Our history

Image of The Knowle in the 1890s

Fremantle Hospital has its history entwined in the local community.

The original hospital was housed in a two storied residence called The Knowle, which was built in 1856 by convict labour using stone quarried from the prison grounds.

The Knowle became Fremantle Public Hospital in January 1897 when it opened with 52 beds. 

By 1900, two additional wards and an operating theatre were needed and subsequent additions of medical, surgical, community and paediatric wards were introduced to meet the health needs of the community.

In the years that followed, further additions were built at Fremantle Hospital including the Ron Doig Block in 1934 and the William Wauhop Wing in 1960.

The Princess of Wales Wing opened in 1976 facing South Terrace and has become one of the area’s most identifiable buildings.

In 1985, Woodside Maternity Hospital was incorporated into Fremantle Hospital and Health Service (FHHS). In 2006, services transferred from that hospital to the newly acquired Kaleeya Hospital. Woodside Maternity Hospital is no longer in use and Kaleeya Hospital closed in 2014.

Fremantle Hospital (FH) became a specialist hospital in February 2015 following the closure of its Emergency Department and transfer of its main tertiary services to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

The history of FH is not merely an account of a proliferation of buildings, it is the stories of the local community and the people who worked at the hospital, striving in their individual lives.

It is the history of bubonic plague, typhoid and diphtheria, pneumonic influenza, the effects of accidents, wars and world depressions, of depleted staff numbers and increasing numbers of patients; and, in 1942, the evacuation from the town under threat of invasion.

Fremantle Hospital is about skills learned and human worth appreciated together with the people and events that have helped shape the hospital’s reputation in both the community and the country today.


  • 1897 – The Knowle opens as Fremantle Public Hospital
  • 1900 – Additional wards and operating theatre added
  • 1934 – Ron Doig Block opens
  • 1960 – William Wauhop Wing opens
  • 1976 – Princess of Wales Wing opens
  • 1985 – Woodside Maternity Hospital joins Fremantle Hospital
  • 1994 – Alma Street Centre opens
  • 2006 – Kaleeya Hospital purchased
  • 2015 – Fremantle Hospital becomes a specialist hospital