Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)



Twas there, oh humble love-illumined home,
We lived and loved, and tenderly took hands
Of those who loved us well—there kisses took
From lips now cold in death—there last we heard
A mother’s and a sister’s gentle words…
J.J. Britton, “A Home”

According to Peet & Co’s 1915 North Perth Municipality land sale map available online through the State Library of Western Australia ( Wasley Street, at this point in time, did not exist. To be precise, the street itself came into existence around 1898 but was originally known as Shenton Street. It wasn’t until 17 January 1916 that the Perth City Council approved the alteration of the street name to Wasley.

Shenton to Wasley

For such an iconic street within my family history, this fact was completely unknown to me. It also means that my Grandparents’ house at 62 Wasley Street was more than a decade older than what I originally thought.

62 Shenton Street first appears in the Western Australian Postal Directory in 1909 with the resident being listed as ‘Chas. (Charles) Seale’. While the 1909 Directory was the first to list the house number, Charles Seale however appears connected to Shenton Street (and, I assume, number 62) as early as 1898 when the area was known as Forrest Hill and had not yet become known as ‘North Perth’. It seems Mr Seale was the very first resident of the home and possibly an early purchaser of land through the sub-divisions and land sales which began to take place in the area around this time. He remained until about 1910.

1911 saw a change in resident when Arth. (Arthur) T. Wynne (a bootmaker) moved in. He remained throughout 1912 and is listed in the Electoral Rolls as living there in 1913 but may have in fact left during this year. The Directory for 1913 provides weight for this assumption as it lists Jno (John) H. Roach (a drill instructor) as being the resident. A year later, the 1914 Electoral Roll shows him living there with his wife, Agnes. It’s possible however that the house was occasionally rented out as an ‘E Butt’ placed an advertisement in 1912 which also gave his address as 62 Shenton Street.

E Butt

By early 1913, the house, furniture and effects was listed for sale with Charles Sommers. The owner was indeed John Henry Roach and the house was described as a five roomed brick villa with a vestibule and bath and detached washhouse. It was near the Rosemount Hotel (which still exists today) and was close to Fitzgerald Street and the tram line (which no longer exists). A very good description of a house I knew well.

For Sale

The new owner may well have been Henry Stewart Peisley (an accountant) who was listed in the 1914 Postal Directory as well as the 1916 Electoral Roll. His wife, Edla, resided with him and on her entry in the Electoral Roll she’s listed herself as living at “Cosborn”. Number 62 was given a name.

As previously mentioned, Shenton Street became Wasley Street in 1916. Being too late to change the 1916 Postal Directory, the 1917 version has an important note under Shenton Street: ‘See Wasley st’. Upon searching for Wasley in Directories for the next three years, we find that Mr and Mrs Peisley are still the residents of the home in 1917, 1918 and 1919. It’s likely however that they actually left in late 1918. An advertisement for the auction of furniture and effects notes the owner as having sold the house and was moving to the east. It is my belief that the owner was Henry Peisley and that his inclusion in the 1919 Directory was incorrect and probably the result of the lateness in the year in which he moved.


The new purchaser of the house seems to have been Harold E[dwin] Daw and in late 1918, he moved in with his wife, Nellie and their young family. The Daws only stayed a few years and in January 1921 they had to endure the loss of their three year old son, Harold Maitland Daw.  Though listed in the 1921 Directory as living at Wasley Street, it appears they left at the start of this year as the death notice for Harold Junior stated that their present address was in Darlington. Perhaps they could no longer stay in a house associated with memories of their little boy.

Sometime after the Daws left, it is my assumption that the house was again put up for sale. A newlywed couple with a baby boy decided that the house would be perfect for their little family and made the purchase. These people were my Great Grandparents (Vic and Kitty Barratt) and my Grandpa (Ron Barratt). Thus began my family’s association with 62 Wasley Street.


Kitty, Vic (holding Ron) and an unknown woman. Though unsure, I am doubtful the house behind them is 62.


In those early years, Vic, Kitty and Ron lived at number 62 up until about 1925. Much of the house itself remained the same as the earlier mentioned sales notice. It was still five roomed and upon entering, there was a bedroom to the left (Vic and Kitty’s room) and a bedroom to the right. Then further down, another room on the left was probably Grandpa’s room and the room on the right was the lounge room. Straight ahead you would reach the kitchen and eating area which had a door connecting to the bathroom and another door connecting to the wash house. The outdoor toilet was located right at the end of the property.

On 17 September 1924 there would’ve been great excitement in the house. Kitty was in labour. She gave birth to a little girl and they named her Pauline Joy Barratt. The room to the right as you walked in would eventually become Pauline’s room.

Birth Notice

As it turned out, baby Pauline only spent about a month at number 62. On 27 October 1924, Vic (working for the W.A.G.R) was given a permanent placement as a fireman in Busselton. The whole family moved down south and lived in a home built by Vic on Gale Street. During this time, they did not sell the Wasley Street property. They instead decided to rent it out.

