Construction of The Commissariat Buildings began in 1852. The building was designed by James Manning and was constructed under the supervision of Captain Henderson, Royal Engineer and Comptroller General of Convicts for Western Australia.
The water police force was organised in 1852 and continued as a separate body until it was amalgamated with the land forces after the opening of the new harbour. The water police of the old days were a fine type of men selected with great care from an always overloaded list of applicants. Being mostly young seamen with an ambitious turn of mind many of them took advantage of the opportunities their occupation afforded them to study the art of navigation. The sea carrying trade of the State at that time was maintained entirely by sailing vessels and some members of the force graduated from water police constables to master mariners.
On September 5 of that year the barque Eglington was wrecked on the North Beach and several lives were lost. Among the barque's passengers was the wife of William Bartram, who was a partner with the late Edward Newman in the old Fremantle firm of T. and H. Carter and Co. Mrs. Bartram was coming from England to rejoin her husband, but perished in an attempt to land from the wreck. She was one of the last to be buried in the old Alma-street cemetery. One of the survivors from that wreck is still living in the person of C. J. McMullen, who was for many years local court bailiff at Fremantle and is now residing in Claremont. For a long time after the wreck beachcombers from Fremantle made frequent visits to the locality to draw upon the supplies of casks and cases of wines and spirits that they had buried in the sand. Specie valued at £35,000 was sunk in ten feet of water but was recovered.
About the same time Captain Douglas, of the Louisa, was drowned in crossing the bar at Fremantle.
The building of the old Congregational Church was commenced in 1852. It was completed in 1854 and enlarged in 1857. It is now used as a Sunday School. The manse was erected in 1862 and the new church was commenced in 1875 and completed in 1877. The first pastor of that denomination to be stationed in Fremantle was the Rev. Joseph Johnston, or ”Father” Johnston as he was affectionately called, who held the pastorate for nearly 40 years and won the love and respect of all, irrespective of class or creed, with whom he came in contact. He died in 1892, but memories of his inestimable public offices and private virtues are still cherished by old residents.
The cemetery in Skinner Street was dedicated in 1852 and continued to be used until the opening of the present cemetery in 1899. The oldest tombstone in the Skinner Street cemetery was that of Lieutenant Edward Colvin Oakes of the 28th Bengal Infantry, who died on October 7, 1852. Hitchcock: 37, 39.
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