Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Ballantyne, J. and Co., Dunstable House, Christchurch; Stafford Street, Timaru; Basinghall Street, London. Dunstable House, the chief warehouse of this firm, is a handsomely ornate building in the Italian style of architecture, and occupies a block of land over an acre in extent in the very heart of the city. An imposing verandah stretches along the fine frontage, protecting the goods in the large show windows from the sun's rays, and also adding to the beauty of the building and the comfort of pedestrians. The artistic window displays embrace every article of apparel, from a gentleman's tie to the latest Parisian costume or mantle, and admirable taste is exhibited in the arrangement of goods, and in the charming combination of colour and effect. Inside each of the two entrances stands a handsome show case, filled with, goods typical of the establishment, and the motto on one of them, “Modern art in Modern Dress,' is applicable to all the work executed by Messrs Ballantyne and Co. So large a business is necessarily divided into many departments, and each branch is under
Dunstable House.

Dunstable House.

page 301 the supervision of a trained expert. On the ground floor there are departments for men's clothing and mercery, for gloves, ribbons, laces, Manchester and heavy goods, general furnishings, carpets, floorcloths and linoleums, millinery, mantles and costumes, and ladies' underclothing. In a special room on the ground floor, the fabrics of softer tints for evening use are exhibited by artificial light, daylight being excluded. A cellar, running under the main basement, is filled with a reserve stock of heavy goods, and other spare portions of the building upstairs are utilised for the storage of lighter stocks.

The bespoke tailoring and dressmaking departments are on the first floor, where there is a large well lighted showroom, heavily stocked with English and colonial tweeds, etc., and provided with separate rooms for measuring and cutting. From the corridors of the “wells,” which admit the light to the shops below, a busy scene is observed; the rustle of skirts, the hum of voices, the promptness and civility extended to everyone, and the clockwork precision with which the business is conducted, recall similar scenes in the large warehouses in the Mother Country. Along the corridors referred to there are a number of private rooms where ladies' dresses are fitted. In the many workrooms on the first and second floors numerous men, women, boys and girls are busily engaged in the manufacture of clothing and wearing apparel of every description. In these well lighted and any rooms some hundreds of people are thus engaged, and a large dining room is set apart for their convenience.

When it is known that leading colonial importers like Messrs Ballantyne and Co. closely watch changes of fashion in Paris and London, it ceases to be a matter for surprise that colonials generally are as well dressed and up-to-date in appearance as their friends in the English towns. The firm's London representatives are always on the watch for new ideas that create a favourable impression at Home; and by reason of this it has come to be generally known that whatever goods are obtained from Messrs Ballantyne and Co. are not only of good quality, but also in the correct and latest styles.

Messrs Ballantyne and Co.'s business was established in the very early days of the Canterbury settlement, and, under capable management, its expansion has been coincident with and akin to that of the province. Year by year the trade of the firm has increased, and it now extends to all parts of New Zealand. The accomplishment of this end has been facilitated by the businesslike system of “shopping by post,” which is such a feature of Messrs Ballantyne's management, and a great convenience to people in the country districts.

Apart from this and many other secondary causes, the high-class quality of the goods supplied, and the courtesy that is always extended to visitors to Dunstable House, have created in the public mind a feeling of confidence and respect that will ensure the continued success of Messrs Ballantyne and Co.'s business.

Mr. John Ballantyne, a scion of an old Border family, was born at Selkirk, Scotland, in 1825. At an early age he developed a taste for farming, a taste which was, however, not gratified till much later on in life.' After receiving a good education, he became, in accordance with the desire of his parents, apprenticed to a drapery firm at Berwick-on-Tweed. He faithfully served his time, and then, in order to gain a wider experience, he removed to Liverpool, where he remained a few years, and subsequently returned to Berwick. Australia at that time had begun to be looked upon as a desirable field for emigration, and Mr. John Ballantyne, seeing the opportunity for advancement in a new country, set sail for Sydney, where he arrived in 1852. His recommendations to the firm of Messrs McArthur and Co. secured for him the position of traveller, and, in recognition of his ability, he was subsequently admitted to a partnership in the firm. At Adelaide he established a branch business for the company, and at the same time he started another business, which he afterwards disposed of to his brother, as he himself desired to again see his native land, and look after the education of his family. During the years he resided in South Australia Mr. Ballantyne, in his periodical visits to the country, came in close touch with many of the pioneers, and having always evinced a keen interest in farming, he formed a wide circle of friends. On his return from the Old Country he again started in business in Adelaide, but as the climate proved unsuitable to his family, he visited New Zealand in 1858, and decided to settle in the country. He then returned to Adelaide, disposed of his business there, and landed in Auckland in 1872, after a troublesome voyage of five weeks in a leaky old wooden brig. Wishing to fulfil his youthful ambition of settling upon the land, Mr. Ballantyne travelled through New Zealand in quest of a suitable place. When he arrived in Christchurch he met the late Mr. George Gould, and, partly owing to that gentleman's influence, he was persuaded to take over Dunstable House, as Mr. William Pratt was about to retire from the business. Mr. Ballantyne decided, however, to confine the period of his control of the business to seven years, and, on the expiration of that time he disposed of his interest to a firm which, after various subsequent changes, now (1902) consists of his three sons, Mr Josiah Ballantyne, Mr. Thorne Ballantyne, and Mr. William Ballantyne. On his retirement from business. Mr. John Ballantyne was enabled to gratify his life's desire by purchasing a farm in the Rangitata district, in 1879. He became as successful as a farmer as he had been as a man of business, and for several years his face was a familiar one throughout South Canterbury, where he was highly esteemed as a man and a colonist. Mr. Ballantyne died on the 6th of August, 1899.

