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Warders Cottages

Henderson St, 1851

There were warders cottages on both sides of Henderson Street. The 1898 building on the northern side of the street was demolished in 1971 in favour of ... a carpark building.

The Warders' Cottages on the corner of Henderson and Fairbairn Streets are still there, still in use, and looking not unlike they did 160 years ago. More sophisticated again, with an internal staircase to two large bedrooms on the upper floor, 11' x 12'6" and 10'9" x 7'7". The bedrooms sit over a ground floor living room and an internal scullery and kitchen. There is an entry hall and a box-bed to the living room; behind the scullery is an enclosed yard with washing shed and privy. Early in the 20th century, probably at the same time as the installation of mains sewerage in the town, the facilities were upgraded to include plumbing in the kitchen, with a separate laundry, bathroom, and w.c. in an extended back yard. Fireplaces and chimneys are of brick that does not look to be of local manufacture. The window sashes and doors have been modified and/or replaced. There are sunshade awnings added over the first floor windows, and a verandah added to the ground floor The roof is now corrugated steel, it is not clear whether the original shingles are still in place under the sheeting. The design for these cottages looks to be from the Portland Prison model, with the exception that in the Fremantle version the first floor has been extended to make bigger bedrooms, for 'large families'. The cross-walls between units are again expressed as pilasters, victorian army barracks style, which breaks down the scale and introduces a rhythm of repetitive units. On one of these pilasters is inscribed 'V.R. 1851'. Campbell: 3.5.


Fremantle Library Local History Collection image #1284C, 1978. Caption: 'The Warders' Quarters were built ... in 1851. They were designed by Captain E.Y.W. Henderson and the building work was supervised by J. Manning.'

Fremantle Library Local History Collection image #13, 1971

warders cottages

Warders Cottages, Henderson St. Renovation in progress in 2015. Photo from Google. This terrace of six cottages is adjacent to the old Police Station. The twelve at the top adjoin the Markets, that is, they are to the west of these.

The Warders Quarters were well-built. The simplest indicator of this is their longevity and continued use. Using these units as a typical example of the construction of these first Convict Establishment buildings, the 18" and 16" thick solid limestone walls have survived well and show very little sign of movement, or distress. There is some attempt at coursing, but the stone is not selected for consistency or ornamental quality. The footings are stable, but set in the water table. Ground levels have risen around the perimeter, and with no dampcourse protection the walls are sucking up water that has to evaporate above ground level, and so there is a rising damp line of decay. Transpiration and evaporation are presently further inhibited by the use of acrylic paints instead of limewash. All of this presents maintenance problems to the owners, but not enough to inhibit their continuing use of the buildings. The roof lines are straight and true, the underlying structure basically sound, with waterproof corrugated metal decking that replaced the unsatisfactory shingles as soon as it became available. The physical condition report in the Conservation Plan provides more detailed evidence that the structure of the cottages is basically sound, confirmed by their commercially viable use not subsidised by their conservation values. ...
A third block of quarters for twelve Warders in Henderson Street was completed in 1858. As with the other two, it is still there and still in use. Construction and materials are as before, but the planning is a little different. There is a living room and two bedrooms each on ground and first floors, with shared facilities in the back yard.  Individual toilets, laundries and bathrooms were added around 1917. Verandahs were also added at this time for shade and better access to the upper floor units. Campbell: 3.6.

There were warders cottages on the other, northern side of Henderson St 1898-1971. See my page for that street for a 1971 photograph of those houses.

References and Links

Campbell, Robin McKellar 2010, Building the Fremantle Convict Establishment, PhD, UWA (Faculty of Architecture). Available online to download (not from this site) as a 40MB PDF.

Fremantle Library Local History Collection

Garry Gillard | New: 28 August, 2015 | Now: 25 April, 2021