Monday, 7 December 2015

Robinson's Grocery store at Pakenham

If you grew up in Pakenham or shopped at Pakenham in the 1950s to 1980s then chances are that you would have shopped at Robinsons Grocery shop or Robinson's 4 Square or Robinson's SSW -  so here is a look at the history of Robinsons in Pakenham.

Stanley Clarke Robinson was born in 1891 to Edward Walton and Emma (nee Basham) Robinson. In the 1914 Electoral Rolls they are listed at Leongatha - Edward is a ‘boot dealer’, Emma, home duties and Stanley is listed as a grocer. In 1914, Stanley married Mary Ellen Knox. As far as I can work out they had five children – Errol Gordon in  1916; Nancy Mary in 1918 (died age 5 in 1924); Joan died in 1922 (not sure when she was born); Jack Stanley in 1924 (died 1945) and Alan Edward  in 1927.
In 1924, they were still at Leongatha (according to the Electoral Rolls) - he was grocer and Mary Ellen’s occupation was Home duties. In the 1925 Electoral Rolls they are both listed at Main Street, Pakenham East (as it was known at the time)

We can fairly accurately pinpoint when they arrived in Pakenham in 1925 by a series of advertisements in the Pakenham Gazette.  


In the March 27, 1925 issue we have the McAfee Bros advertisement as usual.


The next week, April 3, 1925 we have this intriguing ad – ‘Watch this space’


One week later (April 10 1925)  we see that S.C Robinson has taken over McAfee Brothers and he is advertising ‘The House for Good Value’  - grocery, drapery, boots and shoes, produce and ironmongery. 


A small article from the Pakenham Gazette of April 3 1925 confirms the purchase, even though the information about Mr Robinson being ‘late of Sunbury’ does not tally with the Electoral Rolls, however is confirmed by his obituary in the Pakenham Gazette in 1957.


The Shire of  Berwick Rate Books (see above) show that Stanley Robinson leased a shop, grain store and house from David McAfee (or family members) from 1925 until 1949. In 1949 the properties were purchased in the names of Stanley, Mary Ellen and Errol Robinson.




S.C Robinson operated as a general store keeper until around 1953 when he started advertising his new gift shop (see the two advertisements, above)  At the same time (1953) E.G Robinson and A.E Robinson began advertising as General Merchants, so I presume that his sons took over the business and Stanley ‘retired’ to his gift shop. Around November 1958, E.G and A.E Robinson became a 4 Square Grocery Shop. They later became a SSW and then sold to Safeways.


Advertisement from the Pakenham Gazette 1953


Advertisement from the Pakenham Gazette November 1958


Stanley died on September 19, 1957. His obituary (reproduced left, from the Pakenham Gazette of September 20, 1957) confirms that he was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, as well as the Masonic Lodge. There is a  Memorial stained glass window at the Uniting Church in Pakenham, commemorating Mr Robinson, dated 1960, obviously placed there when the new Presbyterian Church was opened on October 1 1960. His son,  Errol, was the Session Clerk and Chairman of the Building Committee at the time of the construction of the new church. There is a report in the Pakenham Gazette of October 7 of the opening.  The dedication ceremony was on the Saturday and the furnishings were dedicated at the service the next day. The list in the Gazette includes the window in memory of Mr S.C Robinson and a pew in memory of Nancy Robinson. There is also a pew in memory of  Flight Sergeant Jack Robinson. 

Jack was the second of Stanley's sons to enlist to serve in World War two - Errol enlisted in the Air Force in August 1941 and was discharged in September 1945; Jack enlisted in February 1942 in the Army and then in 1943 he transferred to the Air Force. He died on January 19, 1945. He was a member of Beaufighter crew engaged in non-operational flight which crashed in a heavy snow storm in Lincoln in England. Alan enlisted in May 1945 and was discharged in January 1947.

Sadly, the day of the small owner operated grocery store is nearly over and this market segment has been taken over by the two big players, Coles and Woolworths, so there would be very few people who could these days list their occupation as 'grocer' like Stanley Robinson could.





This is Robinson's SSW store in Main Street, Pakenham - (circa late 1970s- early 1980s)  It was later taken over by Safeways and is now the IGA. Safeways (now Woolworths)  moved to its new building behind Main Street around 1984.

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