Fremantle Stuff > FHS > Fremantle Studies > 10 > Robin McKellar Campbell

The Prehistory of Conservation in Fremantle, Revisited

Robin McKellar Campbell

Campbell, Robin McK. 2019, 'The Prehistory of Conservation in Fremantle, Revisited', Fremantle Studies, 10: 31-44.

This paper has its origins in a talk given at Fremantle Heritage Week in 2010, introduced by Professor Bob Reece then as ‘The Prehistory of Conservation in Fremantle’. While my aim in 2010 was to correctly set out a chronology of events, I did not have the time or space to make more mention of the people who populated those events - at least where I have a personal recollection of their contribution. So, this update of the ‘prehistory’ is an attempt to cover that omission.

The first recorded conservation movement in Fremantle was in support of the Roundhouse and Arthur Head. Built in 1830, it was threatened with demolition in 1873, and again in 1922 and 1929. The move for its conservation came from a variety of individuals and groups including:

• The Harbour Master, whose home in the old courthouse sheltered in the lee of the Roundhouse, a convenient ‘breakwind’ he called it

• Dr Battye, Director of the WA Museum and Chair of a Centennial Committee

• The Fremantle City Council

• The Rotary Club

• The Royal Western Australian Historical Society

• The Shiplovers Society

• and a good cross-section of interested citizens.

World War II interrupted the process in 1939 and 35 years later (in 1974) the same people were still at it. Added to the good guys this time around were the National Trust and the Institute of Architects. 1

page 32

Next came the Lunatic Asylum. The history of this event dates from 1958 when a group of people joined together in the single aim of saving the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum from demolition at a time when the last of a series of ‘temporary' users was moving out. That group was led by Sir Frederick Samson, the Mayor of Fremantle, supported by council officers Town Clerk Noel McCombe, City Engineer Ken Bott and Architect Ray Jones; with, amongst others, Marshall Clifton, National Trust of Western Australia (NTWA) and President Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAJA); George Seddon, geologist, historian and urban geographer etc., and Ray and John Oldham, journalist and landscape architects. 2

At the same time, the City Council was involved in a commercial development push to establish a new shopping precinct in town which came to fruition as Westgate in 1965. Marshalling department stores Bairds and Coles (later Target and Spotlight) together with about fifteen other independent property owners was a mammoth task (like herding cats) and Town Clerk Noel McCombe was again prominent in this Council endeavour, successfully balancing the briefs of conservation and development.

Noel McCombe was a strong bulldog of a man who often brought with him to work his associate - a large boxer dog named Buster - who sat bolt upright in the front seat of the car. On the way home on Fridays it was said to be difficult to be certain who was actually driving, Noel or Buster.

It took ten years, but the Save the Asylum group finally achieved their objective when the State Government agreed to vest the buildings in the City of Fremantle for the purpose of converting them for use as a Museum and Arts Centre. The Director of the Western Australian Museum, Dr Ride, was a strong supporter of the plan with a voice within government. Museum display manager Geoff Shaw and historian David Hutchison were assigned to work with the project architect Rob Campbell on planning the Fremantle Museum; the Fremantle City Council later added John Birch to the team as the Arts Centre end of the buildings got going. 3

The Main Roads Department (MRD) was not happy with the restoration project, as it got in the way of their planned extension of Marmion Street. At first they were planning to go straight ahead from East Street through John Curtin School grounds and the Asylum. Their second guess was down Finnerty Street with a truncated intersection at Ord Street cutting across the bows of the historic building.

The Leisure Centre was underway at the time, to be built in what had been the gardens of the Asylum but now cut off by the new road - Ord Street. I suggested that the boundary wall of the old Asylum gardens

page 33

and the remains of the handball court be kept for historical interest and as a windbreak to the swimming pool. This was my first confrontation in a conservation argument and I was surprised at the strength of the opposition. I was patronised by a few: ‘God Campbell, why would anyone in his right mind want to keep that old pile of rubble’, but stridently abused by the swimming club promoters (led by Freo identity Howard Porter Jr) who objected to being told how to manage their town by newcomers. Tar and feathers were at the ready. Instead of a romantic old stone wall, they got a link-mesh fence around their pool.

