5 January 2023

Fred Eardley Haberdashery legacy to live on as carpark named in his honour

| Oliver Jacques
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1938 photo of four women at Frerd Eardley's

Fred Eardley’s staff Phyllis Whitehurst (nee Millynn), Joan Millynn (nee Maher), Enid Little (nee Harvey), Pat Hamilton (nee Cavanagh) in 1938. Photo: Western Riverina Libraries.

Fred Eardley, an early pioneer of Griffith who opened the town’s first haberdashery store in 1926, will have his legacy honoured by Griffith City Council, who named a new carpark after him.

Council has resolved that a newly constructed 49-space facility on the corner of Railway and Ulong Streets, which opened in late 2021, will be called Eardley Carpark.

READ ALSO New Griffith carpark named after iconic Polish immigrant shoemaker

The news has been welcomed by the Eardley family, including Fred’s grandson Robert.

“I’m really pleased, because he did a lot of work in the area. He was a great sportsman as well as businessman, and he did a lot for charity,” Robert said.

Old photo of Edna and Fred Eardley

Edna and Fred Eardley. Photo: Supplied.

Fred Eardley was born in the small western Victorian town of Nhill in 1899. As a young adult, he travelled across the Riverina, selling men’s clothing in towns such as West Wyalong.

He moved to Griffith in 1920, where he quickly gained a reputation for his athletic prowess.

“In 1923, he won the Narrandera Easter Sports Carnival – a big foot race attracting competitors from all parts of the Commonwealth,” Robert said.

“He won the main 120-yard foot race with a 12.5 yard handicap in 11 seconds. The first prize was 100 pounds – he used this money to set up a haberdashery and men’s clothing store on Banna Avenue,” Robert said.

The store quickly became an institution in the town, remaining in place for the next five decades.

“He sold really good quality clothes. I worked there myself when I was 12 years old. A lot of people worked for him, including the sportsman Ted Scobie, who had an oval named after him.

“It wasn’t just a store, it was a service. You would get people out the front who would go out of their way to help you [with your clothes shopping]. You don’t see that much nowadays.”

old photo of Fred Eardley's store

Fred Eardley’s store was an institution in Griffith. Photo: Supplied.

Fred married Edna Bramwell in 1927. The couple had three children: Patricia, Noeleen and Aubrey. Aubrey started managing the haberdashery store in the early 1970s and he took over completely when Fred passed away in 1976. Robert is Patricia’s son.

“I enjoyed him as a grandfather. He gave me a lot of advice and a lot of wisdom,” he said.

“My sister remembers that Fred was very generous. He used to go to Hermit’s Cave [the home of reclusive Italian immigrant Valerio Ricetti, who lived in isolation for two decades] and give some of his clothes.”

READ MORE Griffith’s hermit, his cave and the Scenic Hill lookout

“He had a heart and he wanted to help out people. He took boxes of food and he would donate them to those in need.”

Fred was also a skilled AFL player who represented teams in Leeton, and a keen golfer and punter. He also built a house on Binya Street in the 1930s, which was an iconic landmark in town until it was demolished in 2015.

New car park on Railway st

The new Eardley Carpark is one of a number of local carparks that recognise Griffith pioneers. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Two more new carparks on Railway Street will also be named after historical figures in Griffith who contributed to the development of the town’s CBD.

Next to the police station is the new Stevenson Carpark, in honour of Bob Stevenson, who built Stevenson’s Blue Metal Quarry in 1942. Behind the Griffith Post Office is Jasnos Carpark, named after Eugene Jasnos, a Polish immigrant who established a longstanding shoe repair shop on Banna Lane.

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