Catalpa Productions

Fremantle Prison Timeline

Various events occurred from the time of inception of the Fremantle prison, or while it was still referred to as ‘The Establishment’ till when it became a tourist site. Some of the timeline of activities over the years that involve the Fremantle prison are highlighted below:

1829

The year dates as one of the earliest histories of Fremantle. Swan River colony was founded with the first settlers at Fremantle.

1831

A roundhouse was built, this was where people were detained, it also served as a courthouse and a place of execution.

1842-1849

There was an exchange from the Parkhurst Prison Reformatory whereby Juveniles were sent from the Isle of Wight (UK) to come work in Western Australia (Fremantle) to work on farmlands and in households.

1849

The establishment of the Western Australian Police Force following the Police Ordinance Act.

1850

The first set of 75 convicts arrived at Fremantle.

1851

Construction of the warders’ cottage began with the company of Royal Engineers.

1852

Construction of houses for the senior officers was completed, and the main cell block for the convict establishment started.

1853

A new administrative structure was set up and became the first published code of rules and regulations to govern the Western Australian Police Force

1855

The main cell block was opened for use, and the convicts were moved there.

1855-1856

The building and opening of Perth Gaol. A clock was also installed at the Gatehouse tower of the prison.

1859

The convict establishment project was finally completed.

1861-1864

The asylum building at Fremantle was built using convict labour, it is now referred to as Fremantle Arts Centre.

1866

The convict establishment was replaced and renamed as the colonial convict establishment.

1867

The convict establishment was again renamed as Fremantle prison.

1868

The last ship carrying the last set of convicts arrived at Fremantle.

1876

Political prisonersheld as convicts escaped from custody and evaded recapture.

1886

Fremantle Prison was handed over to the colonial government.

1888

The gallows at Fremantle became the only legal place for execution in the State.

1889

A structural change was made in the prison to include the female division

1890

The first elected government came into power, led by Sir John Forrest.

1898

A royal commission was included in the penal system of the colony.

1901

The state of Australia became a federal state.

1902

Western Australia had the establishment of Prisons Act

1906-1907

A new division was completed at the Fremantle prison

1911

Another royal commission was issued that saw too many structural reforms in the prison.

1920

A portion of the prison was set aside to serve as a reformatory prison under the prisons amendment act 1918.

1940-1946

During the WWII, Australian army used part of the prison as a detention barracks for military personnel

1964

The last convict faced the capital punishment of hanging. The act was later abolished.

1969-1970

The female prisoners have transferred to Bandyup medium-security facility.

1970

The title of Comptroller-General of prisons was changed to Director of the Department of Corrections.

1974

Rules and regulations were issued for prisons in Western Australia.

1984

Capital punishment was abolished in the state.

1988

Riot and fire broke out in the prison, the prisoners rebelled and held some officers hostage for about two days before the order was restored.

1991

Fremantle Prison was finally closed and the last set of inmates were transferred to a maximum-security prison at Casuarina.

1992

Fremantle Prison was listed in the State Register of Heritage Places.

1992-2002

Permission was given for a private tourist operator to offer tours of the prison to the public

2002

The full operations of the prison were returned to the state government.

2005

Fremantle Prison was listed in the National Register of Heritage places

2010

Fremantle Prison was listed in the World Register of Heritage places along with other ten Australian convict sites.

2015

Fremantle Prison was vested in the portfolio of the Minister for Heritage.