John Stuart Tobin and Jill Carolyn Tobin Interview

Today is the 3rd of April 2017. I’m interviewing John and Jill Tobin of Hastings. John, would you like to tell me something about your family, please?

My grandparents came to New Zealand … oh, back in the mid to late [18]80s. They actually lived in the Isle of Man. And they would have, I imagine, arrived in Dunedin because they settled in an area, Queensbury, which is … the nearest known area really would be Queenstown on one side and Wanaka on the other. And I don’t know how many years they lived there. From the time I knew of them they had moved to Wellington – lived in Kilbirnie. And that was … all the family lived in Wellington for those years too. I don’t know whether they were all born in Wellington, I’m unsure.

My father – he was the youngest of seven – a mixed family – and he was born at the turn of the century, 1900, so we could always remember his age. [Chuckle]

My mother’s side – their surname was Gandy. They lived in Johnsonville and I don’t know anything more on their side as to who arrived or when. They similarly had a family of seven, and yes, lived right at the top of Burgess Road in Johnsonville on quite a large section. And we used to meet up there quite a bit, ‘cause living in Hastings, eventually my parents – both of them were the only ones who lived outside Wellington – so any time that we had the opportunity it was a case of going down and meeting up all with the families, and have a bit of a reunion.

Dad was still living in Wellington at the time of the Depression because I can remember he was working labouring for a building contractor. And they were working on the Courtenay Place Post Office actually, and an accident happened there whereby a worker fell from the top of the building and had a horrific accident where his bones and [?] came right through his body. And he was one of the first people to be transported by the newly-formed Wellington Free Ambulance, and that was all paid for or subsidised by threepence out of every worker’s pay packet. And the particular fellow who was the first one to use it was one who refused to subscribe. I can always remember [chuckle] Dad telling me that.

But anyway, some time after that he went up to Central Hawke’s Bay … lower Central Hawke’s Bay … and worked on Akitio Station out at the coast in Pongaroa … Akitio. And his employer was Frank Armstrong. They had a very large holding out there – a twenty-four stand sheep woolshed. Dad was there for about fourteen years as a shepherd before he moved back to Wellington to look after his ageing parents for a while. [Machinery noise in background]

And then at that stage I presume he would have met up with my mother, and they moved … they married and moved to Hastings … almost straight after the earthquake I think – it was very close to that – and established the … started his you know, retail butchery business. That was actually in partnership with Bill Taylor, so it was Tobin & Taylor, and I understand that they traded as the People’s Butchery as a name. And at one stage I know they had a shop in Hastings and a shop in Napier as well, but they closed the Napier shop and concentrated on Hastings. And then as time went on the partnership was dissolved; Dad bought Bill Taylor out and continued trading on Heretaunga Street for the rest of his time. And then … we’re moving ahead here, but I eventually took over from him and carried the business on until 1980.

Just going back, John, whereabouts in Heretaunga Street was it?

The first shop was immediately opposite F L Bone’s, which is historic as well now, of course. It was in the block between Warren Street and Karamu Road and abutted Kershaw’s Furniture shop. And then he decided that that shop was a bit small for the business, and so he established … moved to another premises on the other side of Kershaw’s, next door to Lusher’s Grocery. And that was where the business continued, from there.

I made mention earlier of a butcher by the name of Thear …


And his butcher shop must have been that one or very close to it.

Yes. Did he trade as Thear’s Butchery, or the Co-Op?

I don’t remember.

Yeah. Well I started … well, all the time that I knew of, Dad in the shop and … used to go up after school and help him out, that sort of thing … it was always the Co-Op Number One Butchery, and they had another one up the other end of town, Co-Op Number Two. And I think … is it Thear’s? Yeah, they had some involvement in that, but I never ever knew who the actual ownership was.

[Speaking together] … may have taken it over; they may have been a previous owner.

Quite possibly so, yes.

We’ll just come back to your grandparents. Now you might know the story of [chuckle] why the Isle of Man had three legs on the …

Now I’ve heard of that just recently actually, and Jill’s nodding her head in the background. Can you remember it Jill?

Jill: I can’t, no.

So we thought, ‘gosh, it must be terrible [laughter] for the people to have three-legged trousers.’ [Laughter]

John: No, I can assure you not. Well, in actual fact going back to my grandfather, yes – the photo that I have of him that was sitting out on the doorstep on the verandah of their house, and he had a walking stick so I guess that was his third leg. [Chuckle]

So with the butchery, your father was obviously self-taught or his partner taught him … was his partner a butcher?


So they both learnt to butcher?

Oh … hang on, I’d better be careful here because the Taylor family were involved in several butcher shops – different brothers had different shops. You remember Taylor & Gibbs? And Bob Taylor at Mahora – they were all the same family. There was Jack Taylor – worked for my father and his father as well, so I’d better not say that he was untrained … there was butchery in the family, but I think his main role in this shop was actually as a stock buyer. And the only photo that I have of all the staff, Bill Taylor is sort of standing to one side, dressed up in a suit. And Dad was next to him in his apron, and then the rest of the staff as well, so …

Of course, they had to have a stock buyer, didn’t they?

Well yes. Yes … yes, it was probably earlier than the establishment of the stock and station agents who used to do the buying on behalf and that sort of thing, later on. So I don’t know. And certainly Dad would have had a rudimentary knowledge [chuckle] from having worked on Akitio for fourteen years. He would have knocked a few [chuckle] off in the time, I guess. But apart from that, no – he picked the trade up as he went along, I guess.

Just two boys in the family were there? You had a brother?

I’ve got a brother, Ken, yes.

So you went to school in Hastings?

Primarily – you can put that two ways. Yeah, we both went to Parkvale School. And Ken was four and a half years older than me. At the time of Standard 6, Hastings High School had a fairly rugged history and I think that would have been back in the days of Wags Penlington. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, my parents saw fit to put Ken into another school and they enlisted him at Napier Boys’ High, and also Dannevirke High … put him on the list for boarding, and it was a case of which one came up first as to where he was educated. And so that turned out to be Dannevirke … Dannevirke High School. And so having been at that school I was eligible and able to follow through as well. So yeah, my high school was at Dannevirke High School.

There’s quite a few Hastings people went to Dannevirke.

Oh … oh, yes. Yes, yes – well it was a District High School. It served a big area, you know – right out to the coast and that sort of thing. But there was a limited number who could be accepted, either on scholarship … Maori scholarships … or from other parts round the country, but you know, essentially it was in Dannevirke, and yeah, all the time I was there there were several from Hastings.

