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Published September 17th 2015
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Notre Dame University has acquired many of the historic buildings in the West End precinct of Fremantle. Although many are no longer open to the public, every Friday at 11am Notre Dame offers free history tours of its Fremantle campus. This is a good opportunity to see inside the beautiful old buildings and discover what they were formerly used for.
The tour starts from the ground floor foyer of 19 Mouat Street, known as ND1 because it was the first building in Fremantle to be owned by Notre Dame. This building, built in 1887 for merchant William Sandover, is now the Vice Chancellery. Next door, the peaceful, paved Malloy Courtyard was formerly a warehouse. This is now a popular area for students to eat their lunch.
The area around Bateman Courtyard was the home of another prominent merchant, John Wesley Bateman. An old self raising flour mixer and custard making machinery found on site are displayed in the nearby Schools of Law and Medicine.
The old self raising flour mixer in the School of Law, Bateman Courtyard
The Tannock Hall of Education (on the corner of Cliff and Croke Streets) is one of the few new buildings owned by the university. It was built in 2010 on the site of the old Pier Hotel. Old artefacts found during construction are displayed in the foyer and a glass pane in the floor gives a glimpse of the old hotel's impressive limestone foundations.
Many of the old buildings now owned by Notre Dame were formerly banks or hotels. The facades of the buildings have been retained but inside they have undergone extensive renovations to suit the university's purposes. For example, the university's information technology services are located in a building dating from 1899 on the corner of High and Cliff Streets. This used to be the Bank of NSW and still has bars on the windows.
The former Bank of NSW, Fremantle
The School of Education is housed in the first hotel to be built in Fremantle, His Majesty's Hotel. This hotel was destroyed by fire in 1902, but was later restored and Notre Dame acquired it in 1990. Notably, it is one of the most haunted buildings in Western Australia.
The former His Majesty's Hotel in Fremantle is haunted
Two pubs that I remember frequenting before they became university property are the Fremantle Hotel and the P&O Hotel. The Fremantle Hotel (on the corner of High and Cliff Streets) was built in 1898 and had over a hundred guest rooms. It was purchased by Notre Dame in 2005 and now houses the School of Arts and Science, the School of Business and Fairweathers Bar, the staff drinking hole. The P&O (on the corner of High and Mouat Streets) is now a hall of residence with 45 student rooms upstairs and classrooms downstairs.
The former P&O Hotel, Fremantle
The Notre Dame tour visits many more of Fremantle's historic buildings and takes about an hour. There were only five people on my tour, but it's a good idea to call the university beforehand and book a place.