10 Macpherson Street
            Radiola Transistor 8 radio             1942 advertisement for Pinocchio
The Don Tea Rooms in Carnamah
The Don Tea Rooms

The Midland Railway Company surveyed a townsite at Carnamah and began selling quarter-acre blocks in 1914. Local pioneer Donald Macpherson purchased 10 and 12 Macpherson Street for £30 cash. Several years later Donald sold the two vacant blocks to Charlie Kroschel, who was a retired policeman. Charlie had previously been stationed in Three Springs with Carnamah and Coorow under his jurisdiction. A lot of his time as policeman was spent chasing the district's bushranger, Frank Thomas.

"Mrs Parker heard what she thought were whip cracks as a horse galloped by at the back of their house at number 5 Macpherson Street. Lou Parker said that the sound was not of a whip but Charlie Kroschel trying to shoot Thomas!"  -- Alaric Parker

Charlie Kroschel had a large stone building constructed at 10 Macpherson Street, Carnamah in 1926. It included a café (then known as a tearooms) and an adjoining house for himself and his wife Maggie. They named their café The Don Tea Rooms and in addition to serving lunch, afternoon teas, snacks, and supper they also sold fish and chips, confectionery and cool drinks.

The Don Tea Rooms
Milk for the tearooms was provided from a cow which was kept on-site. Charlie grew a small crop on the block next door until 1932 when it was used for the Carnamah Post Office.

"I can remember as a kid, Charlie used to hand broadcast wheat and oats. He had a scythe to cut it. Then he bundled it up ready for his cow."  -- Don Reynolds
Advertisement for The Don Tea Rooms
Ice Cream Bowl and Ice Cream Scoop
Left & Below:  Bowl and Scoop for Ice-Cream

Ice for the tearooms came up from Perth on the train and was collected from the railway station in a wheelbarrow. In the days before fridges, some of the ice was used to make ice-cream from scratch.

"When the account arrived for Kroschel’s tearooms my mother would go into town and pay it. After paying, Mrs Kroschel would put some ice cream into two dishes and they would sit at one of the tables and have a talk."  -- Les Johnson
Advertisement for Carnamah Power Station
In 1926 the tearooms became the first building in Carnamah to receive electricity from Parkin & Son’s power station on Yarra Street. The power station eventually powered the entire town and nearby farmhouses. Despite having the modern convenience of electricity, the townsite was still amid the wilderness of bushland...

Right:  Mrs Maggie Kroschel in Carnamah

"Charlie Kroschel had 40 acres off Yarri Road. He grew vegetables and used to get someone to put in a crop. He used to walk out there every day and worked all day in his vegetable garden. Mrs Kroschel was in the shop."  -- Cyril Rayner

Below:  Salt & Pepper Shakers from the tearooms

Salt and Pepper Shakers
Mrs Maggie Kroschel in Carnamah
Pyramid Tea Rooms

"The Depression arrived. The price of wheat dropped overnight. No one had any money."  -- Don Reynolds

Charlie and Maggie Kroschel struggled financially during the early years of the Great Depression. They had their telephone disconnected in the early 1930s as one of many ways to try and save money. In 1935 they closed their tearooms and leased its building to Amy Giles and Vera Stephens. These two single entrepreneurs had been running a competing tearooms further up Macpherson Street. Misses Giles and Stephens moved their Pyramid Tea Rooms into the premises at 10 Macpherson Street, and also had beds for boarders in the adjoining house.

Pyramid Tea Rooms in Carnamah
Carnamah's First Fridge

Misses Giles and Stephens had purchased Carnamah’s first fridge in 1933, which was a Quirk's Electric Refrigerator and Ice-Maker.

Up until that time all businesses and homes had used cellars or Coolgardie safes to keep their food cool. To enable the fridge to be used, Parkin & Son began providing the town with electricity continuously, it having previously gone off every night. The North Midland Times newspaper remarked that the power staying on all day and night "should be of great convenience".
Quirk's Electric Refrigerators
Wells & Wells Pyramid Tea and Dining Rooms

Misses Giles and Stephens left Carnamah in 1938 and the tearooms were taken over by Charlie and Maggie Kroschel's daughter and son-in-law, Peg and Ned Wells. Behind the scenes it was always extremely busy. There were boarders who lived there, Mrs Wells was usually in the kitchen cooking and staff would be moving back and fourth taking orders and serving food. A number of men had their lunch there each day and would wander straight to the kitchen and serve themselves. It was wondered how Peg and Ned ever made any money with such an arrangement, however they very successfully ran the tearooms for over 20 years.
Wells & Wells Promotional Hand-Fans
1942 advertisement for Pinocchio
Above:  Promotional Fans

At one point there were four tearooms in Carnamah. Wells' had the advantage at 10 Macpherson Street as it was easily able to sell meals and drinks during the intermission of movies, which were shown across the road at the Carnamah Hall.

