Fremantle Prison roof restored to former glory

Michael Burdon helps fit a new shingle roof to the Fremantle Prison. Photo: Bruce Hunt. d490309 communitypix.com.au.
Michael Burdon helps fit a new shingle roof to the Fremantle Prison. Photo: Bruce Hunt. d490309 communitypix.com.au.

FREMANTLE Prison has restored a wood shingled roof built by convicts.

Damage from a storm in July 2018 led prison staff to remove lead flashing from the roof by the clock tower, where they discovered the base of the roof was still shingles.

Fremantle Prison heritage conservation manager Luke Donegan said the roof in the main cell block was originally shingles but had been replaced by corrugated tin.

“Originally the whole prison was covered in shingles, but shingles don’t last a terribly long time and at one point I think they replaced it with slate,” he said.

“It was a great opportunity to re-shingle it so we can show what it originally looked like.

“The clock tower at the gate house is such an iconic central part of the prison because of its curved roof, it’s really special.”

Mr Donegan said it was the ideal outcome from a heritage perspectives to bring it back to it’s former glory.

“These will definitely last, I think they will have a life span of 20 to 30 years if we look after them,” he said.

“They won’t be hard to repair and to re-shingle when it’s necessary to do that.

“The shingles are designed to overlap so the water will always run down and won’t go through unless they are splitting and getting older.”

The heritage manager said he was excited to have contractors in Western Australia who were interested in heritage repairs.

“It’s a skill that used to be done and has been replaced with modern skills but there are people interested in those old skills,” he said.