Oral Histories

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Our Oral History Collection contains over 300 interviews covering a range of topics from life in the suburbs of Vincent, local businesses, parks, schools and Beatty Park Aquatic Centre to migrant stories. Interviews provide an ideal way of recording the unwritten history that is held within the memory of members of our community, allowing it to be preserved for all generations, past, present and future. All interviews are fully transcribed with the transcripts available in the Local History Centre. We are always happy to receive suggestions for interviewees and if they fit in with the topics we are researching or gaps in our collection then we may follow up with an interview.

Following are a selection of general interviews you may find interesting. The full interviews and transcripts can be accessed in the Local History Centre.

Geoffrey Bolton - Nurse Harvey's  Hospital

Eleanor Harvey (1887- 1943) ran a private maternity hospital at these premises from the early 1920s until the 1940s. Prior to opening her private hospital she had been involved in the establishment of the King Edward Hospital for Women and was the inaugural Matron there from 1916, where she also began the first training school for midwifery in Western Australia. It is understood that she resigned from the position to care for her mother and invalid brother and then began her own private maternity hospital at 30 Bulwer Street.

Eminent historian Geoffrey Bolton AO and his brother were born at this hospital.


Joanne Gilbert - New Oxford Gardens, Leederville

The 1920s and 30s saw the opening of indoor theatres with outdoor picture gardens around our suburbs. There was the Premier Theatre in Stirling Street, Perth, the Rosemount in Fitzgerald Street, North Perth, the Ritz in Mount Hawthorn and the New Oxford Theatre in Oxford Street, Leederville, with picture gardens nearby in Newcastle Street.

Joane Gilbert’s father worked as a courier delivering films between cinemas and also at the New Oxford. She describes the New Oxford Picture Gardens in Newcastle Street, Leederville, near the junction with Carr Street (now Carr Place). 

Gordon Hughes - Chinese Market Gardeners

Following the gold rush in the 1890s the Chinese began to develop a stake in market gardening in Perth.  By 1900 there were many Chinese gardens in the Vincent Area.  In Leederville they were located between Lake Monger and Oxford Street, the Oxford Street end of Newcastle Street, and the northern side of Vincent Street. 

Gordon Hughes, born 1909 in Leederville, remembers the Chinese market gardeners.

Sally Lake & Dudley Maier - Robertson Park upgrade

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Robertson Park is bounded by Fitzgerald, Stuart, Palmerston and Randell streets in Perth. After the excavation of the Old Bottle Yard the Claise Brook Catchment Group became involved in the future planning for the park. A major upgrade including recreating the former wetland was undertaken in 2004.

Claise Brook Catchment Group members and former Vincent councillors Sally Lake and Dudley Maier recall this time.

Alannah MacTiernan - 1990s Beatty Park Leisure Centre upgrade

The City of Perth Aquatic Centre – now Beatty Park Leisure Centre – was constructed in 1962 as a venue for the VIIth British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Located within Beatty Park on Vincent Street, North Perth, it provided Perth with international standard facilities and was considered the best in Australia. Thirty years later it was in need of major renovation and a decision needed to be made on what to do with the facility. 

The Hon. Alannnah MacTiernan, who was a Perth City Councillor and Member of the State Parliament at the time, recalls the campaign on this issue.

Enid Rose - World War II air raid precautions at school

Following the fall of Singapore in 1942 the Australian Government and many Australians feared that Japan would invade the Australian mainland. Anticipating Japanese air and submarine attacks, blackout restrictions were introduced and air raid warning instructions issued. Families dug air raid shelters in their backyards and barbed wire was strung across beaches. Schools and school children were also equipped for potential bombings.

Enid Rose (nee Riley) recalls her days as a school girl during World War II and the precautions that were taken in case of an air raid.