Prior to beginning the story of Beehive Industries I did warn it it is rather lengthy but I enjoy reading about the success they made of the venture including the hiccups that occurred along the way and how these were dealt with.
Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 225-228)
"One of the printing firms, Sovereign Print owned by Mr Cooley, gave us our first orders for assembling books, and has remained a good friend and client of Beehive. Through Sovereign Print we received large orders for collating and stapling such as R. and I. Bank (now Bankwest) savings books as well as thousands of tags to be punched and threaded for the iron ore firms in the Pilbara.
Next the Library Branch of the Education Department approached us to cover library books for schools. To start with a few of us had a short lesson on the procedure and, after a few minor tragedies, we became proficient. This was really a case of old dogs learning new tricks, and I had to keep a close watch on it for quite a long time. Then, out of the blue, Mr Don Hay came along, and I was able to hand over the library section to him. Although a man of very indifferent health, Beehive helps to keep him going, and he certainly plays his part in keeping the section of which he is Supervisor under excellent control.
This is a picture that appeared in the West Australian showing a group of workers at Beehive Industries standing on the verandah in Newcastle Street. (You can enlarge it if you care to and you will see the name printed on the wall behind them). I think it is a great picture of people who, with the advent of Beehive Industries, were given another lease of life..
By this time we had outgrown our first shop building and needed room to expand. A shop opposite, previously used by a hairdresser, became vacant and I made enquiries about it. The rent was $12 a week and, while it would have given us a little more space, it was not by any means ideal for the purpose. It also had one great drawback! The electric meter controlling the whole block of shops was fixed in that particular shop, and we would have been responsible for collecting the electricity accounts of the other tenants, some of whom did not appear to be quite stable In the circumstances we decided not to rent those premises.
Close by there was a yard and shed used by Tom the Cheap for the packing and delivering of his vegetables, in the front of which was a nice small office block for which he was paying rent to Sadleirs but which he did not use.
Tom was an old friend of mine (and also our grocer from Fitzgerald Street days) and one of our trustees, and I asked him if he would allow us to use the office premises for a similar rent to that asked for the vacant shop nearby. In his usual generous fashion Tom agreed and we moved in and cleaned up the rooms without delay, buying some odd fixtures from Tom with which to furnish them. We put up a ramp at the back for access and trolleys.
The place was suitable divided to make it ideal for the office, newsletters, cashier's office, book covering and other light work, leaving the original building as the opportunity shop with the heavier workshop in the rear. We moved some of the old furniture awaiting repair to a small shed in Sadleir's yard of whcih we had the use.
Mr Eric Folks retained his position as Senior Supervisor and he kept records of the work undertaken by each section. He was also in charge of the shop staff and daily cash takings.
Measntime the M.R.P.A. offered us four cottages in Newcastle Street at peppercorn rent which they thought we might use for storage. We decided to accept the offer and gradually started to clean them up, with a view to their possible use in the future.
We had operated the first two buildings for a long quite happily when we heard, suddenly, that Tom Wardle was likely to be declared *bankrupt. We thought it likely that, if this were the case, we may have to move, and we approached Sadleirs asking permission to continue to rent the office and shed and park our cars in the yard as we had been doing.
We then heard that the whole place really belonged to the **Samson family of Fremantle and they proved to be anything but charitable. They scoffed at the rental we were paying and said the whole place was worth $10,000 a year. However, they said we could remain temporarily provided we closed the large gate and locked it each time a car went in or out; acted as caretakers for the premises and let prospective tenants or buyers in and our which proved to be absolutely intolerable.
Our thought then turned to the four cottages in Newcastle Street. Mr Courtenay Daw was our Property Officer on the Board, and he and I started to investigate the possible use of the cottages and to make them habitable, the alterations and repairs that would be necessary.
The Board approved our suggestions and a few structural alterations were carried out and paid for professionally. We considered carefully how and where everybody could be housed before Christmas, as we did not want the responsibility of Sadleir's place over the holiday period.
The main part of the painting and clearing was undertaken by our own people. Fences and toilets had to be repaired; electricity and telephones installed floor coverings laid (secondhand materials at cheap cost); locks and keys changed, and many other small items taken care of.
To out delight the M.R.P.A. again came to our help and offered ua a large louse in the corner of Palmerston and Newcastle Streets, and that together with the cottages, made it possible for us to vacate Sadleir's building and become reasonably settled and operative by the Christmas break-up party.
The actual removal took place on a Saturday morning and we asked for volunteers to give a hand. About half a dozen of us were available to see that furniture was placed, as far as possible, where it would be required, together with boxes packed with incidentals belonging to each section. It was hard work and we were very weary when we packed up late in the afternoon. Back we went on Sunday morning and, by the time Monday morning came, it was possible for workers to carry on and they did so willingly and helpfully.
We inherited a number of cats with the cottages. It was obviously the headquarters of several strays and we could not approach them. Gradually some of our ladies brought them snacks and assisted in taming them until we were able to catch them and Miss Elsie Heath took them to Cat Haven, from where we hoped they would find good homes."
*Do not quote me but I have it on quite good authority that Sir Thomas Wardle's son or son-in-law was in charge of the business and it was through his dealings that the company was declared bankrupt. It seemed such a tragedy after all the work that had gone into establishing Tom the Cheap Grocer and the good that Tom had done for the community at large. Tom and his wife Hulda moved to live on Dirt Hartog Island off the coast of W.A. Eventually Hulda returned to Perth but Tom remained on the island living as a recluse for many years. Tom died in +Bicton on 11/2/1997 (aged 84) and Hulda in +Bateman on 21/12/2005 (aged 89). (+They are both southern suburbs of Perth). Their ashes are in the Rose Memorial Garden at Fremantle Cemetery. I remember meeting them both when I was 15 when we moved into the house in Fitgerald Street and I always remember Hulda with true fondness. She was a lovely lady. I quite liked Tom too but more with respect than affection.
** The Samson family are one of the best known, oldest families in Fremantle and it seems sad they were not willing to be a little more generous to Beehive. Lionel Samson had arrived in "Calista" in
August, 1829, the year the Swan colony was established so a very old Fremantle family indeed. Several members of the Samson family have been Mayors of Fremantle during the years.
I feel that is enough in this episode about Beehive. There is still more of the story to follow until mum sets of on her trip to the Northern Territory (and therein hangs another tale).