|Date of birth||16/09/1920|
|Date of death||25/3/2013|
To follow will be a short history of this amazing man and a number of photos about his life.
Special thanks to the Jenson family particularly daughter " Lynn", and many of Laurie's friends in supplying information and assisting
with research to document part of Laurie's life. HJP.
Laurence ( better known as Laurie ) was born in Marton on 16th September 1920. He was then brought to live with
his grandparents Mr.William and Mary Jenson, at 105 Winchester Street, Levin. He remained living in this house for the
next ninety years of his life. The last three years he spent living in Te Whanau Rest home, Queen Street, Levin.
When his grandparents moved on Laurie continued to live there, married and bought up his family there as well. This tells
something about Laurie, staunch and traditional in much of his thinking.
When five years old Laurie started his schooling at
The levin School in Oxford Street Levin. And the early 1900s.
His grandfather Mr William Jenson, had built up a plumbing
business. His premises and workshop in Oxford Street was
across the road from The Levin school. Laurie would have
spent much of his after-school hours checking out what was
happening in the workshop. He was a good student, enjoyed his
school days playing sports and took a keen interest in the trades
training area. At the age of 15. Laurie gained his proficiency and
During his school days times were hard, the country was in
recession, Laurie could remember the changes that were happening,
horse and carts were being replaced by motorcars and motor trucks.
Electricity was being installed around town and gas lighting was
being replaced by electric lights. Ladies were wearing calf length
dresses, the men hat and tie. Poles and telephone cables
were being installed and telephones were available.
The peace parade up Oxford Street, levin 1918
W. Jenson Building in the background.
They were exciting times and Laurie enjoyed all of it. He had a good friend, "Jeremy Milne ", whose father owned Milne's
garage in Queen Street, Levin. One of the mechanics at the garage, Mr Jack Butler, was building an aeroplane in Mr Milne's
garage during his spare time. Every afternoon for three years after school, Laurierie and Jeremy would go to the garage and
watch the progress of Jack Butler building his aeroplane.Laurie was in his element.He loved things mechanical.
In July 1932, Mr Butler had finished building the aeroplane, it was transported to Waitarere Beach, at Levin, for a trail flight.
Jack piloted the aeroplane and made several flights from the beach. It eventually had a crash landing. Laurie witnessed all this.
A love of things mechanical was instilled in him. Laurie recalled how Jack Butler's eyes nearly popped out
of his head when he salvaged a model A Ford car from the side of Paekakariki Hill Road. He wanted the motor to power
The years of depression which covered the final years of Laurie's schooling taught him the value of waste not, want not.
At the end of his school days. He used to say that he would
have liked to have been a mechanic or an engineer, but being
in the plumbing business the family thought might be a good
idea to carry on and be trained as a plumber .
To learn his craft. It was thought best to do this outside the
family firm and he was apprenticed to Leo Albert Plumbers
in Wellington. In the five-year apprenticeship he learned his
craft well and he met Grace the lady in the office. She took one
look at his name when he wrote it down, and told him he couldn't
spell. Well! He was eight years her junior and at the age of 15
years might as well been one hundred! But she became
very special to him. At the end of his apprenticeship he returned
to live in Levin and to become part of the family business. But he
continued to visit Grace. Legend has it that he rode his bicycle
Jack Butlers home built aeroplane 1932 from Levin to Lyall Bay in Wellington to court her. He was very
keen ! But of course the war intervened and it was 1947 before they married. The house at 105 Winchester Street, Levin
became their home.
During the Second World War because he was in an essential occupation, Laurie remained at home giving of his spare time
to the home guard. It was at this time that he put a gas conversion unit on his Austin seven motorcar to get him to camps and
courting. It could just make the top of Paekakariki Hill, and the piping, which ran from the running board under the car was just the
right height for bowling over hares, he said they made a great Sunday roast.
At the end of the war, Laurie began to chart his life with Grace and their family of three.
Laurie was a man of his time the provider, working long hours, and happily leaving Grace to be
the homemaker. The three children remember he was always there for them, how he rebuilt an
old pedal car that was then passed down through the family.
