Fremantle Stuff > buildings > Pensioner Barracks. See also: Fremantle Pensioner Barracks, Perth military barracks.

Perth Pensioner Barracks


Designed by Richard Roach Jewell, the Barracks was originally built 1863-1866 to house the Enrolled Pensioner Force which came to Australia as guards on convict ships, and were given small land grants in return for part-time guard work. The bulk of convict work moved from Fremantle to Perth in the 1860s, so there was a need to accommodate many Enrolled Pensioners and their families. (There was another such - earlier - barracks, in Fremantle, from 1853.)


Jewell designed the three-storey building in Tudor style that resembled a medieval castle. The building was brick, rather than more expensive stone, and horizontal lines emphasised by using lines of paler colour bricks underneath the windows. The roof was made of timber shingles. The building was finished in 1866, and was later extended to house an additional 21 families. Each family apartment had two rooms, each about 13 feet by 11 feet, with at least one fireplace. The outbuildings included a cookhouse, firing range and gun-room, wash-house, stores and stables, and a fives court (for a ball game played with the hands) constructed later.


A fire in 1887 destroyed the timber flooring of the east wing and the second floor of the central section. Water was pumped by hand pumps from the Swan River and brought by buckets through a chain of volunteers. The burnt sections were later restored.

The Barracks were gradually converted to offices for the Public Works Department between 1900 and 1904, becoming its headquarters in 1904. Notable occupants included C. Y. O'Connor, whose office was immediately above the arch. The fives court housed the drawing office, and eventually connected to a mid-1920s addition for the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage department. The Public Works Department and Metropolitan Water Board moved to Dumas House in March 1966. (Wikipedia, whence the second-top photo also.)


Most of the building was demolished in 1966, under the Brand government, leaving only the entrance block. Mitchell Freeway construction required the removal of most of the building, leaving only the entrance block. Brand wanted to remove the 'arch', as the entrance block is called, so that parliament could have an uninterrupted view down the Terrace, but public opinion prevented that.


References and Links

Wikipedia page for the Barracks Arch, whence top photo; 1960s photo Battye nd.

HeritagePerth page about the remnant entrance, called the 'Barracks Arch', whence bottom photo, '1800s'.

LifeOnPerth page for the Barracks Arch.

Garry Gillard | New: 4 June, 2018 | Now: 17 November, 2019