Woonona’s Richardson & Lewis’ store

By MICK ROBERTS ©

pendulbury park woonona
Pendlebury Park, corner of Gray Street and Prince’s Highway, Woonona, the site of Richardson & Lewis’ general store. Picture: Google Streetview.

WRITING to me in the late 1990s, Ned Andrews of Towradgi remembered back in the 1930s an old weatherboard shop on the northern corner of Gray Street and the Prince’s Highway at Woonona.

“I was about seven or nine years of age when the local family store was Richardson and Lewis, where Pendlebury Park Woonona is today. I can remember it was a big single storey weatherboard building, painted green. I used to walk from Wilga Street Corrimal after school if mum wanted a few groceries. They had an employee named Henry Hill and after the business closed down Harry started on his own, selling butter, cheese, eggs and honey by horse and cart. He continued to call on a lot of old customers.”

Close-by, on the opposite corner, Downies’ Blacksmith Shop operated from the site of the present Windmill Motel and Hubbards Bakery traded to the immediate south. In fact the bakery building is still there and is part of a two storey brick home.

windmill motel woonona
The Windmill Motel, southern corner of Gray Street and Prince’s Highway Woonona, the site of Downies’ Blacksmith Shop. The former Hubbards Bakery building can be seen to the right of the motel. Picture: Google Streetview.
old bakery woonona
The former Hubbards Bakery building, now converted to a two storey home. Picture: Google Streetview.

Fred Wright, 81, also recalled memories of Richardson and Lewis store in the late 1990s. Mr Wright had lived in the area all his life, and, at the time, spoke to me about the old timber store.

This old shop was probably one of the northern Illawarra’s first general stores, built by Henry Strange Fry in the 1850s. Mr Wright said he could remember, as a boy, listening to his father and Henry Fry’s son, Harold Fry, talking in his family kitchen diring the 1920s. Harold Fry took over from his father as the properietor of a general store at Bulli, opposite the Bulli Public School, and often called around the district’s homes to take grocery orders. His father is credited with being the region’s first businessman, and was the first Woonona postmaster, who went onto become a community leader. He is known as “The Father of Bulli”.

Mr Wright said that Harold Fry told his father that his dad, Henry built Richardson and Lewis’ store. He could remember the store quite clearly: “The northern side of the building was home to the grocery department, while to the south was the haberdashery section”.

The shop was similar in style to the former Davdison’s Hardware store (now subdivided into shops on the Princes Highway just north of Campbell Street Woonona), only timber, he explained.

The economical depression of the 1930s forced Richardson and Lewis to sell to a Jewish man by the name of Eisenberg, Mr Wright said.

The store, while run by Eisenberg, sold everything imaginablle, according to Mr Wright. It’s not certain when it closed, but the property was eventually bought by the Pallier family, and part of the site was donated to Wollongong Council as a park.

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2016

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