Last orders called on Fremantle Markets' favourite watering hole after 40 yearsShoppers come from near, far and wide to experience the unique atmosphere of the Fremantle Markets. Photo: Fremantle Markets Bar / Facebook

Last orders called on Fremantle Markets' favourite watering hole after 40 years

Ray Sparvell

“Last orders” have been called at the popular Fremantle Markets Bar.

Leaseholders and licensees Michelle and Paul Abbott have announced its closure on Facebook to an outpouring of sadness mixed with anger toward the market management and the Murdoch family that owns the overall market lease.

“It is with a heavy heart we regret to inform you that as of January 4, the Fremantle Markets Bar will be closing for good,” they posted.

The bar leaseholders said they had not been able to agree on the terms of a new lease with Fremantle Markets management, due, “primarily to an exorbitant rent increase”.

Fremantle Markets has been approached for comment.

“The market bar was set up 40 years ago in the same format as it is today, as a place where people could meet, sit down and rest in between shopping,” the duo posted.

“It was a place to enjoy something to eat, drink, chat with friends, enjoy live music or just watch the passing parade.”

The leaseholders believed conviviality and tradition now counted for nothing as far as the markets’ management was concerned.

“Rent is now based solely on maximising dollar per square metre returns,” they wrote.

Shoppers come from near, far and wide to experience the unique atmosphere of the Fremantle Markets. Photo: Ray SparvellThe Fremantle Markets are popular for their unique atmosphere. Photo: Ray Sparvell

The bar owners extended their thanks to customers, staff, past and present, and the “hundreds of musicians” who had entertained over 40 years.

Regulars and fans of the markets’ bar showed their displeasure in Facebook Posts, with much of their anger directed toward the Murdoch family that holds the lease to the markets.

“Awww, such a shame, we always sat and had a drink and listened to the live music, every time we come to Freo, you will be missed, there’s some greedy landlords out there.”

“Bummer, greed is rife these days, you guys have done heaps for local musos, so all the best for the future and we will definitely miss you” – The Suntones.

“Sorry to hear it peeps – the markets will suffer for this cultural loss.”

“Shame to hear, market bar was a big part of my family’s life in Freo. A regular visit guaranteed every weekend. Shows market management have no concept of the whole Freo vibe anymore, all business no Freo.”

“The last bit of soul to be lost from the markets. After 35 years of regular visits and watching the essence be sucked out of the place, I don’t think I will bother going anymore…..end of a bloody good era.”

“You have now joined the other 60+ store holders that lost their business, thanks to the Murdochs.”

A plaque was unveiled on October 31 to honour entrepreneur John Murdoch, the visionary behind the modern Fremantle Markets that were reopened in 1975. Mr Murdoch died last year, but his family still holds the lease.

Some 2.5 million people visit the markets every year at the rate of up to 50,000 per week – or rather on the Friday-Sunday that the markets are open.

The original foundation stone was laid in 1897 by the Premier of WA, Sir John Forrest, ahead of its construction as a fresh produce market.

At the ceremony he said he hoped the Fremantle Markets would be a “boon to the community”.

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