Fremantle Stuff > Parks > Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Reserve is opposite the Fremantle Railway Station and is bounded by Market, Short, Pakenham, and Phillimore Streets. What is now Pioneer Park was not previously (mostly) open space. It was completely built on at the end of the 19th century, as shown in the photo (Battye 26778P) on page 100 of John Dowson's Old Fremantle (2003). An Uglieland fairground on the corner of Market and Phillimore Streets was run from 1922 to 1936 by the Fremantle Uglymen's Association to raise funds for underprivileged children. It was a popular nightlife venue in the area and hosted regular dances. The name was changed from Uglieland to Pioneer Park in 1940.


The only building on the reserve is the former Stateships building, currently let 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. Any artworks owned by the City are in store in or near the Town Hall. The Stateships should be removed so that the whole area can be public open space, as intended in 1975.


These shops used to be on the corner of Short and Market Streets. No great loss.


Fremantle History Centre photo #1276, 1920s, with this caption: The Ugly Men's Association was a charitable organisation fomed to raise money to alleviate suffering in the community caused by World War I. A fairground with chocolate wheels, merry-go-rounds etc was opened on the corner of Market and Phillimore Streets, by the Mayor, Frank Gibson, on 31.03.1922. It operated until about 1936. The area later became Pioneer Reserve, opened by the Lieutenant Governor Sir James Mitchell on 3.07.1942.

This is the corner of Market and Phillimore Streets. I believe that's the still extant pumping station/toilet building which can be seen on the extreme left edge of the photograph.

It might be possible to put the date of the photo in the very early 1920s from the film poster. It's advertising a Pola Negri movie called The Last P... The only film starring Pola Negri called the The Last ... was Das Karussell des Lebens, which was released in Germany in 1919. One of its English titles was the literal translation, The Carousel of Life, but it was also screened as The Last Payment. I'm guessing that the film might have got as far as Fremantle by 1922, when Uglieland was opened, and that the photograph was taken soon after the opening.

References and Links

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Heritage Council page for Pioneer Reserve.

Wikipedia page for Ugly Men's Association.

Note in a Fremantle Society newsletter.

Garry Gillard | New: 21 July, 2015 | Now: 11 November, 2017