Background to installation of replacements of
Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange commemorative plaques

The plaques which will be installed under one of the arches of the old Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange (AFPE) facade at the junction of East Tce and Vardon Ave at a ceremony on 9 September 2022 are replacements for two commemorative plaques originally erected in 1928 and 1938. Sadly, the originals have become casualties of the closure of the East End site of the AFPE and its relocation, along with the former East End Market, to Pooraka, in 1988. Exhaustive searching for the originals has been unsuccessful despite the uncovering of some tantalising leads.

The plaques commemorate the contribution to the early years of the AFPE of

• Thomas Henry Brooker, member of the first Board of Directors of the AFPE, and Secretary to the Board from 1903 until his death in 1927, and of
• Henry James Bishop, Member of the Board of Directors, from 1925 until his death in 1938, and its chairman, 1927-1938.

The Board of the AFPE commissioned local craftsman, WH Harding, to make the Brooker plaque. Almost half the total cost of £92.13.0 was raised by subscription, with the balance borne by the AFPE Company. The Board of Directors must have been pleased with this memorial because a similar one was later commissioned to honour Bishop. The plaques were erected, at public ceremonies and with due fanfare, in a prominent position in the heart of the market precinct, close to the AFPE office.

The original plaques were of classical design with busts of Brooker and Bishop in relief.
While the replacements do not replicate the designs in every detail, they are faithful to their general spirit and style.

Notes prepared by Dr Judith Raftery, historian (and great grand-daughter of TH Brooker) on behalf of the Brooker and Bishop families.

23 August 2022

An Essay by Judith Raftery
a great grand daughter of Thomas Henry Brooker

The Earth is the Lord’s:
the early years of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange

Judith Raftery

Contested claims

Within my mother’s family it was always said that my great grandfather, Thomas Henry Brooker, was responsible for the adorning of the main Grenfell Street entrance to the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange with the biblical text ‘The Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof’. (Psalm 24:1) 1 . This could well have been true. Brooker was secretary to the Board of Directors and the day-to- day manager of the Exchange from its establishment in 1903 until his death in 1927. He was also a committed Non-conformist Christian, well-acquainted with scripture. But it may not be true, and I have located no definitive evidence to substantiate the claim. In fact, it seems just about as likely that the text was included in the design by the founder of the Exchange, grain and produce merchant William Charlick.
In 1903 Charlick was granted, by a private act of parliament (Private Bill 31, 1903), the right to acquire land with frontages to Rundle Street, East Terrace and Grenfell Street for the purpose of erecting and maintaining a new market 2 . He had already purchased old properties including Peacock’s Tannery, Baker and Humble’s Timber Yard and some not-fit-for-human-habitation houses known as The Rookery in that vicinity, and had been campaigning among “gardeners, fruiterers and others”, arguing that “the urgent need of more market accommodation [was] plain to everyone doing business with the gardeners”. He contended that the gardeners, along with the hawkers who assisted with the selling process, were “entitled to more accommodation” and greater convenience. He was convinced that the establishment of a new market would “prove a great public benefit”, by reducing “the crush and congestion which is continually happening”3 . Once parliament had approved his plans, Charlick wasted no time in forming a public, unlisted company – the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company – to achieve his purpose, and the company immediately commissioned Henry James Cowell (1855- 1938), builder, architect and former market gardener, to design and build the market4 .
Charlick was without doubt in a prime position to influence details of the market design: he was the chief promoter and financier of the new enterprise, and would almost certainly have known Cowell through the association they both had with the older East End Market established in 1867 by Richard Vaughan5 . And like Brooker, Charlick was a Non-conformist Christian, who had in his early life been associated with the independent evangelical congregation meeting in Zion Chapel in Hanson (later Pulteney) Street6 . Though never a Congregationalist, he also had links with the originally-Congregationalist Ebenezer Chapel, off Rundle Street, that was many years later purchased by the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company and demolished to make way for its expanding market activities7 . For much of his adult life, Charlick, again like Brooker, was a prominent and respected member of Churches of Christ, associated with its Unley congregation8 . Thus, although I have found no actual proof that Charlick was responsible for the text, it would not be at all surprising to discover that he had been. A 1936 newspaper article – hardly proof but at least suggestive – claims that he decided, at some unstated time, to have the text incorporated in the design, believing the abundance of fruit and vegetables coming into his market was a sign of divine Providence 9 . However, the fact that the words appeared not only on the Grenfell Street façade of the building but were also incorporated into a tablet manufactured at the time of Brooker’s death, commemorating his long service to the company, maintains the ambiguity and goes some way to explaining, perhaps even favouring, the story preferred by my family.