In 1925, Walter Higginson moved in with his wife, Mollie and his children. It was the perfect house for the family to live in as a little further up the road towards Fitzgerald Street (three houses away) Walter’s father, Richard, lived at number 68. Incidentally, one of Walter and Mollie’s children was five year old Geoff Higginson. Geoff was Grandpa’s best friend growing up and they stayed friends throughout their lives. Perhaps this was how they came to meet.

They remained for a year and in 1926, William S Whitely moved in with his young wife, Dorothea. Sadly for Dorothea and the Whitely family, her mother, Elida McDonald, passed away at the residence in September 1927. William and Dorothea lived at 62 for several more years until about 1928 when the Barratts again returned. They stayed there until the late 1930s.

Unfortunately I have no first hand account of what times were like for Vic, Kitty, Ron and Pauline but, I can speculate. Grandpa was a bit of a larrikin and, most likely, got into a fair bit of mischief.


Ron (top) standing on the shoulders of his friends, Geoff (left) and Glen (right).


Kitty wished for her children to learn an instrument and so arranged for Ron to learn the violin and for Pauline to learn the piano. Number 62 would’ve been filled with the sound of music.

Renovations were carried out by Vic at some point and while changing the mantelpiece, he discovered an old photo that had fallen behind it. The woman was young, lived during the Victorian era (judging by her clothing) and was photographed in Victoria. Perhaps the woman behind the mantel was somehow related to one of the earlier occupants. Or, perhaps she was one of the earlier occupants. Her identity remains unknown.


By 1937 Vic had been given a placement at Merredin as an engine driver and Kitty, Ron and Pauline relocated and made their home in a new town. Again the house was not sold and the Western Australian Postal Directories for the next three years continued to print Vic’s name alongside number 62. By 1940, Mrs B Cutts was listed as the resident.

My searches have so far been unable to ascertain who exactly Mrs B Cutts was. She remained listed as the resident for 1941, 1942 and 1944. The 1943 Electoral Roll however shows there were four Cutts women living at 62 Wasley Street; Flora (shop assistant), Helen May (milliner), Jessie Muriel (milliner) and Vera Lilian (home duties). All four women were of a similar age and it’s my assumption they were sisters.

In 1945 the name of the resident changed and ‘Mrs Vera L Cutts’ was printed in the Directory. She stayed throughout 1946 and 1947 until 1949 when Miss Helen Cutts listed her name.

Throughout this time period, the Barratts resided in Merredin. WWII had been declared and Ron (just like Vic did during WWI) enlisted in 1940 to do his bit for his country.

Vic, Ron & Kitty

Vic, Ron (in his RAF uniform) and Kitty in Merredin.


He had to leave his sweetheart (Audrey Flynn) behind but was granted leave in 1944 so the couple could marry. Ron was discharged in November 1945 and returned home to Audrey who was pregnant with their first child. My Aunty arrived in 1946 and three years later, my Dad arrived in 1949. Ron was not listed in the Postal Directories until 1949 when he gave his address as 22 York Street, North Perth. It’s possible that this is where they were living throughout this period; not far from Audrey’s parents at 39 York Street.

Vic continued living in Merredin but sadly lost his beloved Kitty in January 1947 at the relatively young age of 53. After Kitty’s death, he did not return to North Perth.

The online Western Australian Postal Directories end in 1949 and despite the aforementioned final listing, it appears that some time during this year, Ron moved into his Dad’s house at 62 Wasley Street (the house he grew up in) with Audrey, my Aunty and Dad. The Cutts women moved into the house the Barratts vacated at 22 York Street. A house swap, you could say. Two years later, in 1951, Ron and Audrey’s youngest son, my Uncle, was born.

There were to be no more moves for Ron and Audrey. They remained at 62 Wasley Street throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s. Vic and Kitty’s room became Ron and Audrey’s room. Pauline’s room became their daughter’s room and Ron’s old childhood bedroom became his sons’ shared room.

While my Dad doesn’t remember a lot of specifics about his time growing up in the house, a stand out memory were the many gatherings held there such as at Christmas time.


Christmas at the Barratts.



Dad in the backyard.


He slept in the room which was once his Dad’s bedroom and shared it with his brother. He recalled that for many years, the room was also the home of Vic’s lathe which had been brought down from Merredin and sat there until it was eventually moved to the shed.

The children grew into teenagers and became adults. My Aunty married and had children of her own and a new generation (Ron and Audrey’s grandchildren) would come to visit and grew within the walls of the house.


Dad’s first car (an ex-fire brigade ute) out the front of 62 Wasley Street.


Vic passed away in Merredin in 1973 and while his Will (created in 1952) stipulated that his son, Ron would receive all his carpentry and engineering tools, there was no provision for number 62. From my own knowledge of the family history, I know that the property was eventually placed in Ron’s name. The finer details such as when and how are unknown to me. Did Vic transfer the property to Ron before he died? Did Ron end up paying for it? Was a decision made that Ron should keep the house after Vic died? Did he have to pay anything to keep it? Was another, later Will created which made mention of 62 Wasley Street?