Did you play any sports?

[Chuckle] Yeah, yeah, [chuckle] I played in the rugby for a while, and ‘cause of my long legs I was the back row of the scrum. [Chuckle] It wasn’t for me … it wasn’t for me, so no, that was my extent of sport. Rather than that, by the time I went to Dannevirke I’d started to learn the bagpipes, and so my involvement down there was with the Dannevirke High School pipe band. And that was really the only outside interest that I had.

Almost every school had its pipe band, didn’t it?

That’s right, yes, yes. No, well Dannevirke, for its size … blimey, they had the … I mean it was just a high school pipe band, a pretty low grade sort of a thing, although we did win a contest in Masterton for high school grade bands. But besides that, Dannevirke had two grade one bands – the Ruahine Pipe Band and then also the Dannevirke and Districts Pipe Band. And you know, for a small town that was quite exceptional. And they did well.

So I was at Dannevirke for … oh, ‘bout three years. I knew from way back that I was going to be a butcher. I can always recall, you know, people visiting us and they’d say “What do you want to be when you grow up, John?” I always said “A butcher”. I don’t know why – no idea, but I used to as I say, go up there and help out after work and that sort of thing, and it was just taken for granted really, that I was going to go into the shop.

And your brother was the same?

No, not at all … not at all. Ken – when he left school his first job was with Russell Orr actually, in photography. And then from there he established, or went into partnership with Lyn Aitchison … Aitchison & Tobin … and that was floor laying. No, I tell a lie here – in between, Ken went from Russell Orr to Christie’s … Christie’s Furnishers, and he was on the outside laying staff there. And then in 1960 they established their own business and they traded out of the old C G Watson cordial factory. Yeah … [Chuckle]

Curly Top …

No, no, no, no. No, no, no – that was Barden’s, Frederick Street.

C & G Watson – what was that called?

I think it was just Watson’s Cordials. They were the ones that had the big bottle on the corner of Tomoana Road. Yeah. [Chuckle] These days, now everybody thinks … harks back and says “Oh yes, that was Curly Top”. But it wasn’t, it was Watson’s. I had to correct James on that when we were editing the book. Yeah, because there was a Long & Barden over in Napier as well, and I don’t know of any relationship there. I wouldn’t know about that. But Harril Barden was certainly involved – or his family and siblings were involved – with Barden’s in Frederick Street.

But yeah, yeah – as an aside, James and I spent a lot of time editing my book as you know, and he swore black and blue that that was Curly Top on the corner. [Chuckle] So I was able to contact Diane, ex Watson, [chuckle] and establish the …

I still would have thought it was Curly Top was the Watson brand, ‘cause I don’t ever remember them having bottles.

Curly Top?

No, Barden’s.

Well it was always … you know, from when they popped up … I can only remember them as Curly Top, and they had these Curly Top bottles and I got to know them very well because they used to deliver by the case load, [chuckle] – I would have a case under my bed. [Chuckle] And had a bottle of still orange every night before I went to bed. [Chuckle]

It was pretty good too. Okay then – so you became a butcher?

Yep. Yep, I left school on my fifteenth birthday actually, and started in there. Came in through the front door rather than the back door unfortunately. Dad … we turned that around in time because I didn’t have the knowledge of the trade that I should’ve had. Fathers did that I suppose, with their sons.

And of course those were the days when the meat came in full carcasses, didn’t it?

Oh yeah.

You cut it down from the start – not like today’s butchers who just get all the cuts …

Yeah, yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That bluffs me how everything is used and utilised, because you know, with the full carcass you had to utilise every part of it – seasonal, unseasonal … and it was … bit of a juggling act.

So then while you were working for your father, were you involved at all with St John at that stage, or was that later?

Oh yes. No, no, no – no – I’d started with St John … well, I started with the Lifeboys actually, [chuckle] and then I heard … learned about the St John Cadets so I left the Lifeboys and started as a cadet with St John. And that was prior to my starting at Dannevirke, so there was a break in it and then I came back. Well from then I was over fifteen, so I joined the Senior Men’s Ambulance Division. That’s when we still had the old ex-billiard room down Karamu Road, opposite Butler’s stables. [Chuckle]

I think that’s where we used to play table tennis.

That’s right – yeah, it was too. And my mum and dad used to teach old time dancing in there too. You remember there was a long alleyway from the door up to the main room?

Yes, I do, yes.

And these people – they wanted to learn old time dancing and they were very embarrassed about it, [chuckle] so they set up a screen with blankets over it right up the end of that doorway. Nobody would be going up there, but … and my job was to crank the handle on the record player while Mum and Dad taught them to dance.

The one thing that I never regretted and that was learning to dance.

Well, with that and St John – that was purely for just the St John members. But Mum taught out of the Labour & Trades … oh, for years there, at every … I presume it was Saturday nights. Oh, I don’t know, no – because that was dance nights. I don’t know now, but I know she taught there, and then years later she started teaching Scottish Country dancing as well. And so yeah … yeah, dancing was … and Dad went along with it all the way.

And of course those were the days where we actually danced together.

That’s right, totally, yes. Yes, and there was different viewpoints on that from different people too, wasn’t there? [Chuckle]

Yes. So you carried on at the butchery learning your trade, and your involvement still with St John at that stage ..?

Well, the two of them started to merge a bit too, Frank, because as time went on with St John – bearing in mind I came back from Dannevirke in ‘bout 1953, ’54. By 1959, this was went I started to ride out on the ambulances and then eventually become a voluntary ambulance driver, covering nights, weekends, or if the only driver was involved, which was old Whiti Mane back then. I could get a phone call from the hospital asking me, “Look, can you go up to the ambulance station and pick up a vehicle?” And so I just had to leave the shop, so yeah, the two were sort of merged. There was many a time I had a spare ambulance parked out the back of the shop if we knew that there was a transfer … an out of town transfer or something coming up – much as the same as you would’ve seen alongside the lemonade bottle opposite Burfield’s shoe shop – there was an ambulance parked there, and Roy used to do the same thing.

So it wasn’t an ambulance station at all – it was convenience for the driver.

Yeah. [Chuckle]

Cause they used to stand out.

That goes back to the old ‘39 Chrysler.

Did you get caught up in the compulsory military training at all?