Charlick's Promotional Flyer,  1903

Charlick's Promotional Flyer, 1903

‘A prosperous and confident image’

The design and building of the original sections of the ‘New Market’, as it came to be known, were completed with great speed and efficiency. Given that Charlick’s bill was assented to only in October 1903, building could not have begun much before the end of that year. The minutes of the Board meeting held 3 November 1903 indicate that the Board was only then considering costings for the venture and agreeing on details of the financial arrangements between Charlick, who held the rights to the land, and the newly established company 1 10. But by the time the Board met on 8 January 1904 it was reported that progress was being made with preparing the land, making roads, plumbing and even frontages and offices, and that shares and market stands were being applied for. By 23 March 1904 the Directors recorded that the internal part of the market was “practically completed”, and that rather than wait for all the frontages to be finished, they intended opening for business as soon as the roads were ready. They were satisfied that the speed of construction had not led to any compromise of quality, reporting that “every care has been exercised so as to provide an up-to-date market replete with all conveniences and sanitary arrangements”. Paving the way for future expansion, they purchased, and paid for out of capital, more land in Grenfell Street, over which they had previously exercised an option11 . The Governor of South Australia laid the memorial stone on 29 April 1904 and the Exchange opened for business on 2 May, with “145 Gardeners in their stands” and “everything working smoothly”12 . At that time the ‘New Market’ consisted of . . . seven attached two-storey buildings, each with shops on the ground floor, offices and other accommodation above, and a broad central arched passageway surmounted by a Tudor-style half-timbered gable. This passage led through into the market area where vehicles could load or unload outside the packing stores at the rear of the buildings13 . This earliest section of the market, with its central arch bearing the name ‘ Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange’ fronted East Terrace. It exhibited the features of what is now known as ‘Federation style’: terracotta roof tiles, moulded brick work, sculptured timber and ornate embellishments – baskets of fruit and vegetables which clearly communicated the building’s purpose. This innovative design created a prosperous and confident image for the new company and was described as the “best of its character in Australia – lofty, well-ventilated, wide roads, no obstacles, automatically drained and kept wonderfully cleaned” 14 . According to one of the original Directors, Alexander Thomas Magarey, its claims to excellence went beyond Australia. He returned from the United States at the beginning of 1905 and reported that “in his travels he had seen nothing to come up to the Company’s market”15 . The Grenfell Street section, with arches, ornamentations and other ‘Federation style’ details to match those facing East Terrace, and its unique biblical text, was completed by October 1904 16 . Over subsequent years, more land was taken up and the market gradually expanded westward along Grenfell Street, to Union and Tavistock Streets, in response to the need to ease congestion, to accommodate more stall-holders, and to provide for more shops, adequate amenities for stall- holders, and stabling for horses. Long after Brooker’s time, market premises were used also for non-market purposes that he could never have imagined: the company let a section of their Grenfell Street holdings to Southern Stadiums, which opened a boxing stadium there in September 1939, and in 1942 the Tavistock section was commandeered by the government for military purposes 17 .

