Dodgy Perth recommends taking a stroll to the west end of James Street. The frontage of the Wilson Car Park conceals a secret. A secret about courtesans. Which are the best kind of secrets.
If you look carefully above the car park, there is an Art Deco building hidden behind the modern façade. Coming through the entrance, much of the older erection can still be seen. The signage proudly proclaims that it belonged to Martin Nixon, manufacturer of bodies.
Dodgy Perth is not interested in Martin right now. Although this particular body builder will appeal to the kind of bearded man interested in old buses and trucks, and a few of his vehicles still exist here and there, mostly in museums.
But Martin only purchased the ‘Modern Service Station’. The original had been erected to serve the rather different needs of Princess Josie de Bray in 1930. Which still involved bodies, however.
Josie was Perth’s most prominent madam in the 1920s and ’30s. This James Street garage would not only offer your car a full service, it also provided a secret entrance into Josie’s back passage. That is, to her fabulous purpose-built brothel on Roe Street.
“Just going to fill her up,” would have been an expression on the lips of more than one Perth bloke.
So, next time you’re in James Street, have a look at the last remaining evidence of Perth’s famous red light district. And don’t forget to get a full service while you’re at it.