I was involved with compulsory military training, but only from the point of view that being a member of St John, the Labour Department required somebody to go up to the Labour Department up the back of the Public Trust, every Wednesday night which was when the guys were being called up. And we used to boil the billy up there with the bunsen burner, [chuckle] and did the urine samples. [Laugh] So I was involved with CMT up to there. And at the time that I turned eighteen, I thought, ‘well, there’ll be nobody round’, you know, or ‘Cyril McCarthy’ll be round there in the Labour office’. And so I did what I thought was the right thing – I went down to the Drill Hall, and there was a sign outside saying, you know ‘Enrol in here’. And in I went and lined up, and they handed me out some papers – quite a wad of papers, actually – so I took it back to the shop. And I thought ‘Gee, this is a bit heavy’ – I didn’t realise what was involved. And anyway I started to read through it, and it said something or other about … ‘Do not resign your employment at this stage’. And I needed to get a letter of reference from a Minister or a JP [Justice of the Peace] and all this. I thought ‘it’s getting heavier and heavier.’ And one of the staff at the shop … Dad was away on holiday … one of the staff said “Hey, John – let me have a look at this”, you see.

[Chuckle] I can imagine what you were doing … you were enlisting for the Army!

Yeah. [Chuckle] You’re dead right. That was [chuckle] K-Force. I’ve never torn paper up so quickly. However, once it came to actually being called up for the CMT I was turned down because of eyesight and also flat feet so I didn’t ever qualify. And in my own mind I still say that the abolition of CMT was the turning point of this country, and I will never be convinced otherwise. [Chuckle] But no, I didn’t get that far.

But I mean, you did serve in a group that was just as important or more important than CMT.

Oh yes, yes – that’s right, yes.

At same stage or other you met Jill?

Yes. Yes, now we’ve been talking about that. We go back a fair way because Jill was still at high school [chuckle] when we started going out together. [Chuckle] [Speaking together] Oh, my goodness me!

When we started going out … from the best of recollections we think we met up at an Ingleside – the Hastings Scots Society, in the old Manchester Unity Hall, you know – it’s still in Market Street, don’t know for how much longer. I can remember dancing with her there, and I think that was sort of where we met up. We’re not certain about that. So we … gosh, yes we courted for about … she was fifteen so … twenty-one … maybe we courted for about six years. [Chuckle]

All right, well I think it’s time then we brought … [recorder stopped]

Jill: My parents actually come from Pahiatua and I was born in Pahiatua, 1941. And I can remember the Polish camps down there. I mean, [chuckle] I was five when I left Pahiatua but I was very aware of the war, because we had blackout blinds. And I can remember crying when a plane went over. So obviously as a child then, you know, it had an effect. But we left there and came up to Waipawa, and lived in the most wonderful house there up on the hill and was there for five years. I started school there, and then came up to Hastings.

Now my parents – my father’s background … his mother, Granny Bentley, didn’t die until she was about ninety-one, but she was the first white child to be born down there in the bush. And she married Harry Bentley.

When you talk about the bush you’re talking about the …

Forty-Mile Bush, yes. She married Harry Bentley who was originally from Masterton, and they had the bakery, and I can remember that at their house, actually. And Dad used to do the bread run all round … yeah. And Dad was not an academic at all, but he was a master with his hands and especially anything mechanical. So he became a mechanic, and when he came up to Waipawa he started with Stephenson’s and then he went to Brandon’s. But Stephenson’s of course, is … well, it’s the carrying company now, I don’t think it’s a garage. And then he came up to Hastings to work for Monarch Motors, so that’s how our life started in Hastings.

My brother was born up here and he’s ten years younger than me; fifteen years younger than my sister, so it was the beginning of a whole new life. He has no recollections of anything before – we had a wonderful time in Waipawa. We lived up on the hill and we had the run of the farm; we had a dog; and mushrooming on the farm, and all that sort of thing, so coming to Hastings was a bit of a culture shock, I guess. But I went to Mahora School.

So where did your parents live in Hastings?

In Kowhai Street. It was … they bought a State house and added to it, and yeah, it was great. I went to, as I said, Mahora School and then I was a foundation pupil of the Hastings Intermediate in 1954, and 1955, a foundation pupil at Hastings Girls’ High. And that was … it was awful. [Chuckle] Yeah – I loved school, but at the Intermediate … and it’s good because we still have get-togethers … all we did was set up the library. I was only there for two terms – I was in the top class, and we set up the library with Mr Langford. And then being the only pupils at Hastings Girls’ High – everyone else was still at the Boys’ High, as it is now – and we just were there, just the third formers that year, and it was a building site – it was awful. And I – yeah, I lost interest in school really. I was in the … I had one of the leads in the opera “Iolanthe”, and I injured my back skating – I was crazy on skating – and I had to leave school. I was flat on my back for quite a few months. So yeah, that was sort of the end of my schooling.

But of course my girlfriend – her father worked for John. So we used to bike into town you know, after school. Sorry?

John: John’s father.

Jill: Oh, yes … for the Hawke’s Bay Butchery, as it was then. And you know, I sort of saw this guy there, and then … yeah, it’s all a bit hazy now. But I can remember going to Scottish Country dancing – his parents ran Scottish Country dancing – so I’d see him there, and he had another girlfriend. And then there was the old time dance things that they used to run on a Saturday night at the Windsor, or the Dirty Duck … the White Swan [chuckle] and gradually he sort of started to partner me there. And that’s how it all sort of started. But yes, I was only fifteen, and it’s amazing, isn’t it, that he went away – he did his overseas trip and I went to Wellington for a year. And then we came back and got engaged.

Meant to be, wasn’t it?

Yes – well … yes, I guess so. Fifty-four years later you sort of look back and you think, ‘Well – I wonder what actually created all that.’ It’s interesting, isn’t it?

It’s lovely though, those stories.


And so what were you working at?

Before I went to Wellington I worked for Barclay Motors and then … just in the office, yes, for a short while because I think I was still having trouble with my back. And then I worked for de Pelichet McLeod. I was on the telephone … telephonist there at de Pelichet McLeod. I was there for quite a while. My mother got sick – she had cancer, and that sort of disrupted life quite a bit. But she survived for about six years after that, ‘cause my brother was only eleven when she died, and she was determined that … yeah, she wasn’t going to leave him. And then I got a job with John Hunt … Noble Lowndes … I was his PA, and from there I transferred to Noble Lowndes in Wellington, but oh – hated the office. And then I became a chauffeur for Todd Motors. Yes.

With a cap and all?

