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History Como Beach


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Como Beach became popular in the early 1900s after the subdivision in 1905 of the land bounded by South Terrace, Thelma Street, the river and Fremantle Road (Canning Highway). The subdivision was known as ‘Como Estate’, and the beach was promoted as a fine recreation spot for residents and visitors. In 1907, the Estate contractors built the Como Jetty, which has been well used since that time. In the early years, the Como Jetty was also used by the South Perth Yacht Club1 and, after the construction of the jetty, became part of the ferry route between Applecross (Canning Bridge) jetty and the Barrack Street Jetty. The ferries provided access to the beautiful, soft, clean, pure white sandy Como Beach for swimming, camping and day trips. 

While being accessible to all, it still remained sufficiently isolated and virgin to seem as though it was miles from civilisation. Between 1900 and 1920, Edward Francis (Frank) Edgecumbe (‘the King of Como’), the first president of the Como Progress Association, was a prominent figure in supporting the development of Como as a desirable residential area. Over the years, a number of promotional events were held at Como Beach. In 1909, the first ‘Gala at Como’ event took place, and in 1913-14, a special ‘Como Day Picnic’ was enjoyed by many. Como Beach had been declared public in 1911. The South Perth Road Board supported the development of the beach with the construction of toilets and facilities. Como Reserve became an extremely popular camping area, and reports indicate that up to 3,000 people used the beach on a summer’s day, increasing to 7,000 holiday makers during the holiday season


Como Beach was appreciated by young families for its warm shallow water and safe swimming conditions, and the Road Board (the municipality was demoted to a Road Board in 1922) intended that it remain popular. 

An application to build a hotel in Comer Street in 1928 was opposed, on the grounds that it might lead to intoxicated behaviour and the harassment of young ladies going to and from the beach. As late as 1933, men and boys were prohibited from rolling their bathers down to the waist, as it was considered that bare chests would degrade the good reputation enjoyed by the beach In 1929, a swimming jetty was constructed at the end of the Como Jetty after much fund raising, and was used in the ‘Swim Through Como’ event in that year. 

The resulting swimming enclosure was home to the Como Swimming Club (formed in 1931) for many years. Pressure on facilities mounted, until no further camping was allowed for a period after 1919. By 1947, reports show that Como Beach Reserve was being used as a long term caravan area owing to a shortage of post war housing. Pressure for more sites made the Council reconsider the position, and a decision was made to end all camping and caravan living in the area. In 1982, the main Como Jetty was rebuilt. In 1995-97, the swimming enclosure jetty was declared unsafe, and a decision was made to remove it and upgrade the main jetty, despite opposition from many, including the Art Deco Society.   


Como Beach, bathers and horses, Swan Brewery in background, c1915.

Specs and changes

The Pagoda

The former Pagoda Ballroom was originally built as tea rooms in the early 1920s in response to the popularity of Como Beach. It was built for a Mr & Mrs Gordon to operate. As described by John McLay ‘ … we’d go down to the Pagoda. And Mr and Mrs Gordon would be sitting out there in their evening frock and dress suit and about four customers inside, all in their dress suits. You know, it was really posh, but it didn’t take on’. Infrequent tram and ferry services from Perth proved to be problematic for business and the Depression was to have an effect on the tea room trade.

The building was used as living quarters for soldiers serving in WWII. When a Victorian army veteran who had quartered at the Pagoda revisited Perth, it was discovered that notches carved out of the window sills served as locations for rifles to be placed through.

After WWII the Pagoda was reopened and became a popular ballroom and reception centre. Like many other ballrooms it was unlicensed, however alcohol could be found. Kegs would be brought by attendees and the taps passed through a window. The Pagoda hired out the jugs.

Over the years the building was also used as a venue for roller skating, jazz music, ballroom dancing and weddings.

Today the octagonal building is known as Pagoda Restaurant and Bar. The pagoda style roof and the building’s exterior has been restored to its former glory in the unique Edwardian Oriental style.

Dodgy days

The right sort of pervert

Bathing beach, 1920s
"well, we were having fun till some perv came along and took our picture..."

You know how it is. Down at Como Beach in South Perth and the only place to change into your swimming togs is in the back of the car.
Well, in 1938 young women were doing so with only the benefit of a towel or two covering the car window.

The Mirror was suitably shocked. Well, sort of shocked. But more a little bit creepy.
Noting that young girls were often undressed on the beach, our journalist made the astounding observation that perhaps young ladies had not grown out of this habit of appearing nude in front of young men.

But while young men would be embarrassed to stare at a naked child, they would not be so coy about a fully developed female body.
And this is where our journalist becomes a little odd. He declares that it is not his intention to be a spoilsport, or to restrict the liberty of girls to change where they like.
After all, those males who get a “spicy delight” from walking up and down past the cars hoping to catch the female form should not be denied their right to do so.
But unfortunately, every now and again someone ruins the party by committing sexual assault.
So, it is up to the girls to make sure that they are not seen by perverts. Only the decent sort of peeping tom is allowed that privilege.
This article is a rewrite of an earlier Dodgy Perth post. You could go and find the older piece, but you shouldn’t really be looking between the towels

Once upon a midnight orgy


Once Crawley had all the nude parties and wild orgies by the river. Then Scarborough took up the challenge of being the leading place for such antics. But by 1936 Como Beach is where you needed to be for fun disgusting midnight parties.

One Sunday, decent members of society were shocked by what they encountered on a late-night stroll south of the jetty. Four drunken louts were chasing half a dozen tipsy girls along the beach. When they caught them, they dragged them back to a pile of stubbies.

And then—Dodgy Perth does not know if we can go on—they began tearing off their clothes like the wild beasts they were. God alone knows in what state of undress the girls must have arrived home the next day.

This degrading spectacle should not be allowed to happen on a decent beach like Como. Upright members of society need to be protected from having to see young people enjoying themselves. And the disgusting degenerates themselves should be locked up.

What makes it worse, as regular readers will have guessed, is these were not even working class louts. They came from some of Perth’s most respected families.

Four men, six girls. There’s a movie title there somewhere. Not the kind of movie Dodgy Perth would watch. Obviously.

Tram Ticket


Drone day 1.44 

Sponsored visit by Central Insurance Brokers, Perth WA

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