In mid-April 1912, the Postmaster General’s Department erected a telephone box close to the centre of the St Georges Terrace, Adelaide Terrace and Victoria Avenue intersection in Perth.
At that point in time the buildings in the surrounding area consisted mostly of private residences. While the telephone box may have been useful for the people who lived nearby, it was immediately declared “A Public Danger” by a writer for the newspaper ‘Truth’ who fiercely criticised the decision.
“Truth” has, in its time, been confronted with some idiotic ideas, but for fat-headed damphoolishness, the absolute limit is the erection of a public telephone box right in the middle of the roadway…
They predicted, that unless the telephone box was moved, the Federal authorities would have to deal with costs stemming from damage caused by those unable to see it properly as they travelled from Adelaide Terrace to Perth, as well as the likelihood of it needing to be replaced in the future.
Far from alone in their opinion, the Sunday Times also reported on the strangely-placed telephone box and, while their criticism was more composed, they did come across as quite bemused as to why the centre of the road was chosen.
In the end common sense prevailed and during the City Council meeting on 22 April 1912, the works committee referred to the dangerous position of the telephone box and reported that the Deputy Postmaster General was advised “…that if this box is not removed within a week, the Council will remove it.” The report was quickly followed by an announcement that the telephone box had already been moved to the footpath, having only spent about a week in its previous position in the centre of the road.
While the telephone box likely remained in its new position for some time, its old position (in the centre of the intersection) and the odd decision to put it there remains an interesting (albeit short) snippet of Perth’s history.
- Image of St Georges Terrace and Victoria Avenue intersection courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia; Call Number: 102282PD; https://encore.slwa.wa.gov.au/iii/encore/record/C__Rb2760849
- 1912 ‘A Public Danger.’, Truth (Perth, WA : 1903 – 1931), 20 April, p. 6. (CITY EDITION), viewed 06 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208701294
- 1912 ‘IN THE WAY OF TRAFFIC’, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), 21 April, p. 2. , viewed 06 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57730354
- 1912 ‘NEWS AND NOTES.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 23 April, p. 6. , viewed 06 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23870460