The Walker family history in the words of the late Wells Mattinson Walker

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John Thomas Walker

"John Thomas Walker, son of William Walker and was born soon after his parents arrived in South Australia from Lincolnshire, England in 1848. When he was four John had both ankles crushed while playing on a see saw. As there were no orthopaedic surgeons at the time it meant John was a cripple for the rest of his life and got around in a wheel chair or with crutches. 

John commenced his business at Mount Barker in 1870 and married in 1872. Two daughters and eight sons resulting from this marriage and some time after his wife’s death he remarried, this time to a widow with three girls. This new marriage produced 3 more girls, thus making it a total of  sixteen children. John proved to be a very astute business man as in 1877, when the railway was being built   from Burra to Petersburg (Now Peterborough) he opened shops at Burra, Terowie, Peterborough and at a later date at Broken Hill where the first stone building, in Argent Street was built for his store there. 

In 1897 he opened another store this time in Alexander Street, Port Pirie and in 1902 he bought a business previously conducted by Mr. E.J. Wills in Ayr Street, Jamestown. This site is now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Beinke. John retired from active business in 1907 selling his existing stores to his seven surviving sons. The eldest son Clarence Wellesley, known as Wells took over the store in Jamestown. 

Wells  was born in 1874 at Mount Barker and after completion of his schooling at Prince Alfred College, he obtained a position with a draper, C.H. Hale at North Adelaide where he gained his initiation into the trade. His first wage was 2/6 (two shillings and sixpence) a week.

 In the early eighteen nineties he went to Broken Hill in his fathers store there and after two years became the Manager. He remained at Broken Hill for nine years.  In those days there was no early closing and Wells' hours were from 8am to often after 11.30pm, 6 days per week. The hotels closed at 11pm and customers picked up their parcels after closing time.

 Wells left Broken Hill after nine years there to take over the management of the store purchased from Mr E.J. Wills in Jamestown.

In 1902 he married Miss Florence Eddy from his old home town of Mount Barker and they had three sons and two daughters.

The year (1907) Wells bought the Jamestown branch from his father, the shop was destroyed by fire. He carried on successfully until another fire in Dec 1926 damaged the premises. Helpers on the night of the fire entered the shop and carted stock onto the roadway and plantation in front of the store. This of course, caused untold damage and it took four people a week to pair the shoes which had come out of their respective boxes.

After the fire the business moved to the present site previously owned by the Misses Haren. C.W. Walker (Wells) died in 1927 an the business was managed by his eldest son Jack until he married in 1930 and went to Omeo in Victoria where he bought a general store and carried on business there on his own until 1939. Wells (Wells Mattinson) the present Chairman of Directors took over from Jack in 1930, the middle of  the depression.


These are the rough outline of our copy for the local newspaper.



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