Perth in the 1900’s

This  is the image I’m using as wallpaper on my desktop at the moment. It shows Perth in the early 1900’s, looking east along Hay St. It helps me get a sense of the times I’m writing about for my next book, which is coming along steadily.

As you can see, the streets in the city centre were paved, and electric trams ran up and down Hay St, having been introduced in 1899. But in other ways conditions were still quite primitive. Did you know that there were sporadic outbreaks of bubonic plague in Perth in this period? In 1906 there were 7 cases in Perth, 12 in Fremantle and 29 around the state, with 13 deaths. Typhoid was also endemic.

Perth had no sewerage treatment system until 1912. Everything (and I mean everything – sewage, dead animals, old clothes, broken furniture, rotting vegetation) got dumped in the “Claisebrook drain” to the east of Perth and flowed into the river. Rats abounded and the stench could be smelled in Highgate and  beyond. Work began on a sewerage system in 1906, but progressed very slowly because the government insisted that the pipes had to be locally made.

John Mason’s crime

Over on my family history blog, Clogs and Clippers, I’ve just posted some new information about the trial of John Mason, Susan Mason’s father. In the book about Susan Mason I said that he’d been sentenced to being transported for stealing cotton, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Since the British Newspaper Archives made the 1833 editions of the Limerick Chronicle available recently, I’ve discovered that it was 29 yards of muslin that he stole. Was he planning to make dresses out of it? Probably not. Here’s the link to the article: Muslin by the yard