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.

Meet Thomas Jones


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.