Search billions of records on

Royal Arcade, Timaru - revamped

The arcade got its roof in 1996. The shops in there have all been updated so don't look 'old' anymore. Willmotts is the only shop with history still operating.
Looks like the hoops under the window sills were used for hanging baskets recently.

Timaru Herald 24/10/2007
Timaru's Royal Arcade is undergoing a revamp. In the last eight months a number of new stores have opened in the walkway off Stafford Street to sport a fresher, brighter and more sophisticated shopping selection. When something has lost its glory to get it back is quite hard, it's like trying to enthuse someone about a car they used to own. "The arcade has been a bit run down and people have been a bit negative. Now you could walk down Queen Street and it wouldn't be out of place." Christchurch property investor Shaun Stockman, owner of a number of the buildings in the arcade, said he decided to take on the arcade because it was unique and had a lot character and heritage. "People are realising this is quite an unusual arcade and its something to be cherished." photo

The redesigned Royal Arcade was opened on the 31st Day of May 1996 by his worship the Mayor Wynne Raymond.

Timaru Herald 10 June 2010
Willmotts Workwear, the firm, is undoubtedly a Timaru icon, fondly regarded by generations of South Canterbury residents. Founded by by the late Walter (Wattie) Willmott on September 11, 1930 and it has continued to thrive in the Royal Arcade; a friendly and welcoming reminder of the department stores of old. First impressions count and the initial one stepping across the threshold of Willmotts Royal Arcade shop is one of warmth and welcome. Already "toasty" - courtesy of a powerful heater - at 9am on a frosty Timaru morning, Willmotts' small store exudes an atmosphere that disappeared long ago in most large towns. Richly coloured, well trodden native timber flooring complements the no-nonsense nature of the products on display - unashamedly designed for comfort first. Willmotts' slogan: The working man's friend, is apt indeed. Racks and shelves of clothing and outdoor accessories fill the store nicely without overcrowding it with a pleasant hint of the scent of real leather. Walter Willmott was a New Zealand track cycling champion for several years and a keen sportsman. In these somewhat uncertain times businesses come and go with alarming frequency. Not so with Willmotts Workwear in the Royal Arcade as the firm looks forward to its 80th anniversary with confidence having survived and thrived in a difficult economic environment. The owner and director, Rob Willmott is justifiably proud of the of the items stocked are of New Zealand origin and design, including jerseys and merino thermals. Willmotts has adapted to modern times.

New Zealand Tablet, 30 March 1888, Page 15
The exodus to Victoria from New Zealand has lately affected Timaru, many young men and whole families having left for Melbourne during the month. Two wealthy colonists, also residing here for many years, are about to sell off and go to the Old Country. They are Messrs. M. J. Godby, of Timaru, and W. S. Armitage, of Otaio.
    While chronicling such circumstances it is cheering, and, indeed, reassuring to notice that one of Timaru's most astute and respected townsmen, is giving evidence of the faith which he has in the future stability of Timaru by the boldness and pluck with which he is pushing on the building operations of the day dream of his long-conceived vision. Ross Royal Arcade. The gentleman I allude to is Mr D.M. Ross, commission agent and notary public, and one of the early pioneers of Timaru. Mr. Ross, with a keen foresight and prudence characteristic of the man, means to complete his scheme of building the Arcade through, from the main South road to the Post and Telegraph office, and has at present large contracts in hand to carry out his design. The Herald office, a large two storey brick building, stands at the Post office end on the North side of the Arcade footway, the Friendly Societies' Dispensary being in a line separated by an 18ft. way. At the Main South Road end is a large two-storey building with commodious cellar accommodation, which is occupied by Priest and Holgate as an ironmonger's store. When both lines shall have been finished, the town will be greatly improved by the solid building in its centre affording to business people with an eye on Timaru splendid chances of obtaining suitable premises, and to the enterprising owner a legitimate channel to invest the capital which ha has acquired by his own thrift, and speculative genius, in the place where Dame Fortune has smiled upon him, where he has cast his lot, and, where be will, doubtless, be satisfied to stand by his guns till he hand in his cheque.   