"Whenever there were pictures on in the hall they were open for the interval. People flocked over to the café for drinks etc. Then after the pictures were over, some people used to go there. Mrs Wells catered for weddings and parties – often in the Town Hall. She also catered for the Road Board meals on meeting day. Peg did a lot of catering. She was a good cook and a good manager and had good staff. They had a lot of customers."  -- Cyril Rayner

Right:  1942 advertisement for pictures, or movies, screened at the Carnamah Hall and also in Coorow and Three Springs
Wells & Wells Tablecloth
Corner of Tablecloth
Pyramid Tea & Dining Rooms in Carnamah

Ned and Peg Wells divorced in 1960 and sold the tearooms to Lloyd Lapsley. He lived in Perth and rented the building to John and Doris Gooch, who ran the tearooms and boarding house. After the Gooch family left in 1967, the tearooms were run by a few different people for shorter periods of time. The name was briefly changed to Jolly Jack's with the catchline "Shop Fully Air Conditioned For Your Comfort".
"I can remember the big tins of Mills & Ware's biscuits. Biscuits were sold loose. We sold ice creams – 6d a cone with chocolate on top. They used to show movies at the back of the old Hall. If we were at the show we had to dash back at interval to help serve in the shop. Mum’s specialty was pasties."

-- Gordon Gooch
Mills & Ware Biscuit Tin
Demolition at 10 Macpherson Street, Carnamah

In 1986 the kitchen and house adjoining the tearooms was demolished and the remaining portion became a branch of the sports betting Totalisator Agency Board (TAB). Joe Clancy and then Colleen Bennier ran the T.A.B. at 10 Macpherson Street, which opened on Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays.
TAB Sign for Agency No. 102 (Carnamah)
"It was just betting on horses and dogs in those days. Cannington horse races and always Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney horse races, sometimes Bunbury Cup. It was a good crew, we had a lot of laughs. It wasn't that they gambled a lot of money - it was social and was an interest and hobby. They tried to close us down two years before it did, but we fought it."  -- Colleen Bennier
Radiola Transistor 8 radio
Radio from the Carnamah T.A.B.

After placing bets the T.A.B.'s customers would eagerly listen to the races and commentary on this radio. At the end they'd have a joke and laugh about who'd won and lost.
Carnamah Historical Society & Museum
The T.A.B. closed in 1991 and the following year the Carnamah Historical Society and Shire of Carnamah acquired 10 Macpherson Street for a museum. Sheds were built on the block to house old agricultural machinery and the museum was soon filled to capacity with artefacts from Carnamah's past. After being extended the museum reopened in 2012.

For more on our museum please see:
●  Carnamah Museum and Virtual Museum
   ●  Opening of Extended Carnamah Museum
   ●  Unveiled: Window to the Past
   ●  Carnamah at the National Museum
Carnamah Museum Key
Betty Brennan

It was a great place. Even if we only had a thruppence you could still buy a nice bag of lollies. I thought it was a marvellous place. I could go once a week and with my pocket money buy some lollies when Misses Giles and Stephens and then Mrs Peg Wells were there. Even if you only had a penny you could buy four clinker lollies.

Keeva Verschoor

Mention must be made of the delicious pasties Mrs Wells sold in the shop on Wednesdays during the interval in the 1950s when the pictures were shown in the Town Hall opposite. She once kindly gave me the recipe and I greatly regret that I didn't write it down. One of Carnamah's lost treasures.

We always made a dash for Wells' Cafe after Sunday School to carefully buy small quantities of lollies patiently meted out by Mrs John. Mrs Kenny a widow who ran the newsagency in the Mackies building always had her midday meals in the cafe and then would be seen carrying home a baked potato and other morsels for her tea on a saucer. She had a special seat in the Cafe.

