The colonists were proud of the fact that Western Australia was not a penal settlement. But the lack of growth of the colony's population and limited capital available in the colony, meant that some colonists started to ask that convicts be sent to the colony to construct roads and public buildings and to work on farms and in private businesses.
The British Government agreed to the request as transportation to the eastern colonies had declined by 1848, and they were looking for another place to send their convicts. Convicts arrived in 1850.
The convicts were sent out with retired soldiers, the Pensioner Guards, to guard them and money with which to build prisons. In addition, these soldiers settled here and spent their wages in the colony.
"My dearest Papa,
The ship Scindian arrived on the first of this month, the 21st anniversary of the foundation of the Colony so that it may be said to have attained its majority and I hope come to years of discretion. It is no doubt a very important event the supply of population which is now begun to be poured in upon us, not all at once but by such degrees as are seen most to promote advantage... The formation of roads and bridges will be accomplished in course of time and without any expense to the settlers."
Eliza Brown, Colonist, 1830s.
The Barrack Arch, Perth
The Barracks at the end of St George's Terrace housed the Pensioner Guard. The Pensioner Guard were sent to the colony from 1850 to guard the convicts and later assisted in the mainenance of law and order in the colony. The remnant of the Arch can still be seen at the western end of the Terrace.
Government House, 1860s
A grand new Government House was built by convicts on the same site as the old building on St George's Terrace. It was finished by 1864 and this photograph shows the Pensioner Guard and volunteers assembled outside the new building after the presentation of commissions. The building is still used as Government House today.