Along Stafford Street's northern end

The Perfection Series A.J. Fyfe Bookseller and Stationer Timaru
The Stafford Street at the corner of Church St, the Old Bank Pub on the left. Beckingham Co. Ltd. Furniture Shop, Sign Painters Dephoff & Lewis House Decorators. N.Z. Government Life and Accident Insurance. Sutherlands Building. On the back, typed, The Perfection Series. Published by A.J. Fyfe, Bookseller and Stationer, Timaru. A Barnes dance crossing is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. There is one at  the intersection of  Stafford/ Strathallan Street/Church streets, the only one in the South Island.

Walk - Tekapo Buildings - JR Bruce Ltd wind damage

The Timaru Herald  Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Trevor Griffiths continues his occasional series of memories of the Timaru of his younger days. Here, he turns his attention to the northern end of Stafford Street. Obviously there have been many changes made in the northern end of Stafford Street since I was a boy in the 1930s and of course because there will always be change there will be more in the future. On the corner of Church and Stafford streets stands the Old Bank Hotel. It has seen many events over the term of its existence and no doubt many proprietors. Its name comes from an old Bank of New Zealand that was sited there from the earliest days. Next to it was the ladieswear shop of Miss Tovey, which in more recent times was known as Mavis Forde Fashions. Beside it was Faulks and Jordon chemists and nearby Brownies shoe store for fine footwear.

I am not quite certain about the sequence of the next group but Self Help grocery was close by. You may think that the large supermarkets have all the new ideas but Self Help had a chain of shops right across New Zealand where the customer selected their groceries and took them to the counter to be packaged.

Porter and Dawsons was a fascinating gift shop of every conceivable type of gift. Many people sought their help for the choice of wedding or birthday presents. On one occasion we purchased a gift there and somehow we paid a little too much. Later Tim met me at a meeting and gave me an envelope containing a few coins. Not to be outdone I returned the compliment and for several years we exchanged coins in this way.

Millers Fashions was a hugely popular shop in the 40s and 50s. Their clothes and materials were always reasonably priced, which suited the customers of the time after the Depression and the Second World War.

Next along the street came Woolworths and McKenzies, both stores being reasonably similar in their wares. The main advantage for the customers, their goods were about the cheapest in town. Laid out in a similar manner there were counters along both sides of the stores with a space behind for the attendant to serve the customers while in the centre of both shops ran double counters with attendants in the middle. They could be termed general stores. We hear so much today about faulty goods being imported from China. In those pre-war days our country was swamped with inferior goods from Japan. In fact, the railway engines of the time carried signs painted in yellow "Buy New Zealand made goods". After earning a little money I decided I would buy a pair of white sand-shoes. They were new and cost me one shilling and sixpence. Two weeks later my toes were through the sole. With much trepidation I took them back and was very happy when they replaced them for me.

Across the small access driveway came T and J Thomsons Department store. It was a large area at that time and had an excellent reputation for quality goods. My brother Colin joined the men's department when he left Boys High School in 1934 and then joined the army in 1939. For two weeks one Christmas I joined him there as a parcel boy.

I believe the next business was S A Bremfords photography shop. Sid Bremford was a shortish, well-built man whose black hair was well groomed and was always known for his smile. He was also a photographer for The Timaru Herald and did splendid work for weddings and portraits.

Next came the United Friendly Society's pharmacy, affectionately known as the UFS. In charge of it was AES Hanan who was mayor of Timaru for quite a period. I can still see him out on the footpath talking to people in the most friendly manner. To him fell the position of mayor during the years of the Second World War. The footwear store of Souters was quite a large area and handled a fine stock of well-made shoes. Next to it came the Regent Theatre, the fourth of the group. There was a time when all four theatres would be well attended. In those seemingly carefree days of our youth the major amusements were the picture theatres and the dance halls. A long way from the pastimes of the young people of today.

Lewis and Sons, a paint and glass business on the left. Probably a Goodall postcard photo.
1970s. Looks like a Gladys Goodall postcard. 2011  F. Lewis & Sons (glass and paint suppliers to the left), Newman's Pianos, Souters Shoe Store, Brownies Shoe Store, Oddies the Chemist, Faulks & Jordon (chemist), Porters shop near where Woolworths and McKenzies were located. Desmond Unwin (builders) and Hervey Motors (Sefton St.- used to to the old Vauxhalls and Holden's serviced there by Henry Tapp) have all gone.