Yes, full uniform. Chauffeur – yeah, used to do all sorts of runs, I took the kids to school … you know, the Todd children to school and the mothers into town, and … Oh yes – I was walking past Todd Motors ‘cause Noble Lowndes was just further down Wakefield Street, and I saw in the window an advertisement for … no, it didn’t say ‘male’, it just said ‘for a chauffeur’, for … you know – I can’t remember what for – anyway, so I thought ‘Oh! That sounds good’ – ‘cause I love driving. And so I went in and I said, “Would you consider me, a girl you know, for this job?” And they thought ‘Oh …’ So to be considered for this job I had to do a driving test, so they took me in a Humber 80 that I’d never driven before. And I was driving around Wellington between 4.30 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon, on a Friday afternoon. So they took me up by where the Todd families lived which was up in Bolton Street and Salamanca Road. So they made me do a handbrake start in the middle of Bolton Street.

Quite steep …

So I achieved that, and I got the job. And of course through that I used to bring new vehicles up to Hastings, which we did – I brought up a pretty flash one once, didn’t I?

John: Chrysler Royal … pre-select, auto … It was brought up to be launched at the Royal Show.

They were very powerful.

Jill: Yes! I brought it up over the Rimutakas, and up here. Anyway, that weekend we had a wedding to go to here, so of course I was all dressed up to the nines in my Wellington things, [chuckle] and John thought this car was pretty good, so you know, we were a bit of … you know, up there that weekend, weren’t we? [Chuckle]

John: She brought it up on a Friday, and they said, “As long as it’s at Tourist Motors by Monday morning, we don’t want to know.” [Chuckle]

You driving?

Jill: No, I had to drive.

John: But we left a bit early to park right outside the front of the church, then shot straight around to the St John Hall and parked outside for the reception. [Chuckle]

Jill: I’ve very, very vivid memories of some of the Humber 80s that I used to bring up here. I can remember the air cleaner fell off on the Friday night before I even left, and it jammed on the accelerator. And I had to call out someone, because they really didn’t … you just took the car, and … you know. So it was a bit hairy sometimes. [Chuckle]

Fancy just walking off the street and applying and …

That’s right.

… and walking straight in to be part of the Todd family.

‘Cause I got to know them all pretty well. Yes, the old … I can’t remem… Andrew Todd and … yeah. They all lived up in Bolton Street, Kinross Street, Salamanca Road, and there were also some out at Khandallah. So I used to get right round the place -yes.

But through this, I also made friends with the traffic cops. It was … ‘cause you’d have to go and park somewhere to go and pick someone up somewhere, you know, and it could be on yellow lines, it could be whatever. But they got to know me, and if I was parked on a yellow line they would come along and … in those days they used to use yellow chalk to … your tyre. Well I’d have on my rear vision mirror – “Move!” [Laughter] And then one day there was a cop on point duty, and he stopped me right in the middle of the road and asked me to the traffic cops’ ball. [Laughter] Yeah, so I had a great year in Wellington – it was very good. I was flatting with a girlfriend right up the top of Willis Street, so we were right in town. And we’ve still kept friends … we’ve just visited her in Paraparam [Paraparaumu] just this last weekend.

Oh, that’s wonderful. So you came back from Wellington and …

I went to Wattie’s to work – I was on the telephone there, and then used to go down and work on the peach line to earn some more money at the weekends.

John: Were there at the time of the fire …

Jill: Yes, that’s right. I was on the telephones, and people were ringing to say “Is Wattie’s on fire?” And I would say, “No, no.” And I sort of went out to sort of have a look, and met the firemen coming up the stairs. [Chuckle] Yeah, so we all went home early that day. [Chuckle]

So who was the manager then?

There was McLeod … Ken McLeod and Anderson …

Ian McLeod.

Ian McLeod, yes. And W Anderson, he was the accountant.

John: Anderson was the accountant?

Jill: But of course Sir James was there – he always called you by name, and …

John: He was still Jim then.

Jill: Yes. And then I became the secretary for the social club. And we used to have an ongoing – every year – the Auckland Glass Company would come down … bring a bus load of people down to play cricket. So we used to have you know, quite a big social … yeah. The club was quite big, you know – it was a big thing.

Yes. So at this stage had you had any children?

No, no – I wasn’t married. I came back in 1961. [Cough] I worked for Wattie’s for a year and we got married in ‘62 … in November ‘62. So yes, I was working for Wattie’s at that time.

John: In fact Jim presented us on behalf of the social club, with a Zip electric frypan.

Jill: Yes, a Zip – and it lasted for years. But we’ve always had this – just harking back to history in the family – my mother always used to say … she was Olga Stewart Bentley, S-t-e-w … and of course John is S-t-u-a. [There] was a feud going on between [chuckle] the two of them because my mother always said that she was a … you know, direct descendant of Bonnie Prince Charlie, but that she was actually Swedish. [Chuckle] Her grandfather was a real Swede, he came out from Sweden in early … before 1900. But on the other side we had the Scottish side that came from Central [Belt], south of Edinburgh. And Dad, I think … I’m not really quite sure, they were quite English I think – yes. But yes, so we’ve sort of had the Swedish / Scottish side to us.

So with time the u-a-r-ts and the e-w-a-r-ts … [chuckle] have blended.

Well it was just, you know, accepted afterwards. [Laughter]

It wasn’t only the Scots that had feuds between families – the Irish did.

Oh yes – goodness yes. This is right, yes.

If they fell out with somebody, that was it – forever.

That was it – that’s right.

John: And Frank, that continued … sorry to butt in. When I was over in Scotland in 1960 I used to go round … I was competing over there as well. I used to go to various piping competitions, and there was one particular chap that I was talking with – he was actually the world’s champion piper at the time – John Burgess. And I said to him one day, I said “Oh,” I said, “You’ll be going up to … oh, I forget the place now … to such-and-such a place on the weekend to compete, because it was a big trophy, you know. And he looked at me and he said, “Aaach no!” He said, “bloody Campbell territory.” And he wouldn’t go.


Yeah – all those years later. [Speaking together]

Now you worked to [at] Wattie’s.

Jill: Yes. We got married, and our first child was born a year later. And it was the same night as Kennedy was killed. So … I think she was late, just before midnight, and he [Kennedy] was just after midnight, in our time. So then we started and we had three children fairly quickly. John was very involved in St John at that time and he used to have the ambulance at home at the weekends, and …

Ready to go?

Yes. Yes.

John: We built Alexandra Street when we got married – three percent loan; State Advances; maximum time, thirty years. [Chuckle]

Jill: Mind you, that’s what they are now, just about, isn’t it?

Yes they are – yes, but you … the houses are five to six times …


Yes, you need a wheelbarrow full of money, now.


John: Yeah … too right.

