This story of the unique and historic Tenindewa Store, Post Office and Exchange was supplied by Mr. Alec Rumble whose wife Kathleen [Palmer] wrote “Memories of a Migrant” (1988). The Exchange and Post Office closed in 1985 and thus it became the last Manual Exchange in West Australia to close.
The first Post Office at Tenindewa was carried on by Mrs. Eves (mother of Mr. George Eves) in 1910, and then when they moved to “Illino” it went to Mr. Norman Fry’s residence (the Big House) and it was conducted by Miss Fry. In 1918 Miss Fry left the district and went to live in Victoria.
In 1919 it was conducted in the “Old Hall” by Miss Kathleen Palmer [Rumble] and Miss Eileen Palmer for a short period, and then to Mrs. Napier who was a Railway Employee’s wife. When they eventually left in came back to the “Old Hall” and was again conducted by the Miss Palmers. Their payment was Three Pounds, Seven Shillings and Sixpence per week. ($6.75) We held a meeting to see if we could increase this amount to make it worthwhile to continue as the Postal Department had threatened to close it up and our mail would go to Mullewa. It was agreed to all pay seven shillings and sixpence (75 cents) per month but no one paid, so closure was imminent. Then I decided to build the Store and Post Office in 1921. The Miss Palmers ran it until 1922 when I married Miss Kathleen Palmer. It was then run by Miss Eileen Palmer for two years and she lived with us. She then departed for to Perth and (in 1924) I leased it to Mr. W Griffiths.
(The Store was connected to the telephone at the time of opening according to information supplied by the late Mr. Keith Butler)
Mr. Griffiths leased it from me until 1935 and he then built the present Store. The Post Office was transferred to the present Store. Mr. Griffiths moved to Perth and the place was run by Mr. Eric Hamilton and then it was run again by Mr. Griffiths.
(It was also run for a short period by Mr. and Mrs. Bill Kelsey according to information supplied by the late Mr. Keith Butler)
TJ and EM Foster took over the Store in and Post Office in 1946 and were assisted for many years by Miss Kitty O’Brien [Rowe] (daughter of Mr. Tom O’Brien) daughter Judy [later McDonald] and then by Nell and son Des and later wife Annette. Mr. Tom Foster passed away in 1969. Since Mrs. Foster [Nell] moved to Geraldton in 1977 the business has been conducted by Des and his wife Annette. Paddy Butler was always about to open up on odd occasions and do a bit of heavy lifting anytime it was required.
Note: The Mail is still delivered to the Store under contract by the baker who takes bread to the shops in Mullewa ex Geraldton. (It finally ceased completely in about the year 2000 after a couple of break-ins that resulted in mail and parcels going missing)
The Tenindewa manual exchange was established in 1962 with 11 customers connected. The late Mr. Tom Foster and Mrs. Foster conducted the exchange for the period 1962 to 1977 and then by son Des until now (1985). Over the years the number of customers has increased and at conversion to automatic, 24 customers were conducted. (See “The Foster Years“)
Note: The customers that would have made up the Indarra Exchange (about 6) were connected into this service in 1985. It (Indarra) was run for many years previously by Mrs. Rita Desmond from her house at Indarra and then it was “jury rigged” into the Mullewa exchange until “automatic conversion” at Tenindewa
The Tenindewa Store is all that’s left of this once thriving little station.
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