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Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


Surname

Robert Judd WELLS

Born 14 October 1898 in Menzies, Western Australia [P85]
Son of Robert WELLS and Eliza Helen NEVE [15]
His father had shifted from Gundagai in New South Wales to Menzies in Western Australia during the gold rush [P85]
Grew up in Menzies where his father owned one of the 23 hotels [P85]
Educated at a school in Menzies where he was Dux of his final year [P85]
Briefly worked in the Sons of Gwalia mine in Menzies until leaving to manage a bakery his father had purchased [P85]
Married Hilda Winifred HAMILTON on 1 September 1923 in Menzies [P85]
Baker in Menzies and then Yealering before shifting to Coorow [P85]
By the end of December 1927 the bricks and stones had been carted for his butcher's and baker's shops in Coorow [39: 28-Dec-1927]
Baker, Butcher & Storekeeper in Coorow 1928-1935 [3] [4: 15-Sep-1928] [5: 16-Aug-1935]
     He had a house and shop built in Coorow, with his shop including a bakery, butchery and tearooms [P85]
     It was reported that his bake-house was "almost completed" in late January 1928 [39: 31-Jan-1928]
     In March 1928 his business premises were described as a "combined baker's and butcher's shop... and a garage" [39: 13-Mar-1928]
     His business premises and house were situated on Lots 93 and 94, next to the Coorow Hotel on the south side of Main Street [3]
     His mechanical repairs garage, with petrol bowser, was erected next to his other premises on Main Street [P85]
     He did the baking and used salt dug from local salt lakes [P85]
     Employed a butcher and a yardman in Coorow and also a baker if he was going on holidays [P85]
     In 1930 sold bread, meat, ice, cold drinks, teas and Vacuum oil at his stores in Coorow and Latham [4: 22-Feb-1930]
     Delivered meat to the stores at Winchester and Waddy Forest [P85]
     His tearooms, in addition to meals and tea, also sold confectionary, cook drinks and cigarettes [4: 15-Sep-1928]
     The tearooms and petrol bowser were managed by his wife Hilda while maids were employed to do the housework [P85]
     In 1928 his garage premises Coorow were being leased to Arthur G. SMITH and Bruce HOLDEN [4: 26-May-1928]
     SMITH and HOLDEN ran a Vulcanising and Engineering Works from his garage premises [4: 26-May-1928]
     In 1934 he was the Coorow Distributor for the British General Electric Company [81: 30-Sep-1934]
During his time in Coorow was the owner of a Chev truck and the second Marquette car imported into Western Australia [P85]
Member of the Coorow Football Club - was Secretary for a portion of 1928 [9: 15-Jun-1928] [39: 27-Mar-1928]
     He attended a meeting of the Moora Football Association at the Commercial Hotel in Moora on Monday 12 April 1928 [10: 19-Apr-1928] 
     At the meeting Coorow was denied entry into the Association for 1928 as it was too far away for some of the other teams [10: 19-Apr-1928]
He was the first person in Coorow to install an engine to generate power [P85]
     His power generator resulted in his premises having electric light and enabled him to make ice [P85]
     He was also the first person in Coorow to own a Wireless / Radio, which was a Crystal make [P85]
     He wrote to the Carnamah District Road Board in 1929 requesting permission to erect electric light poles in Coorow [4: 21-Sep-1929]
     His request was successful on the condition that he was prepared to remove the poles, mains etc if they requested him to do so [4]
He was one of 98 people from the Coorow district who signed a petition in 1929 for a local hotel license to be granted [39: 6-Feb-1929]
He was among those who attended the Centenary Ball held at the Carnamah Hall on 26 July 1929 [86: 3-Aug-1929]
     The ball was to celebrate 100 years since the founding of Perth and the establishment of the Swan River Colony [86]
In late 1929 ill-health caused him to spend some time in Perth [4: 23-Nov-1929]
In addition to his store in Coorow, during early 1930 he also opened a butchery and bakery store in Latham [4: 22-Feb-1930]
     Employed his sister Miss Francis WELLS to run his store in Latham [P85]
     Bread he baked in Coorow was delivered to his store in Latham as well as Waddy Forest and Winchester [P85]
     Delivered the bread to Latham in the sidecar of his Red Indian Motor Cycle [P85]
     On the morning of Sunday 6 March 1932 his store in Latham was burnt to the ground [4: 12-Mar-1932]
     His sister was sleeping on the premises of his Latham store after awaking to her room in flames only narrowly escaped [4: 12-Mar-1932]
In August 1930 his wife Hilda gave birth to their son Ronald at the Carnamah Private Hospital [4: 30-Aug-1930]
Elected as the Member for Coorow on the Carnamah District Road Board on 22 April 1933, by a majority of 62 votes [5: 5-May-1933]
     Served on the Carnamah District Road Board 1933-1935 representing the Coorow ward [7: page 111]
Travelled to Carnamah to attend the monthly meeting of the Carnamah District Road Board on Tuesday 13 June 1933 [5: 16-Jun-1933]
     Returned to Coorow after the meeting with fellow Road Board members Angus MCGILP and Frank BRYANT in Frank's car [5]
     Rapidly rising floodwaters at Winchester made it impossible to get past and Frank returned to Carnamah for the night [5]
     He was anxious to get back so he could do his baking so he walked three miles to telephone for his truck to come and get him [5]
On Monday 3 July 1933 his truck collected a load of sheep at Winchester and on the way back to Coorow became bogged [5]
     He travelled out and spent most of the night trying to extricate the truck, not getting it free until late the next day [5: 7-Jul-1933]
Attended and made a presentation at the social evening tendered to Nell NORTHEY in Winchester on 29 June 1933 [5: 7-Jul-1933]
Attended the Valedictory Dinner tendered to Alexander B. GLOSTER at the Coorow Hotel on Monday 3 July 1933 [5: 7-Jul-1933]
He and his wife attended the opening of the East Marchagee Hall in Marchagee on Saturday 11 November 1933 [5: 17-Nov-1933]
Member of the Coorow Parents & Citizens Association in 1934 [5: 5-Jan-1934]
Received £6 in Vermin Bonuses from the Carnamah District Road Board in February 1934 for killing twelve foxes [300: page 42]
On Saturday 12 May 1934 he took delivery of a new G. E. 6 valve wireless set, on which he received great reception [5: 25-May-1934]
Member of the Coorow-Waddy Forest Progress Association in 1934 [5: 8-Jun-1934]
Won the Sheaf Tossing in the Ring Events of the Coorow-Waddy Agricultural Show on Thursday 30 August 1934 [5: 7-Sep-1934]
Attended the funeral of Mrs Christina B. D. FORRESTER of Carnamah at the Winchester Cemetery on 31 August 1934 [4: 8-Sep-1934]
Owing to be shortly leaving the district he resigned as a Member of the Carnamah District Road Board on 19 June 1935 [5: 21-Jun-1935]
Lost large amounts of money following the government's decree that farmers could defer payments during the depression [P85]
Many local farmers ran up accounts for bread, meat and petrol which were never paid [P85]
They were forced to abandon their businesses in Coorow and walked out in August 1935 [P85]
Left Coorow on 14 August 1935, and shortly afterwards shifted to Youanmi which was experiencing a mining boom [5: 16-Aug-1935] [P85]
Baker in the Western Australian mining town of Youanmi for seven years [P85]
He initially retained his property in Coorow, which in addition to his business premises included slaughter yards and a vacant block [3]
     In 1937 advertised in The Irwin Index newspaper the sale of Coorow Town Lot 78, opposite Maley Park [4: 14-Aug-1937]
     He had owned the vacant Lot 78 for a number of years and sold the block to Mrs Blanche A. BOTHE on 22 March 1938 [3]
     Sold his premises on Main Street and slaughter yards on the other side of town to Edward T. BLACKWELL in 1938-39 [3]
After the end of the mining boom shifted with his wife and children from Youanmi to Pemberton, where he also worked as a Baker [P85]
Pemberton went downhill following the closure of the State Saw Mill, after which he shifted to the Perth suburb of Belmont [P85]
Built a bakery and house on the corner of Leake and Durban Streets in Belmont [P85]
     Later sold their block on Leake/Durban Streets to make way for a new road, which never ended up eventuating, to the airport [P85]
     After selling their house and bakery on the corner they purchased a new block in Leake Street, Belmont [P85]
On his retirement at the age of 65 years he was made a Justice of the Peace [P85]
Resided on Leake Street in the Perth suburb of Belmont until moving into a nursing home in 1987 [P85]
Resided of late in the Perth suburb of Rivervale [2]
Father of Lenore, Faye, Kenneth and Ronald [P85]
Died 27 May 1987; ashes scattered on the corner of Leake and Durban Streets in the Perth suburb of Belmont [P85]


