No Time for Archaeology?

More Heritage Gone

The top picture shows Water Corporation smashing through historic wooden blocks in Mouat Street just 10 metres from where extensive sections of the blocks were discovered two weeks ago, while a workwoman stands guard eating noodles.

The discovery of the wooden blocks two weeks ago led to research by the Fremantle Society that of the 300,000 wooden blocks paving the streets of High, half of Cliff, and Mouat, put down between 1898 and 1903, the Mouat Street ones may be the only decent section of wooden streets left anywhere in Fremantle.

Instead of that being a cause for excitement and care, Fremantle Council gave permission for the street to be dug up just metres from the original finds, with no council staff or archaeologists to supervise.

By law, since the West End is now heritage listed, the listing includes the streets, and the Heritage Council are supposed to be notified as with the Pipes for Fremantle Project. The Pipes for Fremantle arm of Water Corporation knew nothing of this work, and neither did the archaeologists.

The second picture shows an orphan from the destruction today, a little jarrah block survivor resting on a jarrah floor, pining for its family.

The third picture shows Phillimore Street and highly significant finds of wooden drains from at least 130 years ago. An exciting discovery one would think. The fourth picture shows what appears to be the entrance to a tunnel under Pioneer Park. This should have been the opportunity to fully investigate the area, including for maritime artefacts, given the original shore line was here. But the wood was dragged away (so it didn't collapse under the road) and the history gone forever.

There have been stories for years about tunnels in this area, especially for water from the prison sold to ships, but now we will never know.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
14 August, 2020



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