Hot stuff


Surprisingly hot on the inside

This heat is no longer funny. We’re no climate scientists, but can’t someone install sprinklers on the surface of the sun or something? Perhaps the government could offer subsidies for those of us who wish to seek asylum in Alaska.

But WA still has some way to go to beat the severe heatwave which gripped the state in February 1933, which closed schools and caused the cancellation of a fringe show.

The performance was held at the Luxor Theatre on Beaufort Street, previously known as the Shaftsbury Theatre and later as Tivoli and Canterbury Court. Now sadly demolished. You would have seen a vaudeville show including such treats as Lily Burford in a difficult toe tapping dance, Canadian Hank Healy with a demonstration of using a whip, a ballet, and the Melody Quintette.

But not on 9 February 1933. Four women members the company collapsed through the heat and the show was abandoned. Fortunately, they all recovered unlike an unlucky 5-year-old boy who died of sunstroke the same day.

To seek refuge from the oppressive heat, 15,000 cars turned up at Cottesloe Beach that night, and every metropolitan beach was packed with people lolling on the sand, too tired to bathe or sleep. And at nearly every home, mattresses were dragged onto verandahs to escape the indoor conditions.

Which reminds us, it is the absence of verandahs on new housing which means the electric grid is so overloaded nowadays. When will architects and builders realise that houses can be kept cooler with this simple change to a design? Sure, you lose a little floor space, but you don’t have to run the air-conditioning quite so hard.

There are things we can learn from history after all.