Fremantle Stuff > post offices
Photograph of a painting by Toby Leek, courtesy of the artist.
There have been at least seven Fremantle post offices, as set out below: in the wrecked ship Marquis of Anglesea, Mews' property in Henry Street, Alex Francisco's store on the NE corner of Mouat and High Streets, 'Marmion House' in South Terrace, the Commissariat on Marine Terrace and Cliff Street, the Cliff Street Post Office on the corner of Croke Street, and the present building in Market Street. There were also post office buildings in East Fremantle, North Fremantle, and Beaconsfield/South Fremantle (the same building).
Daniel Scott, 1829-1830
Lionel Samson, 1830-1833
John Bateman, 1833-1854
Mary Ann Bateman, 1854-55
Walter Bateman, 1855-61
Alexander Francisco, 1861-?
The first 'place' to function as a post office was the wreck of the ship Marquis of Anglesea (wrecked August 1829). The first postmaster, December 1829, was Deputy Harbourmaster Daniel Scott. He was replaced on an unpaid basis 9 May 1830 by Lionel Samson who continued in the position until February 1832 (Errington: 21). Ewers (1971: 21) has Samson's dates as May 1830-March 1833, when Bateman took over. John Bateman was appointed (paid) deputy-postmaster 18 March 1833 (Bott: 19). Hitchcock writes that Bateman was appointed postmaster 31 January 1835, as the 'town's first postmaster'. The 'first post office' (Hitchcock: 25) was at lot 59 Henry St (see below). When Bateman was unable to do the job in 1845, his wife Mary Ann took it over until he died, when in April 1855 their son Walter held the position until November 1861.
The first post office was conducted in Henry-street in a little vine-clad cottage at the rear of the offices now owned by Mr. James Mews, of Claremont. Some idea of the smallness of the business transacted may be gleaned from the fact that the address and date of receipt and delivery of every letter posted was recorded in a book. Imagine that being done nowadays! The next P.O. was in High-street, as before mentioned, whist the third was in the old Commissariat Buildings in Cliff-street; then a new one was built at the corner of Cliff and Croke-streets, and now houses the clerical staff of the Navy Department. Becoming too small for the port’s postal requirements, it gave place under Federation to the present handsome edifice in Market-street.
After mid-1830, the postal service was entrusted to a succession of local merchants and it was not until 1879 that a full-time post master was appointed to run the service from a residence in South Terrace which was later known as Marmion House.
By 1889, postal business had grown so rapidly that the Colonial Government provided the new two-storey Commissariat building on the corner of Cliff and Croke Streets to serve the expanding business and residential areas of Fremantle. wa.gov.au.
Post offices were not officially established until 1846. Prior to this, postal business had been conducted by merchants. [Ewers 1971: 21; Ewers doesn't say where a post office was established in 1846.]
The Marquis of Anglesea - the first 'post office' - in Jane Currie's watercolour. Photo of the interpretive plaque on Bathers Beach.
John Bateman, appointed postmaster 1835, bought town lot 59, now No. 7 Henry St (and half of the former Workers Club), at the end of 1829 or beginning of 1830. He moved from his Cantonment St house to one here in 1935. The various historians are not quite clear on Bateman's precise status. He may have been Deputy from 1833 and then Postmaster as such from 1835, when he moved into the west end of town.
The photograph shows Thomas Mews Jr outside what was Bateman's cottage at the back of Lot 59. RWAHS R5754. The Mews family, boatbuilders, bought both Lots 59 and 60 in 1870.
On January 31, 1835, John Bateman was appointed as the first postmaster at Fremantle. The first post office was in a little vine-clad cottage that stood well back from the street on lot 59 in Henry Street. Some idea of the smallness of the business transacted may be gleaned from the fact that the address and date of receipt and delivery of every letter posted was recorded in a book. Imagine that being done nowadays! (Hitchcock 1929: 24-25)
The photo of the Henry St post office used by Hitchcock in 1929
The central part of the building on the corner of Cliff St and Marine Terrace was built in 1852 as offices for the Convict Establishment, the Commisariat of which was next door, to the west (and is now known as the Shipwrecks Museum). The office building was used as a post office 1879-1890, and the slot for posting mail can still be seen on the left of the facade. (Hutchison 2006: 92)
Cliff St Post Office
On the right is the Cliff Street Post Office (opened 10.08.1889). Note the horse hitching rails and the notice boards for shipping news. On the corner of Croke Street is the Pier Hotel, with an advertisement for Port Brewery Ship brand Pale Ale. The hotel was opened in 1873 and demolished in 1955. (Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo no. 604, c. 1903)
The Cliff Street Post Office was opened in 1889 and was used until 1907 when the current Post Office in Market St came into service. It was demolished in 1967, and is now a carpark.
