During the Second World War Australia didn’t just go through a transformative social change, but an economic one as well. Driving this change was the need to fund our continued involvement in the war, but it also gave us a long-term advantage, putting Australia in a position for rapid economic growth when the war came to an end.
After the war the industrial heart of Newcastle was beating strongly; employment levels were high, wartime restrictions were lifting and into this optimistic time of peace a new business began in the West End. Next year it will turn 70.
Mark Murphy opened his home furnishings store at 625 Hunter Street specialising in feltex, lino, coir matting, carpet and also selling a new window covering described as being ‘as modern as the minute’ and which sported a stylish Italian name – venetian blinds.
But Mark faced a workplace issue which was emblematic of its time. In the 1940s Australia’s long-term religious sectarianism between Protestants and Catholics was still strong, with robust anti-Catholic prejudice clearly evident in business. Naturally cautious of this discrimination, Mark decided that his Irish surname would be a commercial disadvantage. He cast around for a proper Protestant moniker. What could be better than that of a pre-eminent English politician? And so Churchills Furnishings was born. In homage to its namesake a portrait of Winston Churchill still adorns the store’s wall.
The company prospered and in 1947 even had its own human interest radio program, ‘Churchills Reflections’, which broadcast every weekday on 2KO (today KO-FM). It turned into a family business with son Paul joining his father in the store. He’s now chalked up 44 years with Churchills and is currently the Managing Director. Ten years ago Paul’s son Nick also became part of Churchills, carrying the business to another generation.
Today if you can put it on your floor, or you want to, Churchills has it: carpet, vinyl, timber, laminate, tiles and rugs – and venetians are still on the shop floor as well. In the late 1980s Churchills joined the Carpet Court group, Australia’s largest flooring retailer and are officially known as Churchills Carpet Court Flooring Centre.
Over the years the merchandise on the shop floor may have changed and venetian blinds may no longer be chic, while today the company’s website provides a 21st century interactive room decorator to help you to choose the right flooring – but the core values of the business remain.
Churchills’ home is now in the western end of Parry Street and celebrations are being planned for a big 70th birthday bash next year. Congratulations to three generations of the Murphy family who’ve had us ‘well covered’ (boom! boom!) for so long.
Churchill’s Carpet Court, 120 Parry Street, Newcastle West Phone: 4929 4691
Fax: 4926 5413. www.churchillscarpetcourt.com.au Find them on Facebook. Hours:Monday-Friday 9.00am-5.00pm, Saturday 9:00am-1.00pm, closed Sunday.
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