By Steve Wilson, Footscray Historical Society

    Coles has had a long and beloved existence in Footscray from its beginnings in 1929 as an emporium facing Nicholson Street, Footscray.

    The first Coles Variety Store opened on 30 August 1929 at 136-142 Nicholson Street. As can be seen in the photograph, the interior had each department furnished with island counters.

    Staff served shoppers at each counter.

    The first major change was the 1959 extension through to Paisley Street. It included a cafeteria serviced by the first escalator in Footscray. The cafe became a well known dinner and a social meeting place providing many happy memories for diners. I remember getting banana splits there, with generous scoops of ice-cream, banana and real cream. Coles had its own bakehouse and made everything from lemon meringue tarts to pies and chips. Coles’ Nicholson Street frontage was altered to conform to the type Coles set for all its stores.

    In the 1960s:

    “A proposed $6 million modern drive-in multi-business centre for Footscray, incorporating Coles and the Myer Emporium encountered such stiff opposition that Myer withdrew.” A History of Footscray John Lack p 385

    In the 1970s a large supermarket named Coles New World was built on the south east corner of Paisley and Albert Streets. While this structure still stands, it appears very different from its original design.

    In the 1980s Coles relocated to the south west corner of Paisley and Albert Streets, where the Coles and Kmart store was built. This was later remodelled and apartments built above in 2016.

    The Footscray Historical Society is located open every Tuesday 10am-2pm and the first Saturday of each month 10am-3pm at 66 Napier St, Footscray.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.


    1. I wish to know, WHY did Coles Variety Stores closed down when they were so popular?? It left an emptiness in our hearts. Can’t they be resurrected as they were? People would give their right arm to see it back with all those wonderful products they used to sell. Come on Coles, bring back those Coles Variety Stores. It would make all our dreams come true.

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #98 July 2024

    Recent editions


    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles