Report:Perth meetup 7 Feb 2015

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File:WMAU Freo prison gnangarra-101.jpg
inside the Isolation cell block
demonstration of how prisoners were whipped
Our guide Brett explaining the gallows

On the 7 February 2015 Wikimedians enjoyed their 18th meetup at Fremantle Prison. The venue was chosen some three months earlier to support the efforts of some editors who were working on progressing this article through both the GA(promoted 16 Jan 15) and FA projects.

The meetup was attended by 10 editors, including;

  • 3 new editors
  • 1 new WMAU member
  • 2 from recent ALIA presentation
  • 4 WMAU members

After enjoying a coffee, we were taken on a private tour organised by User:Gnangarra and thanks to WMAU generosity the cost was subsidsed under the Volunteer support program. Our guide Brett took us through the main gates into the prison pointing out that some prisoners successfully sued the WA government for injuries sustained during the 1988 riots because fire trucks were unable to access the main cell block. He showed us the profile of the hill and outer wall which shows how the prisoners excavated the hill on which the prison stands to supply the rock for the construction. From there we entered the Main Cell Block, through the kitchens into the exercise yards and across to the isolation cells. From isolation we were shown where prisoners were whipped then we moved onto the gallows where 44 people including one women were hung. We then returned to the main cell block completing the first half of the tour.

The second half of the tour was a bit less structured as we were taken up to the cell especially built for Moondyne Joe, the Catholic chapel, this journey enable us to see where the roof had been blacken by those riots and the new section roof that had replaced the section that collapsed due to the fire. From there we back down to the ground floor and entered the theatre where various people performed to entertain the prisoners though according to Brett the female prisoners who were seated separately on a balcony offered much more entertain the that going on on stage. From there we climbed up to prison hospital(now a literacy centre for school kids) pass the reservoir that supplied water to Fremantle area the water was pump from a collection of tunnels under the prisoners who also manually pumped the water from below. This area also enabled us to look down into each of the exercise areas.

Over to the New Block which held the worst of the WA prison population including a death row where prisoners were assigned 3 cell each and moved from to the other a different times of the day which also enabled the guards to search those cells. Its currently being restored due to exposure from salt air causing rusting of bars which has cause damage. Now we were very privileged and moved into the areas that arent normally accessed first stop the morgue. Then into the cellars, original kitched which during WWII were used as Military office space and subject to some recent explorative archaeology. From there we climbed a spiral stair case to a guard tower, then finishing the tour in the womens block.

There were three people taking photographs resulting in over 200 photo being uploaded providing a comprehensive visual coverage of the prison to compliment the article, and many other associated articles to follow. The editors also said that it gave them a better understanding of how the prison was laid out and how it operated.

Photos are available in Commons Category for Fremantle Prison with many viewable in the Gallery

Planning is currently underway for meetup 19 in May.