Did those vanishing, hand painted brick-wall advertisem​ents have a name? Ghost signs.

Piano organ [at the top]
 McCormick Reapers & Mowers
Duncan's implements

   Ladies & Childs outfitter.
The noted Baby Linen.

Timaru Herald, 6 July 1888, Page 4 THE ROYAL ARCADE.
It is now some months since it was announced in these columns that the foundations for the pile of new buildings in the centre of Ross' Royal Arcade had been laid, and as the Arcade is most convenient to the public, everyone has had an opportunity of watching operations as they proceeded from day to day. Building has been briskly carried on, and it now remains for us to note the fact that the block at present is complete, and is one more substantial addition to the handsome business places in Timaru. Turning in from the Main thoroughfare of the town, towards the Government buildings, the splendid warehouse occupied by Messrs Priest and Holdgate, towers above on the southern corner, and walking on to a neatly asphalted way the "long gallery lined with shops on both sides" is entered. Coming to the new premises, and entering by the main doors, the visitor bent on seeing everything inside and out, is first of all conducted to the cellar. Suggestive word ; which at once makes one smack his lips at the prospect of receiving a glass of Speight's light sparkling XXX., or Ayala's " leading wine," but in this case such " refreshers" are wanting — the cellar is to be merely used for documental and other storage. Rising in the centre of this cellar are the foundations of the strong room, sunk to the depth of 15 feet from the ground line, and built of solid bluestone masonry and concrete. Cross drains are cut and the drainage from above is led down to the sewer and is most complete. Ascending to the ground floor, the large office in which the business of the Timaru Building Society, the Victoria Insurance Society, and other commercial and commission branches are carried on, is entered. The furnishings are all first class, the desks, tables, &c, being most conveniently arranged. The lighting of the arcade frontage is good, and the back wall is pierced with large lights, inside of which is fitted the customary vertical iron bars. The walls are plastered throughout, the deep cornice being especially handsome, relieved as it is m the interior bressummer by massive and beautifully carved cedar brackets. Facing on this office is one of " Howard's Safety " strong rooms, the door of which is 5ft by 4ft. This room was specially designed by Mr Ross, and is exceptionally strong and fire proof. It is laced with bolts and T iron braces, the iron shelves being formed of heavy wrought iron plates from the ill-starred ship Benvenue, whose history is linked with that of the "fatal and memorable 14th May." Three feet of concrete has been put in as a crown to this room, the unity of iron, bluestone and concrete, thus making a strong room, which is, in the absence be far of the crucial test, justly reckoned to be among the finest in the colony. Glancing aloft as this office is vacated it is seen that a Wenham lamp has been hung for use at night, this, like other equipments, being well in keeping with the whole. Passing out to the entrance hall to the left of the main doors, Mr Ross' suite of offices is entered, wherein is conducted the Timaru agency of the Public Trust, Land Transfer, etc. The waiting room is small but compact, and a petite slip panel on the door indicates whether Mr Ross is engaged or disengaged. If the latter the visitor goes straight in, and finds himself in about as cosy a room as can well be imagined. The furniture is excellent, and complete ; and small private safes built into the strong room, are evidence that the various documents of an important business are kept m places of perfect safety. This office is also in touch with the public offices, by means of a large door in the strong room, a door in the partition walls being thus done away with. Like the other offices the ventilation and lighting are perfect. Going out once more to the entrance hall, the staircase to the first floor is reached, and the information elicited that Mr Ferrier, the well known photographic artist, has taken a lease of the southern flat. This comprises a spacious reception room, and a studio, 30 feet long by 21 feet wide. As to size it is among the best in Canterbury. The area of ground glass in the roof is 24 feet by 14 feet, and this glass is so laid on the rafters that leakage is impossible, each timber in the roof being so grooved as to effectually act as a drain if necessary. Off the studio are a dressing and " dark " room, the former of which will be tastefully furnished, and the latter so arranged as to do excellent work. Near by are a work room, and a printing room, which are to be fitted with the most modern appliances that have made the art of photography so very popular m recent years. The printing room has a large special ceiling light, so that printing can be successfully done in all weathers. Divided from the rooms just described, by the staircase, the well; of which is by the bye remarkably well lit by a large skylight, are two other offices which complete the suite at the command of Messrs Ross, Sims and Co. One of these is to be used as a " Board room " by the directors of the Building Society, and other bodies with which the firm is associated. The room is comfortable and should answer its purpose admirably. Crossing the Arcade the shops on the southern frontage next claim attention. One is being specially fitted up for Mr Toshach, teacher of music, and should be most convenient ; the others are in a delightful state of chaos, and will not be out of the hands of the artisans for some days. The buildings have a frontage on the Arcade of 43 feet, and run back a depth of 30 feet. The walls are of brick, with the exception of that to the offices, which are of bluestone, and two feet thick on the ground floor. A special feature of the buildings is that the whole of them are almost absolutely fireproof. It is Mr Ross' intention to have the Arcade arched with glass, and to have its name Royal Arcade prominently displayed. Possibly in the very near future other buildings will be erected, and as they will be in keeping with the present block, the Arcade will be something for Timaru to be most proud of. Certain it is that more complete premises as regards structure, drainage, ventilation, lighting, etc, are not to be found in the colony. In concluding it is worthy of note that the buildings were planned and carried out under the personal supervision of Mr Ross, who has all along spared neither trouble, time nor expense. The stone work was entrusted to Mr McBride ; the bricklaying to Mr Emil Hall ; the plastering to Messrs Oldrey and Guthrie ; the joiner's work to Messrs Tooth and Pearson ; the painting to Mr Murdoch ; the plumbing to Mr Forbes, and the signwriting to Mr Dickenson, all of whom carried out, their duties in a manner that has given the greatest satisfaction.

