The National Trust of Western Australia is committed to ensuring the heritage values of its heritage places are acknowledged through innovative and engaging interpretation. Proposals are now sought from contractors experienced in the interpretation of heritage places to develop the interpretation of the Artillery Drill Hall in Fremantle, which is currently undergoing conservation and adaptive reuse works for its future use as a multifaceted destination incorporating bars, food and live music.
The Artillery Drill Hall site has three distinct periods of use since the European settlement of the area. Documentary evidence suggests that the area was used as a garden as part of the convict cantonment which was established in 1851. The Artillery Drill Hall was constructed in 1895/6 to provide facilities for the town’s volunteer artillery corps. It not only provided space for practising drill, but also facilities for various leisure pursuits and social activities. It is located within an historic precinct that includes Fremantle Courthouse, Lock-up, Police Barracks, Warders Cottages and the Fremantle Prison.
The building remained in military use and during World War II. It continued to be used for military purposes until 1986 when ownership is transferred to the City of Fremantle and later to the State Government. The same year the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club was established through an America’s Cup project grant and the Drill Hall became a live music club and the ‘first smoke free’ venue in Australia. It is now in a new phase as a heritage place managed by the National Trust of Western Australia on behalf of the community and Government of Western Australia.
It is expected the interpretation will be enticing, engaging and intriguing. Audiences will find the stories associated with the place to be enlightening and unexpected. In keeping with the new use of the place the interpretation is expected to be presented in an accessible, light hearted and enjoyable manner. The interpretive experience will be such that audiences feel compelled to consider the Artillery Drill Hall as a significant heritage place that should be treasured and enjoyed by the community now and in the future.