General Store and Post & Telegraph Office
The local general store was the focal point of a small pioneering community and often doubled as the post and telegraph office. As the source of supply for the settlers’ domestic and farm needs, every department imaginable was represented. It was also a favourite meeting place for neighbours and the centre for communication with the outside world as the general storekeeper was often also the postmaster, telegraph operator and telephonist.
Often letters were very slow to reach their destination. The advent of electric telegraph communications on the Coast in 1867 gave Burnie a quick and reliable link with the outside world. The telephone came to Burnie in 1886 and further reduced the isolation. In the late 1890s private houses began to have telephones installed. The first telephone exchange was established in Burnie in 1903. The first post office was opened in Burnie about 1865.
The general store featured in the streetscape is based on James Dudfield’s store, although in actual fact he never had the local post and electric telegraph office or the telephone exchange. James Dudfield moved to Emu Bay around 1860 as a pioneer farmer and was one of the first people to open a shop in Wilson Street. In the 1890s he advertised himself as a provision merchant, grocer, and ironmonger, as well as selling books and gifts.
The items displayed in the general store are authentic shop stock of the era. They are the unsold stock from Mr. Grubb’s shop in Burnie, which closed in 1912. The items had been stored beneath Mr. Grubb’s house since it was built in 1908 and were donated to the museum by Mr. Grubb’s daughters in 1971.