Research into the feasibility and cost of restoration of the Asylum continued through 1968 and at the same time I was in contact with Deputy Town Clerk Murray Edmonds who was on sabbatical leave in England. He talked about the conservation work going on around him at that time and its relevance to Fremantle. He wrote:

The point I want to make is simply that we cannot honour our past - as we most certainly must - by simply taking one building in isolation from its environment, and in effect perpetuating not stirring monuments, but some sort of freaks. I think the Barracks Arch falls into this latter group ... Is it completely crazy to suggest that the FCC, with the State Government, the National Trust etc. zone a sizeable lump of this real estate, a street or two or a block or two, to be retained in perpetuity as an historic centre? 4

In reply I ran on at length about the historic and architectural cohesion of the ‘Fish and Ships’ end of town, not only was it largely intact, albeit neglected, but it was about to be cut off from the rest of the town by a six-lane highway along Henry Street, which made it an isolated enclave and a potential conservation area.

Murray Ernest John Edmonds, born on 19 December 1934 in South Australia, moved from there to take up the job of Town Clerk at Kojonup in 1962. He was appointed Assistant Town Clerk at Fremantle in 1966. 5

Murray Edmonds’ first move on coming to Fremantle in 1969 was to set up a study group of City Engineer Ken Bott, Building Surveyor Eric Morriss, Librarian John Birch and myself, architect Rob Campbell. The City Council gave approval for this move in April 1969. An interim report from the group, Fremantle Preservation and Change, outlined a conservation policy for Fremantle that was adopted in principle by Council in November that year.

Firstly, the policy increased the number of significant places listed in the City to 30, up from the five that were classified by the National Trust.

Secondly, it drew attention to the 'Fremantle Identity', the special sense of place that the locals knew about - but found difficult to define. (We

page 34

were talking then about what is now known as the intangible values of the place).

Thirdly, was the need to consider not just individual items but also what was euphemistically labeled ‘environmental preservation'.

And fourthly, it recommended that the conservation policy be introduced into the Town Planning Scheme which was also implemented later that year. This was the first Municipal Inventory in Australia, a term that was unveiled twenty years later by the Heritage Council of Western Australia.

Prescient policy statements from that time which I think are worth repeating 45 years on.

From Fremantle Preservation & Change:

There is much in our cities that needs to be changed, and there is no reason why preservation should prevent desirable change. But changes which destroy something good are only desirable if they produce something which is clearly better. 6

And from Changing Fremantle:

We have been told by informed and impressively qualified people from outside Fremantle that our city is unique, that it has a remarkable and intensely valuable character and atmosphere that give it a special sense of place. We readily agree, because we who work and live here already know all these things. Yet we are doing nothing to safeguard it ... no efforts to protect it, and none to positively enhance it. As a result we are sitting back and presiding over the certain destruction of this unique place. And the crudest absurdity is that we are doing it in the name of that great sacred cow - PROGRESS. Progress is (thought to be) mindlessly, aimlessly good for Fremantle. Learning nothing from the bitter experience of other cities (and previous generations of this one), we plunge blindly along the same path they followed before us and will inexorably reach the same dismal destination, a dehumanised collection of concrete anonymities. The basic credo is that dollars make us happy. It is a simple creed which helps make it popular. We don’t have to think, it allows us to welcome with gratitude, from a kneeling position, the proposals of any and every developer who condescends to bestow his favours upon Fremantle. How could we possibly say no? There is a dollar involved. 7

While Eric Morriss and Ken Bott were not carried away, their endorsement of statements such as these was invaluable in helping to convince the doubters. They were both straight professionals who were highly regarded in Council and the community generally. Eric Morriss was concerned about maintenance of old buildings. Ken Bott, also President of the RAC, was concerned for the effects on roads and traffic. I was fortunate in that I had some prior knowledge of conservation and townscape issues and some professional language with which to express them. Urban design was

page 35

not yet a subject of general discussion for architects in Australia. Murray Edmonds, inspired by his recent experience in Europe, provided the sparks in the discussions, while John Birch, with a background in history and literature, would steer and steady the ship.