McKirdys Grocery was further along from the Regent and they too were popular suppliers of groceries to the townspeople. I believe Whitehouse's hairdressers for men were close by. George, a dapper little gentleman, and his son Basil tended to the requests of the district's men folk when mostly the demand was for "short back and sides please".

Also in this area was the Para Rubber shop, which offered all sorts of rubber goods for the home and of course if you required a pair of gumboots this was the store to frequent. I believe the Para Rubber Company had many outlets all over the country and behind the scenes it was the Skellerup Industries that manufactured most of the items sold by them.

A little further on came Miss Goddard Furrier who supplied fur coats and fur stoles and other items to those who could afford them. Like hat shops, furriers have disappeared from our view. Tucked in next was Lowe's Fruit Shop, where the Lowe family functioned for many years. Of Chinese origin, the two boys, Paul and Keith, attended the Main School and took an active part in the affairs of the community.

1950s

On or near the corner of Canon and Stafford streets LA Waters Optician operated for many years and was well-known within our town's community. Now we cross Canon Street and arrive at one of the oldest surviving men's and ladies' outfitters in our city. This was and still is J. Ballantyne and Co. Ltd and of course is a subsidiary of the parent firm in Christchurch. They have the knack of supplying top-quality goods even though they also have a top-quality price.

Originally the Timaru building was a very solid two-storeyed store which leaned towards an earlier time in its decor and outlook and curiously there was quite a large empty section on its northern side. For many years you would walk past a six foot iron fence which obscured it from view. When the old building was demolished the company spread its operations across this empty area and today the excellent new building has two storeys.

Stafford St. north, looking south looking towards the Cannon St. intersection. Photo taken December 2007 by Margaret Todd. Ballantynes on the left.  It takes about two weekends for Netcon to put up the Timaru Christmas lights. The lights are more than 30 years old and are unique to the town. The council owns the glass fibre moulds the angels are made from and several new ones were made about 10 years ago, to replace the large plastic balls that had been used as the centrepiece of several of the decorative strings. 

The next shop in line was Grant Russells florist shop, which he operated during the 40s to the 60s. He was a tough little business man who called a spade a spade. Above this floral haven was Sammy Moore's milk bar, already previously mentioned. Above again was Watsons Hairdressers and Tobacconists. I frequented this shop only a few times but on one occasion I saw the proprietor receive quite a sum of money and tuck it away in a drawer, which was not the cash register.

I believe there was another fruiterer before we reach the Dominion Hotel, which in its heyday served the local citizens and the travelling public with distinction. For some peculiar reason in recent years it has not functioned as a hotel should.

Across the end of Sefton Street stands a sad example of man's inability to make decisions. I mean the Hydro Grand Hotel. It sits on what could probably be called the prime site of Timaru. It does occupy the highest point along the coastal frontage of the city and the views alone of the sea and coastline, the mountains to the north-west and south-west would make many hoteliers in other cities of this country green with envy. Apart from its superlative situation and having been occupied by the Richard Pearse Tavern for a short time, there appears to have been nothing done for some years. It saddens me and no doubt many others as well to see this grand old structure neglected. If it does nothing else it surely proves the saying that "procrastination is the thief of time".

Just north of the Grand was situated Seaview House, a private boarding establishment. No doubt some of its occupants after a night out would realise that the magnificent view across the bay and harbour would brighten their "morning after" feeling. I am not quite sure of the position of Tommy Thomson's residence but I believe it to have been next. He was a well-known businessman and was known to walk down past the Grand on a Sunday morning to the nearby post-box dressed in his dressing-gown, pyjamas and slippers to post his mail. This, of course, took place during the 20s and 30s.