Grace (Audrey’s Mum), Ron, Audrey and Joey (their pet 28).


Nevertheless, with the house in Ron’s name, time rolled by and the 80s began. Ron and Audrey’s two sons eventually married and also had children. I came along during this time period and grew up in the house with my brother. Too young to remember the late 80s, I remember the house best throughout the 90s and early 2000s. We visited so often (once a week or sometimes twice a week) that it really was like a second home.

I remember…

  • Opening the front gate and always (without fail) checking the mail box.
  • Running up to the verandah, ringing the old doorbell instead of the new one (which Grandpa didn’t like us doing)  and peering through the glass to see if we could see Grandma coming. She’d often knock on the glass where she could see our faces.
  • Grandma opening the door and giving the biggest hugs. We’d then walk down the hallway and straight into the kitchen where we’d take our places at the dining table; Grandma at the end closest to the hallway door and my brother and I on either side of her. I believe we had to sit like that because on a previous occasion we’d argued about who got to sit next to Grandma.
  • Sitting at the table which was always covered with a tablecloth and a spread of cakes, biscuits and crackers.
  • Everyone helping wash the dishes and my brother and I helping with putting them away.
  • Heading into the laundry area (washhouse) where we’d dig our way through the spare clothes stuffed in the shelving and promptly play dress ups.
  • Randomly dropping in and, if no one answered the front door, walking around the back to find Grandma pottering in the garden.
  • Grandma and Grandpa’s pet 28 named Joey who said hello when you walked past. He was sadly stolen or was set free when Grandpa’s shed was broken into.
  • My brother and I cautiously wandering into Grandpa’s shed to watch what he was doing and to look in fascination at all the stuff within it. We were promptly told not to touch anything!
  • The one time my brother and I stayed over and we ate bread and dripping for tea.
  • Walking down the pathway to the outdoor toilet and seeing a trail of destruction where Grandma had squashed all the snails.
  • The fear of having to go to the toilet at night time before we went home. We always went equipped with a torch and Mum, who was our protector.
  • Everyone sitting in the lounge room; a place where little children had to be quiet and were told off if they sat up and blocked the tv. Luckily, Grandma was always there to entertain us by playing cards.

The backyard with the old bbq (centre) and mint and parsley in an old trough (left).




Grandpa’s shed (left) and the flowers Grandma grew.


There are so many more memories and each time I think of something, something new pops into my head. My brother and I explored every nook and cranny of the house in our youth and while I don’t know why it held our endless fascination, in my memory, I guess it seemed like a wondrous, magical place. We looked at all the knick knacks in our Aunty’s old room and then we’d look through the drawers and wardrobe. We found her old doll with it’s blinking eyes and beautiful dresses which both mystified us and creeped us out. We admired the mouse teddy on Grandma and Grandpa’s bed wearing the pretty little bonnet and dress and would then move on to open their small cupboard (which was once a fireplace) so that we could look at their shoes (yep, weird). We’d quietly walk over to Grandma and Grandpa’s dressing table and I loved looking through Grandma’s jewellery; often picking out the brooch we gave her after our trip to Busselton. We explored every facet of the backyard and excitedly collected (probably too many) lemons for Grandma. Most of all, we took great delight in exploring the pantry. Secreted inside, we’d close the door slightly and would look through absolutely everything including old material, sewing patterns, wrapping paper, bottles, a wind up alarm clock, old school books and then (once satisfied we’d seen enough) we’d sneak a cool mint or two on the way out.

Jess & Chris

My brother and I with our dog, Blackey, in the backyard.


In early 2007 Grandma had a stroke. She never fully recovered and passed away in April 2007. 62 Wasley Street lost some of its light and the house seemed changed; empty without her. Grieving for a Grandma I loved so much, I personally struggled with being in the house without tearing up.

Grandpa remained living in the family home that spanned generations. He pottered around the house, ate ice-cream and banana for dinner and would often be seen walking (or driving his gopher) up to the shops to buy lotto. The hands of time pass (as they always do) and Grandpa suffered several health issues throughout the years. In June 2011, at age 90 (so many of which were spent living at 62 Wasley Street) he passed away.


62 Wasley Street, North Perth in late 2014.


After about 90 years of ownership within the Barratt family, the house was up for sale. It was purchased and by all appearances, the new owner attempted to give it a new lease on life.

Wasley March 2015 - 2

62 Wasley Street in March 2015 – Courtesy of Google Street View


But, for whatever reason, it was not to be.


Earlier this year, I had a dream. My Grandma stood in front of me and just as I did for so many years, I immediately went to hug her. She hugged me back and spoke several words to me, “It’s just a house. There’s no point in crying over a house.” I remembered the dream when I woke and I knew, deep down, exactly what she was talking about.