The approach was carefully designed by Murray Edmonds and John Birch to introduce these conservative ideas into a generally pro-development council. The process was dubbed ‘formication', (genus formica = ants, particularly white ants: the process is more generally known as white-anting) which worked to the extent that it got enough numbers on Council to get the conservation idea adopted as a matter of civic pride. Notable converts were two tough, but proud, lady councillors - Sadie Stone and Esme Fletcher.

John Birch, born 1912, from Taunton, Somerset, served with the RAF through WWII, (appropriately in Intelligence), and was appointed Fremantle City Librarian in 1958. The library was then housed in the Evan Davies Building, the former Mechanics Institute, now the Dome coffee shop. Upstairs in that building was the home of Harbour Theatre, of which John Birch was a mainstay (first production 1964). John was eventually appointed Director of Cultural Activities (DCA) in 1971. As well as enjoying ‘formication' jokes, he was in the habit of issuing memos like - ‘DCA to CA'. At the time, he was having trouble with another architect's obscure submission on social housing: ‘DCA to CA - Daniel 5:16 refers'. I eventually found the passage - ‘And I have heard of thee that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof thou shalt be clothed in scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shall be the third ruler of the Kingdom'. 8

A significant addition to Council staff at this time was Iain Heughes. A sandy-haired, pink-cheeked Pom, originally from Ecclefechan (all of which caused some amusement in Fremantle), he was recruited by Murray Edmonds from Kew Gardens and was instrumental in planning and implementing some of the landscape improvements that became another arm of the conservation movement in Fremantle.

The construction of a new TAB gave everyone an idea of what a redeveloped High Street might look like and the effects of widening Henry Street began to sink in. Murray Edmonds and Town Clerk Stan Parks took up the challenge of beating off the State Government Planning and Main Roads Departments on the road-widening issues. One of the torpedoes that they fired off was armed by the discovery early in their discussions that although Fremantle had been living with the road-widening ordinances for

page 36

many years, the original assumptions on which the strategy had been based (port, rail, and Perth connections) had all changed. Edmonds, in later years as an independent consultant to local government, used Henry Street as an example of the planning maxim - never implement a strategy before reviewing the assumptions on which it is based. Stan Parks here began to display his skill as a negotiator based on a life-time love and understanding of all things Fremantle.

Stanley Walter Parks was born in North Fremantle in 1925, attended primary school there through the depression years, and then went to Freo Boys. His first job in 1941 was at the Fremantle Prison as a junior clerk. He joined the navy at seventeen and served with distinction through WWII. After the war he worked for the North Fremantle Council and became its Town Clerk in 1953. Stan and North Fremantle were absorbed into Fremantle City in 1961 where he succeeded Noel McCombe as Town Clerk in 1966. 9

Within Council in the early 1970s there was still opposition to the conservation idea and any number of split votes, (i.e. nine-all + Mayor). The Museum and Arts Centre project was well underway and people once again raised concerns about the condition of the Roundhouse. Another report from the preservation group, Changing Fremantle, added more substance to the debate in 1972. As a footnote to his European experience, Murray Edmonds observed that even if we succeeded in saving the built environment of Fremantle, a likely corollary would be its gentrification by a wave of new arrivals. No-one paid much heed to this advice at the time. The gentrification process was in fact well underway in Fremantle by then. It had begun between the wars with a sprinkling of European immigrants settling into the suburbs south and north. This was added to after WWII by a second wave from southern Europe who moved into town and into the fishing industry. Their impact on the town was slight, but noticeable. The Esplanade became a place for drying and repairing fishing nets, new foods appeared in corner delicatessens, and at the two restaurants Roma and Capri. There were architectural embellishments added to old housing stock. A concrete porch with mosaic tile trim was a favourite.

By 1973 another wave of immigration was under way. Not artisans from overseas this time but a younger well-educated set from the inner suburbs of Perth, to take advantage of the re-discovered ambience of Fremantle and also the depressed housing market as the fisher-folk moved up to higher ground. An early sign of the emergence of this wave was the formation of a Fremantle Society. Born out of the commendable motive of conserving Fremantle, the Society quickly moved to a typical gentry position of ‘let us

page 37

tell you what a significant place this is and how to look after it'.

