Styles' Locket

Published on Thursday, 11 April 2024 at 10:32:41 AM

Styles’ locket


The pictures shown here of the Styles Locket paints a tantalising mystery.  Who owned it and wore it for all these years.  What tales could it tell?  The locket was recently discovered on the Kalbarri rubbish tip, and found its way back to Southern Cross museum by Good Samaritan finders, Andy and Janette Sharman.

The locket is made of sterling silver and engraved on one side ‘C S Styles 53rd battery AIF 16112’, and the other side engraved ‘L E Styles AWAS 45864.’  Two photos are inside which we presume are Cecil Styles and his daughter Lesley who were Southern Cross residents for many years.

Older residents will remember Cecil Styles and his wife May who ran a drapery business where the chemist shop is today.  The family connection goes back to 1897 when Cecil’s parents came to Southern Cross to establish the business.  Cecil went to school here and finished his education at Guildford Grammar.

At the outbreak of WW1, Cecil joined the Royal Artillery, serving on the Somme and various parts of France.  He returned to the drapery trade after the war, keeping an eye on branches at Westonia and Merredin that his father had started.

In 1922 Cecil married Mabel and had two daughters, Vuna and Lesley.  His parents then retired after 27 years and returned to NSW, leaving Cecil and May with the business.  The Styles family became noted for their hospitality and congenial manners.

During the second war, Cecil again enlisted and was stationed as a guard at Ghooli pumping station, before being posted to RAAF stores section in Merredin.  May kept the home fires burning and looked after the drapery business. 

Lesley joined the Australian Woman’s Army when old enough.  Vuna married Doug Watson in 1942, a former bank Johnie and now in the RAAF, the pair returning to Southern Cross in 1949 for two years when Doug was appointed manager of the same bank.

Meanwhile Cecil and May continued operating the drapery business until 1962, before selling to Olwen and Ken Beaton who promptly built a new shop. 

The Styles’ retired to City Beach to be closer to their daughters.  They had seen Southern Cross droop several times over the years but revive again.  Both died in 1967, Mabel the first to go and Cecil a day later.

Lesley never married.  She became a gifted author and artist.  In 1955 she and two friends embarked on a working trip around Australia which lasted several years.  Unheard of in those days.  She wrote about their travels, couched in good humour which became a best seller.  Other books followed.

But Lesley’s real passion was painting.  For many years she lived at Wittenoom to capture the spectacular scenery and sunsets.  Her work was often exhibited in Perth.

But we have not yet answered the riddle of the Locket, which is now on display in the museum.  If you can help with this mystery the local historical society would love to hear from you.  

Article written by Lance Stevens

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