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Fremantle Oval Grandstand, Fairbairn St, Fremantle, WA, Australia

Photographs View Photo Database Record
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (21/03/1978)
Place ID 10558
Place File No 5/12/010/0091
Statement of Significance
Fremantle Oval Grandstand, built in 1897, is significant for its association with recreation in Fremantle and demonstrates the role of local government in providing recreational facilities to increasingly sophisticated and demanding ratepayers, many of whom were migrants from the eastern States. Fremantle Oval Grandstand, used continuously for the purpose for which it was designed, has historic significance as one of a number of substantial civic/public structures built with public funds to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria (Criterion A.4) (Historic Theme: 8.1 Organising recreation). The Fremantle Oval Grandstand has a simple but strong geometric facade with a well defined and pleasing rhythm to the gables. While the design of the building has a strong horizontal element, the turreted towers and flag poles form a visual stop at each end. The flagpoles add a festive touch to the overall image. The grandstand has landmark status in Fremantle, creating a significant aesthetic focal point, terminating the vista of Parry Street and contributing to the historic character of the area (Criterion E.1). Fremantle Oval Grandstand, one of the few late nineteenth century grandstands still extant in Western Australia (WA), demonstrates the major characteristics of grandstands of the period (Criterion D.2). Fremantle Oval Grandstand has retained social significance for the local community for its continuous association with the Fremantle Cricket Club and both Fremantle Football Clubs, both major sporting institutions in the Fremantle community (Criterion G.1).
Official Values Not Available
Historic context:
The area now known as Fremantle Oval was originally known as Barrack's Green Field and, as it is below the Fremantle Gaol walls, was used as a parade ground for the pensioner forces quartered nearby. The Pensioner Guards came to WA to guard convicts and ticket of leave men. Mostly retired servicemen, the guards were an important part of the convict establishment and brought with them skills, some capital and a desire to establish a lifestyle for themselves and their families in WA such as they were unable to achieve in England. Although used mainly to guard the convicts, the pensioners could, if necessary, be used to protect citizens and their property. The Volunteer Defence Force, raised by C A Manning in 1861, organised manoeuvres and parades on Barracks Green and the volunteer bands provided entertainment. Development of Fremantle Oval was the initiative of two local sporting bodies, the Fremantle Football Club and the Fremantle Cricket Club. In 1888, under the leadership of A J Diamond, the two clubs took a deputation to the Fremantle Municipal Council requesting assistance in obtaining Barrack Green for a public recreation area. The Council later took a deputation to the new Premier seeking approval of a Crown grant, which although initially refused, was later approved in June 1894. The Fremantle Municipality had acquired the oval in order to provide recreational facilities for increasingly sophisticated and demanding ratepayers, many of whom were migrants from the eastern States. Fremantle Council made preparations for the opening of the football season by instigating improvements to the grounds.
In December 1896, Fremantle Council called for competitive designs for a grandstand to be constructed in two stages at Fremantle Oval. The Council named it the Victoria Pavilion, in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Funds of 1,500 pounds were made available by the State Government for the project. In January 1897 the contract was awarded to an architect, Mr F W Burwell, ahead of fourteen other applicants. The foundation stone for the grandstand was laid by His Excellency the Governor, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Gerald Smith, at a formal ceremony on 25 June 1897. Constructed by Blackman Brothers, under the supervision of Mr F W Burwell, the grandstand was opened by Sir John Forrest, Premier of WA on 6 November 1897. Lunch was provided for the guests of honour, in the dining room under the grandstand, by the Fremantle Council. At the time of construction the Fremantle Oval Grandstand was described in the Inquirer and Commercial News on 12 November 1897: '...the pavilion is a handsome structure and is erected in such a position that it commands a full view of the sports ground. It has a length of 185ft, a width of 48ft and seating accommodation for 1,200 persons'. Since its opening, activities undertaken at the oval and viewed from the grandstand have been diverse. They include military drills, cricket, football (both Australian rules and rugby league), cycling, hockey, croquet and agricultural events. Festive events, including the celebration of Federation, took place there. Anzac Day Services were also held there. Sporting facilities at the oval were continuously upgraded; a cycling track was established in 1898 and a track for trotting and cycling in 1923. Photographic records illustrate the history of the building: a 1900 photograph shows the rear red brick wall, with an iron roof; a 1905 photograph shows the timber balustrade situated at the bottom of the tiered timber seats and cast iron lace work in the gable ends. The rear brick wall extends to the roof line. In a 1910 photograph the rear brick wall has been removed, while all other features at the front of the grandstand remain the same. In a close up photograph, taken in 1927, the original decorative timber balustrade has been replaced by one of a simpler design. The rear brick wall, built to the height of the top timber seats, has new iron panels to the roof and the timber balustrade can be seen around the stairs at the south end of the tiered seats, which lead to the dining room below the grandstand. The grandstand was repainted in 1914 and 1947. At some point after 1949-50 the decorative timber supports to the columns were removed. These have not been replaced. In 1965 Parry Road was extended, the old turnstiles demolished and a new entrance built. In 1985-86 the grandstand was repainted and minor alterations took place. These included the demolition of unsympathetic additions to the northern and southern facades and the reinstatement and uncovering of original elements in the building. Original fabric was substantially intact and the work involved the removal of accretions with limited adjustments rather than full scale reconstructions. The grandstand has undergone a number of modifications and service upgrades to the area under the structure. In 1988-90 a National Estate Grants Program (NEGP) grant of $40,000 was spent on conservation work. The Fremantle Oval Grandstand has been home to the Fremantle Football Club since their inception. The Fremantle Football Club used the grandstand and was instrumental in the development of the oval and grandstand. Later on, the club was divided into the East Fremantle and South Fremantle Football Clubs. Both teams continued to train at the oval, use the grandstand facilities (divided into separate club rooms: north and south), hold their Saturday night dances and run their administration from the grandstand. Eventually the East Fremantle Football Club moved to other premises, but South Fremantle Football Club retains its association with Fremantle Oval Grandstand, with its administration and past players' rooms under the stand. The Fremantle Cricket Club has been continuously associated with the Fremantle Oval Grandstand since its construction. Cricket and football are both major sporting institutions in the Fremantle community. Fremantle Oval Grandstand is one of the few late nineteenth century grandstands still extant in WA. It has been entered in the WA Register of Heritage Places, is listed with the National Trust of Australia (WA) and the Local Government Authority.
Fremantle Oval Grandstand is located in the north-west corner of Fremantle Oval, close to Fairbairn Street. The grandstand is a tuck pointed brick superstructure with twin towers that is surmounted by an ogee turret roofed with ribbed metal sheeting. The unusual roof, comprising seven timber gables, each of which is enclosed with decorative cast iron fretwork, spans the width of the grandstand. Flagpoles are attached to each gable hip and turret top. Decorative timber balusters edge the front of the grandstand area. The grandstand has undergone modifications and maintenance to the area under the structure. The space originally occupied by the dining room now houses administrative offices, a first aid room, clubrooms, change rooms and storerooms.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The building remains in a sound condition. (1995)
Fremantle City Council has allocated $72,000 to undertake works recommended in the Conservation Plan including repairs to the roof, down pipes and ground drainage. In addition the Fremantle Football Club have a proposal for adaptation of currently vacant rooms under the pavilion seating. (1996)
Fairbairn Street, near Parry Street, Fremantle.
A Conservation Plan for Victoria Pavilion, January 1996.
D'Agostino, J, Mueller, S., Richardson, M, 1988,
Photographic records (City of Fremantle Local History Collection)

Report Produced  Sun Sep 21 17:45:59 2014