Crawford’s Store, Mt Lofty (Stirling)


Text : Chris Chardon & Barbara Hanafin

Images: MLDHS

MLDHS Ref. 366-7a

This shop, located on the corner of Avenue Road and Madeline Street Stirling is a building with a rich history. Much has been recorded about the shop’s history in newspaper articles:-

South Australian Advertiser, Saturday, 27 December 1884


The hills railway trains have been well patronised for some time past by the combination of the suburban and through traffic. The holiday clearance by Hill’s coaches has been repeated during the last few days upon a larger scale, and special trains have been put onto carry the additional numbers of passengers. Of these a gnat many go to the southern town ships to spend the holiday season; others take the day excursion, for which reasonable provision has been made by the department. The particulars of the arrangement will be seen by reference to our advertisement columns. The neighbourhood of Stirling and Aldgate presented an unwonted spectacle of animation on Christmas Eve, large numbers of people perambulating the road, especially between Stirling East and the Mount Lofty railway-station. A large new store, which has been opened by Messrs. Pullin & Torode, and was decked out with Christmas goods, received a well-deserved share of patronage, and the extent of the display astonished many of the old-time residents.

South Australian Register, Tuesday, 14 July 1885

Stirling, July 11.

Cr. Radford re-elected Chairman. Clerk to write Central Board, asking them to complete the portion of Avenue-road between the Mount Lofty Railway Station and Messrs. Finlayson’s store, and call their attention to the dangerous state of the culvert at Crafers. Work ordered— Repairs to road at Stirling West. Receipts, £126 12s. 4d. payments, £72 0s 4d.

The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday, 4 December 1885

Extensive business premises hare been erected for Finlayson & Co., at Crafers Summit, near Mt. Lofty Station. They are built of brick and are two storeys high, the upper floor being nearly all devoted to business, and the lower rooms handsomely fitted for a dwelling house. The ground to the South of the house is prettily laid out as a garden. There is also a store-room and back entrance to the premises on the ground floor. The Avenue road being raised so much at this spot necessitated the construction of the building in the form indicated: the approach to the lower grounds will have to be from the District road.

Express and Telegraph, Adelaide, Saturday, 11 December 1897



The oldest and the best-known general grocery business in Adelaide is that conducted by Messrs. Crawford & Co. in handsomely spacious premises in King William-street. In its present form it is the amalgamation of two prosperous establishments in the same line, each of which had its birth half a. century ago. Messrs. Flett & Linklater in the very early days of the colony began operations as grocers and drapers in Hindley street, just opposite the Exchange Hotel, and they soon obtained a very excellent con nection among the best known of the sturdy pioneers who helped to build up the prosperity of the city and of the province generally.

As the volume of trade done increased the drapery department was disposed of, and the attention of Mr. Link later was concentrated on the remaining, moiety of the business. In 1872 Mr. H. A. Crawford, his brother-in-law, who had been associated with him in other commercial ventures, succeeded him in the control of the establishment, which had by this time attained very considerable proportions, and under his oversight the previous success was exceeded, so that the name of the proprietor became known not only in the metropolis, but right through the colony, and especially in the pastoial areas. He extended the area of operations by purchasing the goodwill and stock-in-trade of the late Sir William Morgan’s retail branch in Hindley-street (known under the name of Ellis, Edwards, & Co.) and he soon placed himself right in the front rank of Adelaide merchants. In October, 1881, Mr. H. A. Crawford died, and his place at the head of a most prosperous concern was taken by his son, Mr. R. H. Crawford, the present chief of the firm which bears his father’s name and which was founded by his uncle. About 18 months ago Mr. W. Finlay-son, who had years before taken over the retail portion of the business built up by Messrs. D. and J. Fowler in the earlier half of the pre sent century, determined to relinquish active commercial pursuits, and so Messrs. Crawford and Co. obtained an opportunity, of which they speedily availed themselves, of acquiring the handsome shop and the flourishing connection of the gentleman named in the busiest part of King William street. When Mr. Finlayson left the building an expenditure of many hundreds of pounds was determined on in order to make the very best use of the well-built and capacious edifice which had been so long associated with his name. By the removal of walls and the alteration of floor levels the whole of the ground story was converted into one large, lofty, airy, and well-lighted apartment, which has a frontage of 30 ft. to King William-street by a depth of 90 ft. to a convenient right-of way in the rear. If the depth were only 20 or 30 ft. greater Mr. Crawford would be all the better pleased, however, for great as is the floor space possessed here and in the very capacious basement the operations of the firm are hampered because of lack of room. There is an attractive verandah in front, which helps to keep the main shop cool in all seasons, while paint outside and the decorative taste of the proprietor and his coadjutors within gives the whole place a most attractive, commodious, and refreshing appearance, even on the days when the shade registration of the thermometer soars above 100°. The window space on each side of the entrance is utilised in a most effective manner for the display of seasonable and appetising goods, while the very best use has also been made of floor and walls within. On the northern side is a long range of counters, the fittings behind being well stocked with all manner of groceries and provisions of the best qualities. On the other, side are arranged a series of glass cases, in which the specialties of the Christmas season are at present exhibited, while at the far end care has been taken to provide pleasant resting-places for the critical eye o£ the customer. The space under the stairs leading to the offices above has been brought into requisition in a most ingenious and successful manner. Here is Mr. Crawford’s private office, which projects in the shape of a bay window, the similitude being helped by the employment of handsome mirrored plate on the shop side. The cash desk is close at hand, as well as one of the entrances to the wide-stretching basement. It may be mentioned that when Messrs. Crawford and Co. took over the King William-street shop of Mr. W. Finlayson they also purchased the branch established in the hills near the Mount Lofty railway-station. Part of the old premises in Hindley-street are also retained for storage purposes.

