Shopkeepers at the Montrose Ave Store


Hubert Lawrence Taplin 1912 – 1917

Born 1879 in South Australia, he married Janet Smart Drysdale in 1902 at Beaconsfield, WA. They had 4 children who all attended the early Darlington Primary School at Leithdale in 1912. Taplin’s store was a “Daily News Agency”, a polling place and a post office during its early years. Mrs Taplin was the Post Mistress. Hubert died suddenly at Darlington in 1917 from influenza, aged 38, and was buried in the old section of the Guildford Cemetery. Janet continued to operate the store until 1920 then moved to Guildford with her family and in 1928 remarried James F. McConvill.


John Frederick and Mena Maud Mitchell 1920 – 1922

This couple appear to have migrated to WA around 1912 and first farmed at Balkuling near Greenhills but after a poor season and a fire that destroyed their home in 1916, they sold the property called “Terowie” then purchased the store from Janet. In late 1920 they applied to the Greenmount Road Board for a permit to build a shed on Lot 17 which would be the brick building that was added to by Morrie Owen around 1930 to convert it to a bakery. Mitchell Rd off Lionel Rd is possibly named after this early storekeeper. Not long after, the Mitchell’s appear to have either leased or sold the store to the Leedmans then headed to the city.


Cecil Valentine and Blanche Estelle Leedman 1922 – 1923

Cecil was descended from an early pioneer couple Louis Leedman and Jennie Cohen who came to WA from Poland/Russia in the late 1890s with their young family. At age 38 in 1905 Jennie died at Menzies leaving 4 children, the youngest aged 3. Cecil was 16 when his mother died and would have spent his younger years at Menzies. It must have been a busy year for the Leedman family in 1916 as father Louis remarried Christiana Richards, his son Cecil married Blanche Estelle Higgins and son Charles Herbert married Juliet Morris. The Electoral Rolls show that Cecil first worked as a clerk in Menzies before becoming a storekeeper at Shackleton which gave him the experience to take on the store at Darlington. It is unknown if Leedman leased the store from Mitchell or purchased it. Newspaper articles at this time give the store’s phone number as 2.

After Darlington, Cecil returned to Shackleton becoming an agent, then after the death of his father in 1935, the family returned to Darlington where he took on the post office as well as doing some local real estate. On his return to Darlington Cecil bought with him John Robert Woods (Woodsie). In 1954 the Electoral Roll placed the Leedmans in Nedlands and it appears that they had retired.

Ralph William Baxter and Caroline Mary 1923 – 1925

Ralph and Caroline were from Derbyshire, England. They married there in 1906 and arrived in WA late 1911. Ralph, whose occupation in England was a coal merchant, tried his hand at a variety of jobs when he arrived in Perth; firstly a painter then farmer at Eubin Siding before arriving at Darlington to take on the Grocery Store. Again this was possibly a lease from Mitchell or a sale that fell through. While at Perth in 1914, the couple had a daughter, Ivy. Whether homesickness overcame them or Western Australia didn’t live up to their expectations, the couple with their daughter returned to Hull, England in April 1925.


Arthur & Ellen McInnes 1925 – 1925

Arthur McInnes was born in Kent, England and managed a variety of stores when he arrived in WA - at Albany and Perth before Darlington. It would appear his time running the Montrose Store was very brief, just a few months before he moved to East Perth. This was his last Store and eventually he retired to Chidlow where he died in 1955.


George Millichap and Morrie Owen 1925

George Millichap migrated from London with his sister and managed a number of stores at Cookernup and Pinjarra before coming to the Montrose Store in Darlington. Morrie Owen worked as a storeman for George in Pinjarra where his first child was born in 1923. Both George and Morrie must have come to Darlington together and formed a brief partnership before George, being somewhat older than Morrie, retired to Perth. However, they remained good friends until George’s death in 1933.


