History Matters: Mackenzies - from department stores to munitions and motors

The team: The staff at Mackenzie Motors circa 1950.
The team: The staff at Mackenzie Motors circa 1950.

The first M C Mackenzie and Sons store opened in Aberdeen, NSW in 1863.

A hundred years later they had stores at Deepwater, Glen Innes, Manilla, Barraba and Upper Horton;

Mackenzie Motors at Manilla and Glen Innes and the Glen Innes Brick and Tile Company.

Many people will have special memories of Mackenzies department store  in Glen Innes – haberdashery,

manchester, showroom, the stairs to furniture and the Santa Claus model “playing” the organ at Christmas.

But, who knew, just down the road, they were once involved in making munitions?

About 1923-24 the post-war growing motor industry encouraged M C Mackenzie and Co. Glen Innes to sell Morris passenger and commercial vehicles. The brick workshop was erected at the rear of the store premises and the “showroom” was the Machinery Department window in Bourke Street.

It is told that a keen salesman once sold a Morris Tourer by demonstrating the freedom from engine vibration with a tumbler of water balanced on the radiator cap – Plymouth was later added to the agency and it was in 1937 that the firm was offered the General Motors franchise.

A new company, Mackenzie Motors Pty Ltd was formed, and purchased the garage business on the corner of Grey and Wentworth  streets conducted by the late J W Kennedy.

The building was enlarged and added to until the present stage [1963] was reached.

The new company had hardly settled down to business when World War II dried up the sale of vehicles, parts, petrol etc.

Various war effort contracts were undertaken, including the machining of gas mixing valves for the wire drawing furnace of Ryland Brothers at Newcastle. 

Bren carrier parts for the Munitions Department were also made by the thousands  and at times two lathes were working three shifts.

After the war came the task of allocating the small trickle of new vehicles that were made available.

In November 1962  the company was presented with a bronze plaque by General Motors Holden Ltd., to mark the completion of 25 years’ continuous association…..”

From “100 Years of Progress, 1863 – 1963  –  M C Mackenzie and Sons Pty Ltd. A Centenary Souvenir” Joe Wood is third from the right at the back – who are the others?