Abandoned Soap Factory Tunnel, Perth, WA

Abandoned Fremantle Burford Soap Factory Tunnel in Perth, Western Australia │Abandoned World Photography Urbex

In 1905, the Burford Soap Factory was established in Fremantle, Perth. At the same time, a 96-metre tunnel was built, behind the factory. The original factory building has since been renovated into apartments, but the abandoned tunnel remains. At just 1.8 metres high and 1.4 metres wide, it’s a tight squeeze, and it gets a lot narrower as you walk in. It’s pitch black, full of cobwebs and my worst nightmare – cockroaches.

Watch out for dead ends!

I noticed a lot of metal pipes along the ground as I was exploring this tunnel and later found out that these were used to transport water pumped from the river to below the factory, where it was directed up the vertical trunk to the factory and then to the cooling tanks or to be heated into steam.

As you go deeper into the Soap Factory Tunnel, you will find two vertical tunnels (trunks) that lead to storm drains on the street above. The first trunk is located at the first bend in the tunnel. It is a drywall construction and capped with angle iron, tin sheeting, and cement. The second trunk is lined in modern concrete with hand holds leading to the surface. Both of these trunks are blocked at the entrance, so there is no point in fighting your way through the cobwebs and cockroaches to see if you can get through the latches above!

The History of the Burford Soap Factory

Rule Street in Fremantle (Western Australia), initially known as Bay Road, has a history dating back to the 19th century. Its name change to Rule Street was officially recognised on February 14, 1969, although it was informally referred to as such as early as 1962. The street honors Charles Rule, a notable figure in North Fremantle, recognized for his significant community contributions, including roles in local councils and organisations.

The beginning of W.H. Burford and Sons Ltd
The beginning of W.H. Burford and Sons Ltd

During the early 20th century, Rule Street was characterised by workers’ cottages, housing individuals employed in nearby industrial establishments like Burfords Soap Factory. Between 1905 and 1946, W.H. Burford and Sons Ltd operated a candle and soap factory on Bay Road, which later became Rule Street. The factory was an essential player in soap and candle production, employing innovative techniques and utilising a variety of raw materials.

Mid 1990s in Fremantle, Western Australia
Mid 1990s in Fremantle, Western Australia

The Burfords Soap Factory was an integral part of the industrial landscape in the area, manufacturing candles, soap, and various cleaning agents. Their products were widely recognised for their quality and were distributed both locally and internationally. The factory was known for its well-organised layout and large manufacturing capabilities.

Transformation into Residential Spaces

From Soap Factory to Apartment Block
From Soap Factory to Apartment Block

In 1980, the former soap factory underwent a substantial transformation, converted into residential apartments as part of a significant restoration project. The project cost approximately £2 million and marked a shift in the use of the old industrial site. The development, named the Old Soap Factory Estate, comprised 36 homes, tennis courts, and swimming pools, blending the historical with the contemporary.

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Photos of the Burford Soap Factory Tunnel


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