A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOBIN FAMILY BUTCHERY BUSINESS
John Tobin writes:
After moving to Hastings from Wellington soon after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, my father H. B. (Bruce) Tobin set up a retail butchery business in partnership with W. A. (Bill) Taylor, who was the stock buyer for the company.
Prior to this, in his single days, Dad was a shepherd for fourteen years on Frank Armstrong’s Akitio Station, in Southern Hawke’s Bay.
At one stage they had shops in Napier and Hastings and I understand they traded as ‘The Peoples’ Butchery’. The Hastings shop was located next door to, and on the western side of Kershaw’s furnishing and funeral directing premises. This later became the Co-op No1 butchery after Dad moved to larger premises four doors further along the block toward Havelock. Kershaw’s used to make their coffins and store their Mercury hearse at the rear of the furniture store. Their French polisher, George Murphy, was also the funeral director. Their chapel was located on Heretaunga St W, halfway between Nelson St & Southland Rd. Mr & Mrs Kershaw used to live in the house on the corner of Warren & Queen Sts.
So, starting from Warren St corner, the corner shop was Kelly’s Grocery and The U.F.S. Dispensary under the two-storey corner building (Begley’s Building). Then in the Hardings Building was Taylor’s Dry-Cleaning depot, Totty’s Florists (later to become Anne-Beau Lingerie), The Hawke’s Bay Butchery, Lushers Grocery and the Empire Restaurant. The next building was Kershaw’s. The next shop became the Co-op butchery after Dad’s move. Past that was Yates Grocery, Mena David’s dress shop (she lived in one of the two flats above Kelly’s shop), Bill Estcourt’s hairdressing shop, The Selphast Bakery, Ah Wing’s greengrocery, then Bon Marche, Ian Hickman Bookseller, Eastern & Central Savings Bank, Reardon-Wright tailors, then Nutter’s drapery & haberdashery on Karamu Rd corner.
I have no record of when the Tobin/Taylor partnership was dissolved. Dad continued trading as ‘The Hawke’s Bay Butchery’, a very successful retail butchery and small goods business with usually about six staff. I used to enjoy working there after school and from an early age I only ever wanted to be a butcher. When I left high school on my fifteenth birthday I began working in the shop full-time and gradually assumed managing the business about 1962. There was never a ‘hand-over’ date as such, and Dad continued at the shop until the late Sixties.
Dad was the President of the Hawke’s Bay Master Butchers Association for many years, attending National Federation conferences annually as well as being the local spokesperson for the trade to the media. During my last ten years, I was also the member delegate for Hawke’s Bay, attending the Federation conferences annually.