Tenindewa Store & Post Office

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.

L-R Marjorie Fry (mother), Horace, Peter, Charles, Edith and Norma out the front of their house (The Big House)

Jim Rumble, Alex Rumble (father of the girls, owner of the Old Hall and author of this story), Vera Rumble (later Sands), Kathleen Rumble (later Piesse) and Mrs. Mary Anne Rumble. Kathleen Rumble (Alex’s wife and nee Palmer)) would have most likely taken this photograph. Vera and Kathleen are Mary-Anne’s and Jim’s daughters. This was the occasion of Vera leaving Tenindewa to go to Secondary School in Geraldton.

These three photographs are the basis of the “constructed photograph” below. Doug Peet is the small boy. It was situated at Tenindewa about 100 metres to the east of the current Store

This is the Old Hall. It was shifted to Mullewa by Horrie Peet in about 1946 and used as the Mail Room in their (Peet’s) business operations there. This photograph was taken after the move. Note the two telephone -line conductors still attached to the top of the building.

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 it 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 Old Store (it was situated some 50 metres east of the current Store) This store was built by Alec Rumble in 1921

Alec Rumble and Kathleen Palmer (See Memories of a Migrant under HISTORY on this website) First couple to wed in the Anglican Church in Mullewa

(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.

Mr Bill Griffiths filling car with petrol. The two girls outside the car are Gloria and Doreen Butler (Cox and Lindsey these days) and inside the car are Maureen Quinn and Joyce Stokes: Griffiths built this Store in 1935  

(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

Rita Desmond on the left with Mel Weir and Mary Critch on the occasion of the closing of the Exchange

1921 Geraldton Express

Tenindewa Notes (From our own Correspondent)

Why have I been so silent with my notes, did you say? Well tell the truth Mr. Editor I am fair dinkum disgusted. You know what a nuisance I have been to you and your staff by, month after month per medium of the “Express” agitating and barracking for the corporative people here to start a store.  Why bless your soul sir, that now is a complete washout, a mere speck on the fly paper to what Tenindewa was on the verge of doing to keep up her reputation from slipping backwards. The best asset we have and what took years to get, namely the post office and public telephone, was on Saturday week last to be bundled down, box and dice to Geraldton, for the simple reason the current Postmaster could not see his way clear to pay for the young ladies services, keep, and need for a horse to convey them the six miles, on ten shillings a week, which is the government subsidy, and though the ladies, in order to keep down expenses were going without butter and sugar and living on watercress sandwiches and the horse was getting only sticks across his skinny ribs, it happens it was all to no purpose. It was said “it couldn’t be did any longer” the strain was too great and the frames too frail to carry on. Happening on the Saturday mentioned in the “City of Tenindewa”, with about twenty or more residents and espying the postmaster in the act of blowing up, I mean pulling down the post office [at which time] we asked him to stay proceedings for an hour when we hurriedly held a meeting. After a lengthy discussion we decided to put our hands in our pockets and make up a living salary to enable the postmaster to carry on for a month. In the meantime the secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association was to put the case before the postal authorities, and to try and secure a larger grant. Personally, I think the Government should increase the subsidy, as years back mailmen were paid fair wages to deliver mail to about a dozen settlers. Surely now that we have about twenty times that number, and the post office a good paying proposition to the Government, it is not fair the “cockies” to be dobbing up when the business of the post office warrants it. A good suggestion was made at the meeting that the Returned Servicemen Association be approached to find out if any disabled returned soldier, not afraid of being starved, would be game enough to take on the duties. Whether anything further has been done in this matter I don’t know. Mr. Editor after your interview with the Prince of Wales you might consign him up here for a number of blue blooded relations of his, of whom he is not aware, would, I am sure astonish him and as one lady, who has enough blue blood in her to fill an ink bottle, told me she can trace her male ancestors back to when Noah handed one [of her ancestors] a life belt to work out his destiny against the flood, she, to my mind had the blues all right. You can tell the Prince he needn’t think about tucker. Everyone is prepared to feed him, but should he like to vary it, instead of a valet, he might bring a kangaroo dog and a few rabbit traps and not be troubled about polishing up his pennies as we play ‘two up’ with I.A.B money. (Industries Assistance Board) We got beaten at cricket on Sunday by Mullewa, but, all the same put a straight out ticket on us for the shield, it’s ours. Devils Creek went down and belted Mingenew cricketers right into the scrub Oh I nearly forgot to mention that the boxing stunt, which was to be a blood curdling affair, a bare knuckle go a la Tom Sawyers, didn’t come off, as only one of the gladiators turned up at the meeting place. The other is still alive and no blood was spilt though the way the bruiser who put in an appearance shadow-spared his way back home, we all thought there might be some of ours [blood] at stake, so, gave him the whole road to himself.