Drapery And General Importing Company Of New Zealand, Ltd., D.I.C. Head Office, Dunedin. Canterbury Branch, Cashel and Lichfield Streets. Christchurch. Telephone 475: P.O. Box 354. Bankers, National Bank of New Zealand. The main building occupied by this prominent commercial corporation in Christchurch extends from street to street, being 340 feet in depth. In addition to this, the company possesses the large three-storey brick and stone building with basement formerly occupied by Messrs Sargood, Son and Ewen, which is used as a furniture warehouse and show-rooms. The ground floor of the building is occupied by a large number of different departments, devoted respectively, to haberdashery and trimmings; hosiery and gloves, ribbons, laces, and fancy goods; bargain corner (where special lines from all departments are in turn displayed); furnishing drapery, blankets and flannels; general Manchester; boots and shoes, through which the men's clothing branch is reached; musical instruments and sheet music, country order and parcel delivery office, linoleums, carpets, and bicycles department, and the recently added bicycle factory; furnishing ironmongery, and household utensils, crockery, glassware, and fancy china. All these departments contain heavy stocks. The first floor is reached by a double staircase, and contains departments devoted to toys, games, fancy goods, books, and stationery, woollen dresses, mourning silk and velvets; millinery and mantle show room. This floor has a well-appointed and spacious refreshment-room, with ladies' retiring-rooms attached; also large tastefully furnished ladies' fitting-rooms. The top floor is occupied by the various work-rooms, dress, mantle-making, and millinery. The firm's extensive furniture warehouse fronts on to Lichfield Street, and is also entered from the carpet department. The ground and first floors will be found to contain a splendid assortment of furniture of every description, from the ordinary kitchen chair to the most tasteful drawing and dining-room suites. The basement is used for the storage of reserve stocks, and the top storey as a bedding, wire-mattress, and upholstery factory. Further particulars concerning the company may be found in the Otago and Wellington volumes of this work.

page 302

Mr. Ebenezer Charles Brown, who has held the position of Manager of the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand in Christchurch since March, 1885, is a West of England man by birth; he was born in 1851 in Somersetshire, and educated at the Board and Grammar Schools. He served an apprenticeship of four years to the drapery trade in Birmingham, and was afterwards in some of the leading drapery houses in London. Mr. Brown arrived in Lyttelton per ship “Monarch” in 1870, and after a short experience of country pursuits he next became assistant in a Lyttelton drapery house, and five years later entered into partnership with Mr. J. W. Smith, under the style of Brown and Smith, purchasing the business of his previous employer. This partnership existed for seven years, when Mr. Brown visited the Old Country. On his return he became manager of a wholesale drapery establishment in Christchurch; subsequently he bought the business of Messrs. Craig and Smyth, whose premises were on the site now occupied by the “D.I.C.” in Cashel Street, and for two years conducted a large growing trade, under the style of E. C. Brown and Co. He then sold his stock and lease to the Company, and was appointed manager of the Canterbury branch. Mr. Brown went to England to purchase the opening stock of 1884. The premises at this time had not more than one-third of the ground floor space now occupied, every year having added some distinctly new department. Mr. Brown is a member of the Masonic Order, his mother lodge being Unanimity 604 E.C. For some years he has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He is an active supporter of the Wesleyan Church, having been connected with the Lyttelton church for ten years, and with the St. Albans church for fifteen years, and also superintendent of the Sunday School since 1888. He has several times been elected a representative to the New Zealand Annual Conference, and in 1884 he went to Melbourne as delegate to the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist General Conference. Mr. Brown was married, first, in 1874, to Dora Eliza, third daughter of Mr. W. Bennett, of Milan House, Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland, and, secondly, in Dunedin, in 1881, to a daughter of the Rev. Edward Best, Wesleyan minister.

