Ocean Beach Hotel, 1920s
Ocean Beach Hotel, 1920s

The young women of Perth have continuously been in one moral danger or another. In the 1920s the threat came from men who owned motor cars.

Some suburban hotels were known to be ‘joy-riders pubs’. Allow Dodgy Perth to explore the meaning of this odd phrase with you.

Apparently every generation of Perth girls has a particular ‘pleasure weakness’. Can you remember what yours was?

Around 1900, it was orgies of booze on the beach. But for the feather-headed flappers of the 1920s, their Achilles’ heel was motor cars.

And, boy, did the middle-aged men know how to work that particular vice. At the end of Barrack Street, down by the river, and you’d see a group a girls—aged between seventeen and twenty-one—looking for someone to take them for a ride.

The men, often married, were substantially older than the girls. And some were well-known people, including a politician and a few celebrities.

“It’s just a little spin for a few miles, my dear,” the rake would say to the flapper, although a few could turn into twenty, as he sought out his favourite joy-riders pub.

There, they stop for a little drink. It is an apparently quiet pub. Perhaps it will even have a private sitting room. But to the young woman, it all seems so romantic. She may be a factory girl, a shop girl, or an office employee, but in any case her salary doesn’t usually run to many evenings out.

The poor girl will then be offered—we shudder to say it—a drink. Naturally, being a good girl, she will at first decline.

The middle-aged cad will insist that she take a little wine to warm her up, and finally she will give in.  To the flapper, the drink adds to the romance, like a vamp scene in a play. But the average girl never realised the danger until it was too late.

This, dear reader, is the peril of ending up at a joy-riders pub.

The media demanded that something be done. Firstly, the girls should be incarcerated as neglected children. Next, the hotels should lose their licenses. And, most importantly, it should be made harder for men to get a driver’s license in the first place.

Without immediate action, Perth was in danger of having more and more of these evil pubs around the city, causing the downfall of many more foolish flappers.

Speaking of which. Can anyone recommend Dodgy Perth a good suburban hotel for meeting up with a young lady?