The great feature of Messrs. Crawford and Co.’s business is that they cater only for a superior class of trade and that the goods kept by them are exclusively of the very best qualities, whether colonial or imported. The shops which have in course of time been blended into the present prosperous concern lent themselves naturally “to the federation, and there are now customers on the books who have been dealing at the same places for more than a quarter of a century, some, indeed, dating back to the period when Mr. Crawford’s uncle was in command. Most of the best people in Adelaide draw their supplies from the firm and have done so for many years, the constant aim of the proprietors being to retain all the eligible custom which is attracted to their most complete and well-equipped emporium. Some of the best known squatters of the south, south-east, and north are also valued patrons of the establishment, as they can always be certain of obtaining just what they want and of receiving in variably those articles in the best and most attractive form. The English and Continental houses that deal in the stocks vended by the firm, which range from the most utilitarian groceries to high-priced luxuries in the provisioning line, are the recipients of large and regular orders for their supply. There have been just unpacked from the steamer Banffshire an assortment of most tasty, artistic, and delectable viands likely to be in great request during the holiday season. These goods have been obtained, and are being displayed in the glass cases in the main shop, earlier than usual this year, so that those desiring to purchase may do so before the great crush of Christmastide begins. In the northern half of the window just at present the pride of place is given to all manner of preserved meats, while in the other wing preserved fruits of every kind are set out temptingly to view. The glass case nearest to the window is given over to chocolates in many dainty shapes and contained in beautiful boxes, which will remain ornaments long after their less enduring occupants have disappeared down the throats of gratified buyers. Here, too, are to be seen specimens of the “Santa Claus” stockings filled with every description of sweets and other means of ensuring juvenile enjoyment. There are several thousands of these carefully-stocked receptacles available, the price ranging from 4d. to 3s each. In the next case, which, is larger and more elaborate, the collection of confectionery and fruits is much more comprehensive, while still increasing methods of profitably and pleasantly investing cash are invitingly present all about. Messrs. Swallow & Ariel’s Christmas puddings can be purchased in many sizes and with a perfect assurance as to quality. Messrs. Huntley and Palmer and Messrs. Peek & Trean supply every sorts of biscuits likely to meet the taste of a connoisseur, while the latter makers are al so represented by several kinds of cakes. There are numerous varieties of crystallised fruits which look exquisitely fresh and sweet in their gaily decorated wrappings. Apricots, cherries, plums, pears, and mixed fruits in ornamental boxes may be purchased, as well as pulled and layer figs, which also look sufficiently appetising to cause the infraction of the vows of the greatest Saint upon the holiest fast day. There are specially imported muscatel clusters with a wealth of gold filigree and embossed paper about them, and there are also particularly excellent sultanas and currants brought from the places of the world most famous for their proper growth. Singapore pineapples in tins, “chunks” of crystallised pineapple, and “grumarines” or plums pre served in a peculiar manner, are here set forth for selection, while the housewife is helped in the preparation of Christmas cakes by icings in all colors (sic) angelica, preserved ginger and other aids to the attractiveness of the less substantial courses in times of holiday entertainment. Chocolates of all kinds are in plentiful evidence, one show case being devoted to the exhibition of bright fancy boxes filled with these and other delicacies. The confectionery department includes caramels, all other lollies, colored sugars for garnishing, and in kindred proximity are table jellies, bon bons, crackers, fruits in syrup, and similar articles. Dish papers, decorative doyleys, and other means of making a dinner-table additionally attractive may also be obtained. In the direction of picnic catering great efforts have been made to meet-all wants and tastes. A novelty is a supply of sardines in glass which, when the cover is removed by an ingenious and easy process, are ready to be served at once on the table, while the dish will be serviceable long after the fishes are consumed. Then there is a very-varied assortment of tinned meats, including brawn, pheasants, grouse, Oxford sausages, jellied brawn, and other less epicurean kinds of nutriment. The shelves are covered with all manner of ordinary groceries and provision goods, while in a refrigerator at the rear the dairy butter is stored during its very short rest between the factory where it is made and the possession of the consumer. Teas to suit individual tastes, but all of the best quality, are blended by the experts of the_ firm, the Blossom tea having won an especially wide area of popularity. The basement story is unusually extensive, as it not only occupies the whole space below the shop, but stretches northward beneath Beaconsheld Buildings, thus having a superficial area of 60 ft. x. 90 ft. In the front of the southern half is the wine department which is tinder the control of a recognised expert. Here are 22 large casks arranged conveniently on racks and containing bulk sup plies of wines and spirits. The whisky is principally Scotch, and some of it is 12 years’ old, while all is imported direct from the distilleries as is also the brandy. The firm deals in the very best imported wines for family use, and most of the bottling is done on the premises. They also do a large domestic trade in beer, liqueurs, and cordials, a formidable array of bins and racks being erected to house the liquors. There is great art in bottling wine, as not only has it to be in a “perfectly suitable condition, but proper weather has to be chosen for the purpose, and Messrs. Crawford & Co. have been very successful hitherto in respect to both these essentials. The cellars are lofty, well ventilated, and full of light, so that every facility is given for the right handling and, storage of the large stocks available. The other portions of the basement are assigned to the convenient housing of the immense quantities of general goods, on which the salesmen above are continually drawing to meet the demands of their customers. In every manner space has been economised, and one is able to move about freely enough, but a glance on either hand shows that any mismanagement on the part of the person responsible for stowing away the goods would speedily block up the avenues of communication. A good supply of dairy produce is received daily, and in fact nothing likely to be sought for at the hands of a well-equipped grocery, provision, wine, or spirit merchant is absent.

