Many people will remember the site as that of Fred Pink’s footwear shop.
Town Hall burnt down
It is said a small town hall, just south of the Levin Hotel, obviously where Shrub Arcade is now, was burnt down in 1898.
Frank Garland built the town hall in Queen St (where the doctors’ surgery and the taxi stand is now) in 1896.
This became the old town hall when the deluxe Hall (now the Borough Engineers Department) was built in the Municipal Buildings. This old town hall was not demolished until 1942. The timber etc was used to build Mr Bill Hannan’s house off Hokio Beach Road on the hill opposite the lake on Sands Road.
This house has been extensively altered of recent years.
Frank Garland probably built Garland’s Buildings as it was known then about 1888-90 while he was still owner of the land.
A Mr Buckeridge was the next owner of the hotel before Mr Hannah bought it in 1900.
Chemist first tenant
Mr Earnest Levy, a chemist, seems to have been the first tenant in the north shop, as he advertised in 1898. The earliest known tenant of the south shop, by at least 1919, was Mr Jhing Lee with a green grocer's shop.
Mr Sidney Hall, a dentist, was in the upstairs floor by at least 1910 as my cousin Joseph Scott was learning to be a dentist in 1910.
In an idle moment Joe fired a small cannon on the lean-to roof at the rear. While retrieving the recoiled cannon he put a foot through the skylight, breaking the glass.
From below Jhing said “That you Scott?” Joe said “not me Jhing, not me.” Jhing was said to be a very fine Chinese gentleman.
The section Garland’s Building was on must have been subdivided off as Frank Garland owned it until about 1952.
Mr F.C. Remington bought the pharmacy business in 1907 operating it until 1912 when he built his own premises further south.
This pharmacy business carried on through Mr Bill Donnelly to the present Berry’s Pharmacy.
Mr Hugh Hall started a barber's business in 1910 in the shop. He had been previously in Queen Street.
Hugh Hall died in 1915.
From then on Mr Bill Crystal operated the business until 1923 when Mr William (Skipper) Wilkinson bought him out.
Mr Jim Webb was one of his barbers.
About 1931 Mr Alan Keys bought the building.
In 1926 Mr Cliff Wilkinson joined his father in the business to learn the trade. Shaving men was then a large part of business. This was done with a blade razor and a very skilful job.
Prior to 1936, the usual working week was of 48 hours with five-and-a-half days. Most workers had the half-day holiday on Saturday afternoon but shop staff had theirs on Wednesday afternoon.
Late night was on Saturday night and many of the shops kept open much later than 9pm.
Cliff Wilkinson said it was hard to be working on Saturday afternoon listening to the cheering football crowd.
Barbers kept open until about 12 midnight on the late night. Customers came in for a haircut up till then.
Mr Wilkinson’s son, Brett, came into the business in 1935.
A women’s hairdressing department had been started about 1934.
A trained hairdresser at first was employed until Brett had learned the art. Brett took over this department in 1937 and it was closed down in 1945 when Brett started his own business elsewhere in Levin.
There was a passage way on the north side from the front shop to the backrooms as it was not done for women to go through the men’s salon.
It is said that two local professional men never paid in the normal way for their haircuts. A hand of show poker was played for double or quits.
In 1948 Cliff took over the business but Skipper kept his hand in casually for some years.
Mr Moir bought the building in 1952. Cliff said he was a most unusual landlord as he would not raise the rent with inflation, though inflation was very slow at that time. Cliff voluntarily increased the rent three times during the period that Mr Moir owned the building.
In 1956 Mr John Campion bought the building.
Ray and Gay Harrison bought the business in 1970. Kevin Gay is a full time barber with them ably assisted part time by Cliff Wilkinson keeping in touch with his old customers. Jack Rankin also assists part time bringing some of his former customers from his previous shop in Weraroa.
During the period of barbering at least in my memory in the 1920s the price of haircuts has risen from 10c to $3.
The south shop, as said before, was Jhing Lee’s. Nothing is known earlier than 1910 but he probably been there some years before.
Mr Reg Wilkinson followed Jhing in 1934 with a cycle shop.
Mr Tom Wrigley followed on in the late 1930s adding radio sales to his wares. Later there was Wilson’s Frock Shop. Mr Malvyn de La Wright moved his National Suit Store in 1940 when the Post Office bought the building his business was in. He occupied the premises until 1952, then Mr Dave Crosier’s footwear shop.
Mr Oscar Edwards later bought the business. Though the name was remained the same Mr William Lock and Mr John Swafford have been successive proprietors. Mrs Joyce Hamilton is the present manageress.
The first known tenant in the upstairs floor, as said before, was Sid Halls. He later moved across the street.
Sometime during Mr Key’s ownership from about 1931 on, Mr J.J. Cogland a tailor and Miss Tresider, a seamstress, occupied the floor. During 1935-1945 it was used as a dwelling and probably had been in the past at times.
Mr John Moir used the floor in his accountancy business after he bought the building in 1952. He was later joined by Mr John Campion. Before that a Chinese Club was in the top floor.
The front ornate parapet was removed in 1964 and the building extended, having the rear part made into two storeys. Mr Campion retired in 1976.
Then Mr Little joined Mr Mason in the accountancy business. The firm vacated the premises in 1980.
Since then it has been largely empty except for temporary use by the Post Office and Radio 2XL. The building is now owned by a Campion family company, Camden House Co.
Thanks to Messrs John Campion, Cliff and Brett Wilkinson for help in research.