UNION STORES - Fremantle

Notes on history of the Union Stores

The Union Stores was a hardware shop in Fremantle.

It was established in 1896 and was originally associated with the J.W. Bateman family. At that time the company was described as Ironmongers and Grocers

The early manager was Hughie Harling, followed by Fred Hollis who took over in about 1910.

Union Stores front view

Apart from serving the local community, the Union Stores had sales representatives who travelled to country town selling various goods.

For example prior to the first Dunsborough general store in opening for business in 1925, supplies for the small local community arrived twice yearly when the traveller from the Union Stores travelled through the area with his sulky laden with goods.

In May 1932 the Union stores was bought out by a group of Fremantle residents comprising Richard Rennie, Bill Bailey, Mr Grieve and Mr Piper (of Grieve and Piper customs agents), and Jim Duncan (who became manager).

At that time its name was changed to the Union Stores (W.A.) Limited.

It was mainly catering for the building trade.

The Union Stores owned A. Roby & Co, who manufactured tin trunks and other sheet metal products, gutters, etc. They bought a factory in Hilton Park for manufacturing, but this business was undercapitalised. Mr. Albert J Smith managed Robys.

In the 1950s the western end of Fremantle was becoming a backwater as the commercial area of Fremantle moved eastwards.
Union Stores Share Certificate

Above: Share Certificate for Ivan Burke who was a Union Stores Rep. circa 1962

There were plans to widen Henry Street (and High Street) and this would have affected the Union Stores Building.

The Union Stores had no suburban branches, and the directors resisted any move to branch out. However, a branch was established in Kalamunda for a short time in the late 1960s.

Eventually the Union Stores was sold to an entrepreneur, Dickie Calthrop. When he died of cancer it was sold to Maclean Bros. and Rigg (another hardware firm in Perth). This company was later taken over by Metro Industries.


Information provided by Richard Edward Rennie (Jr) who worked for the company from 1932 to 1960, becoming manager in the late 1950s.

Also Dunsborough town web site http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/WADunsborough.html

Union Stores