William Arthur Hughes known as Bill was born at Balmain, New South Wales, on the 6th. February 1890, and as a boy, delivered meat around the area on horseback for his father who owned the first butcher shop in Balmain.
Bill left school at an early age and went to work in a boot factory in Redfern where he learnt his trade as a bootmaker and repairer.
He opened his first shop in Glebe in the early 1920’s, moved to Leichhardt in 1929, then in 1932 moving again, he came to live in Riverstone with his wife and family of six children, two boys and four girls.
Living in the old slab house also known as “The White House” on the Western side of the Eastern Creek, Garfield Road, the family were flooded out many times. The Hanna family who also lived on that side of the creek owned this old house. The rent was Two Shillings (Twenty Cents) per week.
Employed by the Blacktown Council, Bill worked two days one week and three days the next week repairing relief workers boots, this was a type of working for the dole during the depression of the early 1930’s.
He opened his Riverstone shop in 1934 in the main street, Garfield Road, selling and repairing all footwear. Here there were two semi-detached shops built of mud bricks and owned by Mrs. Connie Moulds. Connie lived behind the shops and at the back of her house she had her trotting horse stables. Bill Hughes together with Dr. Brim Carroll and Wally Cornwell of Riverstone were silent partners with Laurie Moulds in the ownership of two trotters namely Derby Commerce and Machine Wood, they were trained and driven by Laurie Moulds, Connie’s son. Machine Wood won a race on the first night of night trotting following the War of 1939-1945. The old boot shop was a stopover for many who wanted a yam about trotters and the doings of the meat works. The shop was situated just above the Motor Service Station of W.R Nichols. (See the accompanying photograph) Mrs. Harris who also lived across the Eastern Creek had a “fish and chips” business in the second shop on the topside.
The eldest son Jim, worked with his father in the boot shop until 1940 when he joined The Royal Australian Air Force. Following Jim’s return after the War he wasn’t interested in working in the boot shop, so “Old Bill” as he was known by now, continued on alone until failing health caused his retirement in 1954. A quite family man liked and respected by all who knew him he passed away in 1956, aged 66 years.
Written by his daughter, Mrs. Anne M. Staib. March 2002