Oral Histories

Our impressive Oral History Collection is brimming with hundreds of interviews capturing the essence of Vincent life as it was back in the good ol’ days. Exploring a range of topics from life in the suburbs of Vincent to local businesses, parks, schools and the Beatty Park Aquatic Centre, as well as stories from our many migrants, these interviews are the perfect medium to record history, quite literally from the horse’s mouth.

These memories from our community members allow history to be preserved for past, present and future generations. The transcribed interviews are available in the Local History Centre and we’re always on the prowl for new interviewees, to see if their stories fit the topics we’re researching or can fill any gaps in our collection.

For a sneaky teaser, see below for a small selection of interviews, with the rest of them and their transcripts available in the Local History Centre.

Geoffrey Bolton - Nurse Harvey's Hospital
Geoffrey Bolton - Nurse Harvey's Hospital

Nurse Harvey's  Hospital

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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.

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.

Joanne Gilbert - New Oxford Gardens, Leederville
Joanne Gilbert - New Oxford Gardens, Leederville

New Oxford Gardens, Leederville

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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). 

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.

Gordon Hughes - Chinese Market Gardeners
Gordon Hughes - Chinese Market Gardeners

Chinese Market Gardeners

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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.

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.

Sally Lake & Dudley Maier - Robertson Park upgrade
Sally Lake & Dudley Maier - Robertson Park upgrade

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.

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.

Alannah MacTiernan - 1990s Beatty Park Leisure Centre upgrade
Alannah MacTiernan - 1990s Beatty Park Leisure Centre upgrade

1990s Beatty Park Leisure Centre upgrade

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

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.

Enid Rose - World War II air raid precautions at school
Enid Rose - World War II air raid precautions at school

World War II air raid precautions at school

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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.

Listen to an excerpt of the interview here.