The Bayswater treasure hunt

Accurate map of Bayswater

Accurate map of Bayswater

We have received another e-mail from an African princess who needs our help. Being good people in the Dodgy Perth offices we thought it greedy to accept her offer of $2bn for our aid. So we’ll pray for their safety and promised to keep an eye on the newspapers.

Which reminded us of the time there was £32,000 buried in Bayswater, or Busselton, or Greenbushes. Depending on which version of the letter you got.

In 1915 the scam was known as the ‘Spanish Prisoner Swindle’. A letter would arrive from Guzman Penalto, explaining he had once lived in Western Australia but was now being held prisoner in Spain. Fortunately, he had buried a fortune between two pieces of crystal shortly before leaving these shores.

If the recipient of the letter would be so kind as to forward £398 in the enclosed envelope, a priest will be able to get to Perth from Spain, dig up the buried notes and they could be split between Penalto and his Australian saviour.

Couldn’t be easier, could it? Unfortunately, Penalto was under the impression that Bayswater was hundreds of kilometres from Perth, which hinted either he had never been here, or prison had upset his memory.

Since the Dodgy Perth offices are based in Bayswater and we refuse to share the money, we have spent each evening with a spade turning up each and every inch of grass in the suburb. There’s some way to go yet, but we will not be discouraged.

Breakfast and bigamy

Fire station

The scene of our drama

In late 1924 Amy Coall showed up at Perth Fire Station on Murray Street. Unable to locate her husband, turning up at his place of work was a last resort. It was rumoured Joseph had married another woman, and Amy had to know the truth.

As it turned out, he had tried to be a bigamist. But his mum had stopped him.

But let’s return to the previous year. Amy and Joseph were lovers, and she was six months pregnant when they married in December 1923. The newlyweds moved into 9 May Street, Bayswater.

From the start, though, things were not right. Joseph spent two nights a week away, allegedly back at his parents’ house in Victoria Park, because he said his mum needed help looking after his father.

Their child was born in March, and the relationship rumbled on, with Joseph’s odd disappearances continuing. One Monday in August, Joseph left for work at the Fire Station and did not return for a week. When Amy questioned him, he simply shrugged it off, saying it had been a long shift.

Shortly after this Amy discovered guests had been invited to the wedding of Joseph Coall and Doreen Caple, followed by a wedding breakfast in Fremantle.

When Amy turned up at the Fire Station, Joseph admitted everything. And, by the way, his new lover was pregnant with his child. But he wasn’t actually a bigamist. His mother got cold feet at the last minute, and rushed over to Doreen’s family and told the truth.

Bizarrely, no one could bear to disappoint the invited guests, so the bogus wedding breakfast went ahead as planned, with none of the assembled party any the wiser.

You won’t be surprised to discover Amy got herself a divorce shortly afterwards.