Having completed a successful tour in South Australia, on 21 April 1868, Frederick William Auger Kohler, accompanied by his agent, Louis Peter, departed Adelaide for Fremantle. The brig ‘Emily Smith’ arrived a month later, on 19 May. Disembarking at Albany, Frederick, or, as he was professionally known, Professor Kohler, placed an advertisement in a newspaper announcing his imminent arrival.Continue reading “The Great Wizard”
Mount Magnet to Perth
Ironing clothes was the last straw. Employed as a housemaid at the Grand Hotel in Mount Magnet, Vera had had enough. Putting the ironing aside, she leaned over the ironing board and declared to her friend, “Hazel, I’m fed up; I want a change. I’m going to walk out.” Hazel exclaimed in response, “Me too!”
They later described what they were feeling as ‘the blues.’ To combat that feeling, in addition to leaving their place of employment, they decided to walk 595 km to Perth. Shaking hands on the plan, both agreed that it would add some much-needed excitement to their lives.Continue reading “Mount Magnet to Perth”
Monster Christmas Cake
In 1894, Veryard and Son’s of the Roller Bakery in Perth baked a large Christmas cake weighing six hundredweight (over 300 kg). It was incredibly popular, and, whether they meant to or not, a Christmas tradition was born. They continued to bake cakes, and, each year, the weight increased. In 1895, the cake weighed ten hundredweight (over 500 kg), and in 1896 it weighed fifteen hundredweight (over 750 kg).
Regardless of the size of the cake, every piece sold. Many customers missed out, and, as 1897 progressed, they decided that the Christmas cake for that year had to surpass that of previous years.Continue reading “Monster Christmas Cake”
The Padbury Street Ghost
Let us tell the story of the Haunted House.The Daily News (Perth, WA :1882 – 1950); 9 February 1914; Page 8; A Haunted House
Located behind the Brisbane Hotel and running diagonally from Beaufort Street to Bulwer Street, Padbury Street was a quiet street unknown to many people in Perth. In February 1914, that was all to change.
Along the short street were many two-story houses, lived in by various residents. Two of the houses were empty and available for lease. Of those two, one (number 66) had only recently become vacant. The reason the family gave for leaving: they believed it was haunted.
It was averred that the occupiers had for some time past been hearing weird sounds in various parts of the building, for which they could not account.The Daily News (Perth, WA :1882 – 1950); 9 February 1914; Page 8; A Haunted House
Wool-classing for Women
On 14 January 1930, the Minister for Agriculture, Harry Millington, announced that, in addition to the Rural Women’s Course, there were also plans to hold a short wool-classing course specifically for women. It was to be held at the Technical College in Perth, and would start on Monday, 10 March, and would end on Friday, 14 March.
The idea arose from a direct request from a woman to the Minister at the Lake Grace Show in 1929. The course was believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, and was to be run by Alfred Stewart, who was the wool-classing instructor at the Technical College.Continue reading “Wool-classing for Women”
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following story may contain images and names of deceased persons.
I have something which Australia has been wanting for a long time, a contract with the W. and F. service, the largest film distributors in England, for six Australian pictures for screening in England.The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950); 11 February 1926; Page 8; Australian Films
[11 February 1926]
Harry Southwell’s announcement while aboard the Commonwealth Mail Steamer ‘Esperance Bay‘ came as a surprise to Australians but was nevertheless excitedly received. An Australian film industry set to rival the Americans. He had further decided to base himself in Western Australia. Was Perth destined to become the new Hollywood?Continue reading “Down Under”
Night in a Graveyard
540 applicants responded to the advertisements placed in ‘The West Australian’ and ‘Call’ newspapers asking for someone “to sleep all night in a graveyard“. While some people sent joke responses, others were genuinely interested in meeting the requirements in order to receive the “high pay” of five pounds.
Man or woman (excluding spiritualists) could apply. The main condition was that they had to be chained to a “warm, comfortable” bed from 10:30 pm on 28 April 1920 until daylight on the following morning. They also had to spend the night alone (without even a dog for company) but were allowed to take a gun “to drive away any human disturbers.“
Caught by His Prints
At 7:30 pm on 12 August 1906, the Bradbury family left their home on Thomas Street in West Perth and attended the Congregational Church service. Frank Bradbury (aged 12) was last to leave and shut the door behind him without locking it. At 9 pm the family returned to find the door wide open and the rooms and furniture ransacked. Missing from the premises was a silver chain and locket, a silver watch, a silver matchbox and one shilling and five pence.
On the following afternoon Siegfried Bremer, a pawnbroker on Barrack Street in Perth, was working in his shop when he was approached by Henry Plant. Henry (giving a false name) had a silver chain and locket he wanted to sell. Siegfried asked the relevant questions and, finding the answers suspicious, decided to call the police.Continue reading “Caught by His Prints”
Breach of Promise
Thomas Mellersh arrived in the Swan River Colony on 19 August 1834 aboard the ‘James Pattison‘. He was the son of a banker and land-steward of Godalming in Surrey and quickly set himself up as a settler. Leaving the colony in 1838, he returned two years later and upon his return he made the acquaintance of 17 year old Jane Heal.
The couple were considered to be of the same social standing. Jane was the daughter of a Lieutenant in Her Majesty’s Navy however her father had died a few years after the family’s arrival in 1830. At only seven years of age she found herself fatherless and “in poor circumstances“. Her widowed mother and siblings fell further down the societal ladder however throughout the years Jane had “nevertheless retained an unsullied reputation.“Continue reading “Breach of Promise”
A Puzzling Case
Having worked hard as a teamster in the Government boring party near Mingenew, William Ernest Ellison was due for a holiday. Intending to return after the New Year, he left his portmanteau containing his work clothes and other possessions with Coorow storekeeper, Mr Todd, and on 15 September 1912, he travelled on the Midland railway line to Perth.
He arrived on the same day and took a room at the Grand Central Coffee Palace on Wellington Street. He was designated room 19 and a workmate named Charles Henry Spargo occupied the room across the hallway. Throughout his time in Perth, William was seen on the streets, at the Coffee Palace and around the racecourse, often in company with Spargo. He withdrew various amounts from his bank account on the 21st and 28th September and on the 1st, 5th, 19th and 22nd October. There was nothing unusual about these withdrawals and it was thought a large amount of the money was spent betting at the races.
William was originally from South Australia and kept in regular contact with his parents who remained there. He also had three brothers in Western Australia. On 24 October, a man named Cameron Arthur delivered him a message from his brother, Frank. In the message Frank asked him to go to Gunyidi and then to Nugadong for work. At the time William was seeking employment and was pleased to hear from him. He planned to leave on Saturday, 26 October 1912.
Despite agreeing to meet his brother, William never arrived. On 28 October his accommodation (paid a week in advance) ceased and the proprietor of the Coffee Palace simply assumed that he had left. Correspondence to his family stopped and 18 months passed by. During that time Spargo was tried, convicted and hanged for the murder of Gilbert Jones in Broome. The mangrove murder was the talk of the town and speculation was rife as to whether Spargo had killed other men. On 14 January 1914, George O’Hern of Watheroo contacted the Criminal Investigation Branch (C.I.B.) on the brothers’ behalf. William had vanished and they suspected foul play.Continue reading “A Puzzling Case”