Since 1912 businesses have opened in Carnamah to sell goods or
provide services to the district's people. During the same
period businesses have
also closed their doors due to changes in technology,
competition and population.
Featured below are a small selection of the many businesses that have
called Carnamah home.
Leslie Trotter was a baker in Moora where he baked bread, pastries
and cakes. He put bread on the train for customers in districts
along the Midland Railway
, including Winchester and Carnamah.
"Goods were put off the train for addressees to collect. Some
packages, like the bags of bread from the baker in Moora, were
shared between several people. Those there first got the bread from
the top which had not been squashed in transit. We lived very near
the siding and rarely had squashed bread."
-- Leo Parker
left Moora in 1924 and shifted to Carnamah
to open a new general store and bakery. The writing set to the right
provided local people with a pad for letter writing and also promoted his store.
Above: Wooden Till
After a bacterial disease developed in Trotter's bakery he decided
to abandon its bakehouse and burn all of its equipment. In 1927 he sold his general
store on Yarra Street to "Fred"
N. W. Reynolds
and built a new
bakery on Macpherson Street in Carnamah.
The wooden till shown above was used by Reynolds at the store from
1927 until 1948. After buying the shop he began the till with just two shillings
and sixpence, which is the equivalent of 25 cents.
Right: Notepad Cover
Left: 1939 Advertisement
"In those days people... came into the shop and gave their order
and then they tootled off. It was all written down in the Docket Books and then
you did it up."
"There were no boxes, no plastic bags. You had to wrap
it up in newspaper. You’d put four sheets of newspaper down, stack up the groceries, roll it up and use the string. They’d come back later and pick it up.
Nothing was packaged in those days; you had to do up all the dry
things like split peas, sugar, flour, sago, spices, pepper, rice
into small packets."
-- Don Reynolds
Reynolds' store became the town's most prominent and longest
operating business. It was later run by Fred's sons Don and Bill
until their retirement in 1996. For a number of years it was a Foodland
supermarket and Mitre10 hardware store. It is now Carnamah IGA.
Remnants of Hotel Plates
In early 1923 locals successfully petitioned for a hotel licence to
be granted for Carnamah. The Davies and McNamara families joined
forces with Robert Mackie
to build the hotel, which opened in 1924.
The next owners, Charlie
Brewer, had a
second storey gradually added to the hotel between 1929 and 1931.
Carnamah Hotel, under the efficient control of
Mrs Davies, is a hostel
second to none in the country districts in furnishing, appointments and
comfort. Its tiled roof and wide verandah give a most pleasing
effect and the spacious dining room, comfortable lounge and cosy smoke
room show that the interior is well in keeping with the handsome
exterior. Electric light throughout, including the airy bedrooms, is a
far index of the up-to-date lines on which the hotel is run."
-- The Midlands Advertiser newspaper, 13 February 1925
A pub with no beer?
"Beer was rationed during the war. Supplies came up once a week
or perhaps once a fortnight, by train from Perth and Lionel Ferguson
carted it to the hotel. Reg Smith was a good publican as he didn’t
drink much himself. He rationed out the beer so that anyone who came
in could get a glass. Beer was mostly in kegs as bottles were very
hard to come by."
-- Kevin Smith
Bottle Opener and Holder
The hotel continues today as a significant social and sporting meeting place.
Left: Malwa Barber's Chair
Mackie's Buildings was opened on Macpherson Street in 1930 and
consisted of three shops. One of them was occupied by
ran a mixed business that included a newsagency, billiard saloon and
"Following Jack Kenny's death Mrs Kenny had to get him buried
and rush back to Carnamah as she had the business to run and a
living to earn."
-- Les Johnson
Right: 1939 Advertisement
The above chair was used at Kenny's shop for haircuts up until the
Second World War. After the war it was used at various locations in
Carnamah by local hairdresser Alex Robinson
Below: Mackie's Buildings
had a store and agency business next to Mackie's
Buildings. He worked on commission to larger firms selling cars,
trucks, machinery, insurance, petrol and farming supplies. The
business was next owned by Stan Hidden
but was burnt to the ground in
"We saw the fire from our place. People said that 22 calibre
bullets were popping off."
-- Phil Baker
1933 Co-op Calendar
The Winchester-Carnamah Farmers' Co-operative Company was formed in
1917. It was a local company aimed at pooling the buying power of farmers to get farm and household supplies cheaper. Three
Springs was added to the co-op in 1919 and it was renamed
the North Midlands Farmers' Co-operative Company.