The old Establishment reacted negatively and the conservation movement was split and polarised. To be seen talking to Fremantle Society warrior, Les Lauder, was to ensure defeat at the next Council debate and vote. Murray Edmonds talked of the need for a cloak, dark glasses and false moustaches. 10 A significant number of these new arrivals did however settle in and sink roots. John Birch had previously characterised the community as having real, not plastic, roots, and those who chose to, did find a place in the existing social and cultural institutions of the City without changing it too much.

Perhaps the vintage years of this prehistoric period were 1974 and 1975. After completion of the Lunatic Asylum/Museum and Arts Centre project in 1972, the Roundhouse became the demonstration project. This time, with the support of the incumbent Harbourmaster Jack Adams, the Fremantle Port Authority and Western Australian Government Railways agreed to allow public access to the Roundhouse and to assist in its restoration. The priority was to free it from the web of land acquisitions and subdivisions that still cut it off from the City. It was just visible behind the fences, but there was no access and the important townscape qualities, designed into the town plan by John Septimus Roe and Henry Willey Reveley in 1832, were lost. Again after lengthy debate, some pushing and shoving, the Fremantle City Council managed to turn that situation around.

The Port Authority agreed to move out.

Lands Department agreed to consolidate the site to an A-Class Reserve to be vested in the FCC.

Westrail agreed that they could dual gauge their lines to allow an access path and a level crossing at the base of the steps.

The Kalgoorlie School of Mines agreed to consolidate the tunnel as a student project.

Council undertook the repair of the steps for safe public access, and then to work on the building itself.

Next it was the Fire Station. As the old horse and cart fire station proved to be still in the correct geographic location, the Fire Brigades Board (FBB) took the straight ahead line of demolition and redevelopment. Murray Edmonds moved heaven and earth, and also a railway line, to create a new site next door, which was finally accepted by the FBB and the old building saved - to continue to make its contribution to the Phillimore Street streetscape. But not without a torrent of abuse from petty bureaucrats not

page 38

accustomed to having to deal with a Town Council now actively pursuing a conservation line.

All of this was a first for local government in Australia, and while there was still not much action in the conservation movement on the State front, the Commonwealth Government had begun to pay attention. They set up the Hope Committee, the forerunner to the Australian Heritage Commission. They were immediately impressed with what was happening in Fremantle and advised the Australian Government that Fremantle should be supported in its efforts to upgrade its city planning with a focus on conserving its history and heritage. This resulted in the study Fremantle Guidelines for Development [note 11] in 1974, where, with submissions from a range of interested parties on a range of issues, the significance of the urban fabric and townscape was set out and accepted. Visiting urban planner, Richard Grey of Sir William Holford and Partners of London, made a strong contribution based on the firm’s long experience of British colonial architecture and planning.

There was also a wide range of local input. The Fremantle Society, just in existence, was invited to make a submission, but missed the opportunity - determined instead to supplant the existing systems of identification and listing of buildings of heritage significance. They were upstaged by the National Trust who expanded their classified list from five to 107, their list and maps were published as an appendix to the Fremantle Guidelines for Development Report.

The year 1975 began with another landmark project in the Fremantle Markets. The general belief was that the building was beyond any viable use. However, some councillors and staff had seen a new kind of market take off in other places and argued that a recycling operation was worth a try. Architectural advice was sought on the feasibility and cost of restoration. City Manager Stan Parks invited expressions of interest in a lease of the premises. Everyone was delighted to receive a positive response from Donaldson Murdoch Developments (DMD). The arithmetic made some sense. Stage one was begun with re-servicing the building and a structural analysis to make sure that it could be brought up to contemporary standards of public health and safety. Structural consolidation followed, and with conservative councillors insisting that spending be limited exactly to income, work was staged to a carefully constructed list of priorities. (In current jargon, a Conservation Policy). All very sensible in uncertain circumstances. The policy was right, but the initiative was lost by its initial success and the commercial tail wound up wagging the conservation dog, that is, DMD were able to persuade FCC to spend on visual attractions

page 39

rather than following the fundamentals of structural consolidation set in the Conservation Policy.

