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Coleman's Shop

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Business
Street number: 9
Street name: Wasleys Rd.
Town or locality: Mallala
Date established:
The date "c.1890" was not understood.
Ceased operation: 1960
Established by: Albert Charles Coleman
Business or purpose: Green Grocer's Shop
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The shop at 9 Wasleys Rd was opened in c.1890 selling fruit and vegetables.

Albert Charles Coleman and wife Sarah Alice Coleman (nee Turner) leased out the business between 1892 and 1897 whilst they lived and worked in Willunga S.A.  Following their return to Mallala in 1897 Albert and Sarah operated the shop.

With a large family consisting of two sons and five surviving daughters, the shop benefitted from the assistance of the daughters – Sylvia being remembered for the delicious fruit salad iceblocks that she made in the 1930s and early 1940s at a time when very few people had refrigeration.
A horse drawn covered wagon was used to deliver fruit and vegetables around the town and nearby areas and to collect eggs from the farmers. (see photograph) The van was used for carrying purposes eg. moving household items for home owners.

Albert and Sarah Coleman’s grandson Trevor Coleman reports: “A Hudson car was purchased in 1927 which enabled the Coleman family to go further in delivering their fruit and vegetables and other commodities. As the years went by other vehicles were purchased including a 1928 Chevrolet truck, 1928 Chevrolet car, and a 1942 Chevrolet truck, (formerly a World War Two Ambulance) and all were used for the purchase and delivery of goods. I remember that these vehicles were stored in a shed at the back of the shop when I was a small boy.”

Albert Charles Coleman died in 1936 and his wife Sarah died in 1939. In 1940 their second son William Henry Coleman and wife Corrie Coleman (nee Rowe) took over the management of the shop. They had two sons - Bryan born August 1936 and Trevor born December 1938.

Trevor continues the story: “After my father William (known as Tinker) took over the shop the egg board agency expanded. A weekly trip was made south to farmers at Two Wells, Lewiston, Red Banks, Korunye and Lower Light to collect eggs, and north to Grace Plains, Owen, Bowmans, Balaklava, Hoyleton and Halibury. These were packed into wooden crates holding 30 dozen each crate and placed in the cellar under the shop to keep cool. A transport from Adelaide would collect them once a week.

Cream was collected from the farmers and made into butter using a hand turned butter churn and then sold in the shop. During the years of World War Two when many commodities were rationed, the butter sold in the shop was a popular product.

Also during World War Two when petrol was rationed, all the shop supplies were sent from Adelaide by rail and the goods train would arrive on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the early hours of the morning. William (Tinker) would go to the Railway shed and collect the fruit and vegetable. The icecream would come by passenger train in special canvas bags packed with dry ice. The phone orders would have been sent through to the East End Market on the previous day.”

The shop was busier than usual during the years of World War Two when many RAAF wives and families were renting any available rooms in the township of Mallala and nearby. During this period two Airforce families rented the house adjoining the shop whilst William and Corrie Coleman and two sons Bryan and Trevor continued to live in their home at 2 Elizabeth St Mallala. (The family moved to live in the house adjoining the shop in 1949)

Following the war when petrol was still rationed, William would barter and exchange ration tickets with some local farmers and so be able to do a weekly trip to the market in his own vehicle.

The market was an interesting place for growers and retailers to meet. William had his special growers and would order and pay cash for his goods but could not collect them until the siren sounded at 7.0 am. All fruit and vegetables were fresh and in season as there was very little refrigeration or cold storage. Once loaded, he would return to Mallala by 12 noon when he would unload and price the items according to the purchase price of the day.

Trevor Coleman continues: As boys during the school holidays it was a wonderful experience for Bryan and me to go with dad to the market and see how it operated. Dad would leave home at 3.30 am each Monday and Friday, arriving at the East End market at 5.0 a.m. We would unload the wooden cases and half cases, also crates of empty soft drink bottles that would later be exchanged for full ones from Woodroofe, Pikes or Williams. He would also take down fresh eggs to supply other greengrocers who would collect them before the market opened. It was a treat for Bryan and me to have breakfast with dad at the café, and then it was off to see the growers who were lined up inside the market with their fruit and vegetables.

We would arrive back at Mallala at midday.

Dad would offer a free delivery service around the town of Mallala, so when Brian and I were old enough we delivered the orders on our bicycles on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. Some people would give us a small amount of pocket money for the delivery.”

In 1952 William Henry Coleman sold the shop to his cousin George Coleman who finally closed the business in 1960.

William and Corrie Coleman continued to live in the house attached to the shop. William died in April 1977 and following the death of Corrie in August 1991 the house was sold. In 2010 it is a private residence.


  • Trevor Coleman
  • Mallala Museum Records.
Cricket team-Colemans,1925
Cricket team-Colemans,1925
Coleman's Delivery Wagon
Coleman's Delivery Wagon

Memories of Coleman's Shop

Trevor Coleman recalls: “Whilst the shop remained the main focus, Albert and his brother George were partners in a carrying business from 1907 – 1930. They owned horse teams and wagons and were contracted to cart hay to Port Adelaide. They also carted the stone for Council to build the roads. They were farming contractors and worked for several farmers including Sir Richard Butler – Premier of South Australia, who had land east of Mallala bordering the River Light. Over the years the carrying business involved Albert and George and all their sons.”

Trevor recalls: “ In the 1920s and 30s, when the carrying business was providing employment for Albert and his brother George and all their sons, the Mallala Cricket Team was comprised of mainly Coleman players.”

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