Thomas Henry Brooker: Minister of the Crown and market manager

The unresolved matter of the text notwithstanding, Thomas Henry Brooker certainly had a significant involvement with the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, as the Board minutes, written in his legible hand, and exhibiting consistently good spelling, make clear. It was a late career move for him: he was 52 years old when he became the Secretary of the first Board of Directors and had already had a successful public career. After a minimal formal education at Hindmarsh and 15 years employment at Hardy’s Bankside vineyard, he had opened his own business as a salesman and wood-merchant at Ridleyton. Always passionate about gardening, he became a frequent visitor and observer at the original East End Market, established in 1867 by Richard Vaughan on East Terrace north of Rundle Street. He helped establish a local literary society, was a founder and director of the West Torrens Starr-Bowcett Building Society, President of the West Torrens Football Club, and was a councillor and then mayor of the Hindmarsh Corporation, 1885-1891. He served in South Australia’s parliament as a member of the House of Assembly, for West Torrens and later Port Adelaide, from 1890-1905. Referred to as ‘Honest Tom’ by his colleagues, he supported progressive causes, was a member of significant parliamentary committees and Minister for Education, 1901-1902. He was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Adelaide Botanic Garden in 1893 and was its chairman from 1897 until his death in 1927. He had also had, since his early childhood, a strong and unbroken involvement with the Hindmarsh congregation of Churches of Christ. He held many offices in the church, and at the time of his death had been associated with its Sunday School for over 60 years. Thus he brought to the job of managing the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange the experience of leadership gained from holding political office, a history of community involvement and service, a love of gardening, a working knowledge of markets, and unshakeable personal integrity 18 . The market must have been a calmer and less stressful environment than parliament during the volatile years of the federation era, and the historical record suggests Brooker tackled its opportunities and challenges with good sense, thoroughness and a capacity for conciliation that earned the ungrudging respect and high esteem of his colleagues.

Running the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange

The Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange appeared to operate a bit like a family during this early period. When founding directors Joseph Vardon and Charles Richardson died they were replaced by their sons, apparently without the net being cast any wider19 . Brooker brought some members of his own large family with him into the market’s employ: two Misses Brooker worked in the market office prior to their marriages and one of his sons was a long-term employee whose service to the company continued long after his father’s death 20 . Overall, employment arrangements seemed rather informal and there is no evidence in the minutes of any union activity or worker organisation. Wage rises appear to have been granted as periodic ‘catch ups’ when the Directors’ attention was drawn to rises in the cost of living or to the basic wage. A decision to pay employees – who were sometimes referred to as the company’s ‘servants’ – the basic wage, was taken in 1925 21 . However, a much later minute, recorded in December 1940, suggests that the company was not keeping up with this standard. Noting that the basic wage had risen, the Directors determined that two employees, Brooker (i.e. Hamilton Brooker, Thomas Henry’s son) and Watkinson were “hardly getting enough in comparison”, and voted them a pay rise effective from 1 January 1941 22 . In addition, remuneration was bolstered by traditional employer benevolence: employees, from Board Secretary Brooker down, from time to time received generous bonuses for “faithful service”, for bearing the brunt of extra work when required, or as Christmas and wedding gifts 23 . Brooker’s original wage had been set at £4.00 per week in 1904, and was increased by modest increments from time to time. By April 1926 his wage had risen to £7.00 per week and he was at that time presented with a cheque for £100 “in recognition of his faithful services for 22 years”. His dutiful response was to promise “to do his very best in the future for the Company” 24 .

Adelaide Fruit & Produce Exchange Co Ltd - Directors
Original Board of Directors, Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange:
L to R: William W James, Hon. Joseph Vardon (standing),
William Charlick (Chairman),Charles A Richardson (standing),
Thomas Henry Brooker, MP (Secretary),Alexander Thomas Magarey

(Photo slsa B28729 Circa 1903)