Standish and Preece, photo. Mr. E. C. Brown.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. E. C. Brown.

Strange, W. And Company (sole partners and proprietors, William Strange and Thomas Coverdale), Wholesale and Family Drapers, Merchants, Manufacturers and Importers; retail premises, Victoria House, High Street; Furniture Department, corner of High and Lichfield Streets; Factory and Furniture Warehouse, corner of Manchester Street and South Belt (facing the railway station), Christchurch. Telephone 298; Post Office Box, 65; Bankers. Bank of New Zealand; Cable address, “Todtenbuch.” London offices, 139–141 Wool Exchange, Basinghall Street. E.C. This extensive business was founded about forty years ago by Mr. William Strange, in small premises, afterwards occupied by Mr. Papps. grocer. From the outset “Strange's” has been noted for the quality of its goods and the moderation of its prices. In the year 1882 Mr. W. Strange retired from the business, and turned his attention to agriculture and sheepfarming, becoming the owner of two fine sheep stations, one situated at the Selwyn and the other at Ashburton, and leaving the control of Strange and Company to his brother, Mr. E. Strange. Ten years later, in 1892, Mr. W. Strange returned to Christchurch, and once more assumed control of the business founded by himself, although retaining his sheep stations. Shortly afterwards he entrusted the sole management of the business to Mr. Coverdale, who was admitted to a full partnership in July, 1894. From that year onward the development of “Strange's” has been extraordinarily rapid, and the new departures made during the period between 1894 and the present time have been due to the initiation of Mr Coverdale. In 1900 the firm added the magnificent block at the corner of High and Lichfield Streets to its existing premises, and in order to do this, the demolition and removal of a whole row of dingy and dilapidated shops—relics of old Christchurch—became necessary. Where those old weatherboard shops once stood now stands “Strange's” furniture and furnishing warehouse, a really fine corner building of four stories in height, which has not merely added immensely to the appearance of the firm's premises, but constitutes a city improvement of a very striking character indeed. Strange and Company were, originally, drapers, pure and simple; now they are manufacturers as well, and actually produce many of the goods they sell. Thus, they now possess an up-to-date furniture factory, filed with the very latest labour-saving appliances and manned by skilled operators. This factory occupies a commanding position immediately facing the Christchurch railway station. There furniture of all descriptions is turned out, from the superb goods fitted to adorn the mansion, to the plain and useful articles suited to the cottage. From all parts of New Zealand Strange and Company receive orders for their furniture. In addition to being manufacturers of furniture, the firm has a factory for the production of Venetian and other blinds; a bedding factory, a wiremattress factory, a factory for the production of all kind of wire-work goods for farm, station, garden, and domestic use; a macintosh coat factory, a ready-made clothing factory, a bespoke tailoring branch, etc. In addition to all this “Strange's” are milliners, mantle-makers, dressmakers, and complete outfitters, and, besides running great departments devoted to various kinds of drapery, have one especially devoted to crockery and glass, including art pottery, etc., and one for boots and shoes. Indeed, so numerous are the goods in which this remarkable firm deals that its establishment is becoming more and more like the great departmenta stores of America, wherein may be purchased for personal use, under one roof, pretty nearly everything needed on land or at sea. Strange and Company's London House is at Nos. 139–141. Wool Exchange, Basinghall Street, E.C., in the commercial heart of the great metropolis. There “Strange's” maintain a manager, accountants, and staff of buyers. It is the duty of the latter to keep a vigilant look-out for the newest and most attractive lines of goods for shrpment to “Strange's.” Christchurch, direct. and so well do these buyer do their work, and so expeditiously do the modern ocean liners cover the distance between London and New Zealand, that “Strange's” are enabled to keep on sale a constant succession of the very newest goods, and to show novelties almost as quickly as the latter make their appearance in the shops and warehouses of London. It is especially worthy of note that this firm does all its importing direct from the leading manufacturers themselves; and, buying everything in great quantities at a time, it is necessarily in the happy position of being able to deal liberally by its innumerable patrons. It has been said and truly that local industries are the backbone of any town or district with which they are identified; and, this being so, Strange and Company certainly deserve well of the public, for they have founded, and maintain, a number of important industries of their own, which are constantly expanding with the growth of the city and the province, and materially assist in their development. “Strange's” now give employment to close upon 600 people, and the name of the firm has become “familiar as a household word” in the mouths of the New Zealand public. It only remains to add that “Strange's” now own the largest business of its kind in the colony, and one of the largest in all Australasia.

Toneyoliffe And Carey, Drapers, Clothiers and Milliners, 202–206 Colombo Street, Christchurch. This well known firm carries on its extensive business in prominent premises at the corner of Colombo Street and Gloucester Street, in one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city.