The Pagoda, Melville Pde, South Perth
The former Pagoda Ballroom was originally built as tea rooms in the early 1920s in response to the popularity of nearby 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. (South Perth Historical Society)
In my post-war youth the Pagoda was considered one of the more sophisticated night spots in Perth. For a number of years it was a major venue for live music.