Some of the issues Brooker had to deal with during the establishment period of the ‘New Market’ were relatively straight forward, and convey an impression of Adelaide as a small and uncomplicated place, where personal acquaintance could solve potential problems. For example, local “lads” caused some trouble from time to time – break-ins, broken windows and petty theft – but this seemed to be easily fixed by Brooker having a word with their parents and putting up warning notices 25 . Other issues were clearly more persistent, judging by the number of times they were discussed in the minutes, and, despite their irksome banality, had health implications and had to be taken seriously. Thus Brooker, no longer concerned with affairs of state, needed to turn his attention to such matters as finding “glut labour” to “get the sweepings away daily”, the best means of hosing and scrubbing market floors, experimenting with tar on the floors to provide a cleaner surface and test-driving a motor broom and scraper that could be returned at no cost if it was ineffective. Painting, fire precautions, lavatory upgrades, and general refurbishment were also ongoing concerns 26 . So too was the mess made by some produce, especially, it seemed, cauliflowers. The intractability of this issue, and the frustration it caused, not just during Brooker’s time but for decades afterwards, is clearly expressed in a flyer produced in 1952 and preserved in the minute book of that time. Cauliflowers were on notice. They were not to be allowed inside the market from 1 January 1953 unless they had only sufficient leaves and stump to protect the flower and were suitable for packing without further trimming, or, if they were destined for a factory, had been trimmed of all leaves and stumps 27 . Stern stuff indeed.
Apart from ensuring that the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange operated efficiently, Brooker’s role also involved acting as a go-between to ensure that the two markets – the older East End Market and the ‘New Market’ – dovetailed their activities and cooperated for the benefit of all parties. This was an important issue and an ongoing one, which one commentator has suggested involved “sparring” rather than achieving real agreement, and was never fully resolved until both markets were taken over and relocated in 1988 to Pooraka, where they have since operated as Adelaide Produce Markets Ltd 28 . However, from the earliest days, there were efforts to achieve cooperation and transparency in relation to opening times and to the regulation of the negotiations between sellers and buyers, to ensure no one secured any unfair advantage. Brooker attended to these arrangements personally. Following the advertised morning opening time, which could be as early as 4.30am, there was a period of an hour and a half during which buyers perused the produce on offer and arrived at agreements with sellers as to the prices to be paid and the quantities that would change hands. At the end of this period, the ringing of a bell indicated the beginning of the next stage, during which buyers took delivery of their purchases and moved them out of the market. The rule was that no produce left either of the markets before that bell, and breaches of ‘bell ring’ were taken very seriously. From the beginning, the main markets were held on Wednesdays and Fridays, with lesser markets on four other days each week, but special arrangements had to be negotiated at other times, for example the Christmas/New Year period 29 .
Other issues had broader implications and presented another set of challenges. Foremost among these was the relationship between the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange and the Adelaide City Council. The Act under which the exchange was incorporated gave the Council the right to serve notice on the company every five years and, if it was found to be non-compliant with regulations, especially health regulations, to acquire its assets at the current value 30 . The healthy maintenance of this relationship required the constant attention of Brooker and the Directors, but even so tensions periodically escalated. Traffic congestion, especially in East Terrace, was an early problem, and during 1904 Council and market company bickered over how much each party should pay to widen the road 31 . A few years later they were at odds over a different kind of congestion, namely whether hawkers, who worked in concert with stall-holders, be allowed to congregate around the Rundle Street entrance to the market, and in Union Street 1 32.
Horses, used by market gardeners to convey their produce to the city, were another persistent source of tension. As early as April 1905, concerns raised by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) about the welfare of the market horses, led Brooker to publicly defend the policy of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange in relation to feeding and stabling. He wrote that, after appropriate enquiries, the company had rejected the “conjoint system of drinking and feeding troughs” recommended by the SPCA, because it “tended to uncleanliness, souring and spoiling the food”. Instead, it had opted for “a copious supply of water from the taps adjacent to the feeding troughs, having plenty of buckets available”. In relation to stabling he said: We thought it unwise to have stables in the precincts of the market, especially as there are four well-constructed stables within a stone’s throw of the market run by men who are as eager for business as the blacksmiths to shoe the horses. Admitting that a few gardeners did bring their horses into the market complex overnight, he insisted that they were well cared for and that there had been no complaints about their accommodation from either the gardeners or the Adelaide City Council 33 .
Despite Brooker’s remonstrations, the presence of the horses remained a point of contention. They contributed to congestion outside and inside the market, produced copious quantities of manure that had to be got rid of, and needed food and water and, in a small minority of cases, overnight stabling. The horse question was linked to the need for some of the market gardeners to be ‘stabled’ overnight too, in the sleeping rooms that were provided on the first floor of the Exchange buildings, above the street level shops and overlooking the internal sections of the market. Clearly, these issues had significant public health implications and they regularly attracted the attention of the Adelaide City Council’s Board of Health. Health Inspector Thomas Borthwick visited and inspected in February 1911 and for several months a good deal of wrangling went on between the Board of Health and the market Board 34 . Eventually the market company had to compromise on two counts in order to avoid the threat of a summons by the Board of Health.
Firstly, Brooker organised a combined meeting of the boards of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company and the East End Market Company to determine a policy on the removal of horses from the markets 35 . This meeting decided that horses should not be accommodated for overnight stays, and loads of manure should not be allowed to stand in the market premises. The Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Board acknowledged that the action it subsequently took in relation to horses and manure did lead to an increase in the cleanliness of the market, but also recorded that “it had been found difficult to secure stabling” for the ousted horses 36 . Members of the Board of Health visited again on 4 August 1911 and declared their satisfaction with the action that had been taken 37 . Secondly, the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company also agreed to waive its rights to the use of sleeping rooms for gardeners who wished to stay overnight, usually because of the long distances they had to travel. This satisfied the Board of Health’s concerns about ventilation and hygiene, but is not recorded how the stall-holders, ousted along with their horses, accommodated this change of policy.
Brooker’s life course, and his period of employment at the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange suggest that he was a man of considerable vigour, energy and commitment to the tasks he took on. The Board minutes record only a handful of instances of sick leave during his nearly 24 years of service. On occasion he requested leave, but was sometimes ordered to take it, and while ten days was usually the specified time, he chose to return ahead of schedule when he felt able. In 1904 he was back after just four days off, declaring himself to be “much improved in health” and in 1912, having himself asked for two weeks off, returned after one, choosing to save the other for later. However, he complied with doctor’s orders for a fortnight’s rest in 1919 38 . Brooker’s wife, Emma, mother of their ten children, died on 28 March 1920. Presumably he took some time off at that stage, but not so much as to miss a meeting of the Board of Directors. He was on deck for the April meeting and the minutes record his thanks to his colleagues for “their sympathy in his recent bereavement” 39 .

