FORMER residents of the Warders Cottage returned to Fremantle for a reunion this week.
Built in the 1850s the Henderson Street cottages have been home to ex-prison officers, their families and Homeswest residents.
Footballer John Gerovich, immortalised in the sculpture on the roundabout outside Freo Oval, was one of the residents.
Gerovich, his four bothers and his mother, moved into a warders cottage in 1942 and stayed there until around 1948.
“There was six of us living there, but when you’re young everything seems much bigger,” he laughs.
An air raid siren on a factory roof opposite their cottage would sound with a deafening wail as Gerovich bolted down Henderson Street to bunkers beside the court house.
“It was tough times and nobody had much money, but we’re all in the same boat and there was a great sense of community,” says the 78-year-old.
Gerovich went on to have an outstanding career for the Bulldogs, but he said when he lived at the cottages they couldn’t even afford a football.
Three generations of the Taylor family lived in Henderson Street, including 91-year-old Doreen who raised seven children and one grandchild in one of the smaller cottages in the 60s.
Ms Taylor said that while cramped, it was a great place to raise kids, who had plenty of friends in nearby cottages and could walk down to the beach or the fish markets to play.
Stephanie Kukua’s connection to the cottages stretches back even further; her great-grandfather was a pensioner guard who arrived in Fremantle in 1867 aboard the Hougoumont with 279 convicts.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK and STEVE GRANT