London Court is located in Perth’s Hay Street Mall and was modelled on the Liberty’s store, in London. Built in mock Tudor style the narrow arcade was completed in 1937 for a wealthy gold miner and financier Claude de Bernales during the depression .
Mr de Barnales chose architect Bernard Evans for the construction of the arcade due to his a great love and understanding of 15th century Elizabethan architecture and design. The cost of this strangely out of place arcade was £80,000.
Whilst great effort was taken in creating the half timbered look to keep with the Elizabethan period, all the interiors where ultra modern in design (for the time).
The shops in the arcade featured carved window boxes. Period street lamps, gargoyles, masks, shields and crests added to the old world look.
Not everyone was in favour of a Tudor style arcade being built in Perth. From his pulpit at Trinity Congregational Church, Reverend Iona Williams declared the design “Incongruous architecture.” He went on to say ” If a lady wearing a fashionable were to come to church with a Tudor Elizabethan ruffle around her neck, I am afraid her appearance would distract attention from the sermon.” I am pretty sure that never happened!
It didn’t end there, he claimed “to create ugliness or disharmony is an offence against God.” He pleaded that the people of Perth stand on their own feet and express their own thoughts and ideas instead of taking from the past.
London Court Grand Opening
When Old England came to town. London Court was officially opened by Lieutenant Governor Sir James Mitchell. Also in attendance was State Premier Mr J.C. Willcock.
The opening of the much awaited London Court was a three day celebration. With all 52 shops staffed by young women dressed in Tudor period costumes. A large percentage of money raised from the fair was donated to the Perth Hospital.
A theatrette located at the Hay Street end of the arcade held a special musical. While an “Olde English Dinner” was served in the Elizabethan cafe located at the St George’s Street end. The 9 course meal consisted of Tudor recipes, as would have been served to Queen Elizabeth.
London Court Clocks
The arcade leads through to St George’s Terrace. The blue-faced clock located at the Hay Street Mall entrance chimes every quarter hour. The clock face is a replica of a dial in the tower that houses Big Ben in London.
Above the clock face are four knights known as the ‘Tournament of Armoured Knights’. The knights circle in the window when the clock chimes.
The clock located at the St George’s entrance depicts St George slaying the dragon. The clock is a replicas of the La Grosse Harloge ( ‘Great Clock’) that resides in Rouen in France.
Inside the two dungeon towers stands the statues of Sir Walter Raleigh and Dick Whittington and his cat.
Communist Party Headquarters
In the 1940’s one of the shops in London Court became the headquarters for the Communist Party. There were numerous incidents during this time involving members and demonstrators.
In July 1949 a crowd of over 200 youths crammed into Murray Street to protest against the Communist Party selling papers on the street. They snatched the Communist literature from the seller and flung them into the air. They then proceeded to storm their headquarters in London Court.
Police were later called to protect a paper seller from being heckled in Forrest Place.
One youth was charged with creating a disturbance.
Lively Perth Clashes Young Men and Communists BRAWL-IN LONDON COURT Perth.
Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1948 – 1950) Saturday 30 July 1949 p 5 Article
A NEW ARCADE. “Incongruous Architecture.”
The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954) Tuesday 28 July 1936 p 11 Article