The co-op in Carnamah began on Yarra Street but later shifted into
"The Three Springs manager, Westaway, disappeared and left the
Co-op broke. No one saw it coming... in hindsight there were signs -
Westaway used to entertain lavishly and give gifts all charged up to
the Co-op. Last thing we heard... was that he took a taxi from
Geraldton to Perth and then literally vanished. Wesfarmers took over
the co-ops in Three Springs, Coorow and Carnamah."
-- Irwin Downes
Below: Mackie's Buildings
Above: Carnamah Baker's Oven
The first local baker,
, established an aerated water factory on Niven
Crescent where he manufactured soft drinks to sell in Carnamah. He
ran the small factory in conjunction with his bakery until selling
both in 1928. The factory closed a few years later when larger
companies from other places began producing cheaper drinks.
Promotional Matchbox Holder
The bakery was owned by "Pop"
from 1933 until 1945.
Pictured to the right is a promotional matchbox holder that was
probably given as a gift to customers.
"Pop had a Major Mitchell cockatoo who would unscrew the valve in bicycle
tyres and then sit back and watch and laugh. Both Pop and the Major
Mitchell came to the hotel on New Years Eve – both became merry."
-- Kevin Smith
Below: Bread Tin
Local farmers sold the baker loads of wood which was burnt to heat the
bakery's oven. Dough was put into tins,
like the one below, and these were placed into the oven to be cooked
The bakery changed hands numerous times and closed in 1976, by which
time local shops sold fresh bread from Perth. Its building later
housed the Beehive Arts & Crafts shop and is now home to the North
Midlands Accounting Service.
Right: R & I Bank Agency Sign
"It was what I'd dreamt about - the Agricultural Bank becoming a
bank controlling its own credit."
"We went up... and opened Carnamah. It took us all day to get there.
We locked our money bag up that night in the Shire office's safe...
We opened the branch which was a little shop just on a corner... The
next day there was a safe on a truck. They'd managed it so they
could roll it out of the truck. Hughie goes up the pub and says to
three to four at the bar, "you fellas like a couple of drinks,"
"yeah what do we have to do?," "come out and give us a hand with
this" so they pushed and manhandled the safe across and it skidded
across the floor and how it didn't take it out I don't know!"
-- Jack Gabbedy
reflecting on opening the Carnamah branch of the
Rural and Industries Bank with
Left: Plastic R & I Money Box
The R & I branch in Carnamah opened in 1945 with a second-hand counter, two
tables and four chairs. Agencies of the Carnamah branch were opened
in Three Springs in 1946 and in Moora and Mingenew in 1951.
Lower Left: R & I Uniform Button
In 1947 the bank took over premises at 8 Macpherson Street
which was a closed down branch of the Bank of
Australasia. The R & I Bank was renamed Bankwest in 1994 and the
Carnamah branch closed in 1996.
Below: R & I Bank in 1947
From little things big things grow!
Cowderoy had the store at 2 Macpherson Street rebuilt
in 1927. It then sold a range of millinery, drapery and footwear
(hats, clothes and shoes). After purchasing the store in 1948
expanded the business with agencies for farm machinery and
it became the local newsagency.
In 1967 he sold the business to the Walton family who built up the
machinery portion so much that they sold the other parts of the
business in 1977. Waltons Stores became the largest machinery
dealership in Western Australia - specialising in John Deere
machinery and with branches in Carnamah, Moora and Geraldton.
Right: Paper Box No. 7 - Key & Tag
Newspaper boxes were installed at 2 Macpherson Street to allow
farmers to collect their newspapers after hours - similar to
post office boxes except larger.
The store is now Wallace's News and Drapery. It is pictured
below, almost flooded, during the 1920s.
What was for sale in the 1910s?
The Parkin family ran "The Supply Stores" from part of their home in
Carnamah from 1916 to 1921. They ordered most of their stock by mail
order from a merchant in Fremantle, who then sent their goods up on
the train. They purchased potatoes, onions, flour, sugar and rice in
big bags which they then sold to locals in smaller quantities. They
sold tins of skim milk powder, fruit, mustard, biscuits and baking
powder. Meat, such as sardines, salmon and kippered herrings, was
sold in tins. The only fresh food
was fruit, which arrived in wooden cases.
The store also sold bottles of medicines -- Wood's Great Peppermint
Cure, Charles' Eye Lotion, Morris Eye Ointment and Chamberlain's
Below: Items at Schier's Store in