Happy anniversary!

Happy anniversary to the following very very important aspects of South Perth’s history! (There are so many more that we could celebrate but I thought I would just give you a snippet!)

120 years

  • On 9 June 1892, the South Perth Road Board was formed by taking its ‘suburban’ areas from the City of Perth.
  • The South Perth Road Board met for the first time on 19 September 1892.

110 years

  • South Perth became a municipality on 21 February 1902.

100 years

  • On 1 March 1912, the management of the Mends Street to Perth ferry service came under the WA Government.

90 years

  • South Perth became a road district on 1 March 1922.
  • On 5 August 1922, the East Perth – South Perth tram line (terminating Angelo Street & Labouchere Road) opened.

75 years

  • The opening of St Columba’s Church, Forrest Street, South Perth.
  • Canning Road (fmr Fremantle Road) became Canning Highway.

60 years

  • On 19 September 1952, the new Perth Causeway was completed.

30 years

  • Southcare was established in Manning.
  • On 9 May 1982 the Mt Henry Bridge opened.

Piles of “stuff”

Sure, we all have ’em…piles of “stuff” – in the office, in the bedroom, in the spare room, in the car boot. You name it…

I have lots of piles of “stuff” in the Local History collection that were carefully arranged by a previous librarian or staff member. They had squirreled away fascinating documents and ephemera items in ‘safe spots’ or filed them away in an organisational system that only made sense to them. So now I am the lucky one who gets to sort through the “stuff” and make it accessible to you. Regardless of how time consuming it is, I always manage to uncover something exciting.

For example, the other day I discovered a poster that outlined the South Perth Road Board’s by-laws in regards to Public Parks & Reserves (believed to have been produced between 1922-1956, the second period during which the City was classified as a Road Board). One clause boldly stated something along the lines of ‘goats on leash are not permitted on any Park or Reserve within the boundaries of the South Perth Road Board’. I don’t think we would see too many leashed goats being taken for an afternoon walk around South Perth these days, but  in the early 20th century this could have been highly likely with the use of South Perth’s foreshores for agricultural purposes.

Yesterday I sat down with yet another pile of “stuff” and uncovered this little gem – a tramway time table for the ‘South Perth local service’ between Mends Street Jetty and Como. This could have been produced at any point between 1926-1950 (the Mends Street Tramway Extension was officially opened on 8 October 1926 and the tram service was discontinued on 10 June 1950. Also, Foy & Gibson’s Pty. Ltd. is in existence on Hay Street during this period, as are the offices for State Ferries and West Australian Government Tramways, situated at 514 Hay Street, Perth). It looks as though this is only half of the original time table (with evidence of tearing on the upper left corner of the passenger fares side). If I ever uncover the other half, I’ll be sure to share!

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Pagoda Ballroom

The former Pagoda Ballroom was originally built as tea rooms in the early 1920s in response to the popularity of Como Beach. It was built for a Mr & Mrs Gordon to operate. As described by John McLay ‘ … we’d go down to the Pagoda. And Mr and Mrs Gordon would be sitting out there in their evening frock and dress suit and about four customers inside, all in their dress suits. You know, it was really posh, but it didn’t take on’. Infrequent tram and ferry services from Perth proved to be problematic for business and the Depression was to have an effect on the tea room trade.

The building was used as living quarters for soldiers serving in WWII. When a Victorian army veteran who had quartered at the Pagoda revisited Perth, it was discovered that notches carved out of the window sills served as locations for rifles to be placed through.

After WWII the Pagoda was reopened and became a popular ballroom and reception centre. Like many other ballrooms it was unlicensed, however alcohol could be found. Kegs would be brought by attendees and the taps passed through a window. The Pagoda hired out the jugs.

Over the years the building was also used as a venue for roller skating, jazz music, ballroom dancing and weddings.

Today the octagonal building is known as Pagoda Restaurant and Bar. The pagoda style roof and the building’s exterior has been restored to its former glory in the unique Edwardian Oriental style.

It’s wet & wooly in South Perth today…

I think we will all agree it’s pretty miserable weather across Perth today…

I think I maxed about 40 km/h along Labouchere Road this morning on my way to work…even though I was practically the only car going in that direction. The drainage (if there is any, wild guess here) along that road is pretty crummy so your car practically swims to where ever you are going.

South Perth had some wet & wooly times back in 1926, when the Peninsula area was flooded. Shoes and socks were taken off, and skirts and pants hitched up to cross the jetty to catch the ferry to Perth. Kids had a great time and got their rowboats out and went for a paddle down Suburban Road (now known as Mill Point Road).

Here’s hoping that the Como Beach foreshore is holding up OK!

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Coode Street Jetty

Before construction of the Coode Street Jetty in 1896, the Coode Street foreshore was used as a landing point for local South Perth residents. In particular, visiting pastors and teachers to the Wesley Chapel and Church (which was built on Coode Street) would land here and walk to their destination.

The first ferry service to operate from Coode Street was managed by W. F. Tubbs however it was very irregular. This service was replaced in 1898 by local residents Rowland Pennington and Fred Bailey, who formed a public company, the River Ferry Company, in hopes to bring some regularity to the service. The company had two sailing boats in action, the Mary Queen and the Gladys, however the venture was a failure.

In 1904, Jack Olsen and Claes (Harry) Sutton developed a thriving ferry business on the Swan River, including regular ferries to Coode Street. The Olsen and Sutton fleet were known as ‘Val’ boats (named after their Scandinavian links) and included Valfreda, Valthera, Valdemar and Valkyrie I & II. The Sutton and Olsen families continued to run the service until 1935 when they sold the business to Nat Lappin, who formed the Swan River Ferries Company.

 The private ferry service was eventually merged into the State Transport system and the jetty was rebuilt in 1990.