Laurie was also building up the business of which he had now become the principal,
"W. Jenson and Co". In those days plumbing had a breadth that took in lots of types of work;
pipework, drainage, tank making, sheet metal work and more. Laurie moved into repairing
pumps and milking machines, set up a radiator repair shop and was even into a little
water divining. There was a lot of things that he could turn his his hands to, he was a good
tradesman and had a wealth of knowledge on many matters directly and indirectly related to
his trade. He had this great memory but for all of that he was a traditional in his outlook.
He preferred copper to plastic stuff "Give me copper any day," he would say. He worked
very hard. He was on call twenty four hour a day, seven days per week.
Although Laurie was a very hard worker, he made time to take his family on caravanning
holidays to lake Taupo. It was here that they enjoyed boating, fishing and camping.
In 1954 Laurie became involved with the Levin Fire Brigade. He was a fire policeman and
served 29 years in the brigade before retirement in 1960. Later he also became involved with
the Levin motor racing club. Laurie was also very interested in vintage cars and machinery.
Photo by The Chronicle He was a keen member of the Horowhenua Vintage Car Club, he played an active part in
Laurie in his home guard uniform club affairs, serving on the committee and in time becoming chairman. His contribution was
during World War two recognised with his selection as a life member, and more lately as patron of the branch.
He restored his beloved1938 Morris eight car and Grace did the upholstery work on the seats.The Morris was used in all the
Christmas parades in Levin, Foxton and Shannon. Grace and the grandchildren and friends accompanied him on many of
On retirement, Laurie had time to follow a number of other hobbies, notably fishing, but his
old interests were still very important to him and he retained links with them. And there were
the grandchildren!, they had a very special place in his heart and were rewarded
for their visits with cuddles and gifts.
When Grace died it left a big gap for Laurie, but he battled on. Losing his licence was another
knock back but he purchased an electric scooter, it was a great backup and gave him mobility,
through it he gained another group of friends. In his last three years he was living full time at
Te Whanau rest home in Levin. He had a steady stream of visitors and he just loved to keep up
to date with all his interest. His mind remained sharp though his body was failing him.
Of particular note was the strong link that he retained with sister," Madge". They were in contact
by mail with each other every week.
Laurie was a traditionalist, -" dinner on the table a twelve", on Saturdays a visit to the Grand
Hotel for an hour, tea on the table at five.
He was always available to advise other tradesmen how to go about fixing problems, how to
make things work and assist apprentices through their apprenticeships, extremely
community minded. Would help any community organization. A perfectionist, a very strong family
Photo by Bruce Clark
Laurie and Grace celebrating Lauries'
80th birthday at the Vintage Car Club
rooms at Ohau. Year 2000
1 . Laurie Jenson 2 . Joel Shepherd 3 . Madge Stedman 4 . Lynn Shepherd 5 . Kahlel Higgens 6 . Curt Shepherd 7 . Alan Jenson
8 . Dale Jenson 9 . Jordan Shepherd 10. Warren Jenson 11. Loris Hudson 12. Margaret Stedman 13. Jack Davidson 14. Stephanie Jenson
15. Anita Davidson 16. Sue Jenson 17. Nathan Davidson 18. Iris Clark 19 Chris Shepherd 20. Deby Higgens 21. Norman Shepherd
22. Maree Shepherd 23. David Shepherd
Following are a few photos and notes about Laurie's life
Laurie Jenson aged two years
Laurie Jenson aged six years at St.Andrew Church Sunday School in Levin
Levin School Oxford Street Levin 1921
Levin School Oxford Street Levin 1921
The Levin School was opened in 1890, the photo
Laurie at Levin School year seven 1932
William and Mary Jenson 9 Laurie's grand parent's
William was the founder of W. Jenson and Co Ltd Plumbers established in Levin in the early 1900s Their first workshop was set up around no 100 Oxford Street. Later on they set up a new larger workshop accross the road from Durham Street. Where the new Council building and offices are set up.
