Port sewing still on track

AN oft-heard lament around Fremantle is that shops are always closing down, but one small business on Adelaide Street has been around for 135 years.

Port Sewing Centre has been serving customers in the port city since 1882.

“Singers agencies have for some time been established in almost every part of the civilised world, with the exception of this, until lately neglected and comparatively speaking, generally unknown portion of Christendom,” the Daily News reported in 1882.

“At last this reproach has been removed from us and the present representatives of the original Singer have determined to afford our wives an opportunity of procuring these highly appreciated machines at prime cost.”

It’s said an agent for Singer got off the boat with a sewing machine under his arm and headed down High Street looking for premises.

• Margaret Little, Sandi Rayment, Port Sewing Centre owner Julie Munro and Elna Clark. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

“I can see him walking past the many drinking houses and brothels,” says Julie Munro, current owner of PSC.

After a brief pause she adds; “The prostitutes would need a sewing machine to fix their clothes.”

Mrs Munro started working at PSC in 1972.

“They asked what machine I had and I said a Singer, but it wasn’t, I had no idea about sewing machines.”

She didn’t know anything about knitting machines either, but was a fast learner, going on to win industry awards for her knitting and sewing, including one for a wedding dress she made.

Almost 40 years later, when her boss Ken Bailey retired, she bought the shop.

“I had no choice if I wanted it to stay,” Mrs Munro says.

In these days of fast-fashion and cheap imports, PSC’s business isn’t what it used to be in the 70s.

“We would come in on Monday and there would be a queue waiting for you to get in.”

The shop sells, services and repairs Singer and Pfaff machines and her old boss Ken, now 84, stills helps out now and again fixing machines.

A lot of customers, including men, come in for sewing advice, and keep coming back, Mrs Munro says: “In this business you make a lot of friends, and it’s nice to be here for people.”

A number drop in a couple of times a weeks, ostensibly for quilt making.

“We come for fun, not sewing. A lot of therapy happens in this sewing room,” says Elna Clark, a Halls Head resident.

by JENNY D’ANGER

Port Sewing Centre
58 Adelaide Street

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