John Henry Horley and Morrie Owen 1925 – 1927

The Horley family were early pioneers in Western Australia as George Mitchell Horley arrived as a young man and married at Guildford in 1842 to another member of a pioneer family associated with York, Caroline Edwards. This couple had 7 children before George died in a cart accident near Ronan’s Well out of York in 1857 aged 40. George’s daughter Amelia (Aunt to John Henry) was associated early with Darlington appearing in the 1916 Electoral Roll with her nieces Daisy and Doris (Doris had married Stanley Gomme in 1914). The Gommes and Daisy Horley intriguingly have their residence in the 1916 Electoral Roll as PO Darlington which would have been the Taplin Store. Daisy died in 1917 aged 31 at the Wooroloo Sanatorium presumably from tuberculosis which may be why the various family members had moved to Darlington to try and improve her health. By 1922 the Gommes had moved down to Perth, Amelia had died and the store in Darlington came up for sale or lease again. John Henry Horley had previously owned a Store in Gosnells but perhaps with his knowledge of Darlington from family members living there, he decided to purchase the store in partnership with Morrie Owen. In 1927 John travelled to England so was not involved with the store, Morrie was left to manage it and when John returned he went farming down south which is where he died in 1945


Morrie and Myrtle Owen 1926 – 1949

Morrie migrated from Wales to Western Australia as a teenager a few years prior to WW1. In 1914 he enlisted with the AIF in the 11th Battalion and served at both Gallipoli and the Western Front returning in 1918 as a Lieutenant. In 1921 Morrie married Myrtle Knott at Dumbleyung where he had been working as a farm labourer.   

After working briefly with Millichap and Horley when he arrived at Darlington both who were experienced shop keepers and able to mentor Morrie in the trade, passing on their expertise, he became the sole proprietor of the store.

The 1930s adverts for the store showed along with groceries a variety of newspapers and magazines were sold as well as being an agent for Sun Insurance.

In the mid 1930s the Owen store employed an English fellow, Robert John Woods, known as Bob who would have been in his late 40s and had worked at Shackleton as a store man for many years prior to taking up the position in Darlington. Woodsie, as he became affectionately known, spent his remaining years working and living with the Owen family being cared for by Myrtle Owen until his death in June 1966. The grantee on his grave was Morrie’s son John Owen and he was buried in the Presbyterian Section of the Midland Cemetery.

[L] Gladys holding Gwen, middle Bob, Morrie holding John Owen. 1931. Photo courtesy Brett Owen.

[R} Western Mail advert October 1936.

John and Hilda Owen 1949 – 1974

John was born in Pinjarra in 1923 and spent most of his life in Darlington apart from his service in the Navy during WW2. He trained firstly as a Wool Classer when he left school but when WW2 was declared he joined the RAN in 1941. In November 1945 John married Hilda Hill at Calingiri, Western Australia and left the Navy at the end of 1946. When John’s father died in 1949 he and Hilda took over running the grocery store in Darlington. During their time in Darlington, both were involved in the community with John serving on the Darlington P&C, Tennis Club and Senior Citizen organisation. He also served with Swan Districts Rotary and the RSL.

The store was run mainly as a grocery.

The connection to the Owen family running the store in Darlington was severed in 1974 after nearly 50 years, when John and Hilda sold the store, then retired. John died in 1997 and Hilda 5 years later in 2002.

John and Hilda Owen with son Neville c1947 photo courtesy Brett Owen

Owens order booklet for groceries in the 1950’s

Owen store in the foreground with house to the left and the Presbyterian Church on the far right, 1950’s. Courtesy of Thelma Rhodes

1974 Farewell to the Owens after 50 years

Thomas and Patricia McHenry 1974 – 1975

Looked at redeveloping the site into a Tavern and several shops with 49 parking places and multiple entry and exit points. This was not approved due to traffic concerns.

Patricia and Brian Crowder 1975 – 1981

Advertised the store as “Darlington Liquor and Grocery Store” when they first purchased the store.

Moxam Pty Ltd - May 1979 – 1981

This company was interested in developing a fast food outlet in the hills and was looking at the suitability of sites in both Darlington and Glen Forrest. Darlington ratepayers looked at a proposal to purchase the property and thus have more control over the development of the site, however they couldn’t muster enough support. In the end Moxam didn’t purchase the property either.

Mal and Marie Berrick - July 1981 – 1990

They purchased the store from Crowder and retained the name “Darlington Liquor and Grocery Store”. They appear to be the first to routinely advertise the store since it had been sold by Owens. They also conducted wine tastings at the old bakery.

The three more recent owners have been listed below.

Steve and Jan Martin - 1990 – 2001

Lynn and Terry Evans - 2001 – 2005

Doris and Chris Thomson - 2005 – 2019   The store is currently up for sale (March 2019).

For Sale sign advertising the Liquor Store and Bakery

© Darlington History Group       Ver 2.1.3     Dec 2019