Fremantle Stuff > Arthur Head > Whaling Complex

Whaling Complex

The Arthur Head Collection

The Arthur Head Collection was a project coordinated by the City of Fremantle with funding from a grant available from the Federal Government to celebrate the Bicentennial year in 1988 [resulting in] a huge collection of materials in various formats including documents, reports, photographs, maps, bibliographies etc. to help research the site. ... Pam Harris, Librarian, Fremantle History Centre. May 2018.

The Arthur Head Collection 1990 Report

The City Council in 1990 published a folder containing a summary of the research Pam Harris mentions above, consisting of a page about each of these buildings. This is one of them.



In 1837 the Fremantle Whaling Company, which had been established the previous year, began operations by capturing a whale off Carnac. Long before that American whalers were frequent visitors to those waters and reaped a rich harvest. The day of kerosene had not then dawned and the odoriferous whale-oil in the old-fashioned chimneyless and smoky lamps was the only illuminant except candles. In those days whales frequently came into Fremantle Harbour at certain periods of the year, and for many years whaling was a staple local industry. Probably the industry reached its zenith in the fifties and sixties. The rival crews then were those of John Bateman and Joshua J. Harwood, and when whales were sighted the boats of the two firms were manned immediately, while the townspeople congregated at various vantage points to watch the race for the prizes to be won. During the whaling season the natives came to Fremantle in hordes and feasted to satiety on the scraps after the oil had been boiled from the blubber.
The whalers' storehouses were cut out of the rocky cliffs south [north] of the tunnel, and there were their ranges of furnaces and try-pots. Their long, sharp boats were always kept ready for instant action with oars, harpoons, baskets of coiled line, lances and muffled rowlocks conveying an idea of the energy and activity of the whaling parties in their palm days.
In 1848 the Fremantle Whaling Company ceased operations and the assets were taken over by Patrick Marmion, who continued the business. (Hitchcock 1929: 25)

Garry Gillard | New: 25 May, 2018 | Now: 3 September, 2020