Lennox Post Office and General Store, 1960.
Lennox Post Office and General Store, 1960.

Why Lennox's main street has always been popular

A RECENT article in The Northern Star said there were 15 cafés and eateries on the main street of Lennox Head with more planned.

You might be amazed by this if you were familiar with Lennox in the 1950s and 1960s.

In those days there were only three shops in Lennox that sold food and drinks.

Allan Jones had a shop which also boasted a newsagency and post office agency.

Later he obtained a liquor licence. Allan and his wife Heather had purchased the shop in 1946 from Heather's parents, Robert and Eleanor Alford.

They had previously purchased it from Charlie Roots. Heather passed away in 1952 leaving a daughter Rhonda and a young son, Roger.

Across the road on the corner of Rayner Lane was a shop that was originally built by Fred Hutley.

He had sold it to the Byers family. It was later sold to Jim and Jean Campbell and then to Bob and Muriel Jack.

In 1956 the Jacks sold it to Bill and Beryl Gradwell and built a new house up the street from where they ran their new business, Lennox Head Real Estate.

A third shop stood on the corner of Byron Street where the pub now stands.

It was owned by Joe and Emma Riley. Further down, and closer to Lake Ainsworth, Malcolm McGregor built a fourth food shop which came to be known as the "top shop”.

It featured a mini pool table. Back in the days when Lennox was "Lennox”, it was 'cool' to spend Saturday night there playing pool and drinking 'spiders' and malted milks.

One of Allan Jones's employees was a prominent Lennox identity, Delia Gibbon.

When Allan passed away in 1969 the Gradwells purchased Allan Jones's shop.

However Delia had the post office agency.

For a short time she ran it from Bob Jack's house. Later, her brothers, Ken and Sid, pulled down an old cottage next to the shop and erected a new house for her and a post office building.

These three food shops kept a comprehensive range of groceries.

While some families made the trip to Ballina each week to restock from the larger grocers like Clark's and Garrett's, there were quite a few families who either did not have transport or just could not be bothered making the journey. In those days the drive to Ballina was not a ten minute cruise along the coast road.

It was along the narrow North Creek Road, over the rickety North Creek Bridge (now demolished) and finally emerging onto the Pacific Highway where the Aldi store now stands.

There were several other business establishments in Lennox - Bob Smallcombe had the motor garage, Lennox Head Motors, on the corner of Byron Street, opposite Riley's.

This was originally built by Kevin Pratt and Bob took it over in the 1950s. He aided the Lennox community in many ways - he was responsible for the formation of the Lennox Head Bush Fire Brigade which he captained for many years.

A brand new butchers shop opened in the late 1950s, run by Cec Webber. This was welcomed by the locals. Previously the Tintenbar butcher took meat orders and delivered these on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Bill and Beryl Gradwell, together with their three sons, John, Colin and Peter, soon started to make their mark on the area.

They created a small caravan park on a vacant block of land at the back of their original shop and they also became agents for Sunliner fibreglass caravans which they either rented out or sold outright.

An interesting sideline is the newspaper banner in our photo which states "Strong new lead in kidnap”. This refers to the infamous Graeme Thorne kidnapping, said to be the first kidnapping of a child in Australia.

Prepared by Geoff & Margaret Henderson for Richmond River Historical Society, Lismore.

Telephone: 02 6621 9993. Email: info@richhistory.org.au

Hours: Museum - Monday-Friday 10am-4pm; Research Room - Monday & Wednesday 10am-4pm.

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