Business Houses
 Baker's Bread Tin  R & I Bank Money Box and Uniform Button      Wooden Till from Reynolds' Store in Carnamah  Remnants of Carnamah Hotel Plates  
Bakery Scales
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

Leslie Trotter 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.
The Carnamah Writing Pad sold by A. L. Trotter
Wooden Till from Reynolds' Store in Carnamah
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
N. W. Reynolds Writing Pad
1939 Advertisement for N. W. Reynolds Store in Carnamah
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.
N. W. & S. Reynolds & Sons Store in Carnamah
Remnants of Carnamah Hotel Plates
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 and Florence Brewer, had a second storey gradually added to the hotel between 1929 and 1931.

Carnamah Hotel

"The 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
1942 Advertisement for the Carnamah Hotel
Bottle Opener and Holder

The hotel continues today as a significant social and sporting meeting place.

Barber's Chair from Kenny's Store in Carnamah
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 Jack Kenny who ran a mixed business that included a newsagency, billiard saloon and hairdresser's shop.

"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
1939 Advertisement for Mrs Kenny's Store
Mackie's Buildings in Carnamah
Scott Wylie 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 1934.

"We saw the fire from our place. People said that 22 calibre bullets were popping off."
-- Phil Baker
Scott Wylie's Store and Agency in Carnamah
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 Mackie's Buildings.

"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
1933 Calendar of the North Midlands Farmers' Co-operative Company
Wesfarmers Store in Mackie's Buildings in Carnamah


Metters Baker's Oven
Above:  Carnamah Baker's Oven

The first local baker, Leslie Trotter, 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" William Davison 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 into bread.

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.
Promotional Matchbox Holder
Baker's Bread Tin
1963 Advertisement for the R & I Bank
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 Hugh McKenzie-McHarg in 1945
Agency Sign for the R & I Bank
R & I Bank Money Box and Uniform Button
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 1997. The building is now utilised by North Midlands Project as The Bank Gallery.

Below:  R & I Bank in 1947
Rural and Industries Bank in Carnamah in 1947
Notepad from Ashdown's Store in Carnamah
From little things big things grow!

Albert and Eva 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 Stan Ashdown expanded the business with agencies for farm machinery and it became the local newsagency.

1956 Chamberlain 55 DA Diesel Tractor

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.
Key & Tag for Newspaper Box
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.
Cowderoy's Store in Carnamah in 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 Cough Remedy.

Below:  Items at Schier's Store in 1954
Chamberlain's Cough Remedy
Items at Schier's Store in Carnamah in 1954

For more, please take a look at our virtual exhibitions on the tearooms at 10 Macpherson Street and the Carnamah Post Office.

   Schier's Store Order Notepad
Betty Brennan

My father George Mulligan was the agent for Dalgety's, Union Insurance and International in Carnamah. Tom Berrigan had built the place and Dad took it over. He went there in 1936 and was there until 1939 as a Dalgety agent, McCormick Deering tractors and things like that. He also used to organise sheep sales and buy people's wheat through Dalgety's. All of his agencies covered from Carnamah to Gunyidi. The other agent at the time was Frank Broadhurst with Elder's. Dad also had the agency for Electrolux kerosene fridges. When the Lambert family came to Carnamah, which was in 1938, they saw our refrigerator and thought we were very rich but it was probably just a sample. Dad had been at the general store at Winchester but I think he'd gone broke with the Farmers' Debt Adjustment Act.

Winchester was a general store which had the post office, telephone exchange and also operated the weighbridge. When a man came with a truckload of wheat bags Dad would stop what he was doing and operate the weighbridge. In 1928 one of Mum's sister's, Nell Northey, came and she worked on the telephone exchange. Dad then also had a shop in Coorow and Nell later worked there. Mum was often there on her own. She used to setup her ironing board and would do the ironing in-between connecting calls.

