Historical Panoramas: Perth and Fremantle

About the Project

The Historical Panoramas project provides a unique and visually dramatic way to explore the development of Perth and Fremantle as far back as the 1860s.

Photographic panoramas provide a very good way to understand the physical layout of a cityscape. Unlike individual photos which can be hard to understand context and location, panoramas often provide very good spatial awareness and convey a good visual impression of a location.

For this project we are fortunate that Perth and Fremantle are relatively young cities. Perth was established in 1829 and the dawn of commercial photography was in the 1840s. The oldest panorama of Perth we have found so far is from the 1860s - showing a very young city. We can therefore see the very early days of the city with the visual clarity that photography provides. Of course, prior to settlement these areas were inhabited by the local Noongar people and the older panoramas provide a glimpse of what that life might have been like with bushland visible in the distance.

When we started this project we naively thought that we might be lucky if we found 10 or 20 historical panoramas. We've found over a hundred! For the purposes of this initial version of the tour we selected a small sample to start with - over time we want to add more.

Some of the panoramas in the tour were formed by stitching a series of single images together into a continuous single image. Other images were captured using a custom panoramic camera (such as a Cirkut camera) onto a single piece of film.

Whichever way the historical panoramas were captured, they provide a vivid view of our past. Many people are visual learners and this tour could provide a useful way of visualising the history of Perth and Fremantle. We've spent many hours studying these panoramas and we think you will too. It is often helpful to have Google Maps or Google Earth open at the same time to help identify locations. We plan to add more hot spots and annotations to increase the interactivity of the site.

Enjoy!

The Tour

The Historical Panoramas virtual tour provides visitors with the ability to explore several panoramic locations around Perth and Fremantle dating as far back as 1860. The interface allows users to zoom in on fine details, zoom out to see the big picture, and pan around to explore. Users are able to jump between panorama locations and fade between different years. The centrepiece of the tour, and the starting point, is a near 360° view from the Perth Town Hall in 1885, 1906, 1925 and 2016.

When you reach the start page of the tour, please take a few moments to read the instructions, and then please explore!

Explore - Learn - Enjoy!

How can you participate?

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to find out about updates to the tour.

Spread the word - tell your friends - Share or Retweet.

We are seeking help locating more panoramas. Specifically, we are interested in: (a) locating more historical panoramas from existing locations for different years (e.g. Perth Town Hall), (b) finding images which fill gaps in existing panoramas (e.g. Perth Town Hall 1906), (c) finding images which extend the extent of existing panoramas (e.g. Arthur Head Lighthouse 1890) and (d) locating historical panoramas from new locations - but check what we've got so far. We'll prepare a briefing document soon for qualified participants.

Do you have historical photographs you'd like to contribute? Please note that we are only able to receive historical panoramas in this project. Panoramic photographs are wide-aspect images captured with a special panoramic camera, or a sequence of images filmed from the same location which can be stitched together. We are specifically interested in historical panoramic photography older than 1955. We'll prepare a briefing document soon for qualified participants. Non-panoramic historical photography may be of interest to the Battye Library of West Australian History at the State Library of Western Australia (content dontains information), or the Fremantle History Centre.

To continue the further development of the project we are seeking grants and donations. We have lots of ideas to expand the project. There are many more historical panoramas we can add to the tour. We could also add many more hot spots to identify historically significant buildings. We also wish to re-photograph historical panorama locations so that comparisons can be made.
Donations can be lodged here: https://give.curtin.edu.au/how-to-give/historicalpanoramas
For example: a donation of $100 will help add additional hot spots, a donation of $500 will help add another historical panorama to the tour, and a donation of $1000 will help re-photograph a historical location.

How can you participate?

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to find out about updates to the tour.

Spread the word - tell your friends - Share or Retweet.

We are seeking help locating more panoramas. Specifically, we are interested in: (a) locating more historical panoramas from existing locations for different years (e.g. Perth Town Hall), (b) finding images which fill gaps in existing panoramas (e.g. Perth Town Hall 1906), (c) finding images which extend the extent of existing panoramas (e.g. Arthur Head Lighthouse 1890) and (d) locating historical panoramas from new locations - but check what we've got so far. We'll prepare a briefing document soon for qualified participants.

Do you have historical photographs you'd like to contribute? Please note that we are only able to receive historical panoramas in this project. Panoramic photographs are wide-aspect images captured with a special panoramic camera, or a sequence of images filmed from the same location which can be stitched together. We are specifically interested in historical panoramic photography older than 1955. We'll prepare a briefing document soon for qualified participants. Non-panoramic historical photography may be of interest to the Battye Library of West Australian History at the State Library of Western Australia, or the Fremantle History Centre.

To continue the further development of the project we are seeking grants and donations. We have lots of ideas to expand the project. There are many more historical panoramas we can add to the tour. We could also add many more hot spots to identify historically significant buildings. We also wish re-photograph historical panorama locations so that comparisons can be made.
Donations can be lodged here: https://give.curtin.edu.au/how-to-give/historicalpanoramas
For example: $100 will help add additional hot spots, $500 will help add another historical panorama to the tour, and $1000 will help re-photograph a historical location.

Acknowledgements

The Historical Panoramas Project is a collaboration between the Curtin University HIVE and the State Library of Western Australia (SLWA). The first stage of the project was conducted as a ten week summer internship project by Curtin student Marcia Schneider with supervision from Dr Andrew Woods (HIVE manager, Curtin), Debra Jones (SLWA), Pauline Joseph (Curtin), A/Prof Artur Lugmuyr (Curtin), Adrian Bowen (SLWA) and technical assistance from Curtin HIVE staff Jesse Helliwell and Joshua Hollick.

We appreciate the assistance of Joel Newman from CADS Aerial and Sam van Eldik from CADS Survey for providing their drone to re-shoot the Kings Park and Arthur Head panorama locations. Thanks to John Warkentin and Gideon Digby for allowing us to use their modern views of historical panorama locations.

We also appreciate the assistance of the following organisations with the project: State Records Office of Western Australia, National Trust of Australia (WA), City of Perth - Perth Town Hall, Kings Park - Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, City of Fremantle, and Heritage Perth.

Finally we are indebted to the historical photographers Alfred Stone, James Manning, E.G. Rome, A.G. Sands, Reg Lambert, Melvin Vaniman, Nixon & Merilees, and Stuart Gore for capturing Perth and Fremantle so long ago in such vivid detail.

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References

All of the historical panormaas in the virtual tour have come from the State Library of Western Australia catalogue. Pressing the (i) icon for each panorama will bring up a window which lists the catalogue numbers of the images and direct links into the SLWA catalogue - for example the 1885 Perth Town Hall panorama uses these images from the catalogue.

The following references provide a useful background about historical photography and panoramas:

"Court and Camera: The Life and Times of A.H. Stone" by Jacqueline O'Brien and Pamela Statham-Drew (2012) Fremantle Press, Western Australia.

"Capturing Time: Panoramas of old Australia" by Edwin Barnard (2012) National Library of Australia, ACT.

"Perth and Fremantle: a pictorial contrast" by Phil Gray and Reg Lambert (1986) Golden Press.