Messrs. Crawford & Co, in the equipment of their establishment, in its arrangement, in its decoration, and in its stock-in-trade have been actuated by a genuine desire to keep well abreast of modern requirements, and they have succeeded admirably.

The shop, for a number of years was a BWS bottle shop. In July 2014 BWS moved it business to premises adjacent to the Woolworth’s petrol station in Mount Barker Road. In 2015 the shop at Avenue Road was converted into a pet grooming and supplies shop.

In the Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society’s Flinders Column newsletters of November 1991 and March 1992 Barbara Hannafin, one of the Historical Society’s founding members, wrote of the store:-


The building down by Mount Lofty Station, now known as the Vintage Cellars, is an old building with a very interesting history. For many years it was the local general store and became an integral part of local community life.

It was built in 1885 and owned by the Finlayson family who sold it to the Crawfords at the turn of the century.

Crawfords became a really first class store with a very high reputation. There was one shop in King William Street, Adelaide and another at Mount Lofty, and they had a common account. They sold pretty well everything, and what they didn’t have in stock they would obtain for their customers. It was also a Post Office, there was a grain store at the back and it had a liquor licence, though the Minister of the Church that the Crawfords attended wasn’t very happy about this licence!.

In 1924 Crawfords appointed Harry Quayle as the Manager at Mount Lofty at a salary of £5 per week, this rose to £6 after a few weeks, and his wife got £2.10.0. There were alos a number of other people working in the store, amongst those were Harry Fry, George Jack, Mr Smith (from the building just below the shop), and “Old” McCloy. In those days the junior assistants got 15/- a week. “Old” McCloy killed the pigs; they were killed in Heather Road at the slaughter house and they were then salted (by hand) and put in the cellar below the shop. The cellar had hooks where the carcases were hung to be cured: there was also a good sausage factory. The hams and bacons and by-products were of very high quality and were sent interstate.

