Guildford is one of three towns established in 1829, when Western Australia was settled, and its plan was based on the model of an English country town. The area is enclosed on a peninsular, formed by the Swan and Helena Rivers and was named by Captain James Stirling after his father-in-law’s lectorate in Surrey, England.

As the furthest navigable point on the Swan River, Guildford became an inland port, providing the main link between Perth and the country districts. In 1851 it became a convict ticket-of-leave hiring depot and steamboats made their debut in 1857. Guildford became a thriving market town and commercial centre. The town was declared a municipality in 1871 and granted its own crest of anchor, sheaf and grapes.

Colonial Gaol

From 1867 to 1969 the Colonial Gaol was the local lock up for petty criminals awaiting trial or serious offenders awaiting transport to Perth or Fremantle gaols. Sentences of four weeks or less were served at the gaol.


The spelling “Gaol” comes from Norman French and the spelling and pronunciation “Jail” comes from Parisian French.

Taylor’s Cottage

Originally located at the rear of 3 Meadow Street, Guildford, it is believed this cottage was originally built as a stable c.1863 then converted to a home for the Taylor family in the early 1880s. In 1983 it was dismantled by volunteers, relocated to Guildford Heritage Precinct and is now part of the Museum managed by the Swan Guildford Historical Society (Inc).

Contact the Swan Guildford Historical Society on 9379 1829 or the Swan Valley Visitor Centre (contact details below) for more information.

The Colonial Gaol and Taylor’s Cottage are in the same grounds as the Swan Valley Visitor Centre on the corner of Meadow and Swan Streets, Guildford.