Jill: So then later on I started getting into music theatre. I think – I was always singing. I used to go to Sister Mary Leo. I went there about four times, I think. I would go up to Auckland and stay for a week with a girlfriend up there, and I used to go and have lessons with Sister Mary Leo. I did competitions with her in Hamilton – didn’t quite make the top three, but did reasonably well. And then – I’ve always sung, always been in choirs and things. But then someone introduced me to music theatre in 1972, and I thought, ‘Ooh, this is good!’ I loved it. But I didn’t do that terribly many shows – ‘White Horse Inn’, and then I went into ‘Oliver’ … ‘Oliver’ – no, I did ‘The Merry Widow’, yes, and then ‘Oliver’. And I can remember James Morgan directed that particular show and I was Nancy, and he just kept saying to me, “Come on – you should be a slut!” [Laughter] But having come from ‘Merry Widow’, which was very, very …

I can imagine!

… to go into Nancy was a bit … but I loved it. Loved it. And then we did ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, and that was the last of the shows I did. But since then I have taught music theatre – I’ve really been involved. And in this time of course we’ve had the Song and Opera Workshop – I was a foundation member of that. There were ten of us that were involved in getting that underway, and then three years later we got into the Singing School … New Zealand Singing School. And I’m still very involved in that.

It’s interesting how live theatre played a major part in the entertainment …


… you know, the Municipal Theatre, the other little theatres …


… we had the old Village Hall in Havelock …

That’s right, and the Gilbert & Sullivan Society was there. The Premier Hall … yes.

And the Majestic in Napier and the Top Hat …


… and then all the other terrible places …

The Cabana. [Laughter]

Buffalo Hall, and … but they were wonderful – in fact I think we were very lucky to be born when we were.

Oh, we have said that so many times. [Speaking together]

John: We’ve got no regrets of that timing.

Jill: No. No.

John: My word no.

Jill: You know, there is …

John: Extremely fortunate.

Jill: But culturally speaking, Hawke’s Bay is very alive. There’s almost too much on, because you know, there’s so many things that you’d like to go to, and visiting things as well as things that you know, [are] local. But oh! Jeepers – I have to go to all the things that my students are in and that keeps me poor. [Chuckle] But no, it’s a wonderful interest – I just love it.

You’re still teaching?

Yes. I have students from all … well, from nine years old up to … well, my eighty-year one decided she’d give it up [chuckle]

John: For the second time.

Jill: … not long ago. But I work with big diplomas as well as some adults who really just want to be able to sing the National Anthem or Christmas carols – it’s just getting their voice. Everyone can sing, but some people just need some help. But in lots of cases it’s grief, it’s a therapy, it’s … yeah, there’s all sorts of reasons for people not being able to sing. And I just love that aspect of it, of being able to unlock a voice.

John: Natural talent.

Jill: Yes.

John: And the same with Maori too – there’s a lot of natural talent there.

Oh yes. Now coming back to the family, your children …

Okay. Our eldest, Carolyn, is fifty-three. She’s had a very interesting life. She’s married for the third time, [chuckle] but she was the only person … Carolyn didn’t like school. She had the mental ability but it didn’t suit her. But at eighteen she left and was going to go into radio. And then she went to Wellington and she ended up working with Theresa Gattung in the marketing department of the BNZ, and she was the only one in there that didn’t have a degree. But she went on from there, she got married and had a child, and they bought a wetlands out at Tuturumuri, which is out from Martinborough – out to the coast. And she was bored silly, so she started up clay target shooting, and then she paired up with a farmer out there who was doing quad bikes, so they had a big business there. And then through [a] series of happenings in her life she split up with her husband, and you know … She came up here – the boys were ten and eight – she had two boys. And she started up the quad bike business up at the farm at Kidnappers and worked up there, but – oh, it was pretty difficult working alongside them. But she on-sold that business. She now is married to Grant Taylor, who is the logistics manager at Mr Apple, and Carolyn works in … well she’s now at the coolstore out in Hill Road. But she’s done grafting … she’s done nearly everything within the apple industry, and just loves it. And through that has gone over to Darwin … or Katherine, several places in the mango season and runs [a] mango packing shed over there for two months. And this earns her the money to do all sorts of things. So she’s set.

Our second daughter, Diane – she left home fairly early. She’s in Australia; married a super Australian … Melbourne guy, but they live up at [the] Gold Coast. But he was a water skier at Sea World and she was the ride supervisor at Sea World. So they got married on the ski tow at Sea World. It was great … it was lovely …

John: It was.  It was their first.

Jill: It was a great wedding – it was really super, and a whole lot of people from New Zealand went over for it. It was just lovely. And they came over here for … something, I can’t remember. Anyway …

John: Christmas.

Jill: Yes. And on the way back to Auckland – or Hamilton actually, the plane was going from at that point – they saw the golf game at Taupo. So they set that up at Robina Town Centre, and they had this pontoon way out in the ornamental lake there, and that was Diane’s job. She went there every day from ten ‘til four …

Took the money and [?] the balls.

Yes. And we used to love going over there ‘cause they were floating golf balls. And we’d go and you know, skim round the edge and pick up all the golf balls. Dean, her husband, was most upset because I said “Oh, this is a lovely mindless sort of job”, you know, [chuckle] so he’s never let me forget it. But they still water ski; Diane is a driving instructor now and Dean’s with the Fire Service, and they are four days in Robina, and four days down at Grafton on the Clarence River, which is the river for water skiing. They’re into barefoot and … oh, all sorts. And our son is in Wellington, he married Helena …

John: Born ‘66 …

Jill: Yes. He was fifty last year. So we’ve got them you know, fairly close together. And … very involved with Rudolf Steiner. Helena came up through that school and her mother used to teach at the Rudolf Steiner School, so their children have all come up through it. So they live at Belmont down in Lower Hutt. Their eldest is nineteen, and the youngest is fifteen, so they’re just about off … But Tobes – he’s done all sorts of things. He was dux of Boys’ High. He’s got abilities in all sorts of fields. But he was with New Zealand Wines & Spirits in Auckland, wasn’t he? And they were gearing him up for big things there, and he decided no, it wasn’t for him. Mind you, he likes a drink, but it was the marketing and all that sort of thing. You know, they were targeting the young people with shots and things like that, so [he] didn’t think that was good. And then he married, he went to Wellington. He was with Pitman Moore for a while – that was early – he was a lecturer at Massey University down in Wellington, marketing for graphic artists. He’s a real market guy, marketing guy, and he does a lot of market research. He’s now contracting back to the university and doing marketing research, and for the government as well. So he’s a very fertile brain, my goodness – yes. So they’re all well set up, you know – very happy.