Christmas Markets flyer, 1922/1923
Christmas Markets flyer, 1922/1923

The Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange: a successful commercial venture

It appears that Charlick’s initiative in establishing the ‘New Market’, to operate alongside the older East End Market, paid off in commercial terms from the beginning. This was almost certainly due in part to the solid financial foundation that was provided by his own resources and to his vision and promotional skills. As soon as his market proposal had received parliamentary assent, he set about establishing the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company, which took over the existing mortgages on his east end properties and in return acquired the rights and privileges specified by the Act to erect and maintain he market. A provisional Board of Directors, with Charlick as Chair, met on 31 October 1903, and again on 3 November, to consider costings and likely returns and to plan for the generation of capital through a share issue. Seventeen thousand fully paid £1 shares were to be offered to the public in the first instance and more in due course. The first general meeting of the company, whose registered office was at 273 Rundle Street, was held on 16 December and attended by shareholders and the provisional Directors. Joseph Vardon was added to the Board at this meeting and the first meeting of the formally constituted Board occurred on 18 December 1903 40 . There were no glitches, and the decision taken in February 1904 to purchase more land in Grenfell Street, and to pay for it out of capital, suggested confidence in the future of the company 41 .
During the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange’s first year of operation that early confidence was vindicated. The market buildings were extended, dining rooms, which were not to sell intoxicating liquors, were opened, applications for stands and stores kept coming, and shares were “being applied for freely” 42 . During the next two decades, the company was able to continue to buy more land and to make extensions and improvements to their existing buildings and amenities, to meet the health and safety demands of the Adelaide City Council, to respond generously to the needs of their workers and to pay occasional bonuses to the Directors. The first intimation of tension between the company and market stall holders, over increased rents, which the Board justified on the grounds of rising costs, emerged in September 1917, and resulted in the resignation of one employee 43 . Dissatisfaction over rents and charges became an ongoing concern, alongside maintenance issues, difficulties in retaining the services of suitable dining room proprietors, achieving adequate floor sweeping routines, and people jumping the bell at market opening time. But these were relatively minor matters that did not threaten the Exchange’s fundamental commercial success during its foundation years. Greater challenges were just around the corner, however, and although land acquisition and building projects continued up until 1930, by early 1931 various impacts of the Great Depression were clearly being felt.
At their meeting of 16 February 1931 the Board Directors agreed to call a special meeting “to go thoroughly into the matter of rents, finance, wages, truck fees etc. to see where savings and reductions can be made” 44 . There is a naivety about this statement that suggests some inability to comprehend the severity of the situation they were facing, but at the general meeting they called for 26 February 1931, the realities were faced more squarely – and some ideological stances exposed. The Chairman, HJ Bishop, spoke of the “difficulties being experienced by the company owing to the general depression and the unfortunate habits Governments had of increasing taxation”. He said that growers and merchants were having an “extremely bad time” and that rents would have to be reduced and that some market stores were already empty. While finances were satisfactory for the moment, having large amounts of money on deposit for short terms was not, and the company would be seeking the permission of shareholders to increase capital by a new share issue 45 . Extraordinary meetings followed in quick succession and differing views about the best way to raise capital, and about the relative claims of workers, rent payers and shareholders to shoulder or be protected from financial burdens were freely canvassed. Unsurprisingly, some belt- tightening was experienced by all parties, as the Exchange shared in the financial difficulties affecting the whole country 46 . In February 1933 the Board reported that “from a business point of view the position was infinitely worse than twelve months ago” and in August 1934 a general meeting of the company was told that “our tenants are not enjoying the prosperity that we would like to see”. Shareholders, however, were still receiving a dividend, admittedly reduced 47 . By February 1935 the tide had turned, at least for some parties. The financial situation had improved to the point where the dividend to shareholders was slightly increased, a bonus for the Secretary was endorsed and Directors’ fees, which had been cut in 1931, were restored to £200 per annum! The recovery continued: the confidence of the market traders was restored, six markets were held each week, and, by September 1936, the wages of “our servants” were reviewed and increased 48 . And, as it turned out, the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange had many years of growth and prosperity ahead of it.

