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J.A. Hicks

Hicks had a drapery (and apparently a second one) in High St Fremantle at about what is now 75 High St, in the building I'm calling Jenkins & Co. He was at one point in partnership with Hope, and this drawing shows the firm of Hope & Hicks at premises opposite the Commercial Hotel.

hope & hicks

Although he operated in his own right for much of his career, at the time this drawing was made, Hicks was in partnership with Hope, which, according to the obituary below, lasted for less than one year. Unfortunately, it does not say which year.

The drawing shows the 1840s Albert Hotel on the left, with the name (Commercial) it acquired in 1888. That building was replaced in 1908, which dates this drawing. It seems likely that none of the buildings on the right hand side of the drawing still exist, with the exception of course of the Town Hall. The building now at 75 High St, opposite the Commercial Hotel building, is - in 2016 - Port Stationery (formerly Jenkins & Co.) and is thought to have been built in 1929.

economic drapers

This is image #1364, c1905, from the Fremantle Library, with this caption:
Horse drawn transport in High Street, with the Town Hall in the background. In the centre is Drapers Economic, built for J A Hicks in 1893. Cargeeg, Dimant & Co bought the property on 25.05.1895. A new store, designed by C L Oldham, opened in February 1904. The building was later the RSL or Wyola Club. The facade is classified by the National Trust. Taken before 1905.

The Wyola Club building is the one on the right hand side of the photograph, with the spheres on the pediment - it's still extant. It was renovated in 2020.

Hutchison (149) writes that the Wyola building was built in 1903 for J.A. Hicks & Co.

Hicks's 1942 Obituary

Perth, Nov. 3.— At the age of 85, Mr. J. A. Hicks died at Fremantle last week. Born in West Perth, on October 7, 1857, Mr. Hicks was prominently connected with the soft goods trade of the State for about 60 years. While he was being educated at private schools, State schools and night schools, his father, the first English-trained draper in Western Australia, was teaching him the rudiments of the drapery business, which was to prove his absorbing vocation through life. His first employment was with Robert King and Son, General merchants, of Cliff street, Fremantle. With this firm he gained experience and promotion and he attributed his progress to his early training by his father in all branches of the drapery business. When Robert King and Son went out of business he entered the service of Shenton, Crowther and Co., of Geraldton. Here he served for four years, found favour with his employers, entered actively into the social and sporting life of the district and did a good deal of writing for the local and metropolitan press. From Geraldton Mr. Hicks came to Perth to take up a leading position with W. G. Hearman, whose drapery business was carried on in premises now occupied by Charles Moore and Co. With Mr. Hearman he was associated for eight years. On severing his connection with this firm he entered the service of D. Edward Thomas Hope, another English-trained draper, and the founder of Bon Marche, Hay street. Mr. Hicks next moved to Fremantle, to become managing partner in the firm of Hope and Hicks, and before the expiration of 12 months he had bought out his partner and then successfully carried on business for six years as J. A. Hicks, the people's draper, with branches at Subiaco, Northam, York, Toodyay and with notable success at Kalgoorlie, where he was later to establish the business of J. A. Hicks and Co. a family firm, still carried on, of which five of Mr. Hicks' sons are directors and of which he himself was chairman. This business is the largest trading concern of its kind on the eastern goldfields. Mr Hicks was always keenly interested in public affairs and especially in Federal and State politics and took pleasure in freelance journalism and in newspaper enterprise. The city of Fremantle owes it mainly to him that it has to-day a newspaper of its own, the 'Sentinel,' of which he was the founder and chairman of directors of the small company originally owning it and in January, 1936, became its sole proprietor. Mr. Hicks was a persistent and consistent advocate of Cockburn Sound, first as a harbour for Fremantle and later as a naval base and scene of a graving dock. He never ceased his denunciation of politicans who, after something like a million pounds having been spent on Henderson naval base, abandoned that great project which, had it been proceeded with, might have been of great service to Australia and the Empire in the present world conflict. The 'Sentinel!' was the vehicle through which in the later years of his life Mr. Hicks untiringly aired his political opinions and fought for what he considered the rights of the State's chief port and for the resumption of the Henderson naval base works. Mr. Hicks married on December 10, 1884, Matilda Esther Wearne, at Wesley Church Fremantle. Of this marriage there are 10 children, five boys and five girls all of whom are shareholders in the business of Hicks and Co., Kalgoorlie. One of the sons is the manager of Northampton branch of the Bank of New South Wales. Another is scout commissioner of Kalgoorlie and now in the R.A.A.F. and a third holds the position of deputy chief A.R.P. warden, of Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie Miner, 3 November 1942.

The White House

J. A. Hicks and Co.
The rapidity with which J. A. Hicks and Co., "The White House,'' 79 and 99 High street, Fremantle, drapers, clothiers, &c, transferred their huge stock from their old address to their magnificient modern up-to date store, right opposite, broke all records, and they are anxious that all their regular customers and as many new ones as possible should pay them a visit in their new premises and see what the newest things in drapery establishments is like. J. A. Hicks and Co. believe in doing the thing thoroughly, and they are going to make "The White House" a place where folks will instinctively turn for their drapery and clothing requirements. J. A. Hicks and Co. will only keep the best kinds of goods, and their prices will be the lowest in the State if quality of article is taken into consideration. At present "The White House" wonderful four days' bargain sale is on, which no one can afford to miss. Sunday Times, Sunday 20 March 1904: 1.


At their new emporium, High-street, Fremantle, Messrs. J. A. Hicks and Co.  are showing a magnificent assortment of new season's winter goods which have been recently received direct from the markets of the world. Messrs. J. A. Hicks and Co. have long been known for the  excellence of the materials they stock, and are showing just now a beautiful assortment of ladies' and gentlemen's wearing apparel which for price and quality is equal to any thing of the kind in the  State. At the 'White House' only the very best of everything is kept, and owing to the special arrangements which the firm have made for buying in the world's markets they are enabled to place before their clients goods of the very best texture at the lowest possible prices. To-day the 'White House' is particularly attractive, owing to the splendid display which the firm have in their large vestibule. Daily News, Saturday 16 April 1904: 1.

White House, Kalgoorlie

(White House, Kalgoorlie.)
This firm of drapers, clothiers, mercers, haberdashers, and milliners, of Hannan-street, Kalgoorlie, are holding  their ANNUAL. WINTER SALE, and all cold weather goods are being passed out at greatly reduced prices to  make room for the NEW SPRING and SUMMER GOODS, which are now being opened up each and every week. Mr. and. Miss Hicks have been in the Eastern States for some weeks selecting the cream of the New Season's Goods, and these are to be offered to the public as usual at the White House famous low prices for goods of dependable quality. Only address, Hannan-street West. Westralian Worker, Friday 23 July 1920: 4.

References and Links

Advertisement, Sunday Times, Sunday 20 March 1904: 1.

Advertisement, Daily News, Saturday 16 April 1904: 1.

Obituary, Kalgoorlie Miner, Wednesday 4 November 1942: 4.

Garry Gillard | New: 6 April, 2016 | Now: 17 November, 2023