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The Fresh Fruit Juice Stall

Health Drink Stall after 1935

The first fresh Fruit Juice stall opened on the concourse in November 1926. In 1935 the stall was renovated and included various other beverages such as tea and coffee, Horlicks..The stall was called ‘Health Drinks’ and its appearance included stainless steel and carrara glass in black and white.

One of the residents at the Old Colonialists in North Fitzroy, now aged 95, said she squeezed oranges at that stall from 1935 to 1937. Olga said, “Mr Clapp made them tip the juice out if they had not squeezed it in front of the customer. He came around quite often so you had to be careful!”

By 1956 a new snack bar was opened at that site which operated from 11.15am to 9.45pm.

~ Olga Silver, 2012

Mannings on the Concourse

Mannings on the concourse


Herbert William Manning had a pharmacy in North Sydney which, in about 1926 was resumed for the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction. He consequently sought another premise and secured a lease on a pharmacy at the Lavender Street Ferry Terminal which was a very large shop adjoining both the ferry and train terminuses. Herbert also opened a small pharmacy at the top of the escalators to the tram terminus which was managed by his first born, Ted. As the bridge was about to be finished and the pharmacy closed, the Victorian Railways advertised for tenants at Flinders Street Station.

Herbert had been on a world trip in 1928 and noticed that all pharmacies associated with railway stations did a good business. Herbert realised that if Flinders Street was the busiest station in Australia then it would also be the busiest pharmacy. He and his son Herbert (Bill) moved to Melbourne and opened Mannings on the concourse in 1932.

Herbert had four sons who all studied pharmacy. Bill eventually moved back to Sydney to manage a pharmacy at Milson’s Point and son Nigel moved to Melbourne to manage the station pharmacy. The two other sons, Ron and Ted, also managed pharmacies in Sydney. Ted became an industrial chemist and moved to Ajax Chemicals and became the Managing Director. Ted’s son, Jim, eventually purchased the Flinders Street pharmacy from Nigel.

In 1950, son Nigel decided that the shop needed smartening up and commissioned a series of paintings of pharmaceutical items to adorn the upper parts of the interior walls. These could easily be seen by the public and generated a great deal of interest. He had photographs taken of the paintings and of the staff which he made into a book. This book was in the possession of his daughter, Jan, who was also a pharmacist. Jan had studied in Melbourne from 1954-58 and was apprenticed to her father in the pharmacy on the concourse. The book of photographs was a bequest to the RHSV in 2010.

~ Information supplied by Rollo Manning and Jan Pitman (nee Manning)

Working at Scone Cottage

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

When old Tom Corns died his son John got the two shops (Scone Cottage & Corns Deli) & his other son Max got the factory.  Max would bring things from the factory to the shops. John also had a sister, Beverley, who would come in sometimes if we were short. She was a lovely girl, very friendly and nice to work with.

The previous owners of Scone Cottage were Mr & Mrs Adams. They also had another Scone Cottage shop at Princes Bridge Station. My sister, Bernie, worked there for a little while when she left The Deli which was next door.

(Tom Corns died in 1961in Richmond aged 67. J Corn P/L was noted as the tenant in 1959 according to the Estate Office Rent Books. In 1962, both Scone Cottage and the Deli were in the name of J Corns P/L. The last entry for J Corns P/L was in 1974 – editor’s note)

Bernie worked at the Deli for quite a long time and so did my Aunty Edna. Aunty married Cliff Courtis who was Tom’s wife, Mrs Edna (nee Courtis) Corns’ brother. My sister Bernie is 12 years older than me so it was many years after she left that I came to work at Scone Cottage. A lady called Mary who had a little girl and Wilma who had red hair worked at the Deli during my time. My sister worked in the Deli with a woman named Joan Clancy years before I started working.

From what I remember about the shop, the front was glassed in but had a window in the middle and one at the side to serve through.