About a month later (after the 11th Battalion commemoration at King’s Park) on a whim, Dad decided to drive down Wasley Street. My heart was filled with dread and as we got closer, it dropped. Where 62 Wasley Street once stood for over 100 years was a bare stretch of sand. It was gone. The home that had sheltered so many for so long was gone in the blink of an eye.

Despite Grandma’s words, I cried. But I knew she was right. There was no use in crying over a house. The house was a place; a thing. It was associated with my memories but it was not the keeper of my memories. My memories are my own. They reside within me and will always be with me. And so I will write them down and share them and perhaps, out of the words, 62 Wasley Street will rise from the rubble and the history of all those who resided within will live again in the imagination of others.

Please note: the history of 62 Wasley Street has been created mainly from sources such as the WA Postal Directories, Electoral Rolls, Perth Rate Books and Trove. Due to the extreme expense of Landgate historical research requests, I have been unable to confirm if my own research is correct according to official documents (i.e. Certificates of Title). Any mistakes in this history are my own.


While the stimulus of a fresher air, of change of scene, and of new occupations, together with rest from accustomed work, are the elements from which the weakly, the worn, and the worried reap physical and mental restoration in a sojourn on the sea-coast, it is, unquestionable that bathing in the open sea is, in itself, a powerful restorative agency, which many persons may employ with very great advantage.

It was this belief (that the sea was a “powerful restorative agency”) that caused the popularity of bathing in the sea to increase throughout the Victorian era and continue up until the early 20th century. All manner of people flocked to the beach to partake in the benefits of bathing.

Bathing in some form or other is absolutely essential to enable the skin to perform its important bodily functions; but sea bathing excels all other modes of ablution in that it has a strong tonic effect on the system, and is combined with fresh air and thorough though not exhaustive muscular exercise.

Of course a visit to the beach in the Victorian era wasn’t quite like a visit to the beach today. While today both men and women alike congregate on the beach at the same time wearing as much or as little clothing as they like, their Victorian era counterparts faced much stricter societal conditions on what was or wasn’t appropriate behaviour in public. Segregated bathing times (or even separate beaches!) were often put in place as it was important that men and women should not be seen in public in their bathing costumes. These etiquette requirements were more often enforced against women in particular and, thus, the bathing machine was invented.

Bathing Machine

The bathing machine was essentially a small wooden hut on wheels that provided privacy for women whilst getting changed. The woman would enter the hut at one end, change into her bathing costume and then, when ready, would be wheeled down into the water where she could exit facing the sea.

Bathing in Australian waters came with its own set of challenges (namely sharks – “the more things change the more they stay the same”) and in 1885 Mr Greenfield of Sydney solved the problem by inventing an ‘Australian bathing machine’. Much like the aforementioned bathing machines, Mr Greenfield’s invention was fitted with a portable gated enclosure which was lowered into the water and enabled the party to bathe safely within its confines. The following image was printed in the Illustrated Sydney News several years later and shows Mr Greenfield’s machine in use at Coogee Beach.

Mr Greenfield's Machine

Women’s bathing costumes were also a matter of importance and in the 1880s and 1890s were more akin to dresses. Some were in fact labelled ‘bathing dresses’ and consisted of shorter length pants covered with a long tunic or blouse (a dress by today’s standards). Buttons, trimmings and ruches added decoration to the costume while the material used was often quite heavy (such as flannel or serge) so that the costume wouldn’t float on the water or cling to the lady’s figure.

Bathing costumes in 1883.

Bathing costumes in 1883.


Bathing costumes in 1886.

These requirements with regards to bathing etiquette weren’t only just moral guidelines – they also became laws. The Western Australian Government in the Municipal Institutions Act 1895 gave local councils the ability to pass by-laws with respect to bathing. Such by-laws included regulating or prohibiting bathing in various bodies of water; the option to set apart certain areas for use by a particular sex; regulating the hours in which people can bathe; requirements as to clothing being worn and authorising the erection of bathing houses or machines. Unfortunately (despite exhaustive searching) I have been unable to find a copy of any council’s full bathing by-laws but one newspaper article on Trove published certain examples of the Cottesloe laws which are quite interesting.


As is often the case when something reaches a heightened popularity, rules from various sources were printed in the papers so that readers could enjoy sea bathing “with benefit to health rather than injury.” The following set were printed in The Cumberland Free Press in 1895 and while the ‘don’t bathe after eating rule’ is familiar, the majority are rather archaic.

