Wilbrahams Department Store

Every town has one of those stores that is remembered as being the “Go To” Store.

Wilbrahams Store in Mary Street Gympie was one of the stores!.

Central Mary Street, Wilbrahams. T.J Wilbraham centre with tape measure. 22.05.1917 #143-147 Mary Street.

Thomas Joseph Wilbraham was a tailor and businessman. He was born in Gympie in 1887. He established his store in Mary Street in 1914 after taking over the business from Mr H. Brocker. In the mid 1950’s, son Ray Wilbraham took over the business.

The Wilbrahams ran the business until the mid 1980s.

Next to the store was a billiard saloon on one side and a fruit shop on the other. In 1922 the saloon was taken over, so Wilbraham expanded into general drapery. A few years later Wilbraham obtained a lease over the whole property and eventually used the fruit shop area to sell soft furnishings and floor coverings.

Thomas Joseph Wilbraham was born in Gympie on 15 August 1887.  His father was a miner named Joseph Wilbraham who had married Martha Bason in 1882.  Thomas did not follow in his fathers’ footsteps and became a tailor by trade and established a store in Mary Street.  He took over the business of Mr H. Brocker in June 1914. He married Helen (Nellie) Bath on 27 November 1912.  Their first child was born on 6 March 1916.   Thomas and Helen made their home in Mt Pleasant road where Thomas had lived with his mother Martha.  This home remained in the family for at least another generation with Thomas Raymond and his family also living there.  Thomas and Helen were members of the Presbyterian Church on Red Hill and supported the activities of this church community for many years.  Other community organisations Thomas was involved in included being a member of the UAO Druids’ Lodge, the Chatsworth Rifle Club, Committee member for the Gympie Automobile Club in the 1920’s, member of The Friendlies Society, Vice President of the Gympie Rugby League and a State level Bowler who was a member of the QBA team.  Thomas was part of a group of Gympie businessmen who would go fishing and holidaying to Tin Can Bay in the 1920’s.  He died in Gympie 26 September 1961 and is buried in the Two Mile Cemetery, Gympie.

T.J. Wilbraham and Mrs Helen Wilbraham
Wilbraham’s shop c1920’s
Wilbrahams shop front c1940s
Wilbrahams – New Shop front 1957
Central Mary St, Murray Views No. 21 – ca 1960s, ESA Bank, Wilbrahams, Tatnell & Graham, Queens Hotel
Lower Mary Street, Gympie, 1970s, Gympie Sports Centre, Cunninghams Real Estate, Wilbrahams, Primac
Wilbrahams – 1954 – Dawn Ryan, Margaret Wilson, Helen Abrahams, Dorothy Brown

Getting about…

Gympie Centenary Celebrations 1967

Shop interior photographs

Like many businesses in the lower part of Mary Street, Wilbrahams had to deal with floods – and the cleanup.

1955 flood, March 1955 Mary Street, Gympie. Flood peaking at 21.44 metres
Wilbrahams, Mary Street – 1955 Flood (1) Dorothy Brown ; Claire Dodt ; Dawn Ryan ; Heather Wilson ; Fay Dodt ; Ray Wilbraham ; Margaret Wilson
Wilbrahams, Mary Street – 1955 Flood Neville Chapple, Ivan Davies, Tom Harrys

The store continued under the ownership of the Wilbraham family until 1986. Robert & Cheryl Greensill took over the store, still under the name of Wilbrahams. In 1996 Wilbraham Department Store closed its doors for the last time. Toyworld opened in August 1996 and a surf shop occupied the other half of the building until 2009.

Central Mary Street, shops, Toyworld; Essentials for Men #143-147 Mary Street. c2000s