Bellingen Heritage Council

100 Years of

William Joseph Hammond

William Joseph (Bill) Hammond b. Melbourne 1878 went to Lithgow in the retail trade before joining the St Austell Photographic Company on tour and arrived on the Bellinger in 1897 at the age of 19, setting up at Fernmount in the former Commercial Bank premises and canvassing the surrounding districts.

Whilst visiting the Orara goldfields he met Arthur Wheatley, manager of James Marles� store at Coramba, which was in decline as the lode had petered out but the nearby "Beacon" mines at Upper Bucca were at their peak. Here. Joseph Smith built the "Alma" studio for Will Hammond but as the gold dwindled here and population declined in 1898, he took over the store, with the former manager Arthur Wheatley proceeding to Marles� other store at Woolgoolga.

However by mid 1899 the Bucca gold field was also done, "busted", and Hammond took over the Woolgoolga store, with Wheatley moving on to T.C.Davis� store at Brushgrove on the Clarence.

Meanwhile in early 1900, a grand farewell party at Woolgoolga for Harry Caldwell, who was leaving to set up a butchery at Bellingen, brought together Bill Hammond, Arthur Wheatley and Ulmarra baker Albert Capp, who in 1901, established his "Federal Hotel" next door to the Hammond and Wheatley "Reform Store", now duly proclaimed in the Northern Courier of 5 June 1900 under the headline "They Are Coming".

Arthur Edward Wheatley

Arthur Edward Wheatley was born in Shoalhaven and on leaving school began his career with the Australian Joint Stock Bank and took up duties as accountant at Bellingen in the early 1890s. When terminated by the bank crash in April 1893 he was employed by the Commercial Bank of Sydney and stationed at Coramba where he met Miss Josephene Really who later became his wife.

In 1900 he left the bank and found employment as store manager for James Marles at the then booming Bucca mines only to be displaced by Hammond, and similarly again at Woolgoolga, but gaining employment with T.C Davis� busy river boat store at Brushgrove, all of which experience fitted him for the financial management of the "Reform Store" in partnership with Will Hammond.

Together Arthur Wheatley and William Hammond soon won the respect and confidence of the community for their enterprise and initiative in providing a wide range of goods and services for the developing district.

In 1909 the large two storeyed cement block building was erected and in 1916 extensions were added. In December that year Arthur Wheatley became seriously ill and died.

The business however continued to trade under the name Hammond and Wheatley.

George Edward Moore
(1845 � 1917)

George Edward Moore was born in Putney, England.Lured by the red cedar he landed on the Bellinger in the late 1860s. Teaming up with Wally Boulton they soon became responsible for all major bridge and culvert construction between Kempsey and Coffs Harbour. He produced new tools and implements including the G.E.M Saw Set and a corn husking machine. Among his buildings were the homes of Charles Vale, Matthews, Fred Baker, the Kenny home in Coronation Street, the Matthews store, the Bank of NSW, the School of Arts, the Masonic Hall, the Post Office and the Old Commercial Bank.

It was natural enough that the enterprising new business of Hammond and Wheatley saw the talent of George Moore and following the purchase of an American concrete brick making machine blocks for the new Hammond and Wheatley store were made. The building is believed to be the first of its type in the Southern Hemisphere

When the building was completed the Raleigh Sun of 5 August 1908 reported

"The Mammoth Trade Palace bearing the name of Commercial Emporium is now in the last stages of completion.The building is of solid concrete blocks throughout, composed of Bellinger River gravel and Portland cement.The materials used throughout the building are purely of Australian origin, excepting the British plate glass. The timbers comprise local hardwoods and Dorrigo pine and cedar, while the ironwork is from Brown and Brown's foundry at Pyrmont."

The original building as at 1900

During the building of the new store. 1908

The old building was still in use inside the construction
The completed building 1909

The first concrete block construction in Australia