  1. Never bathe when heated, nor when feeling chilly.
  2. Never bathe within two hours after a meal, but, on the other hand, do not enter the water when exhausted or hungry.
  3. An early bathe may be taken by those who are strong and healthy before breakfast, but it is as well to have had a biscuit and a drink of warm milk before going out.
  4. Those who are young or delicate should bathe two or three hours after a meal in the forenoon, when the sun is hot.
  5. Never prolong the bath after the first symptom of chilliness has appeared.
  6. Those who are able to swim can stay in the water much longer than others, and active games in the water should be encouraged.
  7. On leaving the water dry and dress quickly.
  8. Those who are subject to palpitation, giddiness, fainting fits, or are not in very good health in any other way, ought to consult a doctor before deciding to go in for sea bathing.
  9. After the bath a little light refreshment, such as a biscuit and a small glass of milk and water, or a beaten-up egg, with a teaspoonful of brandy in it, is very good.
  10. It is not wise to sit down on the beach after bathing; a short, brisk walk is desirable.

With the end of the Victorian era came the eventual end of segregated bathing, bathing machines and longer, dress-like bathing costumes. While initially the start of the 20th Century saw the continuation of the longer length bathing costumes, within the space of 25 years much had changed. Costumes gradually became fitted, shorter and closely resemble the full length costumes of today.


A bathing costume in 1901 (left) and in 1926 (right).


1926 Bathing Costumes

Examples of 1926 bathing costumes.


Don’t bring bananas on a boat. Don’t whistle on board or you might “whistle up a storm”. Don’t say goodbye. Or mention drownings. Or say good luck. Don’t sail on Fridays, or Thursdays, or the first Monday in April or the second Monday in August. Don’t change the name of the ship. And always, always, pay your debts.

It seems like a lot to remember. But any sailor worth his salt would know them all and I’m sure Hugh James Theakston was no exception. He’d been sailing on the open seas since the age of 20 and throughout the years had achieved his Certificates of Competency as Second Mate, First Mate and then as Master Ordinary. When he was given the title of Captain of the steam ship ‘Dolphin’ in March 1888 he’d been working on ships (in the UK and South Australia) for about 25 years.

The appointment initially started off quite well. Hugh relocated from South Australia to Fremantle and made his first trip from Port Adelaide on Tuesday, 28 February. He arrived in Fremantle just under a week later on 6 March.

Dolphin 6 March

Owned by Messrs Symon, Hammond and Hubble, the 147 ton steamer was known for its speed and could travel up to 11 knots per hour. Hugh himself was also well-known in Fremantle (having travelled back and forth from South Australia throughout a number of years) and The Daily News reported that “he has always been remarked for the attention he has devoted to his owners, as well as to consignees, and in selecting him as master of the steamer Dolphin Messrs. Symond, Hammond and Hubble have no doubt fully realised the value of his services.

Four days later the owners conducted a clever little marketing event to help promote their new venture. They invited “representatives of almost every branch of commerce” as well as a number of leading newspaper reporters for a fishing excursion on board the Dolphin. It appears to have gone off without a hitch. Having left the south jetty at 11am with Captain Theakston at the helm, they headed out to Five Fathom Bank for a spot of fishing.


Dr Barnett gave the toast of “Success to the Dolphin and prosperity to her owners” and, in a nod to the owners’ initials (S H H) declared that they should have “Success, Health and Happiness” which was received by those on board most enthusiastically.

With the marketing out of the way, it was down to business. Over the next eight months, Hugh sailed the Dolphin up and down the Western Australian coastline. Several ‘pleasure trips’ much like the initial fishing excursion were also organised.

Pleasure Excursion

Whether the Dolphin was making the owners money and was successful during this time period is unknown. Any financial difficulties or minor cases of ‘bad luck’ wouldn’t be reported in the newspapers. It wasn’t until a serious event occurred that the steamer would make the news. Sadly, this event was the death of the fireman, John Hammond (it is not known if he was related to the owner, Mr Hammond).

On Saturday, 17 November 1888, Hugh and John Hammond were on board the Dolphin which was anchored alongside the Redemptora for the purpose of taking on empty water tanks. They had taken on two already and were in the process of unloading the third when disaster struck. In Hugh’s words:

…Hammond and I were standing on the after part of the hatchway. I afterwards got under the tank, and as we were lowering it into the hatch the hook of the block, suspended to the main-yard of the Redemptora, carried away. Hearing something had carried away, Hammond went a step or two aft and the block struck him on the head and knocked him down; he never moved again.

The force with which the block hit Mr Hammond was so strong it resulted in severe damage to his skull. According to Dr Hope who was first to examine him, death was instantaneous. A Coroner’s Inquest was held three days later and the jury gave the verdict that John Hammond’s death was a result of the block striking him on the head. They further stated that while they felt that the gear used was inadequate, no blame could be attributed to any person.

After a tragedy of this kind you would be forgiven for thinking that the Dolphin was a jinxed steam ship. And if you didn’t, the next event would certainly change your mind.

A week after the death of Mr Hammond, at about 9pm on Saturday, 24 November, the Dolphin was moored some distance away from the pier in Fremantle when Police Constable Gee noticed that there were sparks and flames coming from the vessel. It was on fire.

