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Everything you need to know about the 1876 prison escape

We ensure an accurate and insightful detail is given about the actual incident that occurred at the Fremantle Prison in 1876. For a deeper understanding of the incident, we bring you up to speed with the activities that occurred since the creation of the Fremantle prison initially known as the establishment.

Some of our highlighted topics include:

History of the prison

The Fremantle prison started in the 1850s as a convict establishment whereby convicts like colonial prisoners, war prisoners, etc. are kept. It soon became a full-blown prison facility after transfer to local authorities, and the creation of a new division to accommodate females, and juveniles especially after the population boom in 1980 as a result of the gold rush. The prison is historical even after its decommissioning.

Prison timeline

Over the years, various activities occurred around the Fremantle prison. We will consider the major and significant occurrences that affected the functioning of the prison.

Convict era

The convict era can be considered as one of the peak periods of the Fremantle prison whereby the prison system was actively used to detain convicts. It also served as the site for executing capital punishment back then in Western Australia, flogging and other punishment. The state of the prison was also affected by the tussle for power between the governor and the Comptroller-General, this led to a period often called the dark ages of the prison.

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Modern era

There were lots of changes in the penal philosophy, changing from punishment to reform, labour use, etc. An attempt was made at the adoption of the 20th-century prison operations to replace the 19th century model in operation. This instigated a lot of structural and policy reform to keep up with the newest prison practice.

Heritage significance

Fremantle Prison was decommissioned in 1991 following a lot of claims about the abuse of human rights, and corruption by using the convicts for labour and profiting from it. The prison facility has operated for over 133 years and bears with it a lot of history and stories. It is one of Australia’s highly rated national sites, both in the state, nation and internationally.


The heritage of one of the foremost national sites has a well-structured work plan, to constantly work in conserving these important objects, structures, and history.

1876 Prison break

One of the biggest prison breaks in history, led by the braveness of John O’Reilly to free his fellow Fenians. The incident involved the bravery, selflessness of a lot of people which gained the attention of the media, both locally and internationally.

Catalpa memorial

The memory of the happenings of the prison break remains evergreen, with the construction of a monumental statue to symbolize what happened on that day.

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