Caroline Courts were the next series of buildings moving on down the Bay Hill. This was and still is an extended block of 10 to 12 flats, all with a wonderful view of Caroline Bay and beyond. You will all be aware of the New Year bonfire and carnival on the Bay. It was in the mid-50s we decided that as a family of six we would go and witness the bonfire at midnight and the hooters on the ships in the harbour. Previously we had tried to do this down on the beach but found it too dangerous for the children. The usual larrikins would throw crackers and many were under the influence of alcohol. We parked our van outside the first flat of Caroline Courts and not long after a lady invited us into her second storey flat to watch the proceedings. You know there are some very kind-hearted people about.

Across the street from the Hydro Grand Hotel during my young years there used to be a very old cottage where an old lady lived on her own. It stood on the brink of the clay cliffs. I have no doubt that it caused the local authorities some concern and when she passed away it disappeared almost overnight. I often wonder about the truth behind this sudden action.

On the corner of what is now known as the Port Loop Road was a petrol station with a prominent sign visible from well along Evans Street. In the next section were Solomon's Tailor and Paterson's stamp shop and then quite a large area which housed the roller skating rink. It was operated by the Allchurch family, who also had a thriving auction house within the city. Eddie Allchurch was a regular visitor to my home and although quite young at the time I am sure he was tracking one of my sisters. The skating rink was a very popular place in those pre-war days.

Continuing down Stafford Street on the eastern side there was a Chinese laundry that made an excellent job of starching collars and shirts. I can still see my dad trying to get the studs into his collar and shirt before going out to a dance or a meeting. Sometimes the air was blue when the two would not come together.

Further down came Seaton's butcher shop who had the unenviable task of creating that famous Scottish delicacy "the haggis" which was in demand from various Scottish organisations within the city. The address to "the haggis" was given on Burns Night as a celebration of the life of the poet Robert Burns. If you have never witnessed this address then you have really missed something. Quite close by was Manning's fish shop and below again was Johnson's milkbar and tearooms. Mr and Mrs Johnson conducted a successful business for many years.

Also in this area was Blackwoods grocery store, an establishment that not only catered for the townspeople but also the country folk. I can recall one occasion when my brother-in-law, who worked there, took me on a country delivery with him. We visited Mrs Hardy who lived just south of Makikihi township near the railway line. She turned on some marvellous scones and baking for us.

Another service lane and then we come to Lewis and Sons, a paint and glass business that only closed in recent times after sterling service to our city over a very long time. Further south again Thomas Cook and Son operated a travel agency until it gave way to the more modern franchise holders.

Just about opposite T and J Thomson Ltd the car sales and service business of Dominion Motors was situated with a large showroom on the street frontage and an access-way on its northern side. The service and equipment areas appeared quite cavernous, being built in and over all round. Passing outside you were often very rudely awakened by a car horn in the covered alley. The property now hosts the greater part of the present day Mall. Mr Holland was the manager for many years, followed by Rex Gilchrist. Their main interest was Morris cars.

Next we come to the State Theatre, the third of the four available to us at that time. Its lay-out was different to the other three in that the rows of seats sloped down as you walked in and at the screen end it swept up towards the screen. It was also a much narrower building than the other three. At one Saturday night's performance Mr Johnson placed my young lady and myself in two seats and for some odd reason I could not get comfortable at all. Something was pricking my back. At the end of the movie I reported it to the usher and we found a large drawing pin in the fabric. Forever after when we attended the State Theatre Mr Johnson would ask, "did you want your special seat again?"

There was and still is an access-way on the south-side of the defunct State Theatre. In the building now occupied by the Westpac Bank a long stairway led to the Miss Thwaites dance studio. Many of the district's young ladies received lessons in ballet, highland and tap dancing from Miss Dorothy while her sister Winnie was a tremendous help behind the scenes.

Back down on the street frontage was Norrie's Grocery. Mr Norrie was a stalwart of the now demolished Trinity Church. You will all know the song Where have all the flowers gone? It could be asked "Where have all the groceries gone?" Youngs fruit shop was established in this area by Norman, one of the family previously mentioned as being educated at the Main School.

Finally we come to Slades Cycles on the corner of Stafford and Strathallan streets. Reg Slade was the proprietor, he managed the agency for Raleigh Cycles and most of my family had a cycle from there.

