Bottled mouse

Anyone fancy a game?

Anyone fancy a game?

When it first obtained a license in 1886, the All Nations Hotel (now Games Sports Bar) was already operating as a boarding house. The name ‘All Nations’ suggests literally that. Everyone was welcome, whether Irish, English, Italian, or whatever. It probably did not include Aboriginal people, however.

In 1905 a skittle alley (with other extensions) were added to the design of an architect we have already come across, William Woolf. When Woolf went bankrupt in 1898, he owed £470, borrowed at an exorbitant rate. He revealed to the court he had fled Melbourne and Sydney with other un-remitted borrowings. Great architect as he was, he was definitely a man who lived well beyond his means.

The Games Sports Bar does not seem to be able to keep a name for two weeks running. Originally the All Nations (1886-91), it became the Cosmopolitan Hotel (1891-1905), when new landlord, M. R. Davies, arrived from Townsville, where he had run a pub of that name. Then it transformed into Union Hotel (1905-39), Red Lion Hotel (1939-90), Aberdeen Hotel (1990-2015), and under a new name right now. But for how long is anyone’s guess.

In 1921, an odd case about the Union Hotel came before the courts. John Simopolis bought a bottle of Swan beer from the pub, and started drinking it. Suddenly he noticed a dead mouse in the bottle. Naturally he felt a little queasy at this point and, although there were no long term medical effects, he sought £25 compensation from the pub and the brewer.

A number of brewery employees testified it would be impossible for a mouse to get into a bottle during the manufacturing process. The defence lawyer claimed it was a frame-up. The judge was not convinced and awarded £10 10s damages to Simopolis.

Dodgy Spirits

Anyone want to go see a band with us?

Anyone want to go see a band with us?

The Rosemount Hotel is the work of Charles Oldham, best known for designing the magnificent AMP Building. It was during the construction of this he wrote a letter to his clients. AMP, saying the Clerk of Works had to be fired.

Oldham claimed Robert Bushby was too picky with the materials (he didn’t like the Donnybrook stone which had been delivered) and the contractors couldn’t work with him. Bushby was dismissed and immediately sued Oldham for libel. He originally won £200 in damages, although this was overturned on appeal, since the letter was deemed to be in confidence.

William Cutmore, licensee of the Rosemount Hotel, ended up in court in 1910, accused of selling potato spirits masquerading as good, honest rum. Cutmore had purchased five gallons of the stuff, and only sold one shot, before the Chief Inspector of Liquors showed up at his premises. The inspector picked up a bottle, put it to his nose, and announced, “I don’t like the odour of this stuff.”

In the lab, the spirit in question was found to be made from potato, coloured with burnt sugar, and flavoured with some type of rum essence. The ingredients of the latter included manganese dioxide and sulphuric acid, to which, birch or coconut oil had been added.

The government scientist refused to tell the court if the ‘rum’ was injurious to health, protesting “I am not a duly-qualified medical man.” But, he added, “I have my own opinion on the subject.”

Cutmore’s defence managed to establish he was an innocent victim here, but he was fined £20 anyway. In the meantime, the newspapers fretted that if too much dodgy rum hit the market, WA’s percentage of ‘lunatics’ was bound to increase by leaps and bounds.

Crying Woolf

We remember when it was much more sleazy

We remember when it was much more sleazy

The Commonwealth Hotel (now the Hyde Park Hotel) was designed by liar and architect, William Woolf. Born 1855 in New York, Woolf always claimed he studied architecture at Heidelberg, Germany. There was no such education facility there at the time.

In 1891, he was accused of swindling a servant girl out of £220 in Melbourne, In WA, he was regularly in court for failing to pay his bills, but still managed to design many great buildings. His most significant contribution to Perth’s architecture is His Majesty’s Theatre.

The Commonwealth’s first landlord was Charles Simms. He had been a publican in New South Wales, South Australia, and in Fremantle. However, getting a licence for his new hotel was to prove a little difficult in 1901.

Like any good police officer today, Inspector Drewery opposed the application, but this time it was on account of the manner in which the applicant had conducted his other hotels.

The Inspector read the bench a list of Simms’ convictions over the previous four years. Disorderly conduct on licensed premises; supplying liquor to an underage boy; allowing prostitutes to congregate in his bar; Sunday trading; trading after hours; employing staff after hours; and, again allowing prostitutes in a pub.

After hearing Simms’ excuses for each conviction, the bench adjourned.

After lunch, they said that “after very anxious consideration,” Simms could have a licence, since they did not like to “take the responsibility” of refusing the application in this instance.

So, Charles Simms did become the Commonwealth’s first landlord after all. But only just.

Trouble on the Sabbath

Now open on Sundays

Now open Sundays

How Thomas ‘General’ Jackson found time to design the Royal Standard Hotel (now Hotel Northbridge) is baffling, since he had at least nine children in his household, the result of two marriages.

He studied in England under Edward Barry, designer of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Although responsible for many buildings, when the General died in 1929, the obituaries were more interested in his role in founding bowls in WA, and his skill as a player, than any of his architectural achievements.

Landlords often ended up in court by selling booze on a Sunday. You could only sell beer to a bona-fide traveller on the Sabbath. A famous ruling said a bona-fide traveller was:

A man who drinks to travel, not a man who travels to drink.

