Water, water, everywhere


We’re not certain, but we think this is 43 Salisbury Street, Bayswater. And is still there.

It’s raining outside, so this seems as good a moment as any to discuss the Great Bayswater Flood of 1939. How do you feel like spending two months with your house underwater?

In July, floods forced several families to evacuate from their houses in Salisbury Street. A depression in the road had filled with water and it turned into a 40-metre-long lake. It was there so long, thousands of tadpoles swam in it and frogs kept up an incessant croaking.

One residence became an island and it was impossible to access the front door. But Mrs McBarron refused to leave her house, even though she could only get her family in and out through a gap in the side fence and then through their neighbour’s house.

Bayswater council made noises about dealing with the problem, but they had known about the issue for years and done nothing. Eventually, the council begged the government for help, but were (correctly) told small drains were Bayswater’s responsibility.

By August things were even worse. For three weeks Mrs McBarron had been walking along precariously balanced boards and boxes to get to the back fence. Her small daughter paddled around the backyard in a tin canoe, which allowed her to get to three houses either side. She might have thought this was fun, but her mother didn’t.

After seven weeks of living in the middle of a lake, things looked no better. Cars attempting to plough through the water stopped in the middle of the road and had to be pulled out. It was only when parts of Beaufort Street went underwater that the council and government finally got their act together.

Eventually, after August came and went, the water dropped. Bayswater finally decided to pull their finger out and do some drainage work the following year. All too little, all too late.

A jolly good Post Office


From stamps to tikka masala

*Update* We have now been informed that the Post Office was located in the (now) Beauty & ‘Massage’ parlour, not the restaurant. Same story. Same building. Wrong door.

Continuing our quest to make our local neighbourhood more historical, we turn to the building on the corner of Beaufort and Salisbury Streets in Inglewood. Now the best Indian restaurant in Perth (no argument accepted), we knew this was once a Post Office. But that was not enough. More research was required.

The building screams Art Deco at you. Admittedly a very cheap version of Art Deco. But still, Art Deco. Its date is certainly mid-1930s and so it proved. Approval was given for three brick shops and a residence (at a cost of £2,000, should you care) in late 1935. So they were probably erected in 1936.

The area was then known as Bedford Park and, boy, was it growing. Growing like a plant that grows a lot. A serious amount of plant growth.

In an age before Facebook Messenger there were apparently something called ‘letters’. The Dodgy Perth team does not claim to be familiar with this method of communication, but it turns out to be a real thing. And you had to ‘post’ them. At something called a ‘Post Office’.

Trouble was, the expanding community of Bedford Park didn’t have anywhere convenient to ‘post’ their ‘letters’ in 1938. (We hope we have the language right here.) But the Postmaster General’s Office—the feds who ran the show—weren’t willing to pay for more staff. Imagine that: a government department trying to save money.

The outcome was a compromise called an ‘unofficial post office’. As far as we can tell (and it’s difficult to get accurate information on this one), this meant a deli that sold stamps, collected the letters and parcels, but didn’t get an income from head office. They just made money from selling stamps.

So the shop on the corner of Beaufort and Salisbury Streets got the job of being the local unofficial post office from 1 August 1938, run by John Ramley. But the story doesn’t end here.

Diagonally opposite is a small park, where a war memorial is now located. Bayswater Council offered the site for a permanent Post Office, but this was rejected by the Postmaster General’s Office. The reasons are technical, but basically an A-class reserve cannot be built on without State Government legislation. And this was all too difficult for the Post Office to figure out.

So, our local Indian restaurant leads us to a story about cost-cutting exercises by a federal government department, and their inability to deal with a state government. We guess nothing ever changes.