Reconstruction of the verandahs was pushed up the priority list creating some difficulties. Motor vehicles, (replacing horse and cart traffic) had wreaked havoc with kerbside verandah posts in Perth and Fremantle which resulted in local government regulations requiring street awnings to be cantilevered or suspended off the front wall of buildings. Conservation ran into conflict with public safety and there was no hope of immediate change to the regulations. With the co-operation of Building Surveyor Eric Morriss and Structural Engineers Bruechle Gilchrist & Evans, a compromise was reached at the Markets that allowed the accidental removal of two posts in the row without the collapse of the whole structure. Some years later this model was put to the test and passed.

Further along South Terrace the proprietor of an Italian bistro made a case for footpath dining. Another raft of regulations prevented this pleasure on the grounds that it was not good for us to share our food with flies, fumes, and pigeons. Council Health Surveyor, Vern Nowland, agreed that this was an archaic point of view and took on an argument with the State Health Department - with the result that we now have Cappuccino Strip.

In addition 1975 saw the beginning of the end of the working life of the Fremantle Prison. The state government were thinking along the lines of capitalising on the site to help pay for a new one. Once again, the City Council thought otherwise, and began a campaign to maintain the connection with the Fremantle Convict Establishment as an important component of the heritage of Fremantle. With the support of the Commonwealth they produced The Fremantle Prison: A Report on its Past, Present and Future. 12 The brief was to provide a more solid base for the debate:

What of the fabric was significant?

What was its connection with the City?

What could it be used for?

How much would it cost to restore and maintain?

Based on UNESCO and Venice Charter guidelines, the Report was a precursor to the modern-day structure of a Conservation Plan. The Australian Burra Charter had not yet been invented.

In 1978 the FCC produced another first in the ‘Townscape Advisory Committee’. We were now able to talk openly about townscape, limestone walls and landmarks, and first again, this was about involving the broader community. The Committee was comprised of the Mayor, two councillors Les Lauder and Clarrie Glossop, the City Building Surveyor and the City Planner, nominees of the Royal Australian Planning Institute (RAPI)

page 40

and (RAIA). Wine merchant Murray Quartermaine, estate agent Morris West, and film-maker Paul Barron were three community representatives selected from a raft of local applicants.

It was a monument to community consultation. Many of its recommendations are still in use, including: Identifying place markers such as the Roundhouse, the Proclamation Tree, the Town Hall Tower; providing sponsored advisory services for things like signs, paint materials and colours; and Iain Heughes involved in careful architectural tree planting - e.g. plane trees at the Arts Centre and Phillimore Place, versus the well-intentioned, but hopeless mess of trees we now have in Adelaide Street or Kings Square.

Towards the end of the 1970s the first flush of conservation in Fremantle began to fade. Murray Edmonds had left in 1975 to take up the position of Town Clerk at the City of Unley in South Australia; John Birch left us - permanently - in 1976. The leadership and respect that FCC had won in the conservation industry was dissipated in a welter of political power games among yet another new wave of gentry. A member of the ‘new’ labour club was parachuted into the Fremantle Federal electorate and a couple more were elected to Council on their way up to state parliament. While Fremantle had always been a labour town, these new labour gentry were attracted to it primarily to enjoy the benefits of a now favoured address. Council became increasingly politicised, but more important, so did the staff.

There were tussles in-house, mostly focused on Council’s Town Planning Department. The Department was meant to operate through a Building and Planning Committee managed by the long-term Building Surveyor, Eric Morriss. That committee ran out of control in the early 1980s. Unable to manage the chaos, Eric Morriss resigned in quiet protest. A registered builder, professionally straight and balanced, he left a huge unfilled hole in the administration.

