Where are they now?

A gallery of Perth people with personal or family connections to the history of the Perth Town Hall.

Michael Smith

Descendant of George Lazenby, Town Clerk, 1869-1881, and caretaker at the Perth Town Hall.

Kate Kelly

Descendant of Town Hall architect Richard Roach Jewell.

Annette Parker

Descendant of Town Hall architect Richard Roach Jewell.

Peter Mitchell

Descendant of George Spencer Compton, organiser of concerts in the 1870s

Jan Parkinson

Margaret Culbong

My name is Margaret Culbong. I am a City of Perth Elder. 

I think of the Perth Town Hall as one of the historic buildings in the City. One of the buildings which shows racism and discrimination. We weren’t allowed in it. We had to walk on the other side of Barrack Street. I was conditioned at the time to all the racism and discrimination. We had to walk this direction, not allowed into certain parts. It was just a part of my life growing up.

We hardly went into Perth because we were only allowed in parts because of the racism and discrimination. My Dad worked on the railways and got a free pass on the train into Perth. That street that ran past the station, we were really only allowed to go. The corner of Barrack Street and Wellington is where we used to sit. Dad and Mum did business and went to Perth for medical business. We would sit on the seat and watch all the traffic go past.

We only went down Barrack Street if we went to the government garden. We had to wallk on one side of Barrack Street past the Town Hall, not the other side. Weren’t allowed to do that. We went into the government gardens. Walking on the right side, never on the left side of Barrack Street. Because of all those restrictions. Racism and oppression.

When I was in my 20s I was nursing at the Royal Perth Hospital. I’d no inclination to go into the Perth Town Hall. That was White Man’s Building. The last 5-10 years I’ve been into it. Perth Town Hall is on Whadjuk land. Our country. It’s sad really because the building is not given the recognition of Whadjuk. Being built on a significant site of our Nyoongar people. It’s important to bring that recognition back to our culture. Re-uniting our young people to our history, our lore and our country. 

I do a lot of crocheting – beanies and that sort of thing. Get the cheaper wool when I can pick it up. I had this wool left over and I thought maybe I should make something with it. I thought the City of Perth had all their coat of arms whatsit things. I thought I’d do one too. Thought I might as well crochet a shield. At the time it didn’t really mean anything and no real significance, but then as I went along with the crochet it did begin to matter. It became something. It mattered. It had the white man’s shape and size but it was putting our mark and our claim on our country. 

All my grandkids and great grandkids will be excited to see my crochet shield in the Kuraree online exhibition. Take them to the Town Hall to see part of our family history and who we are and where we came from. Recognition of Whadjuk people, Whadjuk land, Whadjuk country. I think it’s a good thing.  It’s quite significant that there is something in there of ours. Re-connecting our kids to our lore, our culture and our way forward. My shield would be very important for that. The kiddies are excited about it. 

Margaret Culbong

Halyna Way

Queen of the Ukrainian Winter Ball 1950s

My name is Halyna Way. I am 82 years old. I came to Perth with my mother and father as refugees from Ukraine in the 1950s. My sister was already here. In those days, all the ‘new Australians’ used to hire the Perth Town Hall for their functions because it was quite cheap. This was before they built their own social clubs. I went to two Ukrainian society balls in the 1950s. 

For the ball in 1955, I was still at Princess May School in Fremantle, where I went for a year. I was Halyna Szyhyma in those days and my partner was John Jakimowiez (left), who lived next door. We went with my friend Nina Pawlenko (second from right) and her partner George Tkachenko (right).

In this photo, I have been crowned Queen of the Ukrainian Winter Ball. I am holding the engraved silver tray I was given. I was crowned Queen of the Ball because I had sold the most tickets. This would have been on 27 July 1956. 

Halyna Way

Rob Smith

Descendant of George Lazenby, Town Clerk,1869-1881, and caretaker at the Perth Town Hall

My name is Robert Smith and George Lazenby is my 5x Great Grandfather. He is a man who has been forgotten by the city he helped build but I am glad that today he is being recognised. George was part of the tight knit and civic minded Methodist congregation that included the architect of the Town Hall, Richard Jewell. Jewell had already built the Wesley Church and George was a long-standing leader of that group. Being a master builder George had much to contribute, and he also built the wooden benches.

George was a busy man who did much to contribute to the growth of Perth physically, intellectually and spiritually. He was involved with repairing Government House, and in 1862 he became Foreman of Works to the Imperial Government. In this capacity he supervised construction of the Barracks and the Colonial Hospital. George took as apprentice Benjamin Mason and employed Joseph Hamblin. He was a lay preacher and strong Temperance man. He raised 8 daughters and 2 sons, and though his sons produced no heirs, his daughters married famous WA families like Hall, Birch, Duffield and King. George was a long-time member and Chairman of the Swan River Mechanics Institute. He and his wife established the first school for girls.

George was not only Supervisor to the Perth City Council, he was appointed Caretaker of the Perth Town Hall in January 1871. The papers report that he ‘appropriated a portion of the upper floor for office purposes’ (The Herald Sat 28 Jan 1871). During his time George was also Inspector of Public Nuisances, a job that must have been very interesting at times. George served as Town Clerk from 1869-81. At one time there were complaints that he was paid too much, but when his duties were examined an apology was issued.

150 years on from the construction of the Perth Town Hall I am proud to be a descendant of this industrious man.

Robert Smith

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