Fremantle Society Photographic Survey

From ArchivesWiki

In 1978 the Fremantle Society conducted a comprehensive photographic survey of the buildings of Fremantle, Western Australia. This page documents the process of producing this survey, and of digitising its results and adding them to ArchivesWiki.

See also the data drilldown; the raw data table; and todo.



Original Survey

One of the recording sheets used for field data entry.

The survey began in 1978 under the coordination of Ralph Hoare, with the aim to "create an indexed photographic record of all the residential and other buildings that currently exist in Fremantle, west of the proposed Easten Bypass and excluding the Central Business District, which is already substantially recorded." (from the participant information sheet).


The photographers were given sheets such as the one shown at right, and followed the following instructions:

Stand directly in front of the house on the footpath opposite, that you are going to photograph. If a tree or parked car is obscuring the photograph move to one side until an acceptable photo will result — use your discretion.

The next house to photograph will be the house on the right of the house you just photographed as you face them. Repeat this proceedure until you reach a corner. Continue around the corner by taking another photograph of the corner house. Then continue to photograph the next house on the right, etc.

Repeat these proceedures until you have moved completely around the cell you are photographing. Now move on to the next cell and repeat the whole proceedure until you have photographed hte whole section.

NOTE: You are photographing the cell in an anti-clockwise direction. Photograph all houses old or new, good or bad condition, pretty or ugly.


1. Red dot with black slash
Buildings of outstanding or unusual character and architectural significance. These were to be recommended to the National Trust for immediate classification, and recommended for inclusion on a Council Register.
2. Red dot
Buildings which should be preserved because of their contribution to the unique character of Fremantle. These were to be recommended for inclusion on a Council Register.
3. Brown dot
Buildings which should be included on a Council Register of buildings to be preserved because of their potential to be evaluated to 'red dot' classification.
4. Black dot
Buildings that offer little or no contribution to the unique character of Fremantle.
5. Yellow dot
Buildings which do not, strictly speaking, fall into category 1, 2, or 3 but which contribute positively to the built environment. These are mainly houses of the Federation period, early 20th Century buildings whose form and materials fit well with the earlier architecture. Some interesting modern buildings are included in this category.
6. Green dot next to one of the above
These are buildings which were already classified or recorded by the National Trust. Many of these buildings lost their recorded status when the Trust changed to a single classification. Many buildings which were classified when the survey was done are not identified in this way.


The survey area was divided into 21 Sections, each of which was subdivided into about half a dozen Cells.


In 2012 the Fremantle Society started digitising the collection of prints of photos from the survey, and uploading and cataloguing them on Wikimedia Commons. In 2017 the photos were removed from Commons (for legal reasons) and added to ArchivesWiki. So far, at least 509 photos have been catalogued. More than this number have been uploaded, and are available on the street-list pages above; many have not yet got their metadata added fully (you can help with this!) and so do not appear on the section-lists nor on the maps.


Completed streets, with total photo counts.

Folder 1 (241 photos):

Folder 2 (218 photos):

Folder 3 (264 photos):

Folder 4 (264 photos):

Folder 5 (x photos):

Temp. box:


The {{Fremantle Society Photographic Survey photo}} template is added to the description field of every photo when it's uploaded:

{{Fremantle Society Photographic Survey photo
| description    = 
| street         = 
| street_number  = 
| classification = 
| section        = 
| cell           = 
| film_roll      = 
| coordinates    = <!-- Camera location. Decimal degrees, comma-separated. -->
| heading        = <!-- One of: N, S, E, W, SW, SE, NW, NE. -->
| date           = 

To find the coordinates, the geolocator tool can be used, with this template: | coordinates = {latdegdec}, {londegdec} | heading = {heading}

The photos have been stored in 8 small green cardboard photograph boxes, the prints edgeways and with nothing separating them. They have been ordered by street name and then by street number (i.e. generally zigzagging down roads), with card dividers separating the streets. The street name and number; classification triple of section, cell, and roll number; and year are all written on the back of each photo.

The current digitisation process is as follows:

  1. The photos are removed from these boxes, from front to back.
  2. Scanned to PNG at 1200 dpi.
  3. The files are given MediaWiki-safe file names based on the metadata from the back of the photos. The filenames are of the form FSPS [Street Name] [accession number], [Description, generally house number], [codes] [year].png (note that accession order is not quite the same as street-number order, but is pretty close).
  4. Then, the photos are inserted into clear polypropylene (Albox brand) sleeves, four to a page.
  5. These sleeves are then stored in 3-ring polypropylene binders with slip cases (~60 sleeves per binder, or 240 photos), and stored at the Fremantle Local History Collection at the Fremantle Library.