Richmond and Bicton

Formerly Richmond and now known as East Fremantle , the area saw The Castlemaine Brewery operating from 1896-1963.

castlemain

Photo thanks to SLWA c1902- 1904. Looking from East Street Jetty now we see some impressive industrial structures. Businesses along the riverfront could be serviced from the water by barges. I’m suggesting the Brewery was constructed here due to many springs from the limestone cliffs under Bicton.

castlemaine brewery

Speaking to Craig Bibra recently whose family did well from the gold rush of the 1890s and lived atop the limestone cliff serviced via Preston Point Road in a home built by Herbert Hoover just behind the brewery here. The brothers purchased a farm and hotels supplied by Castlemaine including The National in Fremantle. They decided to part ways with one taking the farm. The gold rush proved to be a bountiful one to publicans but unfortunately for the other brother , a ten year drought saw an end to his good fortune.

Old Brewery East Fremantle

Photo with thanks to the late Jack Lorrimer.

Castlemaine sold their interests to The Swan Brewery in 1927. Swan subsequently closed the brewery, employing the majority of the workforce at the Perth operations.

The building was demolished using too much explosive which sent debris farther than planned hitting vehicles to allow the construction of the new Stirling Bridge.

castlemaine

We have a terrific view down from The Plympton Hotel over Canning Road, behind the Castlemaine Brewery past The Boatbuilders House along the banks of the Swan River and Bicton.

Something I learned this week was John Duffield ,who landed in 1830 aboard the Warrior took up one of 4 land grants of 500 acres in what becamse Bicton. By 1845, Duffield was operating the first commercial vineyard with 5700 vines but in 1860 tragedy struck when his son James and a labourer John Luff were buried alive while sinking a well on the property.

Regular ferry services visited the East Street and Point Walter jetties with a tram passing one and reaching the other at Point Walter Reserve from Fremantle from the 15th December 1915, simultaneously with its opening of the extension of the East line to Stock Road, Bicton.  The opening of this route helped to develop Point Walter into a popular resort and place of entertainment. Along with the trams came electric lighting, and, soon afterwards, well patronised shops and restaurants. Entertainment at Point Walter included a band. There were also panoramic views of the Swan River, frequently dotted with the sails of racing yachts.

East Fremantle Tram.jpg

 

Photo with thanks to Richard Rigg.

Over time, increasing numbers of motor car owners chose to seek entertainment further away from Fremantle than Point Walter. As a result, the Point Walter resort fell into disrepair, and patronage on the Point Walter line declined. In 1939, the line was closed

After the closure of the South Fremantle racecourse, a course was established in Bicton in 1904 on land leased by the Highams closer to Point Walter. This course too closed due to the WA Racing Restrictions Act in 1917.

castlemaine

On the far left you can see what we know today as The Left Bank formerly the ‘Boatbuilder’s House’— thanks go to Fremantle Library for image no. LH004686

Bicton Baths survives today and was developed in 1926, initiated by the local Melville Amateur Swimming Club, which made good use of the existing animal quarantine station jetty as a swimming platform.  The baths quickly became a very popular location for swimming lessons, races and later water polo.

After the end of the second World War, Bicton expanded quickly with new homes and families settling there in a suburb named after a village in Britain near East Devon.

 

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