Cyril Rayner

We always kept one or two milking cows. We shut the cows up at night and milked them in the morning. The calves got the evening milk. We had a separator and so we had milk & cream. My wife made butter. I supplied Mrs Wells with milk in a 1 gallon and a 2 gallon tin. Our children at school used to go to the café at dinner time for a hot meal. No money was involved – it was an exchange.

Helen Green (nee Rowland)

The museum in Carnamah is beautiful now that it’s all enlarged. We used to go in the house there for biscuits if my mother didn’t pick us up from school in time. Mr Wells had it then. Then we’d go out and play with our bat and ball on the stone wall. We used to have a lot of meals there. It was always very nice.

I used to like the haypenny box. Two haypennies made one penny and I used to be given a haypenny each week. We’d go in and say can we have a look in the haypenny box and there’d be all these hundreds of different sorts of sweets and we’d all be putting our hands in on them as there were no paper or anything on them. We’d get six for a haypenny. Kids miss out on all of that now as it’s got a bit expensive.

Tracy Willet

I remember as a little girl of about 5 years old going into this tea room to purchase some lollies after Sunday School. I can still see the counter and all the table and chairs. I also remember seeing an older lady, must have been Mrs Wells, with a little dog outside the house that was connected to the tea rooms. There was a small grassed area alongside the fence line. I have not thought about that in years. 

Jean Misko

Congratulations on the museum. It looks great. I grew up in Morawa and lived in Carnamah 1989-1991, while teaching in Three Springs.

Ashley Armstrong

I remember it was in the mid 1960s Nigel my brother and I who were living at Petan farm Winchester would ride our bikes after school back to Carnamah collecting cool drink bottles from the road edge then taking them to the Tea Room to buy some lollies then ride home again in the dark.

Lesly Singleton

My sisters and I, on school days, maybe once a week had a cooked lunch at Mrs Wells tea rooms. Roasts and apples and custard. Wonderful home cooking. I think it was in payment for the eggs Mum and Dad provided on a regular basis. She needed eggs we needed feeding. A perfect barter system. This would be late 1950s.

Bill Higgins

I arrived Carnamah early in 1958 and was fortunate enough to find lodgings with three other guys in a house owned by a garage proprietor, I think his name was Bill Heinz.

As the four of us were single guys and the house was not what we would call suitable for preparation of meals, we all ate at Mrs Wells tea rooms in Macpherson Street. There were a number of people employed in and around Carnamah using Mrs Wells' good home cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and some 7 days a week.

I remember her as being known as "Ma Wells" to the population of Carnamah and the district. She had a wonderful disposition and personality despite working hard in pretty tough conditions unlike those of today. She sometimes came in for a bit of flak from a disappointed customer but she gave as good as she received, with very quick repartee.

I used to feel sorry for Ma, particularly in the summer months when she would be working over a very hot stove for long hours without any air conditioning. Sure she had some help on occasions but she was the person who was there everyday working from early morning until late in the evening. Ma Wells was a beaut lady and I had a great deal of respect for her.

Carl Edwards

I was one of the boarders at Gooch's Cafe and boarding house in 1963 and 64. I worked at the Bank of New South Wales just up the road, opposite the hotel. It was very Spartan with galvanised walls and roof, just a sleepout alongside the main stone building. It was convenient for a young man as there was lots of company and meals were always available. The board and meals cost around 6 pounds of my 12 pounds weekly wage. There were lots of customers for the Cafe back in the early 1960s as the Brand Highway didn't exist and commercial travellers dropped in regularly. The Gooch family were industrious, hard-working proprietors.

Boris Tchernakoff

As a young bachelor working at Elders and living in share accomadation, being able to have good home cooked meals every night. We were able to pay fortnightly, being allowed credit and as I remember the tea rooms were always crowded. There were teachers, bank workers, stock workers, any workers who needed a healthy nightly meal.

Ruth Boyer

As a child we use to go to the tea rooms to buy our lollies, this was in the 60s. You could take empty soft drink bottles and get money and spend it on lollies. Fish and chips on a Friday night. My sister worked there for a short time.To me it was Goochies. Mr and Mrs Gooch were very friendly.

Carnamah Historical Society & Museum

Shown above is a Mills & Ware promotional letter opener that was used at the tearooms by Mrs Peg Wells.

Please help enrich our collective history by sharing your own comment, story or memories of the tearooms, T.A.B. or museum. Click here to go to the comment form or send us an e-mail to mail@carnamah.com.au

For other local businesses please visit our virtual exhibitions on the Carnamah Post Office and Business Houses

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