Fremantle Prison completes $3.16 million major conservation works

Extensive conservation works on Fremantle Prison's Commissariat, Main Cell Block and Parade Ground have been completed following a $3.16 million, 20-month program funded by the State and Federal Governments.
  • Program funded by the State and Federal Governments
  • Reuse of Commissariat, Main Cell Block and Parade Ground for functions, events and tours will lead to greater economic sustainability
  • Conservation program created employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities in traditional trades

Extensive conservation works on Fremantle Prison's Commissariat, Main Cell Block and Parade Ground have been completed following a $3.16 million, 20-month program funded by the State and Federal Governments.

The Prison secured more than $1.5 million in COVID-19 stimulus funds from the Federal Government for works on the Commissariat and the Main Cell Block.

Another $1.6 million in funding from the McGowan Government was invested mainly in the conservation of the Parade Ground, with $500,000 going to the prison hospital, currently leased to The Literature Centre.

The conservation program involved restoration work and repairs to original elements of each area, access improvements, and the installation of new interpretative signage.

A universal access platform lift has been installed in the Commissariat, allowing visitors using mobility and ambulant devices to access the basement level for the first time. A compliant staircase has been installed, as well as handrails and railings on existing steps.

Within the Main Cell Block, two new universal access ramps have been installed on a key tour route with other work allowing for wheelchair access through an isolation cell and out to the solitary confinement block. Drainage and service improvements in the Parade Ground support ongoing sustainability of this significant building.

Kardan Construction, an Aboriginal business with extensive experience in the refurbishment and renovation of many challenging buildings including heritage sites, worked on the Commissariat and Parade Ground (north).

Colgan Industries delivered on conservation works for the Main Cell Block. In partnership with the Prison, Colgan Industries also provided on-site talks and demonstrations to university students on best practice heritage conservation.

Delivery of the conservation works marks the completion of the Prison's significant projects.

Built by convicts in the 1850s and decommissioned as an operating prison in 1991, Fremantle Prison now offers a range of interpretive tours, as well as exhibitions and cultural events.

Fremantle Prison is enjoying record visitor numbers with 119,599 people visiting in the year to date, a 3.45 per cent rise compared to 2019-20 visitor numbers.

The Prison won a Gold Medal for Major Tourist Attractions at the 2022 WA Tourism Awards.

Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:

"Fremantle Prison's conservation journey has been of vital importance to the State. Not only does the work protect one of our most valuable heritage icons for present and future generations, adapting areas like the Commissariat, Main Cell Block and Parade Group will pave the way for more reuse by the community.

"In the long run, it will contribute to Fremantle Prison's economic sustainability.

"The Prison also continues to lead the way in capacity building by providing employment and training opportunities in traditional heritage trades such as stonemasonry to Aboriginal people.

"The McGowan Government also acknowledges the Federal Government's funding support for this important piece of Australia's prison history.

"Some amazing concerts and events are planned at the Prison in 2023 and I expect these completed projects will see an uptick in the use of the venue for big events."

Comments attributed to Member for Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk:

"The significance of Fremantle Prison in our State's history is undeniable, so I am proud to be part of a Government investing in its restoration. 

"The prison is a massive structure, much of which is over 150 years old, so it is wonderful to see this latest work being work being done to conserve the Commissariat and Main Cell Block, as well as the Parade Ground.

"This investment in WA's only built World Heritage-listed site will help protect its cultural heritage and at the same time build on its position as one of the State's top tourist attractions."

Minister's office - 6552 5400