Long recognized for its fine heritage buildings, the cosmopolitan port city of Fremantle has special significance in Western Australian history. As first landfall to emigrating Swan River colonists, it heralded hopes for a new life after arduous months at sea. But for thousands of prisoners incarcerated in its Convict Establishment after 1850, the future was far grimmer. Convict Fremantle: A Place of Promise and Punishment guides the reader on a fascinating journey through nineteenth century Fremantle's developing face, viewed from the pivotal perspective of its dour, sprawling Victorian gaol. There are personal insights into the lives of both officials and the inmates - some of whose cramped cells, barely more than 5 cubic meters, confined them for 21 hours a day - and tales of desperate attempts to escape. The prison's architecture, its chapels - offering quiet solace for the despondent - the outbuildings, official residences and other significant colonial sites are brought to life in a wealth of detail.
Publication Date: 11/1/2004