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.