Queenie rides her bike to Perth during the tram strike

It’s February 1919 and Queenie is riding her bike from Victoria Park to work in Perth. There is a tram strike in progress that started on 18th of December 1918. It was reported that the tram strike started after long and fruitless discussions with the government over pay rises as they claimed to be the lowest paid in Australia with 9/7 as a minimum in all branches (other states 10/ to 11/).

On the 22nd of December 1918 the The Sunday Times published that the Tramway Union declared a strike).

Excerpt from Queenies Diary – 1919 February

February 4 (Tuesday)

Queenie in 1916 with bike
Queenie with her bike at 50 Leonard Street, Victoria Park in 1916.

As I rode to work this morning, the sun was very hazy and though the water was blue the sky was quite smoky. Going over the Causeway I saw a compassionate driver offer a lift to an old gent who was tramping to Perth – Tram strike still on -. The seat of the cart was just a board placed on the sides and the driver put it too short one side – result when the old gent sat down, (with a beaming smile) it went down too, and he sat on the floor – then they put it up too much on that side, and the driver sat on the floor!! That completely upset my gravity!

This puts me in mind of another queer happening on the Causeway. – Two men and a boiling-tar-tank were on the middle of the Causeway – Place nearly deserted. I came along at my usual pace and one dreamy individual got up off his heels and wandered off in the direction of the tar-tank. I rang my bell slightly and applied the brake bumping along over the holey Causeway towards him. He saw me when I was nearly on him, he dodged, I chased him, ditto repeats two or three times, his eyes on my front tyre, horror struck, he retreated backwards and at last I had to get off, grinning all over me face. – I couldn’t apologise for mirth – his cobber shared the joke – but he couldn’t recover so I left him to think about it.

February 6 (Thursday)

I don’t know that I have any news. I spose you know well enough by this time that the Tram strike is over. I know you say, you know its all over Perth, but ended I mean. Herbert saw two or three Cars come up Hay St abt 6 p.m. this evening. They went as far as William St and turned back. They were cheered and Hooted and all the rest. I guess we shan’t know ourselves again we’re quite classy having a Tram Service just fancy seeing Trams running through our streets. I’ve just been trying to picture what it would be like when Trams first started running in Perth. There won’t be much difference from the Present situation.

February 7 (Friday)

Hurrah! Tram strike is over and they are excavating the lines. Miss Crawford made a riddle – “They’re taking up the tramlines in Hay St!” says she, “Why??” says the dupe, “Oh! because they’re in the Road!”

A tram ran down Hay St yesterday and everyone tore out to have a look, none since 18/12/18. Dad said he climbed over a pile of school children outside the schoolyard today. They were watching a tram coming. He said he moved a small girl (Ralph would say “tart”) out of his way with the front wheel and reached over the front wheel and yanked a human boy out of his path by his collar.

The lines take some cleaning – I saw a tram at this end of the Causeway this morn waiting while four men and a dog unearthed a couple of tramlines.

May 7 (Wednesday)

I was describing my ride to work yesterday in language like this –
“I rode up the hill on a red ribbon which bound a carpet of diamonds onto the earth. Overhead the sky was blue, the sunshine golden – and all the air a crisp sweet freshness which belongs to the month of May, And the river reflected the sky, while the burnished reeds woke to the kiss of the water – a school of wild baby ducks just taking a morning voyage came round a bend in the river and commenced standing on their heads in the water as if for my special amusement. And I splashed on over the old Causeway, through the puddles and all my soul was full of song, because God is great Love.”

And the lady to whom all this was addressed – calmly announced that I was in love !!!

The Causeway in Perth, Western Australia around 1920 taken by Kirby Nicholas, Queenie's brother.
The Causeway in Perth, Western Australia around 1920 taken by Kirby Nicholas, Queenie’s brother.

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