I loved working at Scone Cottage on the concourse. Before I was married in 1961, I worked the 11am till 6pm shift. After that I worked the 6am till 2pm shift with a girl called Helen Watson. She was a mad South Melbourne footy supporter.  Two other girls came in to start the 11am shift – one was Betty and the other was Yvonne. There was a lady who made the sandwiches named Rita. There was also a lovely older man named George who used to cook all the fish and chips.  My aunt’s young son from her first marriage to Courtis, used to help cook the chips. Sadly in the 50s, when he was only 28, he was hit by a car and killed.

Every morning John used to make a cooked breakfast for Helen and me. We used to take it in turns to go upstairs and have it while John filled in on the counter while one of us was having breakfast. When I say we went upstairs for breakfast, we just went upstairs in the shop. There was no back way out of Scone Cottage but at the rear of the shop there was a balcony across the back where we had our breaks and left our coats and bags.

John was a really funny man and used to say funny things and I must admit that when I started to laugh, I couldn’t stop. People outside the glass window must have thought I was strange. On hot days John would give me the money to go and buy cool drinks for all the staff from the railway canteen. Gee we used to have a lot of fun!

There was a servery between the two shops where we could pass things through to the Deli and they could pass things to us in Scone Cottage. There were a few times when John would come in having forgotten to bring the keys to the Deli, so me being the smallest, would have to wriggle through the servery and open the Deli door so he could get in.

We had to use the public toilets that you went into next to the Deli. One toilet was kept locked & we had a key to that toilet as did other station staff.

I had never been to a Moomba parade but one Moomba I was working. A couple of us took boxes out the gate onto Swanston Street to watch it. There were huge crowds.

(story 46a pic#1)1960s Moomba Float.jpg

At about 4pm sometime while I was working there, the railways went on a snap strike. It was around the time when everyone was coming home from work. The whole concourse was so full of people and many of them were coming up to buy food. They abused us something shocking. We tried to explain that we were not the railways and that we just rented the shops from them. But no matter what we said, they wouldn’t believe us. It was really scary because there was no back way out of the shops. Queenie, the station assistant on the gate opposite the shop that led out to Swanston Street, had her hat taken and thrown away. I can tell you, it wasn’t a good situation to be in.

My husband, Albert, worked for the railways as a signalman for many years. Sometimes he would finish work just before me and would come around to the shop and wait for me so we could go home together. When he was waiting sometimes, John would invite him into the shop and they would have a beer together out the back. Sadly Albert is no longer with us and John is 84 and very unwell. John moved to Queensland 40 years or so I am told.

My husband’s aunty was Patsy Adam Smith (or Aunty Jean to us). She wrote a lot of books about trains and the railways. We used to have a lot of fun when we were with Aunty Jean. Sadly she is no longer with us either.

~ Val Atkins (nee Smith, 2012

Corns’ Deli on the Concourse

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

The Delicatessen was famous for its braised rabbit. The rabbit’s were braised by Jack Corn, the brother of the manager. There were three brothers that were pastry cooks, Tom, Jack & Frank and they also had a factory. Tom had The Deli from 1931.You could buy cheese and butter there – it was cut with a wire and sold by the pound. The cheese was then wrapped in a cloth.

Story from 2009

I was shocked at how shabby The Deli looked in the photo. It looks like Flo Milne standing in the window but didn't look like the way she did her window. She used to spend all morning doing it and it always looked spot on. I don't know how old Flo was then but her husband rang me many years later (late 70's or early 80's) to say that she had passed away. I know she would have been a good age. The man is probably John Corns.

I started working at the Deli in 1945 and was there till 1953. I loved working there. The girls were like family. A woman named Vivienne Ogier also worked there and through her I met her brother whom I married in 1951. It’s a shame Viv passed away a couple of years ago as she would have had many memories to share as well. My Aunty Edna (Smith) worked at the Deli when she was very young and married Mrs Corns’ brother, Cliff Courtis. Edna came back for a while and worked part time while I was there. She had a son, Will, who worked at Scone Cottage as a young lad. Edna later remarried and became Edna Sweeney.

