The Beadle hub

Beadle’s Newsagency, 450 Newcastle Street, West Perth, c1930 (COV LHC PHO6091)

FROM Vincent Library’s local history centre archives comes this photograph and information from Julia Robinson-White, great-granddaughter of prominent trader Bill Beadle. It was submitted to the 2020 Local History Awards, with supplemental research by Friends of Local History volunteer Liz Millward.

NEXT time you’re at the corner of Charles and Newcastle Streets, take a moment to reflect on what was once there.

From 1909 to 1919, Mrs ST Williams ran a newsagency at 450 Newcastle Street. 

In 1920 the business was bought by returned serviceman William‚ ‘Bill’ Beadle and his sister Elsie McLeod. 

In 1922, Bill married Victoria Bowden and the couple subsequently purchased Elsie McLeod’s share in the business which became known as W Beadle Newsagents.

The Beadle family, which included daughters Dorothy and Jean, lived next door to the newsagency at 448 Newcastle Street. 

The Beadle’s newsagency didn’t just sell papers – it was a post-office, library, tobacconist, bank, telegraph office and political hub.

Bill and his mother Jean Beadle were staunch Labor Party supporters who were politically active. 

Justice of the Peace

Jean Beadle, who lived around the corner in Carr Street, West Perth, was one of the first Justices of the Peace in Western Australia and founder of Labor Women’s Organisations in Fremantle and the Eastern Goldfields.

Bill Beadle was a Perth City councillor who ran (unsuccessfully) as a Labor candidate for the seat of West Perth and later Mount Hawthorn. 

In 1947, Bill and Victoria sold the family business and Bill Beadle died shortly after. 

In the 1950s, it continued to operate as a newsagency run by the Docwra family. 

In the 1960s, the shop was demolished and the site became a car yard. 

In the 1970s, construction of the Mitchell Freeway prompted the widening of Charles Street and the site of the former newsagency became part of Charles Street. 

From 2000, a garden centre operated on the corner of Newcastle and Charles Streets.

Vacant since 2014, the site of so much commerce and activity is currently being redeveloped as apartments.

The day’s routine

Bill and Victoria’s daughter, Jean, recalled the commitment to business and tremendous work ethic

“Mum got up at 6am had breakfast which Sue had cooked, opened the shop in time to catch the early morning workers going to catch the train to work, then the local factory workers who started at 7am.

Each morning, early, the front step and surrounds of the shop had to be washed down and the footpath swept, and the dozen or so boards advertising different publications put out. 

These boards were like magnets and attracted every dog in the area to lift its leg on one or more.

There were several tricks used to try and overcome this nuisance – one was pepper sprinkled around the board which made the dog sneeze when sniffed and hopefully the dog then forgot its original urge.

Another was a ‘throw down’ aimed at the culprit.

Dad got up about 4am rolled and delivered 400 papers, came home to breakfast about 6.30am, rested for about an hour then returned to the shop to allow mum to come home and see us before we went to school. 

It was a long day as lunch and tea were taken in shifts, each coming home for a meal then returning to work as the shop closed at 8pm Monday to Friday.

Saturdays it closed from 1pm-4pm then opened until 9pm. Sundays was almost a holiday with the shop opening later and closing about 11am. There were only two days in the year with no papers – Christmas Day and Good Friday.” 

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