PC Gee immediately left and informed Mr Hammond and another man, Mr Bingay, volunteered to find Hugh and advise him of the escalating drama. In less than 15 minutes they were all back at the pier and Hugh, Mr Bingay and PC Hopkins of the Water Police (who had joined the party) set off in a boat towards the ship. Back on land, PC Gee alerted the neighbourhood by “vigorously blowing his whistle“.

After hearing the whistle (and perhaps seeing the fire for themselves) members of the public prepared their boats and headed out towards the Dolphin. While many people did so with the intention of helping to extinguish the fire, there were quite a few people who were more interested in having a sticky beak.

The night was as black as ink, dark clouds floated across the sky, and it was an exceedingly difficult matter to navigate a small boat amongst such a crowd. On nearing the steamer, however, it was found that the flames were towering above the funnel, and this acted as a brilliant illumination of the surrounding vessels. On every side were seen the small dingies, crowded with persons whose faces were lit up by the flames from the steamer, while near were larger crafts with their compeiment of spectators.

As Hugh, Mr Bingay and PC Hopkins reached halfway it seems they began to realise that the situation was dire and, from out on the water, they signalled to Mr Hammond that he should obtain additional help.

Reaching the Vessel

The fire alarm in Fremantle was raised and Messrs Hall, Gardey, Captain Newbold and 15 additional volunteers all quickly made their way to the jetty with the fire engine.


The Fremantle Fire Brigade in 1886

At hearing the sound of the fire alarm the people within the town of Fremantle entered into a heightened state of excitement. Residents poured out of their houses and headed straight to the jetty in order to view the commotion.

…an excited mob of men, women and children flocked down the jetty, yelling and shouting and tumbling over one another in their mad excitement to get near the scene of the conflagration…

The firemen arrived and waited a while on the jetty. News was received that the Dolphin may need to be scuttled and, being unable to do anything from their present situation, they returned to the station. Those attempting to fight the fire by way of buckets and pumps soon managed to get it under control but a broken pump resulted in the flames reigniting. Desperate, and wishing to save the Dolphin, the ship ‘Rescue’ (a rather fitting name) took control of her and towed her towards the jetty. The fire alarm was again sounded and at about 11:45pm (having once again responded to the call for help) the Fremantle Fire Brigade took their place on the jetty ready to take action as soon as the steamer came alongside it.

Capt. Theakston immediately informed Capt. Newbold where the seat of the fire was and holes were cut through the deck, and for two hours fifty men were on the engine pumping, assisted by quite an army of buckets which, continued to pour water on the burning vessel till 1:45am, when the fire was declared to have been extinguished.

The fire had originated in the stoke hole and ignited from embers which weren’t completely extinguished when the crew left the ship. While the Dolphin was still salvageable, she had, nevertheless, suffered extensive damage. The decks and windows were destroyed as well as the lining and several planks on her port side. The wooden part of the engine room was partly destroyed and some of the iron (the ship was composite built – wooden planks on a metal frame) was twisted by the heat. Interestingly, The Daily News made mention that the clock in the engine room had its face burnt off and had stopped at 9:15pm. The fire had raged for over four hours.

While initially Hugh was praised in the papers for being one of the first on board and for working tirelessly to save the Dolphin, those conducting the Enquiry (held a few days later in the Fremantle Court) reached a different view.

…we consider that H. J. Theakston, master of the said steamer Dolphin, is highly to blame for leaving his vessel without an anchor-watch or seeing that the men did return to the ship at the time ordered, viz., 9 p.m.

He wasn’t jailed or fined but it was still terribly embarrassing. He also faced the prospect of being unemployed throughout the time it took to repair the Dolphin. This, however, did not take long.

By late January 1889, The West Australian reported that the Dolphin’s repairs had finally been completed and the steamer would soon return to active service with the first trip being an excursion to Rockingham.



Hugh is not listed as the Captain but as he shows up in the shipping lists in March 1889 and Captained the ship for another excursion (this time to Penguin Island) later that month, we can assume he still had his job. After April 1889, his connection with the Dolphin ceased.

His time as Master of the Dolphin had lasted a little over year and throughout that time two rather serious events occurred within the space of a week. It was not the best start to his time in Western Australia. Nevertheless, Hugh went on to Captain many other ships throughout the 1890s until 1902 when he tragically went down with the lugger ‘Katiga’ off the coast of Broome. The Dolphin, on the other hand, received a new Captain appointed by Symon, Hammond and Hubble and, by all appearances, continued to sail throughout the 1890s without great incident.

It seems I may have been more than a little unfair in declaring the Dolphin to be unlucky. Perhaps the bad luck she endured was not of her own making but had stemmed from Hugh himself. Or, perhaps there was more to the story than what meets the eye. I’ll leave you with the words of John Kerr, a witness who spied that something was amiss much earlier than when the alarm was raised at 9pm.

…I saw the Dolphin on fire – about 6 o’clock… Other men said they saw fire. There were others present who said they could see a man on deck, and disputed that the vessel was on fire.


Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. ~Henry James

Throughout the years Australians have had many different brands of tea to choose from and while some have faded into obscurity, others have remained and have become iconic brands. Bushells is one such company.

In 1883 Alfred Bushell opened a tea shop in Queensland and began selling his own brand of tea which was aptly named Bushells. The tea proved to be a big hit with the public and by 1899 his sons joined the company and the business moved to George Street in Sydney. It continued to expand and it was in this same year that they began to supply tea to other states and territories of Australia. Bushells remained owned by the Bushell family for over 100 years until 1998 when it was purchased by Unilever.

Since their inception, there have been many different ads printed in newspapers around Australia which talked about the superior flavour and high quality of Bushells tea. Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s an advertising company came up with the idea of ‘Bushells Ballads’ which consisted of a comic and short rhyme illustrating why the featured character (in different situations) desperately needed a cup of Bushells tea. Whether the advertising campaign resulted in an increase in sales is unknown but they are, however, quite clever and witty.

1 May 1952

15 September 1947

22 December 1947

24 April 1952

29 November 1951

20 October 1947

6 March 1948

29 March 1952


It all started off innocently enough. The British India steamer ‘Nalgora’ departed Calcutta in early November and arrived in Fremantle Harbour on 28 November 1931, carrying a cargo of gunnies (coarse, heavy fabric) and bananas. After its arrival, the unloading of the cargo began almost immediately and it was at this point, that a monkey was spied on deck.

The alarm was immediately raised and the crew quickly ran to check the two cages on board. One was found to be open and part of their cargo (18 of the 36 rhesus monkeys bound for the Melbourne Zoo) had all escaped.

Rhesus Monkey

Under the Quarantine Act, each monkey was attached with a £50 bond to ensure that they reached their proper destination. If the monkeys were landed elsewhere (which, I suppose, technically they were) the bond would be forfeited. There was far too much money at stake. The search was on!

The crew first began by investigating every nook and cranny on the ship. They scoured the decks, cabins, rigging and boats and after giving chase, found and recaptured 10 of the monkeys. It was at this point however that a man, evidently in a rush, brought with him a message that two monkeys had been seen crossing the overhead bridge, leaving Victoria Quay and headed for James Street.

Several members of the crew went into Fremantle to continue their search and, according to the media, the monkeys led them on a “lively chase”  through the streets; sending them clambering over rooftops in order to catch their rogue cargo.

Scampering off the ship the monkeys scurried from the wharf, and showed their delight at again having their freedom, by climbing to the tops of buildings in Adelaide-street.

Searching for Monkeys

Several were eventually caught. One headed for the safety of the rooftop of the Congregational Church in Adelaide Street and eluded capture for some time. Another proved to be overwhelmingly troublesome and after scampering across the rooftops of a couple of two-storey houses on Queen Victoria Street, soon made his home in a drain pipe where he refused to budge.


By the 30 November, The Daily News reported that 14 had so far been recaptured. The search was ongoing and now included the Chief Officer, Wireless Operator and four of the crew of the ‘Nalgora’. One monkey was soon located on McLeary Street in South Fremantle which took the total found to 15.

Reports alluded to the fact that the only way the monkeys could’ve escaped from their cage was because someone had opened it. Sadly for the monkeys, one person’s foolish (or selfish) act was to result in dire consequences for them. Desperate, and with three monkeys still on the loose, guns were brought in.

By the 2 December it was reported that two of the three remaining monkeys had been found. One had made it to Beaconsfield while the other was the aforementioned monkey that had made its home in the drain pipe. It had become stuck and a plumber was called in to remove the pipe and extricate the monkey.

The ‘Nalgora’ was due to depart Fremantle on the 2nd. Just before it sailed, the final monkey was spied hiding beneath the wharf. The reports in The West Australian and The Daily News differ. The West reported that the monkey hiding under the wharf was caught after giving chase and a different monkey (which had been on the roof of the Hotel Orient) was shot in the leg with a pea-rifle bullet and his injury was attended to. On the other hand, The Daily News went into further detail by stating that the monkey had been hiding under the wharf but could not be recaptured easily. The pea-rifle was used but without the happy ending printed in The West.

Jacko eluded his would-be capturers in the gloom beath Victoria Quay until yesterday morning, when his liberty, which threatened to cost the ship quite a lot of money, was ended by a bullet from a pea rifle.

It’s a rather heartbreaking end to what initially started as quite a humorous story. But, there is some hope. After the ‘Nalgora’ arrived in Victoria, the Captain, J H Hughes, had to make an official report with respect to the escapade at Fremantle. While the article contained detailed descriptions of where the monkeys were caught throughout the port town, the final paragraph stated:

The agent (Mr. C. R. Duncan) has offered a reward for the monkeys still missing.


It’s hard to imagine what was going through Enoch Pearson Barratt’s mind as he sat in chains on the ship, William Jardine, en route to an alien land thousands of miles from England and thousands of miles from his wife and children.

