Wing Hing & Co
The great commute
During the 1800s ‘free’ Chinese immigrants came to Australia to earn money to support their families back home.
Gock Sek was the second generation to make this great commute. The gold rushes leading him to Western Australia where he helped establish Wing Hing & Co in James Street in 1897.
Founded by men from the Gock Clan and Pearl River Delta region, business partnerships like this were common. Interests being bought and sold as people returned to China with their savings.
Looking north along William Street, about 1890. The Busy Bee Drapery can be seen on the left, soon to be home to Wing Hing & Co and one of the first shopping arcades in Perth.
Courtesy State Library of Western Australia b2536764_1
Wing Hing & Co was established on the purchase of existing Chinese grocers On Lee & Co in 1897.
Courtesy The West Australian, 6 May 1897
In the early 1900s Sek too travelled back to China, recruiting his brother William Gock Ming to look after his Perth affairs. When Sek died several years later, Ming took over his portion of Wing Hing & Co.
The fruiterers and greengrocers flourished under Ming’s management and moved to larger, prominent premises at the Busy Bee Arcade around 1909.
The James Street shop front of Wing Hing & Co’s premises in the Busy Bee Arcade, 1932.
Courtesy Chung Wah Association and Wong Sue family
Here, the display windows of the store dominated the William Street corner. Above were the living quarters of the owners and staff and to the rear two gas ripening rooms for the bananas imported from Java and a furnace and a revolving iron drum for roasting peanuts imported from China. Adjoining shops in James Street were also used to pack goods for wholesale and export.
Wing Hing & Co’s prominent window display at the corner of James and William Streets was the subject of several compliments.
Courtesy Call News-Pictorial, 17 January 1930
The business became a registered company in 1923 and Ming sold his shares to return to China and his responsibilities as eldest surviving son. He, his wife Mabel and their four children left Perth in 1925.
Wing Hing & Co continued to operate until the 1940s.
'…men worked overseas and remitted money to their families for their support. Usually, the first time they returned home they got married. The second time, they built a house. By the third time, they started investing in rice fields to provide for their old age.' - Leung Pui, South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices, 2022
Wing Hing & Co
Originally on the corner of William Street and James Street, Northbridge
With thanks to the Gock Ming family, Chung Wah Association and Kaylene Poon