FUEL STOP: The general store branches out by installing petrol bowsers.
FUEL STOP: The general store branches out by installing petrol bowsers.

Floods and cyclones have got nothing on this little shop

ONE of the oldest commercial buildings in North Bundaberg is still operating as a store shrugging off the effects of floods and cyclones for more than 100 years.

The store, in Perry St, has been operating since 1904, and has been Harwood's Saw and Tool Service for 39 years.

Proprietor Rob Harwood has researched the history of the building, and said operations in the store started in 1904 when Bridget Roebuck, Formerly Hennigan, started her business there at the age of 47 and disposed of her liquor and tobacco business in Bourbong St.

MODERN TIMES: Owner Rob Harwood inside the store today.
MODERN TIMES: Owner Rob Harwood inside the store today.

When she died in 1924 her daughter, Mary Ellen, who never married, took over the store.

The building still has the inscription M. E. Roebuck 1904 at the front.

After Mary Ellen died her sister, Catherine Story, took over the business.

Later the building was owned by the Davie family, the Itzstine family, Tatham and Praetz and Frank and Marg Round.

When Mr Round took over the store part of the payment he made was a house.

But Mr Harwood said Mr Round had no cash to keep the shop going, so once the stock was sold he shut up shop.

"It sat empty for about 10 years," Mr Harwood said.

When Mrs Round died her estate was left to her daughter, Elizabeth Mary Cosgrove, who sold it to Mr Harwood in February, 1975.

At one stage the store had five petrol bowsers out front, representing Shell, Warrathar, Golden Fleece, C.O.R. and Mobil.

The original owner of the store, Bridget Roebuck, was apparently a very well-known and popular member of the community.

On January 29, 1925, the then Bundaberg Mail carried an extensive obituary of her after she died. According to the obituary news of her death "was received with considerable regret" in the town and district.

Mrs Roebuck was originally from Ireland, and emigrated to Australia in 1877.

Five years after arriving she married Joseph Roebuck.

The couple did a short honeymoon tour of western Queensland by wagon, and when they returned to Bundaberg they started farming and fruit growing on Splitter's Creek in Sharon.

Mrs Roebuck later moved into town and ended up in the North Bundaberg shop, which "prospered under keen business methods".

"The deceased was held in the highest esteem by the commercial people of Bundaberg, and was extremely popular with her customers, particularly the children," it said.

OUR HISTORY: The former general store in Perry St built in 1904.
OUR HISTORY: The former general store in Perry St built in 1904. Contributed


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