The Staff at Leo Alberts Plumbing Company in Wellington
This is were laurie served his plumbing apprenticeship at Wellington
1 Melva De'ath, 2 Henry De'arth, 3 Doris Jenson, 4 Laurie Jenson 5 William Jenson
Jenson family Group circa 1930s
1 Grace Ella ( Nee Warren), 2 William Arthur, 3 Ivy Amy ( later Gardener)
Laurence and Grace Jenson wedding day 3-4-1948
1 Patricia Clark, 2 Doris Clark, 3 Laurie Jenson, 4 Grace Sawtell, 5 Pearce Clark, 6 Margaret Sawtell
Laurie and Grace with their Family 1952
1 Grace, 2 Alan, 3 Dale, 4 laurie, 5 Lynn
William and Mary Jenson with their Buick 6 car
Laurie driving the firms vehicle in Levin's annual xmas parade
Laurie and Grace's caravan on holiday
Laurie always the family man enjoying a Bar-B-Que September 2006
Flooding behind W. Jensons workshop, Oxford Street, Levin 1940
In the 1880s the then Manawatu Railway Company was formed to build a railway line from Wellington to Palmerston North. The constuctors needed metal ballast to build the line, so they dug it out of several pits around Levin.
Kaydee, All steel pleasure boat.
" Kaydee" an all steel motor launch built by an Levin Engineer
Laurie fishing in his boat( Blue Mist) at Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua
Laurie and his boat "Blue Mist" fly fishing on Lake Rotoiti. Laurie just loved his fishing. He did his fly fishing and trawling in Lake Taupo and Rotoiti. His rod always went with him when on holidays.
Laurie manning the Vintage car display at the A.P.I. show
Dressed in the approriate attire of the vintage shop he manned
A family holiday at Lake Rotoiti, rotorua in 1953
Photo by Bruce Clarke
7. Grace Jenson in the deck chair, 8. Laurie Jenson.
1958 While working as an apprentice on a new housing development with builders and other tradesmen the labour government of the day, brought in the Black budget. During smoko times it created a huge amount of Hot debate amongst the tradesmen.Laurie was in the thick of it.
Harsh taxes in Labour Budget 1958
This excert credit of Moa Publications Ltd. published in 1990
Harsh taxes in Labour Budget 1958
This cartoon credit of Moa Publications Ltd. published in 1990
Retirement Day from the Fire Brigade 1960
Photo courtesy of Levin Chronicle
Mr Jenson retires to "let someone else have a go"
Up to last night he was captain of the Levin Fire Police Corps. But yesterday Mr Jenson had his last parade at the fire station. After 29 years in the corps he'd "had enough".
1939 Laurie a Home Guard Volunteer
Not only vintage cars Laurie restore , also toys for his grand children.
A letter from Laurie to Joan-Marie Odea, daughter of Jack Butler, who built and flew an aeroplane at Levin 1932
Joan-Marie's account... I first found Laurie when he phoned me in 2007. He had seen an article about Jack Butler and he needed to tell me his story and what he remembered.
L.Jenson, 105 Winchester St., Levin.
Laurie restored his beloved Morris Eight Vintage Car car
1985 laurie reluctantly decided to call it a day and retired from plumbing. W. Jenson & co had been taken over by Master Plumbers Society.
Laurie was able to combine his two loves. Vintage cars
Laurie was able to combine his two loves. Vintage vehicles and Fire Brigade.
2007 The Horowhenua Vintage Car Club were getting ready to build their new club rooms
2005 Laurie won a raffle prize of a hot air balloon ride.
He didn't feel he could able to get in the balloon so gave it to
2010 Laurie selling his house at 105 Winchester Street, Levin.
Photo by Lynn Shepherd
The front entrance to the Horowhenua Vintage Car Club rooms
| The side entrance to the Vintage Car Club rooms |
It was a sad day when we learnt they Laurence Albert had passed away, Arrangements were made to celebrate his funeral at The Horowhenua Vintage car club rooms , Tiro Road, levin.
HVCC rooms set up ready for Lauries funeral
Many of his family and friends at the funeral
Laurie being taken from the funeral to the fire appliance
A line up of Vintage cars and the Fire engine waiting for
Family and friends saying their last good byes.
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Photo taken by Te Whanau rest home staff at Southwards Museum at Paraparaumu