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Change over the years

Historical Changes in Portarlington.

The new townhouses next to the Grand Hotel are complete. For the newcomers to the town these replace the IGA Supermarket that served the region for many years complete with a petrol bowser.

Going back over a 100 years this site held the largest store in the district. Formerly owned by William Hitch, the store was taken over by Thomas Brown in 1898. The store ran from Newcombe Street through to Fenwick Street. The frontage to Newcombe Street was 28 feet (854 cm) Spanning the entire length was a verandah 36 feet (1097cm) by 27 feet (823 cm). The building catered for all types of shopping. Goods and boots were displayed on the right hand side of the store and grocery items were stored on the right. Drapery, crockery, tobacco, pipes and cigarettes were old. The men were well catered for. They could purchase fishing tackle, ammunition, and power shot. The store was also licensed under the poisons act to sell poisons. Counters ran along the right hand wall complete with 24 drawers for bulk goods. Another room was a sewing room where one could be measured for clothing. A connecting room provided cool storage. A small stairway from the shop led to the back of the store where bulk items could be purchased. Another flight of stairs took you to the back of the building. This large open area enabled wagons to load and unload produce including diary goods. Another storeroom contained sacks and cases.

Because of the sloping ground a slate roof connected the two buildings. Northcote bricks were used to pave the stables and an area created for wagons. They could accommodate up to four horses at a time. The horses and wagons were made available for hire to pick up people from the pier and transport large items to outer areas. A stable hand was employed to care for the horses. Mr Brown built a house in Fenwick Street behind the store. This included two underground water tanks capable of holding thousands of gallons of water. Before the new townhouses were built one underground well was filled in. The other one is buried under the sealed Council carpark. It is interesting to note that these water storage tanks could hold over 40,000 litres of water. Similar wells have been discovered in the area.

Lorraine Stokes