EVERY week at the Vincent Local History Centre we hear unexpected tales of times past in our area.
Last week, long time Leederville business owner Vince Carbone dropped in and told us a story so far-fetched we scarcely believed him until we found newspaper articles confirming the incident which took place on Oxford Street, Leederville.
The year was 1952. Vince was working as a young tow truck driver at Master Motors, 359 Oxford Street.
The 1950s was an era of burgeoning private car ownership with 70,000 vehicles registered in Western Australia compared to over 2 million today. Business was booming for Master Motors when young Vince got the call to attend a tragic and unexpected accident at the New Oxford Theatre (the present day Luna Cinema).
That year, there were 7,510 accidents reported on WA roads between different cars, trams, carts and pedestrians.
While Vince had attended all sorts of accidents, he’d never been called to remove a horse and cart from a cinema before.
The accident happened on a Sunday before Christmas.
Milkman Nick Mostert, a Dutch migrant, was delivering milk with a horse and cart for Masters Dairy when the horse was spooked by a car and bolted, crashing through the window of the New Oxford Theatre (now the Luna Cinema).
The milkman was able to jump clear of the cart and escaped unhurt. However the horse smashed through the glass window and impaled itself on a shaft of wood from the cart and died on the scene.
Vince, who got the call to remove the horse and cart from the cinema recalls, “It used to be joke that our company was the only one to ever take a dead horse from a theatre after a cowboy movie…”
Local reporters put their own spin on events, reporting the first thing police saw when they arrived on the scene was the distraught Dutch milkman and a movie poster for Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.
Local dairy companies like Brownes and Masters continued to deliver milk by horse and cart until the 1960s. Many senior residents recall the sight, sounds (and smell) of work horses and occasional catastrophic collisions between horses and vehicles.
If you have interesting or unusual tales of times past in our area to share, contact the Vincent Local History Centre in the Vincent Library.