You can cheque out any time you like

Brothel-460Cashed-up miner gets drunk. Spends too much money on booze and hookers. Regrets it the next day. End of story.

Bet you’ve never heard that one before. Except this didn’t happen during the most recent mining boom, but in 1903.

Augustine Eyre was the miner in question, and one evening he hailed a cab from outside the Palace Hotel where he was staying and asked to be taken to ‘Monte Carlo’. To understand this strange request, a little background on Perth drinking culture.

There were no legal late-night drinking joints. And no licensed nightclubs. So a man wanting a drink after closing time needed to visit a ‘house’. These were (in theory) private residences, in practice speakeasies-cum-brothels.

The two most infamous (and longstanding) in 1903 were Monte Carlo in Murray Street and Shakespeare Villa in Dyer Street, West Perth. These houses were mostly tolerated by the police, although subject to the occasional raid.

Anyway, Augustine asked to be taken to Monte Carlo. For reasons which are unclear, but which may involve a backhander from the owner to the cabbie, he was dropped at Shakespeare Villa instead.

The miner knocked back a few drinks and then caught the train back into town, where the Palace Hotel bar was still open, so he had a few more. Out he walked, hailed another cab, and requested again to be taken to Monte Carlo.

The driver dropped him at Shakespeare Villa.

Perhaps realising this was as good a place as any, Augustine started hard, hard drinking and carousing. For several days. Yes, days. They knew how to have a good time in 1903.

At the end of his stay, presumably with a very sore head, Augustine wrote out a cheque to his very hospitable hostess, Annie Wilson, for £150. This was to cover the cost of accommodation, food, drinks, and—ahem—the company of a number of young ladies.

It was not until a few days later that Augustine realised that, while completed pissed, he’d handed several cheques over to Annie, totalling nearly £400.

Completely regretting this, he went to the police to demand they get him a refund.

The consequence was that Annie was charged with running a house of ill repute, and fined a measly £10. The judge said that Augustine was a fool and, as far as we know, he never saw his money again.