Death of Brooker, and the memorial tablet

Thomas Henry Brooker was spared the distress and dissension caused by the Great Depression. He died, after a short illness, on 11 July 1927, at the home of my maternal grandmother, his youngest daughter, Doris Fern Lawrie, neé Brooker, where he had been living since the time of his wife’s death. He was a gardener to the end. My mother, Barbara Brooker Fitzgerald, neé Lawrie, who was just under ten when Brooker died, recalled that, on the day before his death, he insisted on being helped down the passage of the house to the breakfast room from where he could look out to the garden and see how his potatoes were coming along. She also remembered that, just before he died, a visitor from the Botanic Garden, on whose Board he had served for 34 years, arrived with lots of violets – one of his favourite flowers – and placed them in his arms as he lay in bed 49 .
With Brooker’s departure, the only remaining member of the original Board of Directors of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange was William James, and by January 1929 he too had gone 50 . The end of Brooker’s term as the market company’s chief employee can thus be seen as coinciding with the end of its pioneering era. At the half-yearly meeting of the company held on 25 August 1927, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, HJ Bishop, spoke “feelingly . . . of the great loss the Company had sustained in the loss of the late Secretary, Mr TH Brooker”. The Board had already appointed Bishop and the new Secretary, FH Edwards, to investigate having a bronze memorial tablet constructed in Brooker’s honour, and erected outside the market office. Arrangements and concerns about this featured prominently in the minutes over subsequent months. The tender was let to a Mr WH Harding, who, despite the Board’s attempts to “hurry him along”, missed several promised completion dates 51 .
The unveiling ceremony eventually took place on 20 July 1928, a full year after Brooker’s death. The South Australian Attorney-General did the honours, and other celebrities in attendance included the Chairman of the Botanic Garden Board, members of parliament, office-holders of several gardeners’ and fruitgrowers’ associations, and the President of the Federal Conference of Churches of Christ. According to a photo taken at the unveiling, the memorial tablet was of classical design, featuring a bust in relief of Brooker mounted above a semi-circular wreath. On the gabled pediment above the bust, and on the lower part of the tablet, between two columns, was the following inscription:

“The Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof”.

Erected by his friends to perpetuate the memory of
Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Co. Ltd
“A faithful servant”
Everyone’s friend
A Christian gentleman52

The total cost of the memorial was £92.13.0, of which £51.13.6 had been raised by subscription and the balance borne by the company 53 . The Board of Directors must have been pleased with this memorial because a similar one was later commissioned to honour HJ Bishop who joined the Board of Directors in 1925, and served as its chairman from 1927 until his death in 1938 54 . Sadly, the current location of these tablets is unknown, despite vigorous attempts of some Brooker and Bishop descendants to track them down. They appear to have become casualties of the closure of the East End sites of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange and the East End Market and their relocation to Pooraka in 1988 .

