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.
Looking every inch the rapist
When the Boy from Bassendean was convicted of historical sex crimes, people were quick to react. Perth Modern removed paintings from the wall, while Perth and Bassendean councils ripped up their memorial plaques. So what to do about a city named after a sadistic rapist?
In April 1826 Charles Howe Fremantle was arrested and charged with raping a 15-year-old servant. This had taken place in front of a woman and two children at Charlie’s lodgings in Portsmouth. A charge of ‘aggravated rape’ carried the automatic death penalty. Fortunately for him, daddy was a politician.
William Fremantle immediately called on his mentor, the much-hated Marquess of Buckingham. He told Charlie’s dad he would help get the young man out of this “sad scrape”, and would pay “bail to any amount”. Further, William was advised to “buy off the evidence” in order to keep the scandal out of the press.
Thanks to Buckingham’s dirty money, bail was granted and the marquess even advised on which dubious lawyer would best “get rid of the evidence”.
And so thanks to a corrupt aristocrat, daddy’s connections and a bent lawyer, a brutal rape was covered up and Charles was bundled out of the country to go and claim Western Australia. (The ungrateful sod had the nerve to complain about this mission!)
And, in due course, the evil bastard became an admiral.
Every now and again, someone claims Fremantle was only ‘charged’ with rape, never convicted. But simply read the correspondence between Buckingham and William Fremantle. There is no question about his guilt.
So, if we rip up plaques mentioning sex offenders, what do we do about an entire city?