From The Irwin Index newspaper, Saturday 26 May 1928:
A Town Builder - The Cecil Rhodes of Coorow
"Cecil Rhodes was called an Empire Builder, and deservedly received a lot of credit for his work in the making of South Africa. R.J. Wells may be fairly called the Cecil Rhodes of Coorow, seeing that he has done so much towards its development. In addition to erecting an up-to-date garage, which has been let to highly skilled operators, he has erected a baker’s shop and a butcher’s shop, which two businesses he superintends himself. It is this sort of foresight and enterprise to which a new state like Western Australia is so much indebted, and men who invest their capital to build towns in the agricultural areas are deserving of every bit as much credit as  for others who do their bit for the Empire, possibly in a little more limelight than falls to the lot of the town builders. Mr Wells combines some agencies with his other activities amongst which might be mentioned Armstrong Cycle and motor Agency, C.A.V. Batteries, and West Australian Insurance Co. He is also a buyer of  fat stock, which should be a boon to  farmers having a few head of fat cattle or sheep to dispose."


From The Irwin Index newspaper, Saturday 12 March 1932:
Fire at Latham
Mr. R. J. Wells, of Coorow, had the misfortune to have his branch store at Latham burned to the ground during the early hours of Sunday morning last. Miss Wells was sleeping on the premises, and after awaking and finding her room in flames the young lady just had sufficient time to make her escape through the window. The origin of the fire is unknown. It is understood that the building was insured."


Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'Robert Judd Wells' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 13 December 2018 from www.carnamah.com.au  [ sources ]




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