King's Square


City of Fremantle

Place Number



Adelaide, Queen & William Sts Fremantle

Location Details

Other Name(s)

St Johns Square

Local Government




Construction Date

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List YES 08 Mar 2007

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 18 Sep 2000 Level 1B
Register of the National Estate Registered 21 Oct 1980

Statement of Significance

Historically significant as a key element of the original Fremantle town plan drawn in 1833 by J.S. Roe. Socially significant as a meeting place in central Fremantle.

Physical Description

Kings Square is a paved and grassed civic square in the centre of Fremantle. It is bounded by William, Adelaide and Queen Streets and Newman Court. The square is bisected by a pedestrian mall. The northern half of the square contains St John's Anglican Church (1884) which is set in landscaped grounds. This area also contains two mature Moreton Bay Fig (FICUS MACROPHYLLA) trees planted in the 1890s, a smaller mature fig from the 1980s and another fig relocated to the square from Ord Street in 2020. The Fremantle Town Hall (1887) stands at the western end of the southern half of the square and the remainder of the triangle is a construction site for new civic buildings which are due for completion in 2021. Remnants of the first St Johns Church (1844 – 1884) remain buried under the paving in the centre of the square.


The Surveyor General J.S. Roe’s original town plan for Fremantle contained a central square named Kings Square but it was located at the intersection of High and Pakenham Streets. By 1933 when the first plan was published the plan had evolved and the square was sited in its current location bounded by Adelaide, Queen and William and Streets and High Street did not continue through the square. The names of the streets surrounding the square refer to the ruling English monarch King William IV and his wife Queen Adelaide. (Newman Street was not named until 1904). Later when the town plan was extended in 1843 a second square, Queens Square, was added on the central High Street axis at the intersection with Parry Streets. Unlike Kings Square, the street grid continued through the square. While it was originally designated for public enjoyment, in 1840 following local residents successfully petitioning Governor Hutt, Kings Square was appropriated for the use of the Anglican Church. The first St John’s Church, a modest Georgian style limestone church with a distinctive ‘pepper pot’ tower, was constructed in the centre of King’s Square. It was opened 4 August 1843 but it was not consecrated until 16 November 1848 The Reverend George King was the first minister. In 1877 Fremantle Council was looking for a suitable site for a town hall and the trustees of St Johns church wanted to construct a new larger building for their growing congregation. Fremantle Council purchased the southern half of Kings Square from the Trustees of St John’s Church together with a strip of land through the centre of the square for the continuation of High Street. Construction on the new St John’s Church started in 1877 in the centre of the northern triangle of the square. It was consecrated in 1882 and the bell tower added in 1907.The site was enclosed with a cast iron fence set and in the 1890s the grounds were planted with six Moreton Bay Fig trees. The trees were planted by Phillip Webster and were likely from a tree (still extant) that he planted in the 1880s at his house at 195 High Street. In 1884 the first St Johns Church was demolished and shortly after High Street was continued through the square. The foundations of this building have been located by archaeological investigations in 1986 and 2017. Between 1885 and 1887 the Fremantle Town Hall was constructed at the western end of the southern triangle of the square. Unlike St John’s Church, which was located in the centre of its site, the town hall was constructed up to the street boundaries and continued the urban form of the surrounding commercial development in the town. Shortly after the foundation stone for the town hall was laid in 1885 the council offered the remainder of the lots on their site for sale. By 1905 the entire High Street side been developed with the two storey Town Hall Chambers (1905), Central Buildings (1911) and a parade of single storey shops -. A single storey limestone, commercial building, was constructed on the corner of William and Newman Streets in the 1880s and the centre of the site was used as a council depot, access to the auditorium stage and toilets. In 1923 the Fremantle Municipal Council and the trustees of St John’s Church came to an arrangement whereby the council maintained the church ground in return for public access. Then the fences were removed, and the grounds landscaped by the council beginning a long community use of this place for civic activities and passive recreation. In 1929 the City of Fremantle constructed the two storey Centennial Buildings on the corner of William and Newman Streets, to provide extra office accommodation for the council and lettable tenancies for statutory authorities. After a period of stagnation, central Fremantle underwent a major transformation and modernisation in the 1960s. In early 1965 the Centennial Buildings (1929) were demolished for the two storey Fremantle Administrative Building and later in the year the commercial buildings lining High Street were all demolished for the new Exhibition Buildings. These buildings were designed in the Late 20th Century International style by Hobbs Winning and Leighton Architects in conjunction with Allan & Nicholas Architects. Two extra storeys were added to the Administrative Building in 1972 and the whole complex was modified and refurbished by Considine and Griffiths Architects in 1986. The 1960s buildings were set back from the site boundaries creating a new area of open space adjoining Newman and High Streets which became a large carpark. High Street was also closed to through traffic at this time and used for access to the carpark. A large circular fountain designed by the architect Raymond Jones was constructed at the western corner of the square adjacent to the old town hall. In 1982 Fremantle Council voted to change the name to St John’s Church (after the church) and in 1984the Square was upgraded. The carpark and fountain were removed and the area landscaped as public open space. Newman Street was closed and renamed Newman Court and it was planted with a row of mature Canary Island Date Palms including one that was transplanted from Mosman Park. In 1990 Kings Square reverted to its original name. After a period of decline and deterioration, four of the Moreton Bay Fig trees (1890s) were removed from Kings Square due to concerns about public safety. Due to concerns about the suitability of this species for this urban location only one of the trees was replaced with the same species. A major project to redevelop Kings Square was commenced in 2015 as part of a project to transform and regenerate central Fremantle. In 2017 the Administration Building and Exhibition Building (1965) were demolished for the construction of new administrative offices and library for the City of Fremantle. This complex is due for completion in 2021.


While the square has undergone many changes since 1833 it has retained a high degree of integrity as the original intent is clear and the current use is compatible and sustainable in the long term. It also has a High degree of authenticity as much early fabric remains.


Currently undergoing refurbishment as part of the Kings Square upgrade due for completion 2021.

Place Type

Urban Park


Epoch General Specific
Original Use PARK\RESERVE Park\Reserve
Present Use PARK\RESERVE Park\Reserve

Historic Themes

General Specific
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Land allocation & subdivision
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Government & politics
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Cultural activities

Creation Date

26 Jul 2002

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

02 Oct 2020


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