Fremantle Stuff > places > Guildford Depot

Guildford Depot

The Convict Hiring Depot was along Meadow Street between Swan and Helena Streets. The only building still remaining is called the 'Old Colonial Gaol'.



[From Campbell 2017, 40-41: (Click/tap image for larger size. Note that I have broken it in two to be able to show it as above. Note also that Mangles Street is now called James Street.)]
The development of the Guildford Outstation was typical. In February 1852, Lieut DuCane set up headquarters of the ‘Convict Establishment—Eastern Districts’ at Guildford. Work began immediately on the erection of wooden buildings for a barracks and a warders cottage, the timber frames for these ‘portable’ buildings had been sent up the river from Fremantle. Wells were sunk, a temporary carpenters shop and blacksmiths forge were erected, bricks were being made, shingles split.
They began with 10-15 ticket-of-leave men supervised by 3 sappers. With the second influx of men in 1853, the numbers at Guildford peaked at 132 over an official capacity of 65. The new arrivals were not all ticket-of-leave men, so a security wall was hastily built around the depot. The best behaved ticket-of- leave men were sent out on road-making parties on the roads to Toodyay and York, to make space for the new convict arrivals. Fortunately, this overcrowding did not last for long (a saving grace was that a large number (640) of the early ticket-of-leave men became eligible for conditional pardons through 1853) and by mid 1854, the prisoners were gradually transferred back to Fremantle, and Guildford once again became a ticket-of-leave outstation. The road parties did invaluable service and the temporary camps that they set up were kept going whenever men were available. DuCane explained —

From Guildford to Perth and Fremantle the transport of produce is effected without any difficulty by boats on the river Swan, so that all these roads by facilitating and completing the communications between the most productive districts and the seaport, the seat also of the greatest consumption, are of the most material benefit to developing the resources of the colony, and as such the employment of ticket-of-leave men in making new ones and in improving and repairing the old has given the greatest satisfaction to the settlers.

By the time that DuCane left in 1855 the full development was strung out along Meadow Street, as shown in the plan above. Additions were made to the existing gaol; the superintendents quarters were built next door, followed by a ten-bed infirmary. A 9ft high wall surrounded the depot, comprised of a wooden barracks for 65 men, a brick warders cottage, an office and store, wash-house, cookhouse, and guardhouse. Across Mangles Street there were quarters for four sappers, a stable for eight horses, a tack room. a room for the groom, and a shed for four carts and 30 tons of hay. Then the commissariat store, office and quarters. The RE Officer in charge of the district had a brick house with an office, stable and servant's quarters attached. New workshops were built at the Helena Street end. At the northern end of  street. a major bridge across the Swan was practically complete. Across the river in West Guildford, four pensioners cottages were built and occupied, materials for another eight had been prepared.
Groups of buildings like these passed from Imperial to Colonial control as the Convict Establishment withdrew from the outstations after 1868. Typically, they were put straight back into use to accommodate local government. At Guildford. the gaol became the police station, the doctor moved into the superintendent’s house and the infirmary became the district hospital; warders and engineers quarters became official government residences; a school was set up in the barracks, the pensioner force took over the commissariat. Instant public building that the colony could still not afford to build. Finally a mechanics institute and a courthouse were built into the row to consolidate the new civic centre. (Campbell 2017: 40)

References and Links

Broomhall, Frank H. 1975, The Veterans: A History of the Enrolled Pensioner Force in Western Australia 1850-1880, Hesperian Press.

Campbell, Robin McKellar 2010, Building the Fremantle Convict Establishment, PhD, UWA (Faculty of Architecture). Available online to download (not from this site) as a 40MB PDF. See also the next entry.

Campbell, Rob 2017, Henderson & Coy: Royal Engineers & the Convict Establishment Fremantle, WA, 1850-1872, privately published.

Oldman, Diane, 'Convict Hiring Depots', on her Sappers and Miners website.

Gibbs, Martin 2001, 'The archaeology of the convict system in Western Australia', Australasian Historical Archaeology, 19.

Garry Gillard | New: 10 July, 2018 | Now: 15 November, 2019