The building was three stories high, because under the shop there were two layers of cellars where all perishables were kept, and the food kept beautifully cool, even in the very hot summer of 1939 (one wonders just how freezing it was in winter!). There were stables out the back and these later became storage space for grain, chaff, wheat, etc. In those days the roads were not nearly so good and people and goods went far more by railway, so Crawfords was well placed being so near the Mount Lofty Station; it was also a good centre for the local market gardeners and it became quite a centre for the community; before the days when everyone had the telephone the Crawfords would take messages for people, the Quayles also did this.

Crawfords also had a delivery round and the goods were delivered in an old one-ton Ford T, the registration was SA 8684 – this registration number was kept right up until the 1970s.

In those days everything was bought in bulk and then divided up in the shop; the butter was divided up in batters, the margarine and cheese were also cut up in the shop. Dried fruit came in bulk too, the dates were especially messy to handle so there was a bowl of water for the assistants to clean their hands.

In 1934 Crawfords sold up, they sold out to a Mr Beilby, but he didn’t do very well so he asked Harry Quayle if he would take it on. Harry Quayle bought the shop which he kept till 1953.

During the time the Quayles had it, the family all worked extremely hard and they kept the very high reputation going; they really were universal providers as they sold everything, they kept the Post Office and the liquor licence going and besides selling groceries they also sold drapery, footwear, building materials, chaff, wheat and grain and they had a petrol pump. Their trade name was “Ceanco” and they had their own brands of butter and tea which went under the name “Blossom”.

Harry Quayle bought a 1927 Morris Cowley with bonuses he had got when he worked at Crawfords and he used to go around the district selling draperies; deliveries were also made in a Chevrolet truck

During World War II things became very difficult, not only did all provisions become scarcer but some of the assistants were called up, so Harry Quayle’s son Graham left school early in order to help his parents; they also had to cope with rationing, the ration cards had small squares which had to be torn out, this was a very fiddly business. Often when they delivered the goods people weren’t home, so they had to remember to collect these ration squares at a later date.

The busiest time of all was in 1941 when the 6th Division came home from the Western Desert on the on their way to New Guinea and a large number of them were billeted in this neighbourhood. Several of the large Hills mansions were requisitioned. Huge supplies of food and fuel came up on the railway and Harry had to help organise these supplies. He and his wife worked round the clock at this time, they became very popular with the soldiers who called Harry Quayle ‘Pop’. The soldiers used to help sort out supplies.

The Quayle family kept the store going until 1953, and always in their time it was a meeting place, before telephones were so numerous the Quayles would take messages for everyone, and there are still people in the district who remember going to the shop to buy sweets when they were children.

The Quayles sold out to Romilly Harry who put a manager in, and then the shop passed through a number of hands; amongst these were Bob Love and his wife who had it for three and a half years, they worked very hard and kept the high reputation and goodwill of the store going.

Then in 1957 Helen Pietsch took over the store, she was an ex Matron, an intelligent and widely travelled lady. Though she still kept it as a general store, she was the one who really opened up the wine stores, she renamed it the Mount Lofty Cellars and she renovated the cellars and contacted many small wineries for their wine. When driving around to the wineries, though she drove an old ute, she was always very smartly dressed with matching hat, gloves and handbag; she also used the ute to deliver the groceries. She started a gourmet store, and as is in the case of the Crawfords and the Quyles if anyone wanted anything special she would obtain it for them. She worked all hours, late in the evening and over the weekends when she served Devonshire Teas. Like some of the previous owners she often helped families out when they were short of cash. She also followed the stock exchange with great interest and would hand out financial tips. For a short while the first physiotherapist to come to the district, a Mr. Gallagher, had rooms in the building in the 1960s. The store still kept its high reputation and remained the centre of the community.

Miss Pietsch became very ill and crippled and had to give up the business about 1974, and it was bought by a Sydney firm called Gollins who had it for nearly two years; it ceased to be a general store and was turned into a wine cellar only. In 1975 the de Boni family bought the business and they sold out in 1984 to Joes Fascona of Karana’s, this subsequently became Vintage Cellars and they are the present owners. Over the past few years various alterations have been made to the shop and in 1989 Vintage Cellars altered the whole front of the building, but you can still see the old Post Office sign on the front wall.

With the changing face of the district over the last few years, the coming of the Freeway and the cessation of local railway services together with the altered pattern of so many people’s lifestyles many of these old time General Stores seem to have gone and probably there are many people who mourn their passing. It is hoped that present day customers to the store will spare a thought for all the people who worked so hard to make this store such a centre for the local community for so many years.

Do you have memories of this Store, it’s owners and the community it served? Contact us at or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.