Memorial Tablet Unveiled
Advertiser, 21 July 1928
Memorial Tablet Unveiled Advertiser, 21 July 1928


There is not much fresh fruit and produce in evidence in the old Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange precinct these days, though there is plenty of food and drink for sale in the trendy cafes and bars that line the small streets that have replaced the old market lanes. These establishments are frequented not by market gardeners and their customers but by the precinct’s apartment dwellers and others who flock by day and night to enjoy the ‘lifestyle’ of the ‘East End’. But in the middle of it all, in the courtyard next to the apartment building named for Thomas Henry Brooker, some modest gardening and growing still happens. As well as some ornamental trees and a few flowers, there is a lemon tree, an olive tree and a bay tree, and there are wheeled vegetable boxes, moved to catch the sun, which bear salad leaves, spinach, herbs, tomatoes and carrots. Not quite the fullness of the earth, but a nod in that direction. And there is never an untidy and troublesome cauliflower in sight.

Judith Raftery
2/22 Liberman Close
Adelaide, South Australia 5000

December 2019


1. The text on the Grenfell Street façade of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange includes the word ‘fulness’ where we would expect ‘fullness’. This is the spelling used in the ‘King James’, or ‘Authorised’ version of the Bible, with which Brooker would have been familiar, and thus should not be seen as an error.
2. Michael Page, Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, Royal Australian Institute of Architects (SA chapter), Adelaide, 1986, p.126
3. Promotional flyer, produced by William Charlick, 25 June 1903. See photograph, p.2
4. Minute Book containing ‘rough working notes’, 31 October 1903, 3 November 1903, 16 December 1903, no page numbers, part of uncatalogued material pertaining to Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, held at State Library of South Australia. See also, Page, Sculptors in Space, p.126
5. Page, Sculptors in Space, p.126. Charlick’s firm operated in the East End Market from1881.
6. Zion Chapel, which operated from 1855-1922, was one of a handful of self-styled ‘Christian’
7. Charlick, who was born in 1858, had been associated with Ebenezer Chapel (built 1851), in various ways since his early years. His family lived nearby, and at some time after the Congregational church ceased using it (1862) he had been a pupil at the day school associated with it, attended meetings of the Good Templars and the Band of Hope in the building, and eventually (c.early1880s) became its lessee, using it as a stables and a bulk store, and making it available to the Adelaide City Mission. The Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Company purchased the chapel in 1908 and demolished it in 1909. Undated press report (c.1909), in ‘Albumn’ of cuttings, flyers, reports etc, dating from 1903, part of u ncatalogued material pertaining to Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, held at State Library of South Australia.
8. For a summary of Charlick’s involvement with Churches of Christ see Adelaide Register, 28 July 1926, p.13, and Adelaide Chronicle, 31 July 1926, p.13.
9. Advertiser,24 October 1936. To complicate matters further, two other Board directors were prominent Non-conformist, biblicallly-literate Christians: Magarey was a member of Churches of Christ, and Vardon a Congregationalist. I am not, however, aware of any claims concerning their involvement with the inclusion of the text on the Grenfell Street façade.
10. Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Minute Book 1903-1909 (rough working notes of Thomas Henry Brooker and minutes of meetings of Board of Directors, no page numbers), minutes of meeting of Board of Directors, 3 November 1903
11. Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, ‘Albumn’, Directors’ Report, 23 March 1904
12. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 6 May 1904, p.49
13. Page, Sculptors in Space, p.126
14. Jonathan Selby, ‘Adelaide’s East End Markets’, Heritage Australia (Journal of the Australian Council of National Trusts), Summer 1988, pp.36-39
15. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 20 January 1905
16. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 14 October 1904
17. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 17 January 1939, 19 September 1939, 22 June 1942. The military were gone by early 1947 and the area converted to ordinary market stalls, Minute Book 4, Minutes, 28 August 1947. The Adelaide Stadiums Ltd Lease, due to expire on 30 June 1949, was not extended “due to demand for space required for stores”. Minute Book 4, Minutes, 20 September 1948
18. Marlene J Cross, ‘Thomas Henry Brooker’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.7, pp.424-425
19. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 28 July 1913; Minute Book 3, Minutes, 30 May 1927. The members of the original Board of Directors were William Charlick, chairman, grain and produce merchant; William W James; AT Magarey; Charles A Richardson; Joseph Vardon, MP, printer and newspaper publisher (see Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.12, p.311); Thomas Henry Brooker, MP, Secretary (see Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 7, pp.424-425). See photograph, p.4
20. These were my great aunts Myrtle and Daisy and my great uncle Hamilton. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 21 December 1906, 3 November 1910; Minute Book 2, Minutes, 17 June 1918, 21 January 1920, 17 December 1920, etc.
21. Minute Book 2, Minutes, 10 August 1925
22. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 17 December 1940. This was not enough to satisfy Watkinson. Some months later, after 13 years in the employ of the market, he left without notice, for “an easier job at better money”. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 24 November 1941
23. See for example, Minute Book 1, Minutes, 21 December 1906; Minute Book 2, Minutes, 17 December 1920; Minute Book 3, Minutes, 7 April 1926
24. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 7 April 1926
25. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 16 June 1909, 3 October 1910
26. The minutes, especially from 1910 onwards, contain numerous references to these issues.
27. Flyer attached to Minute Book 4, Minutes, 1 September 1952
28. Notes for a speech delivered to East Adelaide Rotary Club, 2 February 1988, BRG 275, Series 7, Box 1, East End Market Company, State Library of South Australia
29. Xmas Markets flyer, 1922/1923, photograph, p.7
30. BRG 275, Series 7, box 1, East End Market Company, miscellaneous notes, State Library of South Australia
31. See, for example, Minute Book 1, Minutes, 15 July 1904, 16 September, 1904, 14 October 1904
32. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 22 March 1909, 10 May 1909
33. Advertiser, 7 April 1905
34. See repeated minutes entries in 1910 and 1911
35. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 22 May 1911
36. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 10 July 1911
37. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 11 August 1911
38. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 25 November 1904, 28 October 1912; Minute Book 2, Minutes, 23 April 1919, 31 March 1922
39. Minute Book 2, Minutes, 28 April 1920
40. Rough Working Notes/Minutes of Thomas Henry Brooker, 1903-1909, part of uncatalogued material pertaining to Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, State Library of South Australia, 3 November 1903, 16 December 1903; see also Minute Book 1, Minutes, 16 December 1903, 18 December 1903
41. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 19 February 1904
42. Minute Book 1, Minutes, 26 August 1904, 14 October 1904
43. Minute Book 2, Minutes, 4 September 1918, 30 October 1918
44. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 16 February 1931
45. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 21 February 1931
46. See Minutes of Board meetings throughout 1931 and 1932
47. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 13 February 1933, 30 August 1934
48. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 28 February 1935, 21 September 1936
49. Barbara Fitzgerald, in a letter sent to my second cousin, Helen Crouch, in response to her request for information about Thomas Henry Brooker, 20 March 1986.
50. Magarey had died on 20 June 1906, Joseph Vardon on 20 July 1913, and Charlick on 31 July 1926. Richardson was still alive at the time of Brooker’s death, but had recently retired from the Board, and his death was recorded in the minutes of 13 August 1928.
51. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 25 August 1927, 19 December 1927, 27 January 1928, 13 February 1928, 30 May 1928, 16 July 1928
52. The wording of the inscription on Brooker’s tablet was decided upon, but not recorded in the minutes, at the meeting of the Board held on 19 December 1927. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 19 December 1927. I have been able to ascertain the wording from miscellaneous notes provided by John Bishop, grandson of HJ Bishop. These notes, some of which rely on information from the developers, indicate that in the period after the demolition of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, various items of memorabilia, including the Brooker and Bishop tablets, were stored in an old stables store on the site. However, the store is now empty and none of the parties involved with it in subsequent years have been able to shed any light on the fate of the missing items. Copies of these notes in my possession.
53. Minute Book 3, Minutes, 13 August 1928
54. Minute Book 2, Minutes, 29 April 1925; Minute Book 3, Minutes, 29 July 1927

A little history of Adelaide's Old East End Markets can be seen here

Adelaide's original East End Produce Markets