As one looks along Stafford Street today, north or south, it is difficult to realise that so many years ago parking your car was comparatively easy. Today there are less parking spots and many more cars. It does not make you happy to see two and sometimes more delivery vans and trucks double-parked just to make things more awkward.

Timaru Herald, 30 June 1885, Page 2
Municipal "Mud-Pies." As is usual after heavy rain, a scraping up of the mud in the Main South Road took place yesterday, the filth being raked into nice little heaps a foot or so deep, close to the kerbing. There the greater number of them were left for the night, much to the disgust of folk who had to pass from one side of the street to the other, and who found themselves floundering ankle deep first through one and then another. If the Inspector had heard half of the many kind wishes which were expressed for his health during the evening, we are sure he would have been up with the lark this morning.


Thorny issues belong, in fact, in Timaru. Legendary rose-grower and breeder, world-renowned rosarian Trevor Griffiths.
Every November in Timaru is the Rose Festival. Rose garden

The Timaru Herald 22/02/2010
South Canterbury has lost one of its most respected and well-known residents. World-renowned rosarian Trevor Griffiths died yesterday after a long illness. Such was his knowledge of roses that the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden at Caroline Bay was opened in 2001, and he was a New Zealand and international identity. He wrote eight books on roses and worked as a nurseryman until his retirement. Mr Griffiths, 83, also had a rose named after him by distinguished English rosarian David Austin who described Mr Griffiths as a pioneering nurseryman. His son Bevan said he was a modest man whose passion in life was roses. "Roses have been his life, they were the love of his life. The Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden was designed by Sir Miles Warren and today boasts more than 1200 roses. It has a rose from every rose family in the world. Mr Griffiths' collection of genuine old roses was once the third biggest in the world. It is from this collection, plus 600 modern roses from David Austin, that the Bay garden evolved. Mr Griffiths also contributed to The Herald's Past Times pages, reminiscing about Timaru in days gone by.


Timaru Herald  4 September 2007
Timaru man Trevor Griffiths takes another trip down memory lane, this time sharing his memories of walking into town when he was much younger.
My parents' home was in William Street and of course during the 30s, 40s and 50s walking everywhere was the common practice. Having to go to town on some errand we would, more often than not, choose to walk through Alexandra Square, across Browne Street and to Heaton Street. There was a butcher shop on the corner to which I was often sent and next-door was De Latours general store of all kinds of necessities but mostly groceries and confections. TG Sheed and Son Contractors were just on the north side and ES Brookes yard, also a general contractor had his premises north again. Then of course came Butlers Service Station. Crossing North Street you entered Stafford Street and the commencement of the business heart of Timaru. The changing times, of course, have seen many businesses come and go. Some that are worthy of mention between North and Woollcombe streets are the tinsmiths shop of Mr Hitch and Son. You could not help looking in the window because all of his products would sparkle in the bright light. His products were very much sought after. He made all manner of kitchen utensils combined with many farm and dairy requirements. All of his products have since been superceded by plastic and other modern materials. Adjacent to Hitch's was Southgate and Sons, plumbers. The next store used to be very popular with many residents of South Canterbury. It was McGruer and Davies department store and was directly opposite Cliff Street. It was the type of establishment where the employees would enter from school and remain there all their working lives. Two of these would be Jessie Orr and Harry Cullen. I can still see Jessie's ample form biking home from work and Harry in his brown striped suit resplendent with his auburn hair and tape measure around his shoulders. One Friday night while walking home from town, sometime during 1943, I was passing the store and saw an American sailor, recognisable from his navy P jacket and his circular white hat, take a pair of football boots from an outside stall on the pavement. I was unsure what do do but went into the store entrance and summoned Mr Davies who quickly came outside and confronted the sailor who then drew a .45 Navy pistol and pointed it at Mr Davies. Having more or less forgotten the incident I was very surprised to hear Mr Tait at the Boys High School assembly on Monday morning ask for the student who witnessed an incident at McGruer Davies department store on Friday night to report to his office.

