After four generations, Fay’s changes hands

April 6, 2010

Four generations of retail in Bingara came to an end at the close of business on Wednesday, March 31, when H. Fay and Sons changed ownership.

The business has been sold to Country Fresh Supermarkets, headed by John and Karen Bishton of Barraba.

Rick & Susan HuttonSusan Hutton (née Fay) will continue to work in the Fays business for the time being, but her husband, Manager/Director Rick, will concluded his work at Fays last Wednesday.

Susan Hutton’s great grandfather, Henry James Fay came to Bingara in 1893 to work as accountant and bookkeeper for John Byrnes General Store in Maitland Street.

He was aged 21. In January 1895,  he married Alice Eliza Schroder, the daughter of Bingara’s first policeman, Carl Schroder.

Harry Fay opened his first store, Harry Fay Fair Play Cash Store, soon after his marriage, but the business failed, and he returned to work for John Byrnes, as manager of the mercery department.

In 1900 he started on his own again, in Maitland Street, where Ritter’s building now stands.

Harry acquired Miss Kell’s business and shop premises in 1908, where he built a brick and tile front shop with a glass window built on each side of an island window entrance.

He was a member of the Masonic Movement, and through these organisations was involved in community welfare work in Bingara.

Harry died in 1920, and his wife Alice, became the sole owner of the business.

Susan says that people have told her she walks, particularly around the shop, the same way as her great-grandmother used to.

Harry and Alice’s sons became managers of the respective departments of the store under the management of Frederick George Crawford.  Charles was manager of the Grocery Department, Hubert (Bert) became manager of Drapery, clothing etc., and Phillip Carl was manager of the Hardware Department.

Roy was an excellent mechanic and carried out all his own repairs in the paddock next to his house in the paddock next to his house in Junction Street.

George Crawford died in 1935, and Milton Robson from Inverell was appointed Secretary of the company in 1936.

Further extensions to the store took place to include the lane next door on the northern side. The building was now fully bricked with an extended shop front and a new roof.  Milton Robson resigned in 1938 and James Kenny was appointed Secretary/Manager.

By then, the store was again too small to adequately cater for all its sales activities. Known as “The Gib Store”, it became bigger.

The Finkernagle residential building next door was purchased and removed, and a complete renovation of the store took place as it extended further over the new block.

Fays store plan
Moving with the times: Harry Fay’s Fair Play Cash store (above) has evolved into H. Fay and Sons (below), the “Big Department Store in the Bush” with members of the extended Fay family also making a major contribution to the Bingara community.

Harry and Alice Fay had seven children. They were:

  • Henry Roy who married Janet Sewell and had a daughter Valorie.
  • Charles married Pearl McCusker and had Henry John (Harry), Thomas George and Cecily Ruth.
  • Lillian Mascot married John Hill. Her children were Garth and Fay.
  • Hubert Edward married Eileen Bridger and had Allan Bruce, and Sandra.
  • Phillip Carl married Sylvia Leahy and had sons Dennis, Ken, Barry and Trevor, and daughters Nerolie andAlice.
  • Irene married A.L. Armstrong and had a son James.

Alice Fay died in September 1946.

Harry Fay died three years before the birth of his grandson Henry John (Harry), son of Charles Fay.

After attending primary school in Bingara and High School in Tamworth, Harry served in the RAAF during World War II in New Guinea and other South Pacific areas.He worked as an accountant at Maclean before returning to Bingara after his father died in 1956, and later took over the management of the store.

Harry married Ketha McCoy, and their four children, Susan, (Harry) Angus, Alison and Fiona all attended primary school in Bingara.

He also served for many years on the Bingara Shire Council, and was heavily involved other community organisations.  He was Chairman of Legacy for many years, was a member of the RSL Sub Branch, and Bingara Lions Club.

Ketha was also very involved in the Bingara community, in earlier times as an office bearer of the Central School Mothers’ Club, and was involved in the P&C.  She is also a long term office bearer of Torchbearers for Legacy and the Red Cross in Bingara.

Twenty two years ago, Susan and her husband Rick gave up senior teaching positions in Sydney to return to Bingara where Rick became Manager, and Susan has played an important role in the administration and purchasing side of the business.  Both Rick and Susan have become very involved in community activities.

While their children, Nick, Lexi and Ben were growing up in Bingara, they were, of course, both very much involved in school based activities.

A talented actor, Rick, with Susan’s assistance, was instrumental in the formation of the North West Theatre Company, and he has appeared in all of the company’s productions. Susan’s eye for costumes and sewing talent has also made her invaluable to the NWTC. 

Rick has also been heavily involved in business related organisations such as the former Commercial, Tourist and Development Association, and in recent years, Bingara and District Vision 2020.

He has also been instrumental in advertising Bingara’s assets to a wider market on NBN Television.  This has involved yet another talent of Rick’s, his voice and song writing talent.

From the “Come to Bingara” jingle to other somewhat reflective songs such as “Oranges Everywhere”, Rick has effectively promoted Bingara through song. 

H Fay and Sons, through Rick and Susan has also been a strong supporter of the Warialda and Bingara Schools Vocational Education Program, and have taken on a large number of school based trainees since the program’s inception.

In his publication “Bingara Federation Families”, author Ron Irlam noted: “Harry Fay and Sons family store, established in Federation times, still provides invaluable service to the community, continues to provide employment in excess of normal commercial requirements, and nowadays proudly bears the title of ‘The Biggest Little Store In The Bush".

Thank you to Mr. Irlam for kind permission to use information from his publication “Bingara Federation Families”, and to Rick and Susan Hutton for photographs of the shop.