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?

Meet Thomas Jones

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I still think we need more beer.

There’s drunk. There’s very drunk. And there’s Thomas Jones, a middle-aged, grey-haired man. In June 1920, on his way into town, Thomas felt thirsty, so he stopped off at the Commonwealth Hotel (now the Hyde Park) for three pints of beer.

He was a little hazy as to which pub was next, but remembered having six pints. Then another hotel. Two, maybe three, pints there. On arrival in town, Thomas decided to have a few at the City Hotel (now the Belgian Beer Café), before wandering down Hay Street.

Unfortunately our hero was not unknown to the Perth constabulary. Sergeant Johnston, noticing an unsteady gait, decided to place an arm-lock on poor Thomas. Perhaps lacking full control, Thomas fought back and used some choice Anglo Saxon.

In court, Thomas tried for sympathy. He denied resisting arrest.

Thomas By Jove, your worship, I really don’t seem to get much of a chance in Perth, when I think of it. As a matter of fact, I should be charged with drunkenness—I was very drunk. I may have used a little warm language—I really cannot recollect.

Prosecutor I don’t think you can remember much of what happened at all, if you had had as many drinks as you say.

Thomas Sir, I can remember things which happened in my boyhood’s days!

Magistrate Oh, we needn’t go so far back as all that. We’d be here much too long. Are you calling any witnesses?

Thomas Sir, of course not. I have no witnesses for the defence. As a matter of fact, I’m not quite right in my head.

The sentence was 28 days.