Princess Theatre (Fremantle)

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Princess Theatre
Fremantle Princess Theatre 1927.jpg
The theatre in 1927
Alternative names New Princess Theatre
General information
Location Corner of Market and Leake Streets
Address 29-33 Market Street, Fremantle
Town or city Fremantle
Country Western Australia
Coordinates 32°03′14″S 115°44′46″E / 32.0538°S 115.746°E / -32.0538; 115.746Coordinates: 32°03′14″S 115°44′46″E / 32.0538°S 115.746°E / -32.0538; 115.746
Completed 1912
Opened 21 December 1912
Renovated 1941, 1969
Client Captain F. Biddles
Design and construction
Architect John McNeece
Architecture firm John McNeece & Son
Main contractor C. Moore
Other information
Seating capacity 1,850
Former Princess Theatre building in 2017

The Princess Theatre, located at 29–33 Market Street, Fremantle, Australia, was built in 1912. It closed in 1969 and is now used for offices and retail businesses.


The theatre was built on the site of an old warehouse that was demolished.[1] It was purpose built 1912 for Captain Frank Biddles (1851-1932) (a master pearler from Broome, who had semi-retired to Fremantle in 1902). It was designed by a local architect, John McNeece,[2] and built by Mr C. Moore, at a cost of £22,000. The theatre, with a seating capacity of 1,850, was opened on 21 December 1912 by the Mayor of Fremantle, Frederick James McLaren.[3] The opening night included a screening of The French Spy and vaudeville performances by Miss Elsie McGuire.[4][5] Until 1914 the theatre was managed by Thomas Coombe. Coombe then lost contact with the building as the management changed as a new cinema opened but he returned in 1917 to take over the business.[1]

In 1915, Captain Biddles made the basement of the Princess Theatre available to provide amenities for army and naval personnel. This was the early beginnings of the RSA, later to become known as the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL). A more permanent structure was built the following year nearby.

The building was extensively reconstructed in 1941 and the auditorium lost its original 1912 décor.[6] On 26 June 1969, the Princess Theatre closed,[7] and the building was converted to commercial uses.

The building was classified by the National Trust of Australia in May 1974 and placed on the Register of National Estate in March 1978.[8]

The ground floor is currently occupied by Kakulas Sister[9] and a hairdressing salon. The upper floors are occupied by various small businesses including architecture firms PardoeDesign and Harris Design Group, developers Yolk, and short term creative co-working studio FSpace. The basement is not used as it is below sea level and flooded (if not pumped out).[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Priness". WA Cinema Web. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Three New Theatres". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 30 June 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Princess Theatre, Fremantle". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 21 December 1912. p. 10 Edition: Third Edition. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Princess Theatre, Fremantle". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 24 December 1912. p. 9 Edition: Third Edition. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Entertainments". Perth Gazette. Perth: National Library of Australia. 24 December 1912. p. 8. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Museum of Performing Arts Presents 'Curtain Up! Light the Lights' Exhibition Through 30 March". Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Fremantle Princess Theatre". The Organ Society of Western Australia. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Princess Theatre (fmr)". 00953. Heritage council of Western Australia. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Kakula Sisters". Urban Walkabout. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Jessee Lee Johns, United Federation of Utopias for One (UFO), retrieved 4 November 2017