South Fremantle Power Station


South Fremantle Powerhouse 1954

Original building 1954

South Fremantle Power Station is a former electric power generating installation, located at Cockburn Sound, Coogee, south of Fremantle, Western Australia.
The installation reached full power capacity in 1954 as part of the State Electricity Commission electric power grid servicing the metropolitan region and the southwest region of the state. The power station ceased operations in 1985.
Design for South Fremantle Power Station began in 1943 and work began on site in 1945. Power generation commenced in May 1951 from the first turbo-alternator; the second came on line in September 1951; number three in January 1954 and number four in December 1954. Each unit produced 25,000 kilowatts, a total of 100 megawatts of power. 5 The building was designed and constructed to be developed and operational in stages.
South Fremantle Power Station now stands large and languishing on the shoreline at Cockburn Sound at Coogee, south of the Catherine Point Reserve formed recently out of former abattoirs and animal holding paddocks. The place survives as a relic of former industrial development in a region now cleared of active industrial uses and is in the process of rehabilitation for public open space, recreational uses and community access activities. The site of the power station is sublime. This massive and now empty building sits quietly and in a state of deterioration on the shoreline of the sound. The opportunity remains to resolve the future use for this exceptional building without degrading the dunes environment.
This noble giant, set in a sublime location on the shore of Cockburn Sound, is slowly rotting away while bureaucracy vacillates from afar.
The challenge is clear and Western Power Corporation is keen to move on so that the future of the place can be resolved. They have done everything in their power to facilitate disposal.
The dilemma has been the damage done to the fabric by acts of vandalism such as graffiti, the smashing of glass and the destruction of internal finishes and railings including the staircase and treatment to the main entrance foyer. The deterioration of steel, concrete and glass in a building where little if any maintenance has been carried out since 1985 in a location of extreme exposure has been extensive.
Sadly, the dilemma is likely to prevail over the challenge.