Although a relatively short street running between Collins and Booth Streets, Wells Street has been the site of significant commercial activity ranging from groceries to brass foundries and bakeries.
No. 1 NE Cnr Collins Street
This typical two storey corner store with first floor residence is located in one of the older sections of the suburb. It was built in about 1886 and first occupied by William Hansford who operated a grocery.
Hansford left within two years and was replaced by Nathaniel Durkin for a year and then by Arthur Reeve who ran the store until 1892. In that year the Hansford family returned and Mrs W Hansford took over the store. She ran the grocer while William appears to have run a seperate confectionery for several years. They again left the site in around 1900 and a long line of grocers followed including Annie and Joseph Linfoot who were here from about 1910 until the early 1930’s.
By 1950 the shop was a mixed business run by IE Eckley.
This large former industrial building has a long frontage along the east side of the street. The current building probably dates from the 1920’s or 30’s. However this is an old part of the suburb and Henry Robinson was operating his blacksmith’s forge here from as early as 1882. He later branched out into spring making and coach building and remained at the site until about 1905.
The site may have sat vacant for a few years until the London Bakery set up business in 1915, initially at No.11. The business expanded and by 1919 it occupied Nos. 11 and 13.
Reed and Stephens took over the bakery in the early 1920’s. The current building may date from this period. They operated here until the early 1940’s. According to 1940’s Annandale, A Short Walk, da Cruz, the premises were leased by the Munitions Department during the war. It is not clear if they actually made or stored munitions here so close to many houses!
By 1950 British Furniture Pty Ltd was running their factory here.
The current building on this site is modern and residential. However, its architecture echoes the site's industrial past.
The earliest business which occupied part of the site was probably Rule & Nancarrow, fuel merchants who were here in the 1890’s until about 1905. In 1900 William Smidt, a piano maker, occupied another part of the site though it is not clear if he made pianos here.
Much of the site’s industrial history is associated with the Mills & Munro brass foundry which was established on part of the site in around 1911. The Mills family appear to have lived at No. 17. The foundry expanded over the years to occupy most of the site and ran into the 1950’s.
No. 2 NW Cnr Collins Street
This late 19th century corner shop mirrors the one across the road at No. 1 Wells Street. It was probably completed just after No. 1 and may have been occupied briefly by a confectioner in 1887. In any event, it was certainly operating as a grocery by 1888 under the proprietorship of Mrs M Casey who probably lived upstairs with her builder husband, Michael.
David Austen, a bootmaker, took over the site in 1889 and remained there until 1892 when Mrs J Smith established a drapery. Miss K Lyons took over the drapery in 1893.
The site may have been vacant for several years from 1895 until John Powell a harness maker moved in. Powell, with his wife Mary Ann, ran a saddlery and harness store at the site for many years, only leaving in around 1935 when Percy Seward took over the business. The business seems to have closed by 1950.