Stan Parks, widely acknowledged by now as the state’s leading City Manager, tried to steady the ship by presiding at Building and Planning meetings himself to maintain order, but even that failed. He resigned a month after Eric Morriss, in September 1982. 13 In October, I advised Council that I had no wish to be absorbed into the Town Planning Dept as was threatened, nor could I accept directions from the newly created Director of Planning. The revolution continued, as Theodore Dalrymple described it in another place ‘The revolution of the ambitious but ungifted, of whom there is a gross over-supply'. The blood-letting continued. In Jack Aubrey terms, the butcher’s bill (of departing officers) quickly ran up to a dozen. 14

page 41

The penultimate problem of the prehistoric period emerged (or re-emerged) in 1983 in the shape of Parry Street. To overcome the missing link of the Henry Street freeway, traffic planners had toyed with the idea that a shortcut further east of centre might suffice. This had been discussed in the Fremantle Guidelines for Development in 1974, but the idea did not proceed any further at that stage. It was revived by the Fremantle City Council Town Planning Dept as a demonstration project, but without offering compelling reasons for its need at that time. The Murray Edmonds/Stan Parks advice to re-visit basic assumptions before implementing policy was forgotten or ignored. Nevertheless, a group of councillors decided to back it - when asked the pointed question, one councillor offered - ‘the Director of Planning thinks it’s a good idea’. Without an update of professional advice or public consultation, an acrimonious and ill-informed debate ensued.

Much to the surprise of the pro-road forces, the general public took up the issue. At the forefront of the nay-sayers was a group of local architects who joined a citizens’ committee and had the support of their professional institute and two universities. They lobbied and received popular support (a 1500 signature petition), but were then written off by the road gang as ‘Ratbags’ in a classic case of kill the messenger. 15 This citizens’ committee finally cleared their names in a meeting with the Australian Heritage Commission who were in WA at the time. The Heritage Commission were entertained to lunch by the Fremantle City Council, where Commission Councillor, Joan Domicielj, in conversation with me, loudly proclaimed ‘they are not ratbags, they are concerned citizens’. Unfortunately, the Mayor did not listen, repeating the ratbag tag, presumably on instructions, as this sort of rudeness was not his normal manner. Later, the Mayor was forced into an apology to the Institute of Architects, in which I was excused the bucketing that the others had received on the grounds that ‘he is more of a conservationist than an architect’. Oh dear! Sadly, that incident was the beginning of the end of Mayor Bill MacKenzie’s credibility and the road went ahead anyway. Later both Stan Parks and Bill MacKenzie were found jobs in Burke Labour government departments in Perth.

I have chosen the advent of the America s Cup as the closing event of the prehistory of conservation in Fremantle. To support my choice, I refer to all of those yachties, tourism tourists, and pollies who have chosen to believe that there was no life BC - that is, before the cup. For me, it was a T-shirt that asked What Cup? as I charted the cycle from Arthur Head 1926, to 1974, to 1984, hopeful that I was watching the end of the beginning - not the beginning of the end. David Hutchison wrote at the time ‘Whither Fremantle' or is it ‘Wither Fremantle‘? 16

page 42

It started with an invasion by members of the yacht club and the Department ofTourism who could not believe Fremantle would simply not roll over and accept everything they demanded. At one of the first meetings I attended one councillor had the temerity to demand visitors turn off their tape recorders which had been aggressively displayed to collect evidence of recalcitrance. The Mayor in the chair would not proceed until they did. A stunned and slow withdrawal followed. The moot point was a new marina to be tacked on to the Fishing Boat Harbour. One of the first proposals was simply to swallow up Bathers Bay with a groyne running from the Fishing Boat Harbour to South Mole with service buildings to be built on the beach in front of the Roundhouse. This was rejected out of hand. On 3 May 1984 Council finally agreed. If we have to have a marina at the northern end of the fishing harbour then it must be constructed: 1) south of the line, and clear of the old Long Jetty; 2) not encroaching over the line of sight from the Roundhouse to the southern end of Garden Island; and 3) with the landward end not encroaching onto the southern end of Bathers Beach.

My drawings, on which these conditions were based, were on display and were shredded and left in tatters after being physically attacked by irate yachtsmen and their engineers. With a host of other conditions regarding traffic, public access etc, a marina was finally approved but support among councillors was still far from unanimous.