One funny episode I remember involved the chemist, Mannings. We were all chummy with the staff especially with one young guy. I am not sure but the name Ian rings a bell. One day Viv wrapped chicken's feet (with claws intact) and sent the parcel to the chemist shop with Ian's name on it. About an hour later a parcel arrived back. We opened it and there were the feet with the claws painted a bright red. Imagine the giggles!

Not long after I started at the Deli the end of war in Europe was declared which signalled a Public Holiday. Everyone knocked off work and flocked to the food outlets to stock up on their way to the trains. The girls rang husbands or family members to bring in their good clothes and join them in the celebrations. I was disappointed because my mum rang to tell me to come straight home (I was only 14). I was to go underneath the station to Princes Bridge Station to catch my train to 'Croxton' rather than cross Swanson Street which was becoming crowded with revellers.

Another memory from about 1952 (Royal Tour 1954) was about the Queen and Prince Phillip who were to pass station. I think she was going to open Parliament House or something important as she was wearing a tiara and a very formal white gown. Mrs Milne closed the shop for a short time and we all went out on to Swanston Street with boxes to stand on for a good view.

Many interesting other things happened while I was there. I remember when railways went on strike in the 50s. It seemed like it went on for a long time. Although the Deli was privately owned we couldn't work: no trains - no customers. I remember getting a job at the Peters Icecream Factory until the strike was over.

(The longest railway strike in Victoria began on 13 Oct 1950 and halted all services for 55 days. Several unions combined in this dispute over the issue of passive time and the payment of overtime after eight hours. Resumption of full rail services was slow further enabling alternative transport modes to increase their competitive edge with the railways. Editor’s note)

Mr Corns had another shop in Bridge Road Richmond which was also a factory. I think that it was close by but I am not sure of the location. The fish, rabbits and patties we sold were cooked there. (Sands & McDougall Directory 1931: Corns T, Pastrycooks 129 Bridge Road, Richmond)

I can vaguely remember the paper shop and also the tobacconist next to it. I’m not sure if it belonged to the newsagency or was a separate business.

~ Bernie Ogier (nee Bernice Smith), 2012

I left school (Scotch College) at 15 ½ and worked in the factory in Richmond for awhile then drove the delivery van. I set up my own deli in Bridge Road for a few years then decided to work at dad’s deli on the concourse to learn the trade. Flo Milne was there then. I used to drive his dad in every afternoon to have a talk to Flo then drive him home, then back to my own house in Brighton.

My father, Tom, was born in 1891, Williamstown and married in 1925. My mother, Edna Estelle Corns (nee Courtis) lived till she was 92. Dad had a stroke at 65 but hung on for a few more years and died in 1961.

When dad bought The Deli (about 1939), it was called ‘Shop #9’ as dad had 11 shops in total before the war. John was about 12. Flo Milne ran The Deli at the time and continued all through the war and for about 10 years after. I used to work from 5am to 6pm, 6 days a week and other times when there were special occasions. A woman named Joan Clancy worked there who was married to one of the pastrycooks at the factory in Richmond (Mick).

I am now aged 84 and have lived in Queensland for 42 years. I bought the land here in 1972 but it took a few years to sell the business. Finally it was sold to an accountant – Cordner who later moved to Surfer’s Paradise and started an accountancy business.

The factory at 129 Bridge Road Richmond made pies and pasties, cooked meats, pressed tongue and cooked rabbits. They bought them for 9p a pair and sold them for 2 bob. They would boil them then brown them off in the ovens after cooking the pies and pasties.

~ John Corns, 2012


I saw an article in the Herald Sun on the 8 November (2009). A man was looking for a girl with the surname of Hook whom he had met in 1965. He said that she had worked in a small delicatessen on Flinders Street Station. I had worked in Scone Cottage in the early 60s and even though the Deli was next door, I didn’t know the name. I do remember some of the female station assistants who worked there though. At the top of the ramps to the gate out to Swanston Street was a woman named Queenie. At the main gates there was Biddy and Irene. They were such great fun times we had and I will always remember them.

