Huthwaite's - The Friendly Store book and red delivery bike which sparked the book

Arts & Culture

Iconic Wagga store remembered in new book

Published: 21 Aug 2020 2:52pm

It was known as ‘The Friendly Store’ and was an iconic business in Wagga Wagga’s main street for almost eight decades until its closure in 1981.

Now the history of Huthwaites has become the focus of a new book, produced by the Museum of the Riverina in collaboration with the Charles Sturt University Regional Archives and the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society.

Museum Manager Luke Grealy said the journey to publishing Huthwaite’s – The Friendly Store was sparked by a little red delivery bike used by Huthwaites staff, which stood in one of the exhibition spaces at the Museum of the Riverina.

“It’s the only object we have in our collection from this iconic Wagga business and we were preparing a Statement of Significance on it,” Mr Grealy said.

“While researching this object a member of the team made contact with Charlie Blackburn, who was a former manager of the business.

“He produced these amazing glass plate negatives from Huthwaites and put the Museum in touch with other people and the story just grew like wildfire.”

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Huthwaites Baylis Street Store photo from Huthwaite's - The Friendly Store
WAGGA ICON: The Huthwaites store front in Baylis Street will be recognised by many local residents who shopped at the popular business. Photo from Huthwaite's - The Friendly Store

Five-thousand dollars was awarded to the Wagga Wagga & District Historical Society from Create NSW’s Cultural Grant Program, administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society, to fund the printing of the book.

William George Fitzroy Huthwaite founded the store in Baylis Street as a trader supermarket in 1906 which evolved into a Department Store. At its peak in the 1970s, the business had expanded to include agricultural machinery, timber yards, and service stations.

Mr Grealy said it was clear from the outset of the research that the community of Wagga Wagga loved the store.

“Huthwaites played a big part in the lives of generations of residents from the city and surrounding towns and villages, and it was a devastating blow when the business collapsed,” Mr Grealy said.

Copies of Huthwaite’s – The Friendly Store can be purchased at the Museum of the Riverina, Historic Council Chambers site or from the Charles Sturt University Regional Archives or Wagga Wagga & District Historical Society.