Perhaps he wondered whether he’d ever see them again. Perhaps he feared for his future. And for theirs. Whilst his mindset will never be known, judging by his future success, it would appear that he was a man of good qualities, sound morals and positivity.

He arrived on 1 August 1852 and it’s likely he spent very little time in prison. He may‘ve at first worked on Government projects but perhaps his good work ethic meant that he soon drew the attention of the free settlers. Honest, hardworking men (despite the convict taint) were in demand.

Throughout the first year of being in Western Australia, it’s doubtful that Enoch had learnt to read and write and was sending letters home to his wife, Mary Ann. In any case, if he had learnt, she wouldn’t have been able to read them (being illiterate herself) without the help of someone else. He continued to think of his family and it’s likely he had some help when enquiries were made about them receiving assisted passage to join him in Perth.

An excerpt from a letter addressed to Thomas Marchant of St Pauls Deptford dated 10 June 1853 states:

I am directed by Viscount Palmerston to acknowle[dge] the rec[eip]t of y[ou]r l[ette]r of the 8th inst[ant], requesting to be furnished with information regarding the Grant of an Assisted Passage to Western Australia to the Wife and Family of Enoch Pearson Barrett, a Convict under Sentence of Transportation in th[a]t Colony.

There were no issues with the application and the assisted passage was granted. Enoch’s wife, Mary Ann, and his children, Elizabeth, James and Emma found themselves booked for passage on the ship ‘Victory’.


Originally advertised to depart England on 3 December, the ship didn’t actually leave until the 28th. The voyage itself appeared to be relatively uneventful and three months after their departure, on 24 March 1854, they arrived in Albany (the first port of call) in Western Australia.

It was while searching for Mary Ann, Elizabeth, James and Emma in the passenger lists that I came across a strange anomaly. Most of the lists are what you’d expect: Mary Ann at the top with the three children listed below her in order of their respective ages.
Certificate of Final Departure

Barratt Passengers

But on one passenger list, which specifically listed the families of convicts who had been granted assisted passage, there is an additional passenger written below Emma.

Who was Jemima

Who was Jemima Barratt?

It’s not an easily answered question. The record itself is found within the Western Australian Passenger Lists (Albany arrivals) but it’s not actually part of the same document that the previous list came from.

Could there have been confusion with a different Jemima? There was a Jemima Gibson listed on the same page of convicts’ families who were granted assisted passage but this Jemima was four years old and next to the family group, a note was scrawled stating that they had defaulted and, I assume, did not travel on the ship. We can easily discount this theory.

Could Mary Ann have given birth to another child before she embarked on the Victory? To check this theory, I searched through the list of birth registrations in England for a Jemima Barratt/Barrett born around 1853 and the one possible match (born in Greenwitch) looks to have died in the same year. A search for Jemima Fleming also yielded no results. Was Mary Ann already pregnant when she boarded the Victory? Did she give birth on board? If this was the case, given the timeline, it would mean that Jemima wasn’t Enoch’s child.

Was it all just a mistake that can be put down as human error? Perhaps Mary Ann was holding someone else’s child when they were recording the names and it was accidentally assumed that the child was hers. If that’s the case, why is there no other Jemima on the other list of passengers? Could it simply have been a recording error and no Jemima existed at all? This, seems like a rather strange error to make in my opinion.

Assuming Jemima was Mary Ann’s child – perhaps conceived at a time when she thought she’d never hear from Enoch again – I find myself pondering the next question, whatever happened to her? There are no early Western Australian death or marriage records for a Jemima Barratt/Barrett and a vague search of the name ‘Jemima’ shows that there’s barely a record of anyone who had that name. Could she have been given up for adoption (and given a new name) due to the fact she wasn’t Enoch’s child?

It’s all quite strange and given the lack of future evidence of any Jemima in Western Australia, I’m inclined to think it’s a mystery which may remain as such. It’s hard to conduct a search for someone who appears to not exist. Until I can conduct some more in depth research (possibly with records from the Victory) I’ll have to leave the question of ‘who was Jemima?’ open for a while.

Incidentally, the Fremantle Prison’s convict database lists Enoch’s marital status as “Mar 3 chn” and then under kin they state “Wife Mary Ann nee FLEMMING & 4 chn of Deptford.” Very interesting indeed.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann Barratt (nee Fleming)


  • The excerpt from the letter was obtained courtesy of Findmypast (Series: HO13 – Piece: 102 – Folio: 265).
  • Gale Newspapers online – STEAM to DUNKIRK, Lille, and Paris.-The The Times (london, England), Tuesday, Nov 08, 1853; pg. 1; Issue 21580.
  • SRO of Western Australia; Albany Passenger list of Assisted Emigrants showing names of emigrants and from which countries selected; Accession: 115; Roll: 214
  • Various facts obtained from Fremantle Prison’s Convict database (

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