~ Val Atkins (nee Smith), 2009

Memories of the Station

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

The concourse - Corns Deli with Scone Cottage to the left then Mannings Chemist

My earliest memories of Flinders Street railway station are as a small boy travelling with my mother to either visit Melbourne for a day or to stay at the grandmother’s home in Carnegie. Coming by ferry from Cowes to Stony Point, one then travelled by steam hauled train to Frankston where electric motors replaced the engine and we virtually ran express, stropped Mordialloc, Caulfield, to arrive at Nos. 10 and 11 East Platforms Flinders Street. Our departure home was from the same platforms at 5.03p.m. but not before my mother had been to Scone Cottage and the adjoining Deli on the Swanston Street concourse to take home those things not readily seen or available on Phillip Island - what a treat.

~ Kevin Findlay, 2008

Exiting Under the Clocks

Exiting Under the Clocks in 1962

Exiting Under the Clocks in 1962

When passing ‘Under the Clocks’ I always felt as if I was entering the city through a marvellous portal or gateway. This photo from 1962 sums up my feelings and reflects the diverse community ebb and flow that was always around the area even before the rush hour. I have an enlargement of this view on my wall and often imagine stories about the people in it.

In the 1950s and 60s I used the station extensively when travelling to the city from my home in Mont Albert. I worked for Hearns Hobbies during Christmas periods in the late 50s and remember the family well. My childhood home was opposite their factory in Whitehorse Road and an early flight was in the aeroplane VH-AMJ shown in your book. Later, when living in Canada for a time, I obtained a private pilot’s licence motivated by the enthusiasm that Bruce, Keith and Jack had instilled in me.

I bought many glasses of the famous orange juice and the small newspaper stand on Platforms 3 & 4 frequently sold me the latest copy of ‘Walkabout’ for a quiet read on the way home in the old but comfortable Dog-Box trains. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have a compartment to myself if it was a quiet time of the day.

~ George Coop, November 2011

Mirka Mora Mural

Mural Close Up

Mural close-up

My Commissions (p235-237)

‘Quite often, when I am at home working on my chevalet – my easel – I dream of having a large commission. When I have a large commission, I dream to be at home at my chevalet. But maybe I like most being at my chevalet working at new discoveries about handling the paint, and finding new evocative images that tantalise me, puzzle me. Somehow each commission is the sum total of all of my discoveries. That is why I love to be at my chevalet, mostly to stock up on my ideas.

The Flinders Street Station project was offered to seven painters to submit their ideas for decorating the wall at the end of the concourse in Swanston Street. Six brilliant painters, male, and one brilliant female painter (moi). I thought I didn’t have a chance, but all the same went to look at the wall, and as I looked at the wall I said to myself, ‘This wall is mine,’ feeling like an animal. Had I been a dog, I would have peed on it.

Without telling anyone, I disappeared for three days and three nights at the Windsor Hotel and in great comfort I designed the mural just as you see it now. I was pleased and drank champagne, my mind running fast....

It was the time of many strikes, 1985-86, and both the unions and the government were kind to me and my assistant Nicola, The River garden was the restaurant adjacent to the mural and I went there often to eat lobsters, and I still feel guilty as I saw them alive and would choose one to eat. Once, after choosing another live lobster to eat, I had a dream about the sea’ soul and I understood a little more about the sea, its life as a being of some kind....

So good to work inside a big scaffold, right in the city, and feel the heartbeat of Melbourne: protest marches, celebrations, strikes, the weather, summer, winter, autumn, springtime, people passing by – mostly very curious, and good praise came often. John Cain, the Premier, came to look at my progressing work. Patrick McCaughey, the director of the National Gallery of Victoria, danced for me as he passed by. Now many lovers from around the world come to Melbourne and have their photo taken in front of the station mural. Little children love to put their fingers in the curved lines of the low relief, as I knew they would. In 1986 I signed my name with mosaic at the completion of the work.

~ An extract from ‘Wicked but Vituous’ by Mirka Mora