Friday, November 4, 2011

Fremantle Prison

Freemantle Prison is a major tourist attraction being the only World Heritage listed building in Perth. It was closed as a prison in 1991 and remains more or less as it was then. It was built by convict labour between 1852 and 1859 from limestone quarried on site. By the time transportation ceased in 1868, just over 9,700 convicts had been transported to Western Australia.

Our guide was a Dublin man and we were shown cells as they had been fitted out for the convicts and later prisoners. In the 1960s bunk beds were installed and two inmates had to share each cell - no air conditioning. Below the convict cell with hammock bed. We saw the kitchens and the church and ended with a visit to the room where the hangings took place.

Meath born Fenian, editor, convict and writer, John Boyle O'Reilly, was transported in 1868 and imprisoned in Fremantle prison, escaped and organised the rescue of other fenians from Fremantle in 187 6 - the Catalpa rescue. The story is on the prison website here and here.

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