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Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The sculpture commemorates street entertainer Percy Button (1892 -1954) and celebrates the spirit of the street.  

Percy Button emigrated from England to Western Australia in 1910 and worked at odd jobs and as a farmhand. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F) in World War One but was invalided home and discharged in 1918.

He took to a vagrant life in Perth, sometimes earning a living by selling newspapers and collecting bottles, but soon becoming the city's best-known street entertainer. Neither the 1930s Depression nor World War Two made much difference to Button's style of living, but, as age slowed his acrobatic prowess and he added the mouth-organ to his repertoire. 

By 1951 his condition had so deteriorated that arrangements were made for his admission to the Old Men's Home at Dalkeith. He died of coronary thrombosis on 5 March 1954 at Claremont Mental Hospital and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery with Catholic rites. The Repatriation Department paid for his funeral. 



Address:Hay Street, Hay Street Mall, Perth, 6000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.954354
Long: 115.859399
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Monument Designer:Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 12th October, 2006
Front Inscription


Percy Button was a local street entertainer and one of Perth's best known faces from the 1920's to the 1950's. Performing somersaults and handstands, Percy entertained people for a few shillings while they waited to see films, newsreels and theatrical performances at the theatres that were concentrated in what is now the Hay Street Mall, the Theatre Royal, the Ambassador and His Majesty's Theatre.

Percy was renowned for his grubbiness and in November 1929 local newspaper, The Mirror, dressed Percy up in a long-tailed suit and ran a front page competition asking readers to guess the identity of the cleaned up man. The Mirror offered a guinea's worth of goods for the first opened letter giving the man's name. The newspaper later asked Percy to write the 1929 Centenary Christmas Message.

This artwork celebrates the spirit of the street.

Launched by 
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor 
Dr. Peter Nattress
12 October 2006

Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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