Between this well-known store and Woollcombe Street there were two places of business worthy of note. One was Pages Caneware and Basketware shop and EC Ayres Chemist shop. Both were popular businesses who served the community with distinction. Moving on down Stafford Street the Theatre Royal brings back memories of a different kind. Tucked into the front of the old building frontage was Mrs Mackay's Black and White Confectionary shop. It was distinct because the black and white theme was all over the inside as well as the street frontage. Mrs Mackay had the franchise to supply ice-cream and confections to the Majestic Theatre and the Theatre Royal. As a boy of 10 or 11 I worked for a time as an ice-cream boy at both places. Panic would prevail when both picture theatres had their interval at the same time. In a good week I took home 10 or 12 shillings for six nights' work. These days the Theatre Royal is nowhere near as busy as in those earlier times. All the modern electronic gadgets have taken their toll. The Switzerland Ice Ballet caused great excitement in the district as did the visit of the very popular Vienna Boys Choir. Probably one of the greatest functions held in the theatre was the Queen Carnival to raise money for the war effort. Many fundraising functions were held and the Royal was packed to bursting on many occasions. The selected "queens" were Jean Horwell for the army, Sister Adams and her deputy Florence Carney for the navy and Eileen Hetherington for the air force. The whole idea was extremely well supported and thousands of pounds were raised for the cause. Because my dad was a member of the drama league I was present at many performances of all kinds and often helped with shifting scenery, etc, back stage. Those of you who remember the Theatre Royal of the old days will recall the very heavy stage curtains that would go up and down quite a few times during a performance. From back stage I was amazed to see the curtain raised and lowered by one man only. His name was Joe Neeson. At the appropriate moment he would take a short run and jump up five or six feet and bring the monstrous thing down on his own. He did this for many years.

The Majestic Theatre was managed by Mr Kennedy, affectionately known as "Hoppy" because of his affliction. In fact for a long period of time he was in charge of both theatres. The staff too were interchangeable and men like Clarrie Blackwood, Jim Duncan, Frank Johnstone and Arthur Lyon served many years as ushers and ticket collectors until sanity left the world as we know it with the arrival of the Second World War. Len Preddy was a master projectionist and was highly regarded by many.

Down towards George Street was the furnishing store of Butterfields. This establishment provided furniture, bedding, carpets and electric goods to hundreds of South Canterbury residents at a reasonable price and on easy terms. My wife and I bought our first suite of a couch and two chairs from them and many times we were well looked after by Mr McErlane who must have spent most of his life with this establishment. Sadly, the premises stand empty today. On the corner of George and Stafford streets stood Gabities Menswear which also served the district well. Unfortunately, when Mr Gabities retired, as happens with many businesses, there was no one to continue the daily running of the shop and no newcomer who wanted to invest in it. Now if you cross Stafford Street opposite the old Butterfields store there are two quite old concrete buildings. One was the former home of the National Mortgage and Agency Co Ltd and which has been swallowed up by others with bigger mouths and deeper pockets and does not now exist. The other was the district office for the National Bank of New Zealand, which suffered a similar fate. On the south-east corner of George and Stafford streets stood the once very proud and very popular Club Hotel. Like the Commercial, the Empire, the Crown and the Dominion hotels it succumbed to the pressures of modern business and demands. The proprietor of the Club Hotel was very supportive of all sporting organisations and many tales could be told about the happenings within its walls.

To the east of this hotel and across an access alleyway stood the impressive home of Dalgety and Co Ltd. It was a mighty two-storeyed building which stood lonely and isolated from all others. It was of superb construction which looked as if it would last forever. Yes, its electrical and plumbing facilities were out-of-date, but could have been modernised. I have to say it, or rather write it, that during my nearly 80 years of residence here I have never seen any earthquake damage, not even a damaged chimney, in our district. Dalgetys are no more, having been swallowed up by others, but like all stock and station firms of the period they provided the best for all their clients' transactions and supplied all their farm and household supplies.

On the north-eastern corner of the junction of George and Stafford streets stood the Commercial Bank of Australia. Now gone but a very useful and co-operative bank in its day. Because of our close association with Australia quite a lot of their currency was brought back to New Zealand and I imagine most businesses, as ours did, would have quite a lot of it filtering through their transactions. The CBA allowed me to bank any of this currency in an account which we were able to use on our visits to Australia.

