged
and when repaired, the swan was now facing downwards instead of facing upwards, as can be seen here, and on the
cover. Some of the swans were painted black many years ago, and when painted white again in 2005 during restora-
tion of the station facade, many people wanted the black back (see the article on the next page).
Sometimes people focus on the small details and they miss the big picture- which is getting
the station fully restored!
(December 9, 2005) raised concerns about the now all white swans.
A view from the railway station roof looking east shows the swans as they were in 1934. The photograph also shows the attractive
and mature fenced off gardens (from
by John Dowson, 1st edition only.)
Phillimore Street Integrated Master Plan Proposed Improvements
The proposals above and below are contained in a document put out for public comment in 2005 and headed
Fremantle City with the Port.
The first thing to be noticed is that the proposed four lanes of traffic, the only such four
lane road in central Fremantle, would act AGAINST a ‘link’. The plan is over burdened with paved areas at the
expense of green ones, insensitive to heritage, and transport dominated. Token efforts only are made to represent the
enormous heritage of the area, let alone revert to some of the best early features of the area such as the two substan-
tial gardens which existed at the front of the railway station.
Bus entries should be opposite Queen Street as suggested on the next page, in order to give a maximum forecourt of
green and paved spaces for pedestrians and to enhance the status of the main station building. Bus passengers can
still be dropped off within 50 metres of their train. And, this plan does not preclude future light rail entering the sta-
tion forecourt directly from Market Street and traversing a pedestrian space.
Queen Street access: Bus interchange concept by Fremantle
Queen Street access: Cox Howlett + Bailey
Council officers 1999 (Ian James and Michael Willicombe)
Woodland Option 2. Aligned rail platforms are also shown.
Queen Street access has many advantages over the entry point proposed on the previous page.
1) Complete restoration of Fremantle Railway Station buildings in time for station’s centenary on
July 1, 2007. Restoration to include:
a) Removal of all paint from Donnybrook stone finishes
b) Removal of paint from masonry on platforms and where necessary in other internal spaces.
c) Reinstatement of public facilities such as dining room and waiting room, albeit in a modern
d) Restoration as prescribed in the 1999 Conservation Plan.
e) Reinstatement of the second railway platform to centralise passenger movements and bring
the centre of gravity of the station back towards its main entrance
2) `Completion of never completed western wing of railway station as intended, to be used as
visitors’ centre and cafe (see opposite page).
3) Bus entry to be opposite Queen Street. Better pedestrian access to Queen Street.
4) Reinstatement of significant gardens, plus green spaces, and public spaces in front of station.
The photographs below and opposite show that, at its peak, the port and the city were quite clearly separated environments, with
the port being often closely guarded (especially during the wars) and difficult to get into. This separation was added to by the
numerous sets of railway lines, in places a dozen or so, forming a barrier necessitating the wooden footbridge pictured which
linked the immigration buildings on the left with the railway station and the town. (Photographs courtesy
The West Australian)
One concept by architect Murray Slavin for a visitor centre (above) uses the footprint of the never finished west wing with a
modern see through design. Consideration should also be given to building the western wing as intended, for the same purpose.
APPENDIX- Relevant articles
Pedestrians and Roads
Urban design advice provided by Fremantle Council urban designer Ian James 22 December, 2005.
With regard to the train station, to me the major urban design issue is the need to make the area as pedestrian friend-
ly as possible, while still accommodating managed movement of vehicles - both cars and buses. The proposal in the
draft Phillimore St masterplan to make Phillimore St 4 lanes wide through this area is totally unacceptable.
A key objective of the project should be to improve pedestrian links between the city centre and the Victoria Quay
waterfront, however increasing Phillimore Street from 2 lanes to 4 lanes is contrary to this objective and will actually
reduce pedestrian accessibility. As the only 4 lane road in the city centre it will create a major obstacle to this
improved link as well as to and from the rail / bus station and the city centre.
The roadway appears to have been designed to accommodate increased traffic movements to and from the pro-
posed waterfront commercial precinct at the expense of a safe and comfortable pedestrian environment in this area.
Other than at the signalised intersections at Market and Pakenham streets, no provision has been made to accommo-
date safe and convenient crossings for pedestrians. Pedestrians will attempt to cross the 4 lanes of Phillimore Street
anywhere between Pakenham and Queen Streets due to the open and continuous parks and plazas along this length
of the street. The Queen Street intersection in particular has no provision for safe pedestrian crossing and is likely
therefore to lead to a reduction in pedestrian movements to one of the city's key retail areas in Queen Street.
The design also means that traffic speeds through this section of Phillimore Street will not be constrained by the
management techniques commonly applied elsewhere in the city centre, such as narrowing of carriageways, on-
street parked vehicles, median islands, widened footpaths, etc.
It is acknowledged that traffic congestion is most likely to occur during peak periods if the roadway is retained as
one lane in each direction. However in this key city centre location, priority should be given to the pedestrian's
needs to ensure that Fremantle's pedestrian friendly status is maintained. Traffic congestion is also an effective form
of city centre traffic management. An alternative traffic access has recently been provided to the waterfront commer-
cial precinct via Peter Hughes Drive (one lane in each direction).
I certainly support development of a visitor centre at or near the station, restoration of the building and enhance-
ment of the public spaces in the forecourt area (which could include an interpretation of the earlier gardens) - but all
of this would be a waste of time if the station was cut off from the city by the only 4 lane road in the city centre.
A number of years ago Michael Willicombe and I developed a layout to accommodate the bus entry to the forecourt
from Queen St. The railway's consultant architects at the time (Cox Howlett Bailey Woodland) subsequently drew
up a plan to show that it could work, however Transperth have consistently opposed it because they say it disadvan-
tages their patrons transferring between bus and rail as they have to walk an extra 30 metres or so. The benefits of
opening the front of the station building are obvious, and as a daily public transport user I know that having to walk
an extra few metres through a pleasant space would be quite acceptable to most public transport users.
National Trust Submission to City of Fremantle 2005
from: Karl Clement Haynes
The National Trust of Australia (WA)
West Perth WA 6872
that Masterplan gives “substantial” weight to transport requirements to facilitate extensive
commercial development on the waterfront without sufficient consideration of the heritage val-
ues of that place.
Use of Norfolk Island pine trees, contrary to the Conservation Plan recommendations.
to strengthen heritage values of the precinct by reinstatement of the trains station gardens
and relocation of the bus terminus;
Cliff Street extension should be reconstructed as a road;
Integration of the interpretation signage
Above: Fremantle Gazette
20 September, 2005
Left: Fremantle Gazette
11 November, 2005
This document was compiled by John Dowson, Deputy Mayor of Fremantle , as an individual
response to issues relating to the Fremantle Railway Station aspects of the Phillimore Street
Masterplan. This document does not represent a council view, but a personal one.
John Dowson, Steamship Buildings, 10-12 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160, Australia
9335 2113 firstname.lastname@example.org