History of Grain Corp in St. James

The St James Silo Art – GJ Coles Story

In 1882 George Coles Snr married his wife Elizabeth and purchased his first store at the North Eastern St James. He soon opened a second store four miles away in Lake Rowan. They traded mainly farming equipment.Elizabeth and George’s first son was born in 1885 and following tradition, they named him George James. George and Elizabeth would have 10 children and all would attend school in St James. Tragically Elizabeth died in 1900 and in 1902 George sold his two stores and moved to Geelong.

But in 1905 George returned again and re-purchased the North Eastern St James and Lake Rowan stores. George James Jnr (GJ) helped his father in the store but left as he wanted to pursue new methods of shopkeeping. A year later with George’s health fading, he sold the St James store to his son GJ Coles.

In 1913 GJ Coles sold his St James Store and went for a trip around the world to discover the best ways to run a business. In England he studied the Woolworths 3d and 6d stores and Marks and Spencers 1d stores.Together with his brother Jim they opened their first 3d, 6d and 1 shilling store in Australia at 288 Smith Street, Collingwood. Sadly, Jim was killed in the first world war along with GJ’s other brother Dave. GJ himself was wounded in France.

Upon his return GJ opened another store with another brother AW Coles at 172 Smith Street, Collingwood. From there the business grew from 100 pounds in 1914 to 1,132 million dollars in 1972.

GJ Coles never forgot where he came from and returned many times to St James to visit family and friends.The company Coles also made a generous donation towards the St James Silo Art Project.

Beautiful autumn colours finished the picture šŸ¤©


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