Fremantle Stuff > Buildings > J Shed

J Shed

See also: Arthur Head.

J Shed was built on Victoria Quay as a cargo shed in 1912/13. It would have been the most easterly shed on the South Wharf. It was redesignated H Shed in 1929. When (partially) removed from the wharf to its present position under the cliff on the western side of Arthur Head in 1968-69, it was renamed J Shed. (Hutchison)

The area currently housing the J-Shed only dates from the 1960s when a large portion of the western part of Arthur’s Head was excavated and levelled off about 1.5m above sea level to create a large open area for port activities.  As part of these works J-Shed, which was originally part of a goods shed that stood on Victoria Quay, was relocated to stand in this new area next to the cliff remnant of Arthur’s Head. (Brad Pettitt)

The shed has had a variation of purposes since its move - including being a fibreglass workshop - until 1988. In 1992 the building was repurposed again - after a restoration completed by the City of Fremantle - to be used as the independent semi-industrial art studios they mostly are today.

J Shed in 1986. Note the six doors: it has since been reduced to five by the removal of one-sixth of the building at the Fleet St (north) end. Image from Brad Pettitt's blog.


J Shed has four 'units' (tho five doors), all of which are supposed to be used by artists, but the one at the southern end (orange door) with the glass wall and the best view and the best light has incomprehensibly been let by the City to an entrepreneur/promoter called Sunset Events which wants to have any kind of money-making venture involving loud music and booze in and around it.

Greg James Sculpture has been there since 1992 when the J Shed studios were established, and his workshop and studio is the centrepiece of the building, at Unit 2 (blue door).

Jenny Dawson has her Ceramics Studio next to him, at Unit 3 (red door) which she shares with photographer Peter Zuvela.

The newest tenant is the Art of Freo Gallery, manager Ellen McCarthy, at Unit 4, at the northern end (green door). Ross Potter, her husband, currently has his own small space in it, while the larger area is used for other exhibitions, such as the photography of Kylie Richardson, recently on show. She was followed by mixed media artist Rachel Doller. Art of Freo is supported by the City of Fremantle, through its Emerging Artist Support Fund. Ellen McCarthy has publicly supported the tavern (in Facebook, I think).


This photo taken from the Round House 'gun deck' shows Unit 1, with the glass wall, at the end of J Shed. That, and the space where the track and green lawn are, is where Sunset Events proposed a tavern be built. I acknowledge I got the photo from Roel Loopers' blog: I assume he took it, and thank him.

At its full meeting 23 May 2018, the Fremantle City Council decided to support Sunset Events' proposal - for a tavern in and around Unit 1 of J Shed - for 300 patrons for 21 years. ... It was, as the leader of the 'free world' would say, a dumb deal. ... The only hopes for the resident artists were the WAPC and the liquor licensing authority.

The vote in favour of the proposal going forward was 5/4, those in favour being Brad Pettitt, Andrew Sullivan, Doug Thompson, Hannah Fitzhardinge, and Dave Hume. Those against: Jeff McDonald, Jenny Archibald, Bryn Jones, and Adin Lang. On leave (according to the agenda): Ingrid Waltham, Rachel Pemberton, and John Strachan.

Agnieshka Kiera writes:

As the former City Héritage Architect, I was in charge of the planning and implementation of the long term Strategy Plan for Arthur Head A class Reserve, involving its the 1980s-2009 incremental implementation. Including the 1888 restoration and adaptation of J-shed to local artists studios. The implementation of the long term strategy for Arthur Head A class reserve designated (from memory) for the ‘historic buildings, community and environment’ was the 25 years long process involving reconstruction of the 1870s foreshore, dunes and its vegetation; conservation of the whalers tunnel and cliffs; conservation of the Round House; restoration and adaptation of the Fort Arthur and Pilots cottages; upgrading of the headland including construction of the stone steps and walk around the Roundhouse, public toilets, walking paths and whalers jetty. In 2009 it culminated with the final upgrade of the Old Port, which I also managed, including restoration of the former Kerosene Store (now Kidogo), the boardwalks and beach steps and reconstruction of the former mortuary as the shade structure. As the result Arthur Head has been transformed from the former depot into one of the most significant for WA heritage sites and a very popular public reserve. This also fulfilled the City of Fremantle’s obligation and commitment to the State Government undertaken when it transferred the area into the City of Fremantle in the 1980s for a peppercorn rate. In light of this the approval by the City granted to Sunset events for use of J-shed as a tavern is a breach of that commitment and a violation of the designation of the Arthur Head A-class Reserve. So what I would like to know is how could the City get away with such an obvious breach of the area’s formal designation and its own strategy plan for the area? Agnieshka Kiera, personal communication (Facebook)

The WA Statutory Planning Committee refused on 28 August 2018 the application by Sunset Events to develop a tavern in Unit no. 1 of the J Shed - against the wishes of Mayor Brad Pettitt and a slender majority of the FCC. It is on the record that Brad Pettitt calls Dave Chitty his 'mate'. (Echoes of Lionel Murphy's 'little mate'.)

In September 2018 Sunset Events abandoned the lease.


References and Links

Dowson, John 2018, 'J Shed - Again', Fremantle Society blog, 23 May.

Hutchison, David 1999, 'Shedding light on sheds in transit', Fremantle Studies, 1: 66-76.

Loopers, Roel 2018, 'Fremantle Council's moment of insanity', blog, 24 May.

Pettitt, Brad 2018, 'Arthurs Head's Changing Face', blog.

J Shed Facebook page

Garry Gillard | New: 3 February, 2017 | Now: 17 November, 2018