Geraldton Guardian and Express
Old Tenindewa Identity

Late Mrs. Eves F. A. Eves
The ever-thinning band of early pioneers of the northern districts was still further depleted with the death at the Mullewa District Hospital on Saturday last of Mrs Francis Agnus Eves, wife of Mr. S. Eves of Ilma Station.
The deceased lady had been in ill health for some years, but despite this fact her death came as a painful shock to the members of her family and to her wide circle of friends and acquaintances scattered throughout the State.
The late Mrs Eves was born on the Greenough in the home of her parents (The late Mr. and Mrs J Gilmore) near the old Golden Sheaf Hotel. Her father was for a number of years in the employ of the late Mr. John Maley at the old Greenough Flour Mill and the deceased retained vivid memories of the Greenough in its heyday. Forty Five years ago she married Mr. Eves who was then engaged in the Western Australian Government Railways. She resided at various centres in the northern areas before making he home at Tenindewa, and recalled with pride her association with a banquet tendered at Nabewa to the then Premier (Mr. Frank Wilson), Mr. M. F Troy and others distinguished in the parliamentary life of the State on the occasion of the opening of the railway running through the Chapman Valley. Immediately following her arrival at Tenindewa the late Mrs. Eves entered wholeheartedly into the embryo community life of the district. Although denied the opportunity of what would be termed today an adequate education, her services were ever in demand by the early settlers to assist in the transaction of business affairs and she conducted the first Post Office at the siding.
Water was then, as now, a pressing problem. The early settlers, in carving farms out of virgin country, had been vouchsafed [sic] little opportunity of making provision for water supplies, and their needs were drawn from the condenser at Geraldton and railed to Tenindewa. Orders for water were accepted by the late Mrs. Eves who supervised its delivery to the settlers. She was charged with the ordering of railway trucks for the farmers and in the transaction of innumerable business details for members of the small but ever growing community.
In 1917 Mr. Eves moved to “Ilma” Station which is situated twenty-two miles [38 kilometers] south of Tenindewa and till almost the time of her death the deceased lady closely associated herself with the conduct of the property. She continued to take a live interest in the social life of the community and was prominently associated with the conduct of entertainments in the Railway Goods Shed for the purpose of raising funds for the building of the Tenindewa Hall. Despite her own family responsibilities, the late Mrs. Eves found time to bring happiness into the lives of the children of the district and was the organiser of Christmas Trees fetes [sic] held at Tenindewa for a number of years, whilst she assisted with the conduct of functions which resulted in the establishment of a school in the district.
She was ever a friend to those in need and many residents retain the happiest recollections of her ministrations in times of illness or misfortune. She is survived by a husband and two daughters (Mesdames M. Kember, of Geraldton and I. Lauder, of Perth) and two sons (Messrs. George of Ilma Station and Cecil Eves, of Bluff Point)
The funeral took place in the Anglican portion of the Utakarra Cemetery on Monday last, the prayers at the graveside being recited by the Rev. K. B. Halley.

The Tenindewa Store is all that’s left of this once thriving little station.

Robert McDonald and Judy (Foster) McDonald’s invitation to the closing ceremony

Robbie Weir. Robbie purchased the last item sold in the Shop. He bid a very high price (it was an aution of all the remaining stock) Robbie had it framed/mounted complete with a picture of Nell and Annette Foster at the top and donated it back. It still takes pride of place in the Store to this day.

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  1. I enjoyed reading this story. I am the granddaughter of Alec and Kathleen Rumble. The photo of the wedding on this page is incorrectly labelled. The groom is Alec Rumble.

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