Bill and Thelma Bingham.

This was sent in by Anne Dorman [nee Bingham]. The Binghams ran the Old Warrah store from 1944 to 1974.

The Binghams in 1973, it was Wendy's 21st. Bill, Ross, Wendy, Darrell, Pearl Coombs, Barb, Helen, Murray, Sharon, Thel, Anne, and John Coombs.

W. R. and T. BINGHAM


As remembered by Anne Dorman nee Bingham.


Bill and Thel arrived at Old Warrah (from Barraba late in 1944. I was 3 and Murray was 8 years. They took over from the McCluands. It was during the war with little stock on the shelves and a few packing cases on the floor with groceries. It was a very difficult time to expand a business, especially with coupons. One couldn't buy stock without coupons and one couldn't get coupons unless one sold stock. A catch 22.


However, expand they did, albeit slowly at first.( I know it took them 7 years to pay off their first provisional tax!) They did have a rough introduction. Dad was not well (why he had to leave his mechanical engineering business in the first place) and two weeks after starting, Mum Murray and I came down with chicken pox. Mum couldn't show her face in the shop.


History proves they were survivors and gradually built the business into mixed groceries, gift lines, frozen foods, hardware, petrol and oils, farm equipment, dips and drenches etc. etc. They were the last of the independent service stations in NSW. He even had a car agency at one stage and some might remember the Renaults. He was also agent for John Deere.

Early picture of Bingham's store at Old Warrah. Note the 2 old pump up fuel bowsers still there.


In the early days when cars weren't so prevalent (there were still some horses and sulkies) most of their business was done with mail orders. Mail days were rather frantic especially with folk phoning at the last moment to catch the mail. Of course in summer , butter and frig items were left till last and wrapped with ice to last the long day on the back of an open truck.


Some mails were second daily but out and back on the same day. But those further out, like Glen Moan and Blackville, were out one day and back the next. A lot of orders were monthly and packed in large corn flakes cartons. There was an art in packing so that nothing was broken or smashed by the time of arrival. (Especially eggs!)


Saturdays and especially end-of-the-month Saturdays were very busy. Many folk went to town, dropped off their order and picked it up on their way home which may be as late as after the pictures. All orders, small and large were left on the front verandah. Never once in 30 years was ever anything stolen. Rarely there was a mix up but never stolen. Mum did get nervous at times listening to matches being struck to read labels with a drum of petrol nearby!


There was a large frig/freezer in the shop and in the early days cordial drinks were restricted to raspberry and sarsaparilla. That was before bottled cordials from Tinsons Quirindi. Their real specialty was milk shakes with fresh full cream milk from their own cows. Ice creams were a real treat and they came in long cylinders packed in dry ice on the passenger train. As young things we learned to serve early but reaching the bottom of the ice cream churn was beyond me.


Before the telephone went automatic all the shop's business was conducted on a party line of seven. Our call was three shorts but anyone could pick up the receiver and listen in!


As the years went by and the business grew, help was needed. Included were Libby Maunder, Joan Henry, Marion Wood, Marj Smith, Gwen Gardiner/Press, and Marilyn Tickle (who left to marry Bowden Smith.)


Murray started school riding his bike to Warrah Creek. By the time I started in 1947 Cecil Carted started a bus run to Willow Tree in an old side curtain car, picking up at Old Warrah, Warrah Station and Ronda Schofield.


We soon out grew the car and Cecil got a flatbed truck and put a canvas canopy over it with forms along each side and a step ladder to climb in. It was pitch dark inside so he put in a tiny light bulb. Wouldn't pass OH and S today! If my memory serves me this was used to pick up as far out as Jack's Creek when that school closed and I am sure the Howard Family can better tell the later story. It wasn't until 1955 that there was a High School bus going past the shop.


As I was almost ready to leave home Wendy and Darrell came along to keep Bill and Thel company. With such a spread out family, Dad was on the P and C at Willow Tree Public School so long they made him Patron!


All the Binghams went to the monthly Methodist Church at "the little grey church on the windy hill." This was halfway between Jack's and Warrah Creeks. Mum played the pedal organ. It was interesting when wet as the up hill road on Jacks Creek side was a slippery black soil track and on the other side was a creek crossing. (Depending on how deep it was.) As a young one I used to be terrified the little Austin 7 would never make it up the steep bank.

Bingham's tennis court at Old Warrah, in 1953.

In the early years the tennis court was cleared and Saturday afternoons became the social centre of activity. Friendly matches were played away as far as Nundle. Later Dad kept the end of the court maintained with a large practice board.


All the family had happy associations with Warrah Creek tennis club over many years. Later Dad was made Life Member of Willow Tree.


Bill and Thel faithfully served the community for thirty years and sold the business in August 1974 to retire to Newcastle. Their policy was service, and if they didn't have it they would get it as soon as possible.

Snow at the store. 18th July 1965.
Pearl and John Coombs house and garage, Old Warrah.
A flood out front of the shop, late 1940's.

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Judy Anderson (Wilcox) | Reply 04.11.2019 08:03

Remember Binghams well.

Helen Copeland | Reply 14.09.2012 17:49

I have enjoyed reading your family story, Anne..when we were little we would walk to your shop from Warrah to buy Winning Post chocolates for mum's birthday .

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Latest comments

12.06 | 20:33

What a wonderful story, enjoyed it very much.

06.06 | 22:53

What great history that now seems to be forgotton. ⚓🦉🐉🦂💙👑

10.05 | 15:31

Takes me back to wonderful childhood days visiting "Merrieton" and "Towarri". At about age 12, I thought Tony (aged about 24) was the most handsome chap around

06.01 | 15:43

Which farm did "Pop Mackelvane" have, I was there during the last part of the second war.

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