Fremantle Stuff > newspapers
The colony's first newspaper, the Fremantle Journal, appeared in February 1830. It was hand-written, and sold at 3/6 a copy. Hitchcock: 16.
In December the colony's first printing press was landed from Van Diemen's Land, and from it was issued the ”Fremantle Observer,” the first issues of which were printed by Charles Macfaull and W. K. Shenton. That little press and a copy of the paper may be seen to-day in the Perth Museum. Its history has been concisely expressed by Edmund Stirling, who subsequently owned it.
The libel that was the cause of the colony's only duel was printed on that press. The duel was fought in 1831 on the south bank of the river to the west of the present traffic bridge, the combatants being a Scotch lawyer named Clark and a merchant named Johnstone. The latter was fatally wounded and Clark was committed for trial, but acquitted, duelling being a venial offence in those days. The pair of duelling pistols used in the encounter are now in the police museum, in Perth. Hitchcock: 21-2.
[Note that a later writer, Allen Graham, says that the duel was actually fought on 18 August 1832, and that the newspaper in question was called The Inquisitor. He also writes that the duel was fought at the rear of William Graham's home, Richmond House. Allen Graham 2005, 'Early duels of Fremantle', Fremantle Studies, 4: 95-106.]
Fremantle Herald 
The Fremantle Herald was established in 1867, and for many years [ - 1886] it was regarded as the leading organ of public opinion in the colony. It was founded by James Pearce and William Beresford, associated with whom were James Roe and A. H. K. Cole. Beresford had at one time been Anglican Dean at Cork and Roe had been an Anglican clergyman. The ripe scholarship of those two men, combined with the journalistic ability of Pearce and Cole, placed the paper in a leading position. Beresford's scholarly articles, together with his clever pungent facetia under the heading of ”Chips by a Sandalwood Cutter” were the literary sensation of the time, making the Herald a power in the land and a paper to be conjured with. The Herald always advocated a progressive policy and persistently stressed the need for harbour works in Fremantle, the construction of railways and the introduction of responsible government.
An incident in the early history of the Herald is worth recalling. In one of its earlier issues some miscreant, actuated no doubt by a desire to bring about the downfall of the paper, secured the insertion of some original poetry. As a metrical composition it was of a high order of merit, but both the editor and the printer failed to notice that it was an acrostic, the first letters of the lines, read downwards, forming a sentence of an obscene nature. That was detected by an early morning reader (D. B. Francisco), who at once apprised the editor, who immediately took prompt measures to collect the paper, and those who did not notice the sinister nature of the poem made all sorts of conjectures as to why the paper was called in. Some ascribed the editor's action to a fear on his part that some criticism of Governor Hampton's methods of dealing with the notorious bushranger, ”Moondyne Joe,” by confining him to an iron cage, might lead to trouble. Eventually the secret leaked out, and when it did there were some who would have given a pretty good price for a copy of that particular issue of the Herald. Many people in high places quailed before the pungent and fearless criticisms of the Herald, and one of those, it was thought, was responsible for ringing in the poetical contribution that might have landed the editor in gaol. The managers were shrewd men and were rarely caught napping. When Edmund Stirling and Arthur Shenton, editors respectively of the Inquirer and the WA Times, were imprisoned for libelling judge Burt, the Herald hit that functionary just as hard but evaded the meshes of the law in a clever manner. After a few words of caustic comment it proceeded somewhat like this:-
"In view of the law of libel we leave to our readers to surmise what further comments we would have made, if we dared, in the blank space below."
The remainder of the column was left blank. Hitchcock: 51-2.
In 1868 another newspaper was launched in Fremantle under the name of the Era. That paper was owned and published by the versatile George Barrow. In the day time he acted as accountant for L. Samson & Son, and in the evenings he occupied his time in the production of his newspaper. The novelty of that quaint little journal lay in the fact that it was set up and printed by the lithographic process in the same manner that cheque forms are done. To secure that result the whole paper - news, leading article and advertisements - was written out in a free copperplate hand, involving considerable labour, the only return for which was a limited sale at 6d. per copy. Needless to say the career of that artistic production was of short duration. While it lasted Fremantle had two papers, as at present . In the course of the century Fremantle has seen the birth of many newspapers, but none of them have died of old age. Hitchcock: 52.
In 1936 this was owned by JA Hicks.
Garry Gillard | New: 9 August, 2015 | Now: 6 April, 2016