Lifestyle

History behind Fernvale Bakery

PIECE OF HISTORY: Prain’s Motors, which stood where the Old Fernvale Bakery stands today, was proudly opened by Harold Norman Prain and his wife, Lorraine, in 1946.
PIECE OF HISTORY: Prain’s Motors, which stood where the Old Fernvale Bakery stands today, was proudly opened by Harold Norman Prain and his wife, Lorraine, in 1946. Contributed

IF THE timber roof bearers of the Old Fernvale Bakery cafe today could talk, what a story they would tell.

One of the many ex-servicemen who battled the hardships of post-war Queensland and yet managed to build one of Fernvale's most respected and successful businesses in the town's main street.

Harold Norman Prain, known as Curl Prain, was a young man of 27 when he was demobbed from the 2nd/34th Australian Corps Troops Supply Column, in 1946 after having serviced in two theatres of war - the Middle East and New Guinea.

He returned to the Glamorganvale Hotel where his young bride Lorraine lived with her parents, Walter and Annie Spreadborough who were then the licensees of the hotel.

"Curl immediately started to make plans for our future," the now 89-year-old Mrs Prain recalled of her late husband.

"He had noted that there was no mechanical workshop or service station between Ipswich and Esk and decided that Fernvale was an ideal spot for such a business."

Curl sought property in Fernvale and paid 600 pounds in cash for a corner block of land which sat at the corner of the Brisbane Valley Hwy and Simpson Rd, as it is known now.

It was owned by the Ehrich family late of Fairney View.

"There were also two blocks of land in separate deeds at the back adjacent the local hall," Mrs Prain said.

"The house wasn't in good state - most of the windows were broken.

"To a young bride, it didn't look very appealing at all, but I loved and trusted Curl and I knew with his skills it could be improved."

And so Curl got to work, hastily drawing up plans with his own hand to put forward to the Esk Shire Council for approval.

"We had many a run in with the council over the plans and years later too when additions were made," Mrs Prain said.

Mrs Prain said in those post war times building materials were scarce, so her husband attended every farm sale he could to obtain timber and roofing iron.

He also made special trips to the Army Navy Airforce Surplus sales in Brisbane and auctions to develop his tool kit, and at times had to fashion his own tools.

The Old Fernvale Bakery Country Cafe in the main street of town.
The Old Fernvale Bakery Country Cafe in the main street of town.

"Timber wasn't easy to come by and the saw mill struggled to try and keep up with the demand after the war," she said.

Andrew Denning, who owned the local sawmill, cut high beams for the roof of the garage, which is the only remaining trace of the garage still visible inside what is now known as the Old Fernvale Bakery Cafe.

After facing a small set back of being hospitalised after crashing his motorbike and injuring his knee, Curl was then able to begin building the garage with the help of his father-in-law, Walter, brother-in-law, Sid and his own brother, Ron.

"They often laughed in later years remembering that the garage was built by an ex-soldier with a crippled and very painful knee, my father, and two unreliable 14-year-old boys," she said.

"They complained regularly of how tired they were and how they couldn't carry on but then, the next minute, we would see them both walking down towards the river with a heavy corrugated iron canoe on their heads."

It was a proud day for Curl, some months later, when his family stood back and admired the finished product - Prain's Motors.

Fuel pumps were subsequently installed and Curl became the petrol agent for Atlantic Oils.

Mrs Prain said many local farmers and graziers populated the Fernvale region, and a huge bulk of her husband's work was attending breakdowns of their milking machines and irrigation systems on the various river banks - the Twin Bridges, the Wivenhoe and the Northbrook River, both now lost to the Wivenhoe Dam.

"He was a very skilled mechanic and was honest and reliable and soon built up a solid good clientele among the famers and property owners in the wider community area," Mrs Prain said.

With his one-man business well and truly off the ground, Curl delved into the world of dealing in new and used cars.

Some time after August 1952, Curl built a small cafe next to the house.

"I ran that myself and used to enjoy our day in Brisbane every Monday when we would go to the wholesaler to buy supplies," Mrs Prain said.

Together the couple raised six children in Fernvale - Lorraine, David, Mark, Debbie, Leah and Paul.

"I'm sure our children have fond memories of their young life in Fernvale - free and easy," she said.

"What we lacked in money was made up for in love."

Harold ‘Curl’ Prain stands in front of his Fernvale home, which was built next to the garage, with wife Lorraine and sister-in-law Athole.
Harold ‘Curl’ Prain stands in front of his Fernvale home, which was built next to the garage, with wife Lorraine and sister-in-law Athole.

Topics:  old fernvale bakery



'It's been extremely dry': Farmers desperate for rain

Ross McInnes Harrisville dairy farmer.

Almost no rain has been recorded by the Amberley weather station

'Milk wars' loom again after dramatic drop in branded sales

Tweed valley Dairy farmer, Ron Stoddart attends to his cows for the afternoon milking session. Stoddart Farm has a new Dairying syteme where the cows are miked and fed at the same time.

"If consumers want to help, please don't buy the $1 milk."

Repeat offender's crime spree nets Porsche, Audi and a flute

IN COURT: Harley Lee Scrivener pleaded guilty to a string of property offences.

Crim out of jail less than two months before going on a crime spree

Local Partners

Binge-watching services can kill: study

Study finds binge-watchers at higher risk of inflammatory-related death

Use sugar tax to offset costs of better foods

woman eating junk food in the couch.

Use tax to subsidise cost of healthier, whole foods

Temps are rising and dogs are still being left in cars

Dogs shouldn't be left in cars or on the back of utes: RSPCA.

Despite all the warnings dogs are still being left in cars

Teenagers distracting their drivers

Texting while driving. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily

RACQ study reveals 85% of respondents are distracting passengers.

Angela's show explores funny side of heartbreak

BRIGHTER SIDE: Toowoomba woman Angela Ponting has created a cabaret called Smiling at Strangers, about life after heartbreak.

Using heartbreak as inspiration for her very own cabaret show.

Our dads, brothers, grandfathers, partners, friends at risk

Our dads, brothers, grandfathers, partners and friends are at risk

Mum defies the odds with miracle babies

FAMILY TIME: Amy Slapp, holding Lochlan, with Declan, Olivia and Abigail take some time out at home meeting the newest addition to their family.

'I'd been through it once before so this time wasn't as daunting'