What have you got on your bucket list?

[Chuckle] That’s a good question, isn’t it, John? John’s never been a believer in bucket lists.

But we’re at a stage where there’s still lots of things we can do, aren’t there?

Unfortunately John’s health doesn’t really allow terribly much exciting stuff. But we bought our first brand new car, so I suppose that’s …

Your bucket list – you haven’t got anything obvious?


Just enjoying this lovely suburb you live in.

Yes. We enjoy it, yes.

Well thank you for your …

That’s all right – you’re welcome.

part. And John, can you remember where you finished?

John: We’d spoken about me starting with the ambulance … with St John, and ultimately with the ambulance service. And about the same time my interest in piping increased. I was involved with the City of Hastings Pipe Band, and we did contests and regular parades – you know, the old Blossom Parade. You know, we used to go up to Nelson Street and then right the way down to Windsor Park – real trek. But anyway, yes – I was a member of the City of Hastings Pipe Band for a few years, and I used to compete as well. And I was fortunate enough that, you know, I got a few prizes so that spurred me to go over to Scotland. I already had an itch to ‘go back hame’. And I spent a year over in the UK and Scotland .. or three … four months of it was in Scotland. I was in digs there and I used to chase the competitions around and follow the band contests.

And then after I arrived back home, I felt that I was too good for a band. And pride got in the way, and I said “Oh no, it’s all right – I’ll just compete and that sort of thing”. It was the worst thing that could have happened and it served me right. My piping just sort of gradually faded away, but the Scottish side of it still stayed, and I was always a member of the pipe band committee and ultimately still vice-president of the band. So you know, I haven’t lost the contact completely, but the action died down, and the involvement of it just – active involvement – faded away.

But of course by 1980 I’d taken over from Dad and been running the shop for some years. The Hawke’s Bay Butchery to me was a nothing sort of a name, and there was also the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Meat Company at Whakatu – we were getting confusion there and that sort of thing. So I personalised the name for a start by just appending ‘Tobins’ Hawke’s Bay Butchery. And then about 1970s I think it was, there was a franchise promotion group, Master Cut, and I was very impressed with their presentation. And so I became a member of the Master Cut group and it did the business quite good.

But, coming along with that of course was the advent of supermarkets, and that started some competition. And I think the Self Help was the first one – where New World are now – and of course I was only a block or so away from that. And then McKenzie’s opened opposite the State Theatre so I had two of them. And the business was … it was dwindling. I had actually resigned as an ambulance driver … voluntary ambulance driver … after fourteen years, and it was for the sake of the business because I had to put more time and effort into it. The first move that I made to try and spur things along was to open on Friday nights, and I was the first butcher in Hastings or in the area, to open on a Friday night. And that turned things around – my word! People were looking for a butcher to suit their hours of trade.

Cause a lot of people only went to town on a Friday night.

Yeah – absolutely. That was a big night. And of course we didn’t have the level of refrigeration that we have these days so people were more dependent on buying you know, smaller amounts more frequently. But of course once I started that, others started jumping on the bandwagon, and it levelled out.

So the next phase in that was the advent of Saturday morning trading, and I looked at this and I said to Jill, “You know, this is going to be the thin end of the wedge for weekend trading – it won’t stop with the food trade.” Saturday morning – you don’t walk in at eight o’clock and open the doors and close them at twelve and go home. And I was doing seven days to keep my five-day business operating then. So that spurred me to sort of think my life through. and up until then I’d been – I was getting a bit tired of the trade, and strikes and that sort of thing coming in, and getting relieving staff and more increased competition. But I always had it in my head that I couldn’t do anything else, I knew nothing else. I came in through the front door, and one trade, and that was it.

But anyway, we were up at Mahia actually, on a holiday – that was the thing, yeah – I couldn’t get any relieving staff and so instead of going to the South Island with the caravan as we were going to do, we went up to Mahia. And with Friday being the busiest day by then with the night trading, I jumped in the car at four o’clock Friday morning, drove down, [did a] full day’s work and then drove back to Mahia afterwards. Yeah – so anyway, while I was up there staying in the camping ground, I looked around it and thought, ‘God! Gosh, this place could do with a shake-up’, you know. The old boy who had it, he had the store as well, and fishing was his thing, and the camp was so run down.

Are you talking about Fulton’s?

Yep, I was trying to think of the name, actually – you’ve got it. [Chuckle]

No, and I started pacing the blimmin’ place out, and sort of thinking, ‘you know, you could do this, you could do that and do the other thing’. And then I thought ‘Well you know, you’ve got three cities in fairly close proximity; there’s a good catchment because it’s right off the beaten track for passing traffic, you know; plus with a bit of marketing there’s good potential here.’ But anyway, old Fulton … can’t remember the name … Mr Fulton mentioned his price, and it was quarter of a million – that was back in 1980. And the kids were still at school and it would have been … but anyway, it was enough to turn my thinking and say “Hey! There is life outside the butchery”, you know?

So I went back home and I put it on the market, and six months later it was sold. And coincidentally, although I’d resigned from the ambulance driving earlier, I’d been co-opted on to the ambulance management committee and so I was sort of helping out on the administrative side of things. And we had decided that – we had merged the two Napier and Hastings ambulance services into the Napier/Hastings combined ambulance service, and then the next move was to get a superintendent to oversee things, because you’d remember Ian Snadden? He had retired, and he’d been on the management committee after his retirement but he passed away in ‘77, and subsequent secondary managers were more involved with the St John side rather than the ambulance side. So we decided that it needed a superintendent, who was duly appointed, and also the first thing to be done after his appointment was to establish a regional control centre. And so I applied for that job and got it. And it wasn’t through insider trading or anything like that – there was [were] several interviews, but having been on the road I had a practical knowledge of that side of things. I also knew the district fairly well, I hadn’t just lived in the district, I’d lived it. [Chuckle] So I was appointed, and my brief was to establish a regional control centre, get it up and running and then drive it. And so that’s what I did, and I was in the control centre for the next twenty years until they closed it down and transferred all the call taking to Palmerston North initially, and now into Wellington. And there’s various opinions as to that. I still get guys saying to me, “Gee Tobe, I wish you were still in the control room”. Local knowledge, sort of thing, you know.

But anyway, that was the transition from [having] sold the shop and then going into the ambulance service, and I had continuity as far as employment was concerned. That took me through until the year 2000, actually – yes, when I was made redundant.

I can’t understand the shifting of control centres to Palmerston then to Wellington.

