Good Turnout for Fremantle Society Event
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Fremantle's senior architect and restorer of the old lunatic asylum in 1968 Rob Campbell joined Fremantle Society president John Dowson today at the asylum (Arts Centre) for a talk and walk with a good crowd in attendance.

Threatened with demolition in 1958, it took 10 years to save the place and get agreement for a restoration program, one of the first major restoration projects in Australia.

Riddled with rats, pigeons, chooks, and vandals, it then took years to restore. Rob, a Fremantle Society member, explained the challenges of getting the funding, the tradesmen, and compliance with building codes of the time. 

The coloured plan shown here relates to the work carried out by the talented government architect George Temple Poole from 1886 when adding to the original 1865 work. The red coloured roofs clearly indicate that the materials to be used for these new sections should be wood ie shingles, as with the earlier roof sections.

Recent Fremantle Council work to the building has seen inappropriate tin sheeting used instead, looking dreadful, and adding to the poor decision to replace the stolen copper downpipes with plastic, instead of using the insurance money to replace them with copper. If original shingles were too expensive, facsimile ones should have been used, as Rob Campbell did 48 years ago. Council intends further damage to the building next financial year with more inappropriate roof replacement.

It was noted that the hard work of the previous council to get the place nominated for National Heritage listing, and possible future World Heritage listing along with Fremantle Prison,  has not been pursued by the current council.

John Dowson provided a chronology of the history of the former asylum, noting that one of the last lunatics to be admitted was the Fremantle Mayor. In 1903 the Fremantle Mayor was admitted due to 'chronic alcoholic insanity.' He had been telling people he was the Duke of York and that his daughter was the princess of Fremantle.

The full historical chronology will be published on the Society's blog.

For the story of the (lost) battle at the Arts Centre to save the last remaining US Navy built building in Fremantle from demolition- the US laundry building on the eastern perimeter, see the 2011 article by then Fremantle Society President Jon Strachan entitled "Whitewash at the US Laundry" on the Society's blog.

Copyright © 2016 The Fremantle Society, All rights reserved.

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