St Marys Fruit King Shop

Penrith City Council Logo

At this location was St Marys Fruit King shop owned by the Mercuri family.

Fruit King

Download the Fruit King poster (pdf 230kb)

The site has been always one of the busiest points on Queen Street due to the proximity of St Marys railway station across the road. The railway line to St Marys was opened in May 1862.

St Marys Fruit King Shop

St Marys Fruit King Shop
Unknown photographer and date
Source: Penrith City Library Photography Collection

St Marys Fruit King shop

This location was known as the St Marys Fruit King shop that was owned by the Mercuri family, along with another fruit and vegetable shop located at 86 Queen Street. The site has been always one of the busiest points on Queen Street due to the proximity of the St Marys Railway Station and Parcels Office across the road. The railway line to St Marys was opened in May 1862 and its importance to transport, goods distribution, the local economy and overall development of the street and suburb was immeasurable. 

St Marys Railway Line

The railway line to St Marys opened in May 1862, with the original station being a siding. The waiting room to the central platform and the parcels office are both brick. The parcels office features semicircular window arches, and heavy timber doors and lintels. Cattle saleyards and saw mills surrounded the station, providing easy access to the railway line.

The station was originally named South Creek but was renamed St Marys in August 1885 after the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church. The name “St Marys” also first appeared in the public traintimetable of 1 August, 1885, replacing the old “South Creek”. 

The first electric train into St Marys was the official train bearing the Premier of NSW, the Hon. J J Cahill, M.L.A., the Minister for Transport, Mr E Wetherell, the Commissioner for Railways, Mr R Winsor, and other officials (Mr A Luchetti, M.L.A., Mr R Wheeler, M.L.A., Mr G Bate, M.L.A.).

The train departed from Central Station at 9.03 a.m. on Saturday, October 8, 1955 and arrived at St Marys at 10:15 a.m. when, after a ribbon cutting ceremony, it proceeded to Penrith. (Ref. from Eugenie Stapleton’s book – “Old Times Old Tales”).

St Marys Railway Station

Railway photographs St Marys Station
April 1953, unknown photographer
Source: State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales

Interview with Caroline Volkiene

Video Transcript

My name is Caroline Volkiene, I am retired and I’m the president of the St Marys and District Historical Society.

My mother is a descendent of the Hackett Family, that’s one of the old families in St Marys. I was brought up in a duration cottage which was built for the World War II workers in the ammunitions factory.

It sounds very silly, but to buy fruit, that’s my connection with the Fruit King Shop and just by where it’s sighted, which is opposite the railway station.  It was quite convenient when I travelled or like to catch a train to work or coming home - you’d go past the fruit shop and therefore you could pick up fruit and veggies, whatever you needed at the time.

During my time growing up all the fruit shops usually got their fruit from the local orchards, Orchard Hills, they had beautiful Muscat Grapes there. They also had vegetables, potatoes, carrots, they were all brought in locally. They also had fruit that was perfect and they also had spec fruit. Spec fruit or vegetables, had either a mark or a funny shape but they were also a lot cheaper so families who were finding it a bit tough would buy the spec fruit which tasted just as good. I remember one time that our neighbour across the road, they were a large family and mum and this lady they pooled their money and they made a huge pot of soup which fed the lot of us. 

There were hard times back then. I know we always say we have really fond memories and what great times it was but I must admit there were also hard times.  The matter was how the people of the time met those hard times made a difference. They did get in and help each other without making a great fuss about it.

At Christmas time, my aunties and my mum would take us kids on the train, into either Broadway or Central and there was Anthony Horderns or there was Waltons at Broadway and we would go in to see Santa Clause and of course that is when they did some of the shopping for Christmas as well.

I have to say, that it wasn’t normal to catch a train when you were little, you only did that on special occasions if you were visiting someone important like grandparents or something like that. Best clothes, hat, gloves, even when I was little you still had a little hat that you’d put on your head.

The train experience was part of the whole experience because you didn’t go on the train very often.

Researcher: Caroline Volkiene

Caroline Volkiene Hackett Descendant 

Caroline is a descendant of the Hackett family, one of the older families in St Marys. 

Caroline grew up in one of the “Duration Cottages” at the highway end of Carinya Ave.

Born and raised in St Marys she attended St Marys Public School then St Marys High School.  For many years Caroline was a student at the local Cuckson’s Bodenwieser School of Dance.  She also attended Sunday School and Church in the old Methodist Church that once stood on Queen Street.  

In 1972 Caroline was married there - the marriage ceremony was the last one performed as the church was demolished later that year.  Her wedding reception was held in Sirrah House (now the Major Oak).  The couple bought a home in South St Marys and raised three children there.  During these growing years the children participated in rugby league, softball, netball and music. They also became involved by helping out in the steak/drinks tent and later on various committees or as coaches, scorers and referees/umpires. Caroline’s working career was in Office Administration.  

Caroline is a member of St Marys & District Historical Society and enjoys the many shared memories about growing up in St Marys.  By recording and sharing these stories, photographs and memorabilia of those past St Marians’ she believes it helps keep alive the spirit of the many people who have contributed and believed in this place. 

Caroline is particularly interested in sharing memories of her growing up in St Marys during the 1950s and 1960s as it was a very special time. 

Back to QSRT 2018 - Windows on Queen Project