New, New World, Levin

A history of four Levin supermarkets - from feature opening of New World, Bath Street with Stuart Irons as Proprietor.

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New World (Queen St) (Wardells-Self Help) 

This supermarket started in the early 1950s in what is now Palmer’s Sporting Goods Specialists. 

Mr Sutherland during the depression (1929-1934), started selling groceries in a shed at the Wellington Railway Station.  The business grew until there were many branches of Self Help supermarkets in New Zealand.

The names of the first managers are not known for certain but there were two managers, Mr Fred Edwards and Mr Vic Wallace, who I can’t fit in accurately. 

Mr Frank Lockyer was manager about 1952 and Mr Byron Harvey was manager from 1953 until Mrs Betty Perfect became manager about 1956-1957. 

Mr Robin Heyworth followed, shifting the business to the new Self Help Supermarket in Queen St in 1968. 

The name was changed to Wardell Self Help in 1975 and later to Wardells. 

Mr Stuart Irons bought the business in 1985 under the New World concept. 

The property, at least until now, has been owned by the Sutherland Trust.  The business closed on Saturday March 21 in preparation for the merger of the two Levin New Worlds in the new building in (Bath St) (Consumers Co-operative Society Manawatu Ltd). 

This supermarket started in 1968 in the vacated buildings of Harvey’s Joinery (Where Smith and Brown are now).   Sava Dollar Discounts Ltd leased the premises from the Levin borough. 

The walls and floor were covered in hardboard and the building was fitted out as a supermarket.  Five months later the company built the first section of the Bath St buildings.  Mr P.J. Douglas was the first manager. 

Two houses were removed.  One had originally been the home of Mr Clarry Keedwell, an early chemist second in line of the proprietors of what is now Bennett’s Pharmacy. 

About a year later, probably in 1969 the Consumers’ Co-operative Manawatu Ltd bought the store. The first manager was Mr Alex Bond, followed by Mr Les Peters from 1971 to 1979. 

In 1974 an extension was built for a butchery and for extended room for display and for the Wine Cellar. 

Then later, a storeroom was built to the west with a house being removed, providing more parking at the front.  Mr Arthur Petre became the manager in 1979. 

Wilson Neill bought the business of the Wine Cellar in 1983.  The wine licence originated with Mr Corbie Wallace in a shop in Foster’s Building, Oxford St North about the 1950s. 

Mr Stuart Irons bought the business in 1985 and promoted it as a New World supermarket with Mr Rex Lineham as manager. 

Foodstuffs Wellington Co-op. Society Ltd bought the whole property in 1985.  This supermarket closed on Saturday March 21.


Woolworths (late McKenzies)

Mackenzies was built in 1970.  It was said then that it was the largest MacKenzie supermarket in New Zealand. 

The site was one of the twin pits on the Oxford, Bath and Chamberlain Streets block.  It was not properly filled by the Bradford system of alternate layers of rubbish and spoil with vehicles compacting the rubbish.  In my memory it was filled with the town’s rubbish, particularly of petrol tins and waste from Harvey’s Joinery (where Smith and Brown are now).  Thirty foot (9m) poles were driven to find solid foundation. 

Previously Mr Ken Douglas had his engineering workshop and Mr Jack Douglas had his joinery workshop on the Chamberlain St frontage. 

The pit edge did not go right to Chamberlain St there near the corner. 

The pit had a layer of soil on the rubbish and there were some temporary borough sheds on it.  The site was used for unofficial parking among the often water filled hollows left by the sinking rubbish. 

The bakery of MacKenzies was the first bakery built in Levin since large bakeries in larger centres such as Palmerston North bought the local ones and closed them down from 1947 to 1968, distributing bread over a large area. 

MacKenzies bakery distributed bread and small goods to branches from Paraparaumu to Palmerston North. 

The first manager was Mr Graeme Liddy.  He was followed by Mr Terry Finnick and from 1977 to 1981, Mr Barry Milar was manager. 

After the L.D. Nathan takeover in 1980, Mr Geoff Bogland was manager until 1984.  Then Mark Rusbatch was manager until 1986 with Mr Roger Bate following. 

The supermarket still operates under the name of Woolworths.  Since it was built the building has had little alteration externally.  The main change was closure of a doorway into the south end of The Mall  concourse.


Write Price

The west half of the Write Price building is on the site of Mr W.B.Macintosh’s coach building business which, from 1900, evolved into a motor garage run by his son, Mr Frank Macintosh in the 1920s.

In 1933 Mr Andrew Bonner went into partnership with Frank Macintosh.  Mr Bonner became the sole owner in 1939, with the business becoming Bonner’s Garage. 

The east side of the Write Price building was the site of a grain store existing by at least 1917. 

This was altered to become a picture theatre about 1917 or 1918, under the management of Mr Jim Sullivan and Mr Les Scott, showing silent black and white films. 

After the De Luxe Theatre in the Municipal Building opened in 1926, the Queen St Theatre, the People’s Pictures, survived for a while until a convenient fire gutted it in about 1927.  It remained gutted until 1935 when it was demolished.  The garage bought the section, building a showroom and spare parts department. 

Son, Mr Victor Bonner, succeeded to the management in 1970, staying until 1976 when his brother, Mr Stuart Bonner, took over the management.  The Write Price parking area was the site of the Century Hall on the east side, built in 1900.  The Methodist Church built this when the small church sited where the parsonage is now became too small for the increased congregation. This was later shifted, behind the Century Hall at the south end of the section. 

The Century Hall was used as a church and for church activities.  It was also rented as a public hall for functions, entertainment and meetings. 

The first moving pictures were screened in it about 1910 by an itinerant showman. 

West of the hall was a building of several rooms, part being a shop front owned by the Methodist Church, known at one time as the Whakatane Rooms. 

A plumber, Mr George Thompson, used part or all of the rooms as his workshop about 1910 and much later, perhaps in the 1950s. Mr Les Edwards did the same. 

In between times the rooms were used for small meetings, functions and by the YMCA. 

In 1959, after the new Methodist Church had been built, the Century Hall and small church were shifted to Waitarere and the rooms demolished.  Bonners Garage bought the land for their used car court. 

Foodstuffs Wgton Co-op Society Ltd bought Bonners Garage in 1982, building Write Price, this being leased to Mr Stuart Irons.  Mr George Bevan was the manager until 1986, when he became manager organising produce supplies to all three Stuart Irons’ supermarkets.  Then Miss Diane Pescini became the manager. 

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New, New World, Levin

Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:24/03/1987
Publisher:The Chronicle

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