On the remaining corner, that is the north-western corner of the intersection, stood another bank. This time the Bank of New Zealand. It too was a bluestone building and on obtaining our nursery at Arowhenua it became necessary to have a cheque account. One lunch-time I made a special journey to the bank to deposit my wage for the week because I knew there was precious little in the account. While waiting in the queue to do this an officer of the bank came up to me and in a strong voice said, "Do you intend to keep your account open because you are two shillings and seven pence overdrawn". Absolutely dumbfounded I replied, "Do you think I am here to buy pies?" Worst of all this man was a senior staff member and worse still I had worked for him with garden work quite a few times before. The bank as it stood in those days had a garden area on both the south side and the north side which was affectionately tended by Mr Bentley who was resident in the building and a well known citizen in the community. He was prominent in several Timaru organisations, none the least of which was scouting. I believe he rose to the rank of commissioner. His wife, too, was prominent in the town's affairs, especially as a member of the St Marys Church choir. And so my meanderings of remembrances and happenings have once again come to an end. We must never forget those early pioneers who had the courage to travel half way around the world, to a place they had never seen, to establish a village, a town and then a city with little else than a faith in a place for their families and themselves.

18/07/2009 Timaru Herald
Along Stafford St in Timaru, the Herald counted 152 occupied ground floor premises and 29 empty premises. Of the empty premises, 16 were at the south end of the street, including five empty shops in a row in, and next to, the Butterfields building. We get ebbs and flows all the time.

The Timaru Beautifying Society started in 1971, when Peg Harvey, Timaru mayoress at the time, and patron Helen Walton were keen to see more done to enhance the city and its environs. Among the projects were the tree plantings from the airport to State Highway 1 and along the northern and southern approaches to Timaru, the yellow roses in the traffic islands, the red trumpeter roses and box hedging through the town, the planter boxes full of colourful flowers outside shops and restaurants and the hanging baskets during the summer months, the Edwardian Paper Boy, the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden project, the lily garden and the 2005 Lady Elworthy and the late Sir Peter Elworthy gift of the peonies. All due to community and enthusiasm and fund raising at garden parties, evenings with celebrities, a rose ramble,  and a garden party to celebrate the re-opening of the historical home at Claremont.

There used to be a lot more clock and watchmakers in Timaru maybe four, five, six in Timaru itself. Now there is only one horologist left in South Canterbury. It's just like there used to be quite a few bootmakers in town, and every corner had a butcher's shop.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project  

Timaru Herald, 27 January 1896, Page 2
Mr E. Pratt, hairdresser, had a curious, and therefore attractive, exhibit m his window on Saturday, m the shape of a collection of theatrical wigs and beards of all sorts and colours.

Timaru Herald, 11 September 1894, Page 3
E. Pratt, hairdresser and tobacconist, was called to show what books he found it necessary to keep in his business day book, ledger, expenditure book, cash book, cheque book, and bank book. The expenditure book and cash book could be kept together, but he kept them separate. Found those books necessary in his case. Similar books were kept by tobacoonists by whom he was formerly employed.

Timaru Herald, 31 December 1895, Page 1
How to decide. Why, go to Pratt's and Get your hair cut? Smokers will find everything they require to make them Happy during the Festive Season and at PRICES TO SUIT ALL COMERS. E. PRATT, PALACE HAIRDRESSING SALOONS, 89 STAFFORD STREET.

Timaru Herald, 11 January 1900, Page 3
Mr E. Pratt, hairdresser, is selling some very pretty New Zealand contingent badges, on which the New Zealand flag is worked in colours. He intends handing over the entire profit from the sale of these to the Patriotic Fund.

Timaru Herald, 13 January 1917, Page 11
Pratt, Edward junr.[Ted Pratt], shop assistant, Stafford Street, Timaru.

Press, 13 January 1917, Page 7 THE THIRD BALLOT.
Pratt, Edward, jun., shop assistant, 193 Stafford street, Timaru

Edward Pratt died 20 Aug 1947. Mary Ann died 23 Sept. 1944. Children of Mary Ann and Edward PRATT -
1886 Pratt Edward Mary Ann Edward
1887 Pratt Frederick William


214 Stafford St.