The Fremantle Post Office located in Market Street, Fremantle was designed by Hillson Beasley of the Public Works Department, planned in 1906 and opened in 1907. It was renovated during the Western Australian Centenary year of 1929, and again in 1987 for the America's Cup challenge. It continues to be used as the post office. Wikipedia.
East Fremantle Town Hall and Plympton Post Office
A four horse dray stands in Canning Highway in front of the Plympton Post Office (name changed to East Fremantle in 1899); which opened on 14.03.1898. The first Post Master, J. Adams, was appointed in March 1898.
Next to the left is the Police Station, Quarters and Lockup. The Fire Station was a shed next to the Police Station. In the centre is the East Fremantle Town Hall. The architect for this building was Joseph F. Allen and the foundation stone was laid by Sir John Forrest in 1899.
Photograph 707 from the Fremantle City Library Local History Photographic Collection. Date c. 1906. Text from the Library entry.
First North Fremantle Post Office, corner Victoria Avenue, John Street, 1893. Photograph courtesy of the Fremantle City Library Local History Collection # 137. Library's Note: photo by La Tosca [Izzy Orloff] c. 1925. Post Office, North Fremantle, corner Victoria Avenue and John Street. Completed 14.03.1893 at a cost of 1066 pounds six shillings and sixpence. Contractor: J.G. Harwood. Closed Saturday 16.04.1966 and demolished June 1966. There were no postal facilities in North Fremantle in March 1884. The Fremantle Municipal Council urged the W.A.G.R. [Railways] to place a letter box on the station platform, or to appoint a responsible person to conduct an agency post office. Nearest pillar box corner James and Cantonment Streets. Record number: 73407.
First North Fremantle Post Office, corner Victoria Avenue, John Street, 1893. Photograph courtesy of SLWA # 144694PD 17 March 1963, shortly before demolition in 1966.
Second North Fremantle Post Office, 1898, 211 Queen Victoria Street, near the corner with Tydeman Road. The post office is on the left. To the right are two terraced houses. The complex was built in 1898 as a police station, lockup and police quarters. The police station closed as such in 1969 and the building was then used as a post office. Thanks to Mingor.net for the photo and data.
Photograph June 1986 courtesy SLWA # 314132PD: ssecond North Fremantle Post Office and Police Station, now private residences, 213-217 Queen Victoria Street, North Fremantle.
Former Beaconsfield/South Fremantle Post Office 1904-1985, built 1896, 174 Hampton Rd. Photo thanks to Gordon, mingor.net.
South Fremantle Post Office, posted in Facebook 25 Jan 2016 by CoF; it's Fremantle Library's c. 1940 photo #4213, with this caption:
The Beaconsfield Post Office at 174 Hampton Road was built in 1896. It was renamed the South Fremantle Post and Telegraph Office on 1.04.1904 and continued to operate as a post office until June 1984. It was classified by the National Trust on 6.05.1985. In 1985 the building was used as an alternative school and in 1988 was converted into a medical clinic. Later it became residential. Note the telephone box in the front porch.
The Beaconsfield Post Office was built in 1896 by C Coghill at a cost of £1388/9/-. The architect was George Temple Poole. The name changed on 1.04.1904. Post Office service ceased mid June 1984. Fremantle Library 1896 photo #1410.
In the 2016 Google Maps snap the former PO has the business name Dorian (Engineering Consultants) on its front wall.
Bott, Bruce 2001, 'Some of John Bateman's houses in and around Fremantle', Fremantle Studies, 2: 17-35. [See also: John Bateman.]
Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle, UWAP.
Ewers, John K. 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].
Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.
Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks, Fremantle Arts Centre Press.
'Heritage listing for historic Fremantle Post Office', media statement, wa.gov.au
Garry Gillard | New: 22 January, 2015 | Now: 11 March, 2021