It’s all done for a reason.

I know. So the year 2000 you became redundant?


And so what did you do then?

I was paid a redundancy. It’d only just started, and it was – the union enforced it because there was four control officers by this stage, you know. And so I did receive a redundancy, and I took a break for a while and just sort of looked at things and … didn’t know what to do, really.

But I was at a band committee meeting one night and Bruce McLaren who was in the band – McLaren Stainless? I heard him saying to some chaps, “You don’t know where I can get a part-time guy to help me tidy up the workshop and that sort of thing?” He said, “I’ve got a problem.” And so I thought ‘Well … I think I could’ – oh no, no, I’m sorry Frank. No, no, no, I’m ahead of myself.

A good friend of my eldest daughter, her father owned Waipawa Buses, and she’d learnt through Carolyn that I was sort of sitting at home and that sort of thing. And she said … “[You] wouldn’t want to do some bus driving?” And I thought ‘Well – yeah. Yeah.’ Back in 1960 before I went overseas, I got a … I made sure I sat my heavy traffic licence. And at the time that I did that, they filled out the heavy traffic, also omnibus – all in one, so I had the omnibus licence but I’d never driven one. [Chuckle] So anyway, yes – I did that – I got a run that was actually contracted between Karamu High School and Waipawa Buses, rather than a Department of Education one. And I used to do the pickup and delivery of the students from out Bridge Pa and all that sort of thing, and coming across to Karamu. And then after that there was the odd … just a local charter for varying reasons or school trips sort of thing – I didn’t do out of town or long distance stuff.

And I was doing that for a while, and – we come back now to Bruce McLaren, he was saying, “You don’t know where I could get somebody?” And I thought ‘Well gosh, I’m only round the corner at the bus depot, and I’m only doing from seven-thirty ‘til nine, and half past one ‘til half past three – [I] could help him out in between.’ So he said, “Look, Tobe”, he said “I only need someone for about six months”. Anyway that six months rather grew, because the fellow I was relieving, he developed cancer unfortunately and died. And so nine and a half years later I was the gofer [chuckle] at McLaren Stainless …

Oh, wonderful.

… which was interesting – I mean, you know, I had my fun as a bus driver – that was something different. Then I decided to discontinue that when the contracts went out – and this is where Go Bus came in and undercut everybody. And I couldn’t stay on there holding a job when it was a part-timer for me, and these guys … other drivers were dependent for their livelihoods. So I gave it away and just carried on up at McLarens until illness caught up with me in 2010 and I virtually had to walk off the job up there with Bruce. And we won’t go into all that side of it – but yeah.

So when did you decide to do the history of St John in Hawke’s Bay?

Frank, all the time that I was involved with St John on their committees and that sort of thing, I never ever threw out the minutes immediately afterwards – I used to keep them and purge them and come back. ‘Cause you’d just sort of think … ‘Now that lapsed – let’s bring this back again’, and … you know. And then at the same time I just made notations of reasonably significant events, not knowing why – no idea. No idea why. So I had … and then also my memory … I had a reasonable knowledge. And while I was in the control centre there were some times during the night shifts and that, you know, nothing could be done, and I did actually start writing a book. Oh, it was just handwriting of course, and they hadn’t invented computers then [chuckle] for me. But that sort of lapsed, but again I still had a good flow of the notations. And in 2008, Owen Sinclair that I mentioned earlier – I attended his funeral along with a lot of other St John people, you know. But we were gathered together afterwards and I looked around and I thought ‘Gee, we’re getting thin on the ground now’, you know. And then I suddenly realised that perhaps I’d been there longer than [chuckle] quite a few others. And so the Hastings office lady had rung me and she said to me, “John”, she said, “could you speak on Owen’s involvement at St John at his funeral?” And so I said “Yep, sure” – which I did. And she came to afterwards – she said “Where did you get all that information from?” She said “I only asked you a day ago”, you know. And it I said, “It’s up here”. And so she said, “John”, she said, “the central office …” by now in Palmerston, “they want a copy of that because they said we’ve got no history of St John in the area.” Subsequent secretaries after Ian Snadden left, came in and said “Oh -what’s all this junk out the back?” You know. “Bin it”. And all the records were lost. And so I said to Karen then and there, I said “Look, I’ll make a pledge with you that I will write a book … write it down and pass it on to you”. And you know, I committed myself to doing it.

That was a wonderful gesture, and to follow through and complete it …

Yes. Well I had to. Oh – that probably took about three to five years. I’d never written a book or anything in my life, and I’m not a researcher or whatever. But I wrote down what I thought was the start for a book, and I think it was about twenty-two thousand words. And having known James Morgan since early days when I taught him the practise … taught him the bagpipes, [chuckle] and of course the involvement with St John with all the Morgan family, they all went through. So … and then with his history of having been editor of the Tribune, and then also with the Knowledge Bank on the electronic side … I went to him for advice actually, and said, “James”, I said “in this day and age, you know, is there still room for a written book? Or is it all electronic, or an e-book or something or other like this? And what would you suggest?” And I told him what I was doing, and he says “Oh, gosh – good old St John! He said “Well”, he said “there’s always room for a book. You can pick it up and tuck into a corner, flip a page back over rather than scrolling back, instead of stuck in front of the screen …” he said, “There’s always room for a book.” So he said “That’s what I’d recommend.” So I said “Fine. Well can you help me further? Knowing that”, I said, “who would I approach to edit it for me?” “Well”, he said “what have you done so far?” And I told him, and he said, “Well”, he said “Let me have a look at it, and I will decide … I’ll tell you after that, when I see that.” So anyway he contacted me back, and he says “I’ve had a look at that stuff”, he says “the good old SJAB”, as he called it. He said, “This is going no further – I’ll do this as a donation to St John”, which you know, it was a fundraiser for St John, as you know. And so James – that’s how [he] came to edit the book, and so from the twenty-two thousand words, it ended up about sixty, seventy thousand.

Isn’t it wonderful that … it’s one thing to have an idea, it’s another thing to actually …

See it through. Yes. Yes, you’re right, Frank. There’s been so many things in my life where I’ve gone so far – like playing the pipes, playing in the pipe band – and I’ve never seen it through … sort of lapsed out. And this is the first thing I can honestly say that I’ve … yes, I’ve seen it through to completion. And St John are so thrilled with it because they now have a good physical record of it – they’re rapt with the book – yeah.

Yes. I bought one of your books and I gave it to my niece in Waipawa – she’s the St John lady down there.

Oh, yeah – now, was she up here for a send-off?

