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Warders' Cottages, Fremantle (1851 - 1858)

Photo of display Warders Cottage from the street Photo of covered backyard alfresco area in display Warders Cottage Photo of back of display cottage from yard Photo of Warders display cottage, view from back verandah into cottage Photo of upstairs verandah taken in the evening Photo off furnished living room in display Warders Cottage Photo of dining room of display Warders Cottage Panorama photo of display cottage downstairs bathroom cum laundry Photo of kitchen in display Warders Cottage Photo of kitchen of display cottage with Smeg appliances Photo of orginal internal staircase in display Warders Cottage Photo of office hub in Warders' display cottage Photo of upstairs bathroom with original fireplace in display Warders Cottage Photo of  upstairs master bedroom in display Warders Cottage

Warders’ Cottages

Captain Edmund Henderson, Comptroller of Convicts, arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1850 to assume charge of Fremantle Prison (Convict Establishment), only to find there was no accommodation for the prison warders and their families.

The three terraces of Warders’ Cottages were built between 1851 and 1858. Each terrace comprised six cottages, which accommodated two families per cottage – one upstairs and one downstairs.

The Warders’ Cottages are rare as one of the State’s earliest examples of terrace housing, purpose-built to accommodate public servants. The cottages are associated with the development of the convict establishment, and together with the Fremantle Court House and Police Station, form the western boundary of the original prison precinct.

From the time the cottages were built, until 1991 when Fremantle Prison closed, the cottages housed prison officers and their families.

For the following two decades, the cottages were used as public housing until finally becoming vacant in 2011.

The Heritage Works Revolving Fund started conservation works in 2015.

Internal paint

The internal walls were suffering from rising damp and salt efflorescence caused by layers of acrylic-based paint which prevent the limestone from breathing.

As part of the conservation works, the acrylic paint was stripped from these walls, but it left a dark patina on the original plasterwork. Traditional limewash was not thick enough to cover up this mottled texture.

To overcome this, an odourless paint made from natural clay was used. The paint provides a matt finish which allows it to look like traditional plaster, while allowing the walls to breathe as a traditional limewash would. 

Noise reduction

In order to mitigate the intrusion of external noise, acoustic sash windows were installed behind the original windows facing Henderson Street. The new sash windows match the existing ones in profile and colour, and are fully operational, meaning that both the old and new windows can still be opened.


The walls of the Warders’ Cottages were built out of solid limestone blocks, approximately 400-500mm thick. As such, there were no wall cavities in which to run new plumbing supplies into the various wet areas. 

Instead, the plumbing waste and drainage is hidden behind a fixed cabinetry bench in front of the limestone walls and service both sinks and WCs.  Access panels were then fitted to the sides of the benches to allow for easy future maintenance if required.


As the internal walls of the cottages have significant heritage value, it was not appropriate to chase new lines in which to lay the required electrical conduits to services appliances and light fittings. New electrical supply is provided via wall-mounted conduits, which are then painted to match the wall colour.

This allows for easy future access and maintenance to the electrical supply, and has helped retain the integrity of the limestone walls.

Read more about the Warders' Cottages by downloading the Register Entry and Assessment Documentation.

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