Mary Clews

When Winchester township closed down officially, Ian Straiton, my late husband, bought the land. Some time later, the Carnamah Shire must have decided that the now defunct store was an eyesore, condemned it and issued an order to have it pulled down. Ian and [his brother] Bruce demolished the building, no doubt hoarding different bits of it and I was presented with a very long counter which was placed on our west veranda. It came in very handy for storing the ginger beer which I made every fortnight. We couldn't keep up with the supply and very often the bottles would explode loudly and harmlessly under the counter.

Robert Miles

From 1968 to 1972 mum and dad had the bakery there. The history is really well done, great job.

Stephen Frost

This is a fabulous exhibit. Who knew there was a soft drink factory in Carnamah? Fantastic work!

Carol Dover

In August 1959 Charles Richard Bennetts was transferred from Narembeen to Three Springs as Manager of the Three Springs Co-operative Store. The Three Springs Co-operative Store (Co-op) along with Winchester, Coorow, Carnamah and Marchagee stores, were taken over at this time by Wesfarmers.

The Winchester and Marchagee stores were the first to close completely due to lack of customers. It was felt that the three major stores of Three Springs, Coorow and Carnamah were sufficient to supply the areas concerned. Mr and Mrs Joyce and their son ran the Winchester Store and they were re-located to the Three Springs store.

Charles was the Manager for the area and resided at Three Springs for nine years. During this time the Coorow and Carnamah Stores both became privately owned.

Gascoyne Traders were the main carriers of supplies for these stores and some times it was necessary to meet the truck drivers during the early hours of morning. Charles thought nothing of opening the stores for the deliveries to be made and meeting the paper truck and milk truck was another enjoyable task. For many years a lady from Boyup Brook would drive her truck to Three Springs loaded with boxes (wooden) of apples. Charles would meet the truck at all three stores and take delivery of the appropriate order. There was often a small box gifted with the Three Springs order to say thank you for his efforts. Another early morning delivery was that of the watermelons from Geraldton. Once again the truck driver would let Charles know when it was leaving Geraldton and he would meet the driver at any time to take delivery of large watermelons, a real treat for all.

While in Three Springs Charles and Ivy Bennetts both worked at the Co-op with Ivy managing the drapery section. The Co-operative Stores were a huge part of their life both taking weekends off to complete stocktaking. Most evenings were spent completing stock orders, paying invoices, preparing ticket cards for sales and generally dealing with public requests. In 1967 Charles took long service leave and was then transferred to the City where he was Wesfarmers Credit Officer for Country purchases. The entire family holds happy memories of the nine years spent in the North Midlands.

Keeva Verschoor

Nick Keating worked in the Three Springs Co-op where I dimly remember that he sat on a ​​dais on one side of the shop and the money taken at the counter was sent through to him on those overhead wires in little cans. He  probably put the change in the can and sent it back to the shop assistant. Pre-cash register days. Made a trip to Three Springs very exciting for a little kid to see all those whizzing overhead wires.

Vida Whitehurst

You don’t realise how many years have passed! When we were living on the farm in the 1930s we’d go into town in an old blue Ford truck at about three miles an hour. Fridays we didn’t have to walk home from school as Friday was shopping day. You had to go to town to get all your stores. There would be no sales for half the stuff anymore as people don’t bring up as many animals or have the use for it.

The barber’s chair came out of the old hairdressing salon at Kenny’s. Alex Robinson used to cut hair. He used it on the verandah at Gurr’s stone house [at 5 Macpherson Street, Carnamah]. He used to just do it on Sundays or at anytime anybody else wanted him to cut their hair, but mainly on Sunday mornings at the house.

Effie Orlicz (nee Dallimore)

When the Hidden's burnt down there were petrol bowsers out the front. Dr Rosenthal said to mother, who had quite a few lovely pieces, "get everything out in the car, get everything out in the car." He was terrified it would go up but fortunately it didn't.

Charles Jennings

I was up there for 18 months working on the newspaper The North Midland Times. I got apprenticed when work was hard to get. I was about 18 at the time and I was there until I joined up in the war in 1941. I stayed at the hotel and also at Sheridan’s. Mrs Sheridan ran a boarding house down on the main road. Sylvia Faulks, a lady teacher and Ross somebody who used to work at the post office were also boarding there.

