Time Warp Tuesday - 6 February 2024

Published on Tuesday, 6 February 2024 at 12:12:00 PM

Welcome to #TimeWarpTuesday where we have the pleasure of introducing you to local man Mr Cyril Farley.

Cyril Farley (1917-2011)

Cyril Farley, circa 1946.

Courtesy of the Farley Family. Local History Collection, Town of Victoria Park Library

Cyril was born in King Edward Memorial Hospital on 10 December 1917 and lived pretty much all his life in Basinghall Street, Victoria Park. Cyril was a man who worked hard, overcame physical hardships to thrive in life, becoming a tram conductor and driver and working for TransPerth for many years. He was also a beloved husband, father and grandfather and a professionally trained singer who set-up choirs and taught singing in church and entertained residents at nursing homes with his vocal talents. Lois Farley, Cyril’s wife would also often accompany him on the piano when he sang at events.

In an oral history interview with Jan McCahon (now McCahon Marshall) for the Local History Collection in August 2001, Cyril describes with pathos how he being left the man of the house at aged 17 following the early death of his father, he assisted his mother by collecting and delivery laundry. Cyril also tells of meeting the love of his life Lois whilst he worked the trams as a conductor.

“My Mum and Dad, those times it was very hard to get jobs and my father was sort of got whatever employment he could get and my grandfather James Farley he paid the deposit for the house up here for us to come and live.  Many years or shall I say fifteen months after I was born, I had a bad fall at my grandfather’s place, I fell off a high bed and I broke my hip.  But medical science eighty years ago didn’t know too much about broken hips and things like that and I have of consequence got a leg four inches shorter than the other.  Because it was sort of deadish for many years until I, well I was in and out of hospital several times and at one stage I was in plaster of Paris lying on my back for three months.  All they actually did, I understand, they put a nickel in there because they fused the hip and what I am doing now my left leg turned inwards towards my right leg and my knee of course became very sloppy. 

“And today eighty-three years later I still can’t get anybody to operate because all the specialists say the same thing.  Because of the fusion they can’t work on the knee and apart from that I couldn’t do the exercises with the knee that would have to be done.  Any rate going back to my earlier days we came to live in 120 Basinghall Street, in East Victoria Park where I still live seventy-eight years on.  I had to have crutches to walk to school from here to Albany Highway and when I say, here, we were about a half a mile, three quarter of a mile I suppose the walk was those days.  And there were sleepers laid eventually from Etwell Street up to the top of the big hill in Basinghall Street.  In the wintertime the sleepers get wet and buckle up and many a fall I had going to and from school on the crutches over this.  That’s something I can remember pretty well.  I was never a brilliant scholar at school because I had to lose so much time with, in hospital with this leg business.

120 Basinghall Street, circa 1940s.

Courtesy of the Farley Family. Local History Collection, Town of Victoria Park Library


“I had three sisters and a brother, and we all used to go to school together and come home together.  Until I left East Victoria Park State School and then went on to the Junior Technical College we used to call it those days.  It was in West Perth along Newcastle Street near Charles Street.  And to get there I had to walk from here right down to Carlisle Station each day and go by train to the West Perth Station and then walk up to the school from there.  I thought nothing of it those days.  And then when I left school, I had to have this major operation and that’s when I had this, I was in plaster for three months and that was about 1933.

“The trolley buses had only just started running into the city in those days and when I came home my father died about two years later.  He was only a young man forty-five.  He died and left a widow and five children and I was the eldest of them and I was only seventeen at the time.  And so then I decided I would help my Mum.  So what we did, well what my Mum did, she took in washing, washing and ironing.  And she had built up a clientele and it was my job to go and collect the orders as we called them in those days on the horse and cart.  And I used to go as far as West Perth picking up orders and bringing them back. 

“We used to pick them up about Monday and return them Friday and that went on for quite awhile.  And then I bought a utility to replace the horse and cart and I had a good friend at school, Roy Collett, and he married my sister eventually, but he taught me to drive this utility.  Then I used to pick up orders in the utility in those days.  Then the war came and my good friend and brother-in-law went away in the air force and he asked me to keep an eye on his wife, my sister Ann and her two children at the time, which I did.

“And the funny part about that is when I was driving the trams which I started on in the war years, I couldn’t get a job in the army, they wouldn’t take me because of my leg.  Somebody said to me one day to try get a job on the trams.  I said I hadn’t thought about it.  So anyway I went and saw the employment officer and I got the job.  I had to go and see the doctor and get cleared, and anyway it was while I was driving trams that I met this young lady and couldn’t get her out of my mind and one day I plucked up courage and I said “Can I take you out tonight?”  She had some excuse all the time.  And un-beknown to me her father worked on the trams and as a consequence on my day off I’d be taking these two little nieces and nephew out on my day off and her mother happened to say over the table one day.  “I saw Mr. Farley with his little family today.”  And of course Lois new I was Mr. Farley and she pricked up her ears and said, “He’s married”.  I kept on for three months asking her, three years not three months, each time she got on the tram or got off you know she would say “Oh no she had choir practice” or she had [to] do something.

“I was going to work one Saturday morning and she should hop on the tram at the State Street Hotel, that’s where she used to catch the tram, and of course I was going to the car barn.  She pulled out photos of her little choir, which used to play for her up at the Methodist Home up here.  We were talking away, anyhow we got almost to the car barn, and she said, “How are your two little children going?”  “I haven’t got any children!”  I said look I have got to get off now; I was at the stop.  Two or three weeks later she gets on the tram again and I said to her “Would you like to go out somewhere?”  “Alright!” she said, “You name the day.”  So we decided to go out one evening, I took her up to Kings Park which was normally what you would do overlooking the city lights and that and I had this utility you know.  We used to sit in there and as a consequence she thought that I was a married man is why she kept on saying no.  There we are fifty years married, if I had another fifty-one years together I would have it.” (Excerpt from an Interview with Cyril Farley, August 2001, Town of Victoria Park Library.)

Cyril and Lois being showered in confetti following their marriage on 18 February 1950, Victoria Park Methodist Church, Duncan Street.

Courtesy of the Farley Family. Local History Collection, Town of Victoria Park Library


Tram Driver Cyril Farley with his two daughters, Nanette and Judith, c1958

Courtesy of the Farley Family. Local History Collection, Town of Victoria Park Library


To learn more about Cyril please consider coming to our free family history workshop on Wednesday 21 February. We will begin the session with the story of Cyril and Lois Farley, show photographs, and there will be a special guest performer to sing us a classic Australian song from the 1920s during the session. There will also be morning tea and following that a hands-on workshop giving you time to get started on your own family history tree journey with staff on hand to offer practical advice and assistance.


Sign up for this free event online: http://tinyurl.com/2pktz9rk, or book by phone: (08) 9379 5500, or email: vicparklibrary@vicpark.wa.gov.au  


#LoveVicPark   #LocalHistoryCollection 


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