The Store Oral History Project is now available on-line at
The Store Oral History Project is a collection of stories gathered from members of the Newcastle community in 2019, sharing their thoughts and memories of the Store. We thank all of the interviewees and those who have contributed in other ways, such as sharing photographs and other sources and memorabilia.
The Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative Society Ltd, known locally as ‘The Store’, was established in Newcastle in 1898, and the main store building opened in Hunter Street Newcastle in 1906. In 1974, at its peak, The Store operated 15 other retail branches and had 98,000 members and employed 1,450 workers across its operations. It provided grocery, retail goods, services including a health fund, funeral fund, travel agency, credit union as well as a barber shop. The Store was the biggest and most successful co-operative society in Australia. Eventually, increased shopper mobility and competition from suburban shopping centres saw The Store close on 10 April 1981 after 83 years of service. The closure of The Store left a lasting impact upon the community and in the wake of renewal of the former Hunter Street site, this project aims to commemorate and celebrate The Store’s legacy.
Also included are a series of audio cassettes of oral history interviews conducted in 1989 and commissioned by Newcastle Printmakers Workshop as part of a publication “The Store: a Co-operative Phenomenon” (1988). The original 10 cassette tapes are held at Newcastle Printmakers Workshop.
If you would like to contribute to the project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Store Oral History Project was funded by the DOMA, produced by the University of Newcastle’s GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au and the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund uoncc.wordpress.com/vera-deacon-fund, and managed by Artefact Heritage artefact.net.au.
NBN News – The Store remembered as an oral history project. 26 September, 2019.
UON News – Community Stories Keep Memories Alive – 27 September, 2019
Newcastle Herald – “DOMA, uni open Store history” by Michael Parris – 28 September 2019 pp. 20-21
MEMORIES FROM THE COMMUNITY
“My mother Zena Turner nee Scott was head cashier at the Newcastle branch of the store in the late 1930’s before marrying. Also I can still remember her store number T758. When I was young the store used to have a Christmas show for children on the roof which was organized by Ralph Freer & I attended every time we, my mother & I did our Christmas Shopping. She was a good friend of Mr Les Gibbs & Mr Bill Cowper, who became manager of the Clyde Street Grocery Department where I had my first job delivering groceries by trucks. My wife & I did all our furniture shopping at the Store & after moving to Kilaben Bay did our shopping at the Toronto branch.” (Phillip Turner, Kilaben Bay, September 29, 2019)
“Can anyone has spoken about the wonderful live shows that were performed at Christmas time on the roof of the Store? The stage was under a tent, as I recall but the audience was not seated under cover. It must have been in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I cannot remember much about them but it was targeted for perhaps children up to middle Primary School age and the shows had an element of the pantomime or the circus about them. I also recall lovely fashion parades at the Store. We knew the lady in charge of the “Ladies ” fashion Department. Mum sewed most of our dresses but any “shop bought” clothes were from the Store. she was a long standing Store member, taking over the Store member’s number – “E65” from Dad’s Mum, my Nan, Mrs. EWING, a very early member of the Store, when Nan moved to Sydney. Miss Ella Sulling was a good friend of Mum’s and Ella was in charge, for decades, of the Store’s Shoe Department. Needless to say all our shoes were bought from the Store. Mr. Pusey, from Belmont was in charge, I think of the Furniture Department, if not also the Electrical goods Department. Mr. Ernie Wade, another Belmont Fellow was for a time in charge of the Fruit and Vegetable Section. ( was there also a Mr. England with Ernie?) We were, through WW2 and for some years after among a handful of permanent residents at Eleebana. Mum had her fortnightly grocery order from The Store’s branch at Boolaroo. In that Boolaroo Store was Heather McNair from Teralba. Heather married Harry Dews, also from Teralba. When our family moved from Eleebana in about 1949, to a farm at Warners Bay Mum still had the Store fortnightly grocery delivery from Boolaroo….and it continued, when we moved to Corona St Hamilton South in 1959, from the Newcastle Store. I joined the Store when I began work, training as a Nurse at the Royal Newcastle Hospital and remained a loyal Store shopper until it’s sad closure. Probably much more to remember and tell from those days and also when I married and came to live in Belmont where I continued to be a loyal Store customer in the TWO Stores at Belmont. (Robin Gordon nee EWING, Belmont, NSW October 2019)