View of Wharf Street, Tuncurry, c 1910 (now Manning Street), showing Wright’s General Store in the foreground. The “shop” as it was known, was located where the Heritage Apartments now stand. The rooftop of the Latter Day Saints Church (renamed “Community of Christ”) can be seen a few doors to the left and is still standing today.
Tuncurry’s First Store
The first shop in Tuncurry was established by John Wright in 1885 to provide goods and services for the community which was mainly made up of timber and shipyard workers.
All goods came by sailing ship from Sydney delivered onto the wharves at Tuncurry. The store supplied the community with hardware, drapery, haberdashery, groceries, books and toys. Groceries such as tea, dates, flour and sugar were bought in bulk and butter came in barrels.
A special tin-lined room was made for keeping flour, sugar and other items free from vermin. As no refrigeration was available in the early days, bacon was bought in sides and hung from the ceiling. Modern refrigeration was introduced after WWII.
In the 1930’s-1940’s orders were collected and delivered by horse and cart (and later by truck) from Forster two days and Tuncurry three days per week.
During the ‘dole years’ of the Depression, the shop was under contract by the Government to supply food coupon. In the depression years the shop helped many locals by allowing ample credit for those in need until times were better.
The shop remained a family business, managed at first by John Wright, then his sons Harry and Stan. Stan’s son Bruce, who celebrates his 90th birthday this month, managed the shop until it closed in 1980. Bruce had worked at the shop in 1938 age 15.
‘Tuncurry’s Working Waterfront’ local history project is a heritage mosaic due to be installed in John Wright Park this coming June. The artwork is a visual representation of the early industries and activities relevant to waterfront site and the vital role they played in forming the foundations of the town and community.