Atwell & Gunson, Fremantle C1893 – 1895.

CHARLES WILLIAM ATWELL was born in South Perth in 1870 to Henry and Sarah Phoebe Atwell nee Pusey. He was from a family of 15 children and father Henry had extensive land holdings in the City of Fremantle and surrounding areas. “Atwell Arcade” in the city centre is named in honour of the Atwell family.

After Charles left school, he joined the aerated water industry by joining local firm, Crowder & Letchford.

By the time he was 23 years old he had started his own business in Henderson street, Fremantle with partner JOHN CHARLES GUNSON. In August 1893 they applied for a gallon licence and Atwell gave his occupation as carter and Gunson stated he was a barman. They rented the Henderson street building from the trustees of the estate of T & H Carter & Co and the building had lately been occupied by Wills & Co. However, by December the partnership was dissolved and Atwell would carry on the business by himself. In 1894 he applied for a Wine and Beer Licence but by May 1895 he put his household effects up for Auction. The aerated water plant was for sale in August and the items included a corking machine, cork bottling rack, wiring stand, copper tubs, Patent stoppered bottles, beer bottles and lots of sundries. His horse, cart and harness were also included as he had now decided to go to the Goldfields prospecting.

In 1898 he was situated at the “six mile” and by 1901 he was in Leonora and the proprietor of a boarding house at 31 Tower Street. He provided beds, late suppers, light refreshments, plus iced drinks were always on hand. He applied for an Eating & Boarding House Licence in 1903 and the building was next door to the Grand Hotel.

In August 1908 Charles Atwell’s father Henry Atwell died aged 77 years in Fremantle, so Charles decided to sell up in Leonora and return to Fremantle. Henry left a large estate to his widow Sarah. Eleven children survived their father.  Charles advertised the large stone and iron roofed building in Leonora “To Let”, and it was suitable for bottling and carrying on a cool drink business in the summer months. On his return to Fremantle, he married widow Mary A Allen. Mary’s husband Hamilton Allen had applied for a spirit licence in Kanowna in 1898 and retired to Coogee, near Fremantle, where he died in 1905. Charles Atwell and Mary commenced market gardening at “Stockdale”, Coogee and then later settled at 47 Howard street in Fremantle by 1922.

He died on 11 February 1936 in Fremantle and his Obituary states, he also went to Broome and Busselton in connection with aerated waters although I have not found details of his time in these towns. No mention was made of his time in Leonora. His wife predeceased him in February 1934 and between them they left a large estate. His mother, Sarah Atwell died in 1937 and as a mark of respect the City of Fremantle ordered all public buildings in the City to fly flags at half mast.

JOHN CHARLES GUNSON arrived in Western Australia as a Government passenger with his father and step mother aboard the “Hampshire” in December 1886, from Yorkshire, England. He settled in Fremantle and in 1889 married Esther Rosetta Myers. Her father Isaac Myers, was a tailor at Fremantle Markets. Gunson was Atwell’s partner for a short time and then joined J M Ferguson’s timber yard as a sawyer. In October 1898 a piece of timber flew up from the saw and pierced his left eye which had to be removed. He and wife Esther lived in Holland Street, Fremantle and in 1903 he became a boilermaker’s assistant. However, between 1910 and 1925 he was back in his trade as a sawyer. He was secretary of the MUIOOF in 1916, a labourer in 1931 and the couple had moved to 364 Lord Street in East Perth by 1936. They lived in Shenton Park in 1943 and his wife Esther passed away in 1945. John Charles Gunson died on 13 February 1953 aged 85 years.

Atwell & Gunson had a “Lamont” shaped bottle which is rare, because the company only traded for a short period.

Author – Vivienne Sinclair.