Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 22, June 1978

By J.F. Carbutt

The General Store on the corner of Hazard and Kenny Streets was originally owned by a Mr Wynyard. This was purchased by my Uncle and parents and known as Carbutt and Blanchfield's Store. This was in the Xmas period 1912-13. My parents took over the business not long after this, and my uncle bought a farm in Walton just out of Morrinsville.

There were several businesses in Kenny Street then, and around the corner from us was a massive plumbing shop, Sid Fugil being the foreman there. Further along the street was Roberts Bakery, Dobson's Confectionery, Dr Fraser, Ernie Lewyllen Boot Repairer, Dr G. Short, with Hinch's Laundry next to the timber yard. These businesses were maintained by the custom from the area as the rest of the street was all boarding houses for the miners. At this time the Central Hotel on the east of Kenny Street, which had 49 bedrooms, was the residence of the Police Force during the Strike. Today half of this Hotel is in good repair in Rotorua, known as the Prince's Gate Hotel, while the other half of the Central Hotel was also shifted to Rotorua in 1921. This portion was known as the "Rising Sun" Hotel which has since been destroyed by fire.

My parents had not had the store very long when the Mine Strike started and this closed the business for 3 months as they were not in a position to give unlimited credit, but even so I know my parents helped quite a few people who we knew were worse off than we were. The shop was lit with gas lights and Saturday night was then Late Night, closing about 9 p.m.

Our residence was part of the same building. Our first bookeeper was Nellie Holmes who later had a music store of her own in the Main Street, where Cooper and Wiggs old shop was. She later married and became Mrs J. Collins and retained the shop. Up until 10 years ago she used to stop me in the street and always remind me that she worked for my father and what a wonderful boss he was. Our next office girl was Darcie Harris, a daughter of the local milkman whose farm was where Clive Dean is. The store closed down during 1940 as a result of the combination of the War, the death of my father, and a shifting of the residential area.

A General Store then sold: Crockery, Tinware, Enamelware, Galvanised Baths, Wooden Washboards, Patent Medicines, Groceries.


It must be remembered that grocery lines then were not prepackaged as now. Some of these lines I have spent many many hours weighing and bagging behind closed doors ready for sale the next day.

My mates used to come down home of an evening and we would adjourn to the back of the shop and start weighing up, this filled in many an evening, and I suppose took the place of the modern television, and radio. The night would start up with the breakdown of ½ ton of sugar into 70 lb bags, then 200 lb sack of flour Canadian - ½ ton potatoes into 28 lbs. - dates in 70 lb boxes into 5 lb lots - sacks of rice into 5 lb lots - 56 lb boxes of sultanas and raisins - boxes and boxes of clothes pegs in 5 oz lots 1/- a bag. Bars of washing soap were then sold unwrapped and we rolled this up in newspaper - Taniwha, Velvet and Bekkers were popular lines.

The method of parcelling small items of say 1d or 2d worth of lollies or some culinary items as pepper etc., was to tear a piece of newspaper about 12" square and roll this on the diagonal to form a paper cone, place the item inside and screw the top and advise the customer to hold upright.

Cheese was another item which gave the old grocer shop a homely smell. The cheese arrived in 2 40lb blocks in a wooden crate and was placed on a cheese board. The cheese cloth was pulled off (a B job!) then cut into sections with a piece of piano wire. I have actually seen cheese under glass with cheese grubs about the size of Hu Hu grubs and people would come in and ask for 6d of grubs. This was at Hutchinson's in Queen Street Auckland, a delicacy favoured by some.

A few prices at this time were 70 [lbs. - E] Sugar 15/-, 50lbs Flour 10/-, 5lbs Rice 1/-, 5 oz clothes pegs 1/-, 5 tins Brunswick Brand Sardines 1/-, 5lb Dates 1/-, 5 packets Elfin Brand Jellies 1/-, Biscuits loose any brand 1/- to 1/6 - per lb, Highlander Milk 1/6 per tin, the best Salmon (Laurel Wreath) 1/6 - 2/6 large tin.

Tobacco & Cigarettes

Cigarette Brands (all in packets of 10)

Old Judge 8d packet

Three Castle 8d packet

Green & Yellow 8d packet

Ardath 8d packet

Capstan 7d packet

Woodbines 6d packet

Cigarette Tobaccos (Roll your owns 2 oz packets)

Yellow & Green Grades, Three Castle 1/8 packet

Capstan in round tins with own cutter 1/10 tin

Mild Tan label, Medium Blue Label, Full Strength Brown Label 1/10 tin

Melrose packet with own big papers& 10 paper cigarette holders 1/8

Old Judge 2 oz packet top strength 1/8

Pipe Tobaccos

2 oz tin round with own cutter. Red Label 1/8

2 oz flat tins. Havelock Light& Dark 1/8

2 oz flat tins. Yankee Doodle Light & Dark 1/8

The biggest seller then was pocket pieces or commonly known as plug tobacco, a concentrated plug at 1/8 plug size 2½x1¼x ⅜. The known brands then Juno, Derby, Havelock, Yankee Doodle. The last two were the biggest sellers. This plug tobacco used to arrive at the shop in nicely made wooden boxes holding 21 lbs. of 2 oz plugs pressed together. The wooden boxes were broken to get at the contents then a wooden mallet was used to break apart the sticks of tobacco.

When first opening these caddies the aroma from the fresh tobacco was something to remember, even now some 60 years later I still retain this memory of this rich aroma. Plug tobacco was the one used by the underground miner, it fitted so easily in their waistcoat pocket and withdrawn when that fresh chew was required.

From this derived the awful habit of spitting the juices around them, hence the origin of the spittoon bowls to be found in all Hotels, billiard rooms, and meeting rooms.

The other Grocery Shops in town at this time between 1920-1930 were owned by W.E. Busch - top and bottom stores - the top one being where the Farmers Trading now stands, the other one is still going as a grocery shop in Station Road. Wallace Supplies Grocery now was the Thames Valley Power Board building. French the Grocer had his shop where Provincial Plumbers now stands, the part nearest to the milk bar. The East End Store was Hook the Grocer, West End W.E. Hill and Rosemont Road T.K. Patterson. Later we shifted to where Gardiners Bakery Shop now is but we were burnt out in June 1930.