The Joy of Museums

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Main Cell Block

Fremantle Prison - Joy of Museums - Main Cell Block

Construction in the 1850s by convicts, the Main Cell Block of Fremantle Prison, was designed to hold up to 1000 prisoners. The central, four-storey high cell block is flanked on either end by large dormitory wards.

The central, four-storey high cell block, accommodated as many as 80 men who slept in hammocks, either as a reward for good behaviour or because they would soon receive their ticket of leave. The main block also houses the gallows, solitary confinement cells, and two chapels, Anglican and Catholic.

Fremantle Prison map

Map of Fremantle Prison

In the flanking dormitory wards, the cramped cells measured just seven by four feet (2.1 by 1.2 m). In more recent times, the cells were enlarged by removing a dividing wall from between two cells. Electric lighting was installed in the 1920s, but there were never any toilets, buckets were used for the duration of the prison’s operation.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                Main Cell Block
  • Built:               1850s
  • Use:                  Accommodation for Prisoners
  • Museum:         Fremantle Prison

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“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.”
― Nelson Mandela

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Evad37 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons