Fremantle Stuff > parks > Pioneer Park. See also the 2009 plan for its development.

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 a photo of Short Street here.

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, owned by the City, and currently leased to the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. The Fremantle Society wanted the building removed in the 1970s. A brief note in the FS newsletter in 1975, vol.3, no.2, stated that the removal had been agreed by the State Government:

After representations made to the State Government by the Council and the Society, the Government has agreed to release the old State Shipping building and the shops in Market Street that abut the Pioneer Reserve to enable the Council to extend the park area.


These shops in Market Street used to be on the corner of Short Street. Where they stood is now part of Pioneer Park.

The Stateships building should have been removed also. It's of no particular architectural value. Pioneer Park, as green open space, is of much greater importance. A puppet theatre could be housed anywhere.


Fremantle Library:
Photo no. 1276, 1920s, with this caption: The Ugly Men's Association was a charitable organisation formed 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 Last [something] 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.

In 1914 ... Opposite the Fremantle station is a reserve, which, we understand, is on property owned by the Railway Department, and as such its upkeep devolves upon that department. Apparently, however, the department has lost sight of the fact, for from its appearance it is many a day since it was given any attention, and its present unkempt condition reflects anything but credit upon the town. The grass has been permitted to grow in a scraggy manner, debris is littered over it, and it is surrounded by heaps of objectionable matter that should be immediately removed, if only in the interests of public health. It seems strange that the local health authorities have not, ere this, given the department a reminder of its obligation in the matter. Besides, the reserve and in fact, the approaches generally to the station are anything but a good advertisement for the State. Will the department please note?  Sunday Times, 5 July 1914 page 14: Port Paragraphs.

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.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre website

Sunday Times, 5 July 1914 page 14: Port Paragraphs.

Garry Gillard | New: 21 July, 2015 | Now: 27 September, 2020