In 1903, George Hiscox, licensee of the Royal Standard Hotel, was charged with Sunday trading. Fortunately he had a brilliant defence lawyer, Edward Hare.

Constable Brodie swore he visited the hotel at 10pm one Sunday, and found three men drinking in the front bar. Brodie knew that one of them, Flynn, lived on Bulwer Street.

Mr Hare asked if it might not have been pints of ginger beer in front of the patrons.  Brodie had to admit he had neither tasted nor smelt the contents.

“It was brown liquor,” insisted the constable. “I can tell ginger-ale from beer. And I am sure it was beer, because it is Flynn’s usual drink.”

“Never mind about that,” said the sly lawyer, for all anyone knew “Flynn may have been to the Salvation Army that morning, and renounced beer for ever.”

The bench decided to dismiss the case, without calling upon the defence.

School’s out forever

Dodgy Perth's favourite small bar

Dodgy Perth’s favourite small bar

You’d imagine turning a school into a pub would be controversial, but the PICA Bar is too cool for anyone to object. When the government became liable for education, they needed a central Boys’ and Girls’ School, so the Public Works Department built them one in 1897.

The school had 500 boys on the ground floor and 500 girls upstairs. When it closed in 1958, Perth Technical College moved in. Its heir—TAFE—left the building in 1988 and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), complete with trendy bar, took over.

But back to the building’s school days. There is one historical universal: somebody will always worry about what is happening to our young girls. In 1910, people fretted that girls were growing up with only a basic knowledge of cooking and cleaning.

For those marrying farmers, training in practical household duties was considered essential. For those who would marry men who worked in the city, they needed to be proficient enough they could do without servants.

Perth Central School was useless if all it did was provide a ‘bookish’ education. Miss M. Jordan was appointed to the Central Girls’ School to acquaint her pupils with the duties associated with being a wife. A ‘housewifery cottage’ was built in the schoolyard, where the youth could learn to wash, iron, fold and put away.

Here, they also cooked, laid the table in the appropriate fashion—complete with flowers in the middle—as well as scrubbing the floor, blackening the grates, and brightening the silver.

There was concern that the cottage was so well equipped, the poor darlings would struggle in a real household, but these anxieties were dismissed, and the girls kept learning how to be drudges.

Wolfe’s problem with ladies

At least there's one famous Belgian thing

At least there’s one famous Belgian thing

Next time you are in the Belgian Beer Café, don’t forget to ask them about their policy on serving people in the sex industry. Because it was this that got Robert Wolfe into trouble.

But first, a little background. The Belgian Beer Café was originally called the City Hotel, and there has been a pub on the site since 1879. But Robert Wolfe had the original City Hotel demolished and a new one built in 1898.

The architect was Henry Trigg, whose grandfather (also Henry) is remembered in Trigg Beach and the suburb. Unfortunately, Henry Jr. made the mistake of taking younger brother Edmund into the firm. Trigg descendants claim Edmund was the black sheep of the family who embezzled the firm’s finances, finally driving Henry bankrupt.

In 1899 the City Hotel was situated in the rough part of town. King Street was largely slum housing, several of which functioned as cheap brothels. This was a problem for Wolfe because his bar was the closest for the women of low repute. It was a real problem, because it was illegal to serve prostitutes.

A complaint was made to the police by Susan Mahoney, a regular drinker at the bar. Of course, she said she only ever had one beer, and really only went there to chat with the barman, George. She recognised three ladies of the night, and this was enough for the police to send a plain-clothed officer, who also discovered the women there.

So Wolfe was charged with permitting ladies of low repute to frequent a licensed premise. But the cop had only told the barman to remove the unfortunate women. He never spoke to Wolfe, simply relying on George to pass the message on.

This was enough for the bench to dismiss the charge against Wolfe, since it could not be proved he ever got the official instruction. Although they did give him a firm warning to keep the demimonde class out of the City Hotel.

And on one final note, we presume Wolf Lane is named after Robert Wolfe. Any particular reason no one checked the spelling?

How to keep the Guildford Hotel open

Back in the day before it met with an unfortunate accident

Back in the day before it met with an unfortunate accident

As the Guildford Hotel controversy still rumbles on in the background, Dodgy Perth looks back to a time when the scandal took place inside the building. And it was all revealed by accident.

In 1927, Bassendean residents were clamouring for a hotel of their own, since the suburb still didn’t have one. A few locals opposed the idea. They had only moved to Bassendean, they said, so they could keep their daughters away from the evil drinking types.

In the licensing court, James Wilkinson was giving evidence about why Bassendean needed a hotel. The accommodation would benefit his FIFOs, he said, and sporting groups needed somewhere to meet. The bench was sceptical. How useful would a hotel be for sporting groups, when it would have to close at 9pm each night? Surely that would be a little early for committee meetings?

Don’t worry about that, blurted out James. All we have to do is pay the landlord £1 each for a special license and we can keep drinking until 11pm. We do it all the time at the Guildford Hotel. Suddenly, the proceedings fell silent.

“The police will be interested,” quietly observed one official. At this point, James probably realised he’d dropped the hotel’s landlord right in it.

So remember, when the Guildford reopens, £1 buys you a two-hour extension to closing time, otherwise they’re not being true to their heritage.