The West Workshops were built in 1900-1901 following a commission of inquiry that supported attempts to provide work for prisoners. The five workshops accommodated all the trades relevant to the English Prison System: a paint shop, mat maker, shoe maker, book binder and tailor shop.
With the approval of the Fremantle Prison Trust Advisory Committee, the Building Management Authority’s Project Services Directorate worked closely with Art and Design Department of TAFE to adapt the workshops. Design work began in June 1992 and the final proposal envisioned three large drawing studios, design and technical facilities. The building work was carried out by Building Management Authority Construction Operations and completed in August 1993.
Alterations to the original building were limited to provide openings between each studio, and into the former Rifle Range. This enables access from the Prison Terrace for the staff and students.
The new construction is visibly distinct from the original building fabric and is in accordance with current conservation practice and the Fremantle Prison Conservation Policy.
In 1994 works were completed to provide a gallery space for use by Fremantle Prison; the Prison Gallery, at the southern end of the West Workshops.
The Western Australia School of Art, Design and Media - TAFE vacated the northern end of the West Workshops in mid 2010.
The space is currently being used as a Curatorial store for the storage of Prison objects and artefacts.