Friday, September 14, 2007

Freo Asylum

Yep, while I was in Freo I visited my father in the nut-house then I visited another nut-house just for the fun of it.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum. Started, finished and used in July 1865, finished up as a nut-house when the last of the nutters where transferred to the Claremont Hospital for the Mentally Ill.

Built by the same convicts who built and lived in Freo Prison. Local limestome used again, architecture style Victorian Tudor/Dutch Colonial (circa 1840 - circa 1890). Same as the old Fremantle Boys School below.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street FremantleFremantle Boys' School Adelaide Street Fremantle

Same architectural style, same convicts. Freo Boys is the one on the right.

It's on Adelaide Street in Freo, opposite the Catholic church, right in Freo.

Freo Boys was built in 1854 and finished up as a school in 1958, with the last of the students from there and the girls' school new door (Princess May) sent off to new John Curtin High School up the road. (John Curtin was named after Australia's wartime Prime Minister.)

Freo Boys was also requisitioned during the way, by the navy. Freo was felt to be under threat from the Japanese forces and the students of Freo Boys and Princess May were shipped off to schools in the suburbs.

Back to the Asylum

The first official nutters in Freo were ten convicts. They were shifted from the nick to Scot's Warehouse in November 1857. Can't get any info on Scot's Warehouse but ten bob says it was some old wreck of a building down near the harbour.

The Asylum was only used as a nut-house for 40 years. There was a couple of suspicious deaths in the Freo Asylum in the early 1900s and that seems to have been the catalyst for closing it down. A nice new building with a less forbidding name, the Claremont Hospital for the Mentally Ill, had been built in the suburbs and the nutters were all shifted there from 1905 to 1909.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle
Inner courtyard, Arts Centre half

1909 to the outbreak of WWII in 1939 the old Asylum was a homeless women's shelter. In the war it was the HQ of the American forces in Australia "during which time the majority of the complex fell into disrepair".

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle
Back of the Arts Centre, used as the logo of the Fremantle Arts Centre Press

After the war it was used for this, that and the other until it restoration started in 1970. Since then it's been housing the Fremantle Museum & Arts Centre. They've got half each, with the old cell and the haunty bits being mainly in the museum's half.

Haunty bits

Someone called Scotty puts it succinctly: the "Old Fremantle Asylum [is] reputably haunted as fuck."

Mainly it's the old cell and an upstairs passageway in the museum part and the big painting studio upstairs in the arts centre part.

You go up this endless fucking staircase to get to the painting studio. Haunted Australia tells us the staircase induces feelings of dread in some people and the ghosts are a former inmate bunged in there by her husband for no good reason and a former warder.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle

The passageway is the territory of the former inmate. She's supposed to have jumped out of an upstairs window and killed herself after her baby was taken away from her.

When I was a wee thing rumour had it there was a poltergeist who moved stuff about in the storage room next to the studio. On a primary school excursion to the museum we were allowed into the old cell. Predictably, the door shut of its own accord and one poor bugger wet his pants. (I swear it wasn't me!)

Freo Museum
WA Register of Heritage Places
Publicly available records on the Freo Lunatic Asylum

This morning was shit for photos and pretty ordinary for walkies. This afternoon is shaping up nicely. Nice bit of wind and the sky's clear at the moment. It's s'posed to blow a gale. I'll be out in it pretending me balcony is the prow of the Titanic.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that your photo's are bonza, I haven't noticed how loovely the 'Freo Asylum' looked from its many sides until now.

Spike said...

Thank yer.

Glad to share my love of it.

Kev said...

I attended Freo Boys in the early 50s.

My Freo Boys story is here:

Anonymous said...

Hey kev,
I am doing a research project at FTI (which was formally Freo Boys) for my documentary course on Freo Boys School. I was wondering if you would be able to give me any info and if I would be able to interview you about your experiences there. My email is if you could please email me in regards to this that would be awesome! Your help would be so much appreciated!! thanks Sarah Robinson

Rod Reeves said...

I was a first year high school pupil in 1962 and the Fremantle Boys School was reopened for one year, (1962), until we were transferred to our new high school(Hamilton Senior High) in 1963.