And then we lost the cup anyway. That was not the last, but probably the strongest wave of gentrification that Fremantle has endured. David Hutchinson’s article, ‘Whither Fremantle', referred to some kitsch and a cultural cringe that came with an influx of yuppies replacing some of the established heritage trendies. He also noted a shift away from maritime industries to pleasure boating, and an immediate improvement in pubs and restaurants. But the actual number of visitors did not get anywhere near the numbers that had been predicted, and as the event was not going to be repeated, the pressure was immediately relieved.

So now, where are the Council Officers? Parks, Edmonds, Birch, Heughes, Morriss, Bott et al.? And now, where are the historians? We need them to remind us, as each new wave of gentrification passes through, that we have been there before and should avoid, not repeat, the errors of the past. Right now it is Arthur Head - again, and King’s Square - again. And the West End - death by a thousand cuts.

And where are the architects? Just at the moment we are drowning in a sea of verbiage issuing from ICOMOS and UNESCO under banners such as ‘Cities as Cultural Landscapes’, ‘Managing Historic Cities’ and ‘Historic Urban Landscapes’. These titles cover the concept of trying to link tangible

page 43

and intangible heritage components and to assess and understand the town or urban area as a cultural process rather than just a group of objects. Perhaps best summed up by Canadian architect Julian Smith -

It is useful to think of a cultural landscape as ideas embedded in a place and to consider the recording of cultural landscapes as an exercise in cognitive mapping. The challenge in this approach is that a cultural landscape cannot be observed, it must be experienced ... Historic Urban Landscapes are then urban landscapes that have achieved equilibrium, usually over a long period of time and have gained value because equilibrium is difficult to achieve and difficult to sustain. They provide for the community involved, a sense of identity and a sense of place. 17

Back to the basics.

And the buzzword in historic cities around the world this year is not Sustainability. That is fine if you want to save the planet, but if your aim is to ensure the continuity of the city, the word is Resilience. Fremantle has it, lots of it, but why do we have to keep on testing its reserves?

Fremantle Studies Day, 2015

Robin McK. Campbell died in May 2017, before this paper was finalised, therefore some editorial assistance was provided by his long-time colleague Ingrid Van Bremen.


1       R McK Campbell, Roundhouse Report, 1974.

2       R McK Campbell, Fremantle Museum and Arts Centre Conservation Plan, 1999.

3       Ibid.

4       Telephone communication with Deputy Town Clerk Murray Edmonds and letters to R McK Campbell.

5       Unley Arts Council 75-76: Adelaide Festival.

6       R McK Campbell, et al., Fremantle Preservation & Change, Fremantle City Council, 1971.

7       R McK Campbell et al, Changing Fremantle, 1973.

8       Daniel 5:16, Holy Bible, King James Version.

9       Stan Parks, interviewed by Erica Harvey, August 1993, Fremantle City Library OH/PAR.

10      Murray Edmonds, interviewed by Larraine Stevens, July 1993, Fremantle City Library OH/EDM.

11      Maunsell, R McK Campbell, Fremantle Guidelines for Development, for Fremantle City Council and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, 1974.

page 44

12      R McK Campbell, The Fremantle Prison: A Report on its Past, Present and Future, FCC & DURD 1975.

13     Resigned 23/9/1982 departed Feb 1983. Stan Parks, interviewed by Erica Harvey August 1993, Fremantle Council Library OH/PAR.

14      Jack Aubrey is a fictional character in the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brian.

15      Refer to: Fremantle Gazette 20/6/84, 30/5/84, 29/5/84, 19/10/84; West Australian 5/7/84,6/7/84, 7/6/84,2/6/84; inter alia.

16      Hutchison David, 1987, ‘ Whither Fremantle’ Heritage Australia, 6, 2.

17      Julian Smith, ‘Civic Engagement Tools for Urban Conservation’, chapter nine in Reconnecting the City: The Historic Urban Landscape Approach and the Future of Urban Heritage edited by F Bandarin and R van Oers, Chichester, Wiley, 2015.

Garry Gillard | New: 4 December, 2019 | Now: 12 June, 2022