The North Midland Times was printed on the outside of it with all the local areas Carnamah, Three Springs and Arrino, Winchester and all that. The main part was printed in Perth and was sent up by train every Thursday and we had to insert what we’d printed. A bloke by the name of Geoff Ferguson was running the paper. R. S. Sampson had 36 branches right across Western Australia and it was taken over by The Sunday Times and they disbanded the newspaper up in Carnamah.

I used to send a copy down to my mother every week because of the cycling club content which I was in. My mother passed away years ago and everything was thrown out and I’ve got nothing left about Carnamah.

Phil Kemp

My brother-in-law worked up in Carnamah for quite a few years. He was running a garage up there. His name was Vesey Fitzgerald. He operated from a shed where he used to do all mechanical repairs for machinery. He was there for quite a few years after the war.

Marj Singleton

Lois Lucas and I started Beehive Arts & Crafts with a little shop in-between the butcher’s shop and the hairdresser. Jim Nash was the butcher, who rented it to us. We were making things and selling them and also bought and sold on commission. We needed more room so we moved to the old bakery opposite the hotel, which we took over from Doris Sharp. She had been running a craft shop and we bought out her stock. Macramé was the in-thing then (with beads) plus we made and sold stuffed toys and the goods we’d had at the butcher’s shop.

Biddy Lee came into the old bakery with us and we started doing Devonshire teas. The school asked us to make sandwiches, which we did and the kids used to come down and buy them. We then also made pea soup and sandwiches for people. The Ampol roadhouse wasn't there then so there was nowhere for people to buy meals. We were buying things from D’Orsognas like Christmas hams and sold cool drinks. In those days the buses still came through Carnamah. They'd pull up, the whole place would be full and we’d sell a lot of stuff. People would come in for Devonshire teas and buy art and craft things as well. We had people come from America, England and all over the world. We had a bloke once when it was raining and he was sitting out in the rain. I said bring him in and give him a cup of tea. He was down and out and was travelling around on a bike. We used to sell pies too so we gave him one of them. He said I’ll do something for you so he chopped some wood for us. When the Brand Highway came through we then missed all the business.

Crocheting was my thing, which we used to teach. Lois Lucas was a painter and used to do China paining and Biddy Lee was the good cook. We had little schools or sessions. Our little patchwork school attracted younger ones and we held crocheting sessions. The things they wanted they'd buy from us. With the patchwork girls we used to have people come up from Perth and we’d billet them in our homes and have a patchwork school up at the Carnamah School over a whole weekend.

We had two open fireplaces going all the time in winter with beautiful old wooden mantle places above the fires. There were a lot of rooms. Val Criddle had a dress shop in the front of Wally Van Leen's which was alongside the old bakery. We gave her one of the rooms and she then moved and sold her frocks from there. The Red Cross moved their thift shop onto the side verandah. There was still the old bakery out the back and we had the old tins. We used to bring down the kids from the kindergarten and show them where the bread used to be made.

People used to ask us to do different things and we did, like young blokes who would come and ask us to take pants up. We really filled a need for Carnamah. We didn't make a lot of money but we had a lot of fun. We had a little visitors book and I've still got it. I’ve written in it “We had a lot of laughs and a lot of tears but it's an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world.”

Marcia Watson

The virtual displays are fantastic. My Watson ancestors were all shop keepers so the business display is of particular interest. Their shops were in Kulin but the items and buildings are exactly the same as Carnamah. Lots of memories – thank you.

Fay Dougall (nee Haynes)

I remember the bakers oven door - my father Norman Haynes leased then bought the bakery. He replaced the original bread tins with new ones, like the one featured. I used to help dad put the bread in the oven for baking using a peel - a sort of flat spade. I have the old weighing bread scale with weights.

Carnamah Historical Society & Museum

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One type of former local business not included in this virtual exhibition is a tearooms, of which Carnamah once had four! The town's premier tearooms has been covered in detail in its own virtual exhibition 10 Macpherson Street.

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