In the early 1920s Russian born John Kusnetzoff and his family arrived in Queensland. He later moved to NSW and joined the staff at Sanders Dairy in Florence Street, Taree as an engineer.2 In 1933, having purchased land fronting High Street, he changed his name by Deed Poll to John Peter Johnson3 and opened his own business, “The Railway Garage”.
Luck was with the Johnson family in 1937 when his wife shared in a £5,000 lottery win4 and, with the Manning River steam punt soon to be replaced by a bridge leading to Commerce Street, what better site for a service station than where Hannah McMahon’s “Steam Packet Hotel” once stood.5
Obtaining a ten-year lease on the site, John took possession of a brand-new building, which opened for business in August 1939. Constructed by Thomas Dunn, it comprised fuel bowsers, workshop, showroom, offices and a refreshment room and was named the “Bridge Service Station”.6
However, wartime restrictions constrained road transport and John appears to have surrendered his lease in 1941 following which the business passed to L H Osmond-Dreyer before the site was rented by the military.7
The Taree Motor Body and Radiator Company later occupied the premises before being evicted by the property owner, Dougal Vincent Watt, following protracted legal proceedings.8
This site remained in the ownership of the extended McMahon family until sold to Beaurepaires in 1959 (registered 1962).9
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Taree Bridge looking towards Purfleet side. 8/1939 Government Printing Office 1-27287, Original negative held by State Archives & Records Authority of NSW.
2 Manning River Times Wednesday 15 December 1937 P1
3 NSW Land Registry Services online – Vol: 4557 Fol: 51
4 Manning River Times Wednesday 15 December 1937 P1
5 Manning River Times Wednesday 9 August 1939 P3 (Supplement) and Midcoast Stories – The Steam Packet Hotel
6 Manning River Times Wednesday 9 August 1939 P3 (Supplement) and Northern Champion Saturday 15 April 1939 P4
7 Northern Champion Wednesday 3 September 1941 P2 and Northern Champion Saturday 27 July 1946 P1
8 Manning River Times Wednesday 8 September 1948 P2
9 NSW Land Registry Services online – Vol: 3968 Fol: 182 and Vol: 8378 Fol: 7