Timaru Herald page 1

Timaru Herald, 10 August 1888, Page 2
A further alteration in the appearance of Ross's royal arcade is now in progress. Builders yesterday commenced pulling down the wall on the Arcade of Ross, Sims and Co's old office, preparatory to erecting a new one, with a large window towards the Arcade.

Timaru Borough Empowering


D. West 

Arcade Chambers 1907 

Poverty Bay Herald, 3 September 1892, Page 2
Timaru, To-day. D. M. Ross, ex-Mayor, late Deputy Assignee and agent of the Public Trustee was convicted after four days hearing of the several charges of fraud under the penal clause of the Bankruptcy Act, and sentenced to nine months hard labor. Judge Ward said for the last twelve years Ross had been a perfect pest to the district, and he wondered how anyone trusted him coming from Dunedin with such a record as he did.

Timaru Herald, 29 February 1908, Page 5 MR.EMIL HALL.
An old and respected resident of Timaru and an older colonist, Mr Emil Hall, passed away suddenly yesterday morning, in his seventieth year. Mr Hall had a serious illness, a couple of years ago from which he never quite recovered, though he became able to get about and attend to business again. He got up as usual yesterday morning, and was engaged on something at the house, when, he told Mrs Hall he did not, feel well, and he lay down on his bed and shortly afterwards was found to have died, without any further, warning. The deceased was a native of Denmark, and was brought up to the building trade. He came out to Victoria in 1858, and went to the diggings. Nine years later he crossed over to Hokitika, and spent ten or eleven years on the West. Coast, as digger, builder, and hotelkeeper. He then crossed the ranges and settled in Timaru, and returning to his original occupation gained a good standing as as builder, several of the larger buildings in Timaru having been erected by him. Some time ago he took his sons into partnership, and they are now carrying out the erection of the big brick wool stores for the Farmers' Association, on Heaton street. Mr Hall did not take an active part in public life, but. he was a valued member of the Caledonian Society. He leaves a widow, two sons and three daughters, all married but one daughter. The funeral takes place tomorrow afternoon.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project