Yes, she was.

Yes – there was a presentation made to her … the service medals.

Sarah Johnson.

Yes – yes, yes. I was talking with Tony King and he mentioned the name and he pointed her out, and it didn’t mean anything to me. I’m sure it was the same lady who was … she’d missed out on some service awards or something or other.

You never mentioned the Highland Games that were a major part of Hawke’s Bay, and you would’ve spent many a day standing piping for some of our dancers?

Yes, yes. Gosh, yes.

There were people like Jack Jones and the Mintys …

Greater Hastings.

… to drive it.

Yes. Harry Pop [Harry Poppelwell] started that.


Well, the piping side of it – I used to compete over there of course, but then the Pipe Major of our band, Doug Thoresen, left and went to Australia. And he used to convene the piping events at the games. And it was only when I picked up a programme … oh, a good year or so after he’d gone, to see what the events were for the coming games, and I see all these New Zealand championships. And I thought, ‘Now hang on – they were held two years ago, and they’re still being shown’. Of course they weren’t being held here, it was a thing that was allocated around the country. So I went along to Greater Hastings, and I said “Hey, you know – there’s something amiss – do you mind if I sort it out for you”, you know? So I ended up as the piping convenor, [chuckle] to arrange … [Laughter]

Out of the frying pan, into the fire …

So I did that for eighteen years, and then actually my brother Ken took it over from me. But you know, this was really in the heyday when the entries – gosh! We used to be going up ‘til six o’clock at night under car lights and all this sort of thing ‘cause the events were so massive. Hastings Highland Games was a big venue. Yeah – too right it was.

And then besides that I also instituted a thing to attract younger competitors. We provided a tuning service, where there will be a bagpipe tuner on hand, ‘cause kids can’t tune their own pipes, and they’d have to go and, “Please …” one of the A grade … “Could you help me?” And so I appointed myself as the official tuner on the novice board. [Chuckle] So … yeah – but as I say, after eighteen years I thought ‘Oh … hey, you know – that’s enough.’ And by then too I was involved with the shift work that was entailed with the ambulance service too.

You certainly have contributed a lot of time to the community, which is wonderful.

Well I’ve lived in the community, Frank, and I’ve lived the community.

I know. But there’s lot of people you know who don’t do anything.

Yeah … yeah.

Well is there anything else you can think of? From the butcher’s block, to St John driver, to a piper …

Yeah. Bus driver, gofer …

… and all the skills you have cross pollinate, and you can use them wherever you go.

[Chuckle] Yes. You don’t sort of do it with that in mind, but … oh no, my family have come back to me and said, “Gee whizz, Pop!” They said, you know, “You’ve done a few things now, haven’t you?”

I know – and you’ve still got some things to do.


Okay, well if you think that’s probably it …

Oh, well I think so, Frank. As I say, nothing sort of tears out of my memory at the moment.

A thought I have had, and that is I don’t know if it’s … [recorder switched off, then re-started. John is talking on another subject]

… standard of piping, and it hurt me when I heard what was coming out, and I thought ‘No – that’s it. I’ll never play them again’. And I haven’t. They’re sitting up in the bedroom; I’ve just had them valued and I’m in the process of trying to sell them now. Yeah – no. No, that’s the end of that.

And are they clothed in the Stuart tartan?

No, they’re not actually. They’re not – no, no, no – it’s just a maroon velvet bag with some white piping on it. [Chuckle] What I was going to say is that …

Yes, sorry.

… Kershaw’s … Hutchies, [Hutchinson’s] at Kershaw’s … they have expanded one side into what used to be the old butcher’s shop, and on the other side they’ve expanded into where the Empire restaurant was and Lusher’s Grocery. But anyway, when we were moving into here the site manager took us down to Kershaw’s [Hutchinson’s] and said you know we’ve got a deal with them for the flooring. Here we go again – Hutchinson’s – we’ve got a deal with them for the flooring. So we went in there, and of course Jill had worked for Hutchie’s for twenty years and we knew Nathan quite well, and went into the carpets part which was the one nearest Havelock North – that end of it – and we’re talking with them in there and I said to Nathan, I said, “Crikey!” I said, “You know that we’re standing the Empire fish shop, don’t you?” Oh no – I meant Lusher’s Grocery. “Oh”, he said, “are we?” I said “Yep”. I said “That was Lusher’s’, I said “see the joint across there?” I said “This was Lusher’s, and”, I said, “that next part was the Empire Restaurant.” “Oh … gosh!” he said. And I said “Through that wall was my shop.” “Was it?” he said. “Well, come with me.” And he took me out and we went next door and he opened the door and it was all blanked out and that sort of thing. Stepped in there, and he said, “We’re pushing through into here, and into the next one and the next one”, which was the old – that was all the Harding building, and you’d probably remember Totty’s Florists, and the dry cleaners, Taylor’s Dry Cleaners. Anyway, we went in here because he wanted some information about the floor – a hoary job had been done making the floor, and he wanted to know just what had happened to it and that sort of thing. But it’d been done after I’d left. But anyway, I’d sort of described it to him, and the old floor safe was still there under the window display and this sort of thing. And he said to me as we’re going out, he says, “John”, he said, “you wouldn’t have any old photos?” And I said “Yeah … yeah, I could – not a great amount, but yeah.” “Well”, he said “I want to do a little thingy in the appropriate area to sort of put out what has been here in the past.” And I said, “That would be great!” Because over in Denton Wyatt’s they’ve got the PJS George …

That’s right, yes.

… you know? And you go into Visique in Russell Street and they’ve got the Shattky and Webber door. And so I said “That’d be marvellous!” And he said, “Well”, he says “drop something into me”.

So I actually did a bit of a history of the business, and also made up a folder with photos and adverts and that sort of thing of the shop over the time. And I thought ‘well, I’ll give him all of this. He can pick the guts out of what he wants to copy, and then the rest of it is there for the family”. You know, as to what the business was. So he’s still got all of that, but I took another copy off what I wrote. And whether that’s … I don’t necessarily mean in conjunction with what we’re doing here, but as far as town history is concerned …

We would just copy that and add that as part of the history.

You worked for Hutch [Hutchinson’s] for twenty years?

Jill: Oh yes. Yes. Firstly for Sawyer’s, and then Brian Townsend took that over.

John: And Sutcliffe’s, too.

Jill: After school I used to work at Sutcliffe’s.

Where was ..?

Sawyer’s, up Stortford Lodge.

That’s right. So thank you very much for giving us that history of your families.

Original digital file


Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.