East Sydney used to be one crazy neighbourhood. Some say it still is. We certainly see some fairly interesting things around here. Sordid and otherwise.
Back in the thirties though, it was just plain dangerous going out on these here streets. Gangs prowled, armed with razors and poor personal hygiene.
Cocaine and prostitution were rife (yes, even more so than they are today). And one couple were more involved than most –
Tilly and Jim Devine.
You see, a law was passed making it illegal for any man to run a brothel, which gave the perfect opening for Tilly to start franchising massage parlours like McDonalds does family restaurants.
Coke was still as illegal as ever but that didn’t stop Jim, who took advantage of Tilly’s girls, among many others, hooking them on the devil’s dandruff. Most, it seemed, worked for contra.
Tilly, it is said, had her good side and was regaled for grand acts of charity. Jim less so, being more well known for beating Tilly to a pulp before she finally divorced him after many years of abuse.
Much like Al Capone, they eventually got Tilly for tax evasion and she died poor and in obscurity.
Neither lived in the space that is Love, Tilly Devine, although Jim did slash a man to death across the road at The Strand and many of Tilly’s girls worked the laneway. Back then the locals called it Sharkfin Lane. See if you can figure out the meaning of that.
We called the bar Love, Tilly Devine because we are as proud of the past of this neighbourhood as we are excited about its future.