The Round House, Fremantle, Australia

The Round House, Fremantle, Australia

The Round House is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia. It is located at Arthur Head in Fremantle, and recent heritage assessments and appraisals of the precinct of the Round House incorporate Arthur Head.

It was built in 1830, and designed by Henry Willey Reveley it was the first permanent building in the Swan River Colony.

Intended as a prison, it had eight cells and a jailer’s residence, all of which opened onto a central courtyard. The design was based on the Panopticon, a type of prison designed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

It was used for colonial and indigenous prisoners until 1886, when control of the Convict Establishment prison (now Fremantle Prison) was transferred to the colony. After that, the smaller Round House was used as a police lockup until 1900, when it became the living quarters for the chief constable and his family.

The Round House had a plaque placed by the Royal Western Australian Historical Society as part of commemorating historical sites in the Western Australia Centenary year of 1929.

The Fremantle City Council took over responsibility for the Round House in 1982, and it was opened to the public shortly afterwards. Currently it opens to the public seven days a week. Entry is by gold coin donation.

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