Hubert Leslie Wood (1874-1940) was the third generation owner-operator of the General Store on High Street, Preston.
Born in 1874 Hubert Leslie lived his sixty-six years in Preston. His family was such a local institution that Wood Street, where their corner store intersected with High Street, was named for them. Hubert’s father Edward junior had succeeded his father (also named Edward) into the business of grocer, chaff and grain merchant and general storekeeper established in 1850. It was not long however before the business became such an essential community amenity that it was designated the local post and electoral office for the emerging suburb of Preston.
As a young man, Hubert waited to take over his father’s mantle. Until that point he was occupied as the librarian of the Free Library at 472 High Street, Preston. This career was to prove a happy choice as it introduced Hubert to his future wife and family ties to the library remained strong. Shortly before Edward junior died in 1907 Hubert took over running the general store and postmaster duties. Over the next decade however he continued his service to the Preston Free Library, one of three in the area.
In 1911 Hubert married a local school teacher Mary Ann Molloy. At the time Mary Ann was living at home with her railway gatekeeper father Michael and Norah Molloy. The Molloy’s were Roman Catholics of Samuel Jeffrey’s ‘Irishtown’ block in Regent Street, Preston. This original group had been in competition with the Ebenezer Particular Baptists for early domination of the new settlement. The Wood family being Baptists posed a considerable challenge when Mary Ann and Hubert began their romance. It was the Preston Library where Hubert worked, that provided a cover for the couple to meet without arousing the consternation of Mary Ann’s parents. When they were finally married after Hubert’s parents passed away, the staff at the library showed their fondness for the pair by giving them a beautifully engraved chaste silver teapot as a wedding present.
The Wood’s Store remained in the family hands for a hundred years. After Hubert’s death Mary Ann continued the business from 1941 until 1951.
Listings for members of the Wood family in High Street are as follows:
Edward senior (father)
Edward junior (Edward senior’s son)
Hubert Leslie (Edward junior’s son) m. Mary Ann Molloy
Frank Ernest (Edward junior’s son)
Mary Emily (Edward junior’s daughter aka Polly)
Victorian Pioneers Index: 1837 – 1888 [CD-ROM]. (1991). Melbourne, Australia: R.M.I.T.
Carroll, Brian & Rule, Ian (1985). Preston: an Illustrated History. Preston: City of Preston.
Forster, Harley W. (1968). Preston Lands and People. Melbourne: Cheshire.
Preston Historical Society (1968). Brief biographies of prominent Preston People. Preston, Vic: Author.