Fremantle Stuff > Buildings > State Ships Building
The 1921 two-storey limestone building in Pioneer Park, the only building on the north side of Short St, was occupied by the State Shipping Service Office 1955-75, and then the Fremantle Art Gallery 1978-87 - when it was closed and the collection notionally moved to the Fremantle Arts Centre. It is currently the home of the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. It was rumoured late 2017 that the theatre company might be leaving town, but on 29 November 2017 Mayor Brad Pettitt informed me that the building will be repaired early 2018 and that Spare Parts is not planning to move.
The former Stateships building is owned by the City of Fremantle, and currently leased to the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. It seems that in 1975 the government agreed to the removal of the building, in favour of open space. (See a brief note apparently to that effect in the Fremantle Society newsletter.) I believe it didn't happen because the Council decided it needed the building for an art gallery. There is no now Fremantle Art Gallery. There is a room in the Fremantle Arts Centre (Asylum) supposed to be dedicated to the Fremantle Art Collection, but that space is currently given over, as it often is, to a visiting exhibition. (There is another room called the Kathleen O'Connor Gallery which also currently houses part of the temporary exhibition.) All c. 1700 artworks owned by the City (many donated) are currently in store. The Stateships building could be removed so that the whole area could be public open space, as was intended in 1975. As this is unlikely to happen, consideration could be given to the restoration of the Art Collection to this building, if and when Spare Parts moves on.
The opening of the Fremantle Art Gallery at the vacant State Shipping Service building 1978 came at a time when the Collection had no dedicated exhibition or storage space nor curator responsible for its care. Managed by the Arts Centre for nine years, the Gallery represented a step up for the Collection in providing a centrally located exhibition venue and permanent home. Its closure in 1987 was a blow to the profile of the Collection, ushering in a period that saw the Collection fade from the public consciousness. Lispcombe: 22.
As none of the Collection is now on view, it seems that it has once again faded from the public consciousness - this time even more completely.
Photo Noel Doyle (Studio Ten), 1976, courtesy of FHC #915. In 1975 the State Shipping Service moved from this building at 6 Short Street to another building in Short Street and the property was vested in the City of Fremantle. It was then decided to convert the building to an art gallery. The Fremantle Art Gallery was opened 10.09.1978.
It seems that in 1975 the government agreed to the removal of the building, in favour of open space. See a brief note apparently to that effect in the Fremantle Society newsletter. I believe it didn't happen because the Council decided it needed the building for an art gallery, which it became in 1978.
Photo courtesy of FHC #1297D. Built c1917, the building was occupied by Payne and Humble, Customs and Forwarding Agents. In 1935, West Australian Stevedoring were occupiers and in 1938 Esperance Salt Co. used it as a bulk store. Metro Bus Co. also used the building. From 1955 to 1975 it was the head office of the State Shipping Service (formerly the Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission).
The building was constructed as a commercial building in 1921. It is a two storey limestone building with a corrugated iron roof, constructed in the Federation Free Classical style of architecture. The building was used as the State Shipping Service Office. In 1975 it was vested in the City of Fremantle and in September 1978 it was officially opened as the Fremantle Art Gallery. In 1988 it was refurbished to specifically accommodate the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. The building is listed on the City of Fremantle's Municipal Heritage List. Wikipedia.
State Shipping Service of Western Australia was a government transport entity created in 1912, following the Western Australian state election, 1911, with an emphasis on providing reliable transport to the North West ports of the state. It was originally known as the State Steamship Service and kept that name until 1918. From 1913 to 1918 it was controlled by the Fremantle Harbour Trust. In 1919 the name was changed to State Shipping Service. In 1979 the service name was changed to 'Stateships'. In 2005 the service ceased trading as it no longer operated any ships.
The former offices in Fremantle are now used by the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, and various artefacts from the service are housed in the Fremantle Maritime Museum. Wikipedia.
Lipscombe, André 2008, Fertile Ground: Fifty Years of the Fremantle Art Collection, Fremantle Press.
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre website
Garry Gillard | New: 8 May, 2016 | Now: 17 November, 2018