Volume 1

William Wood & Son: Central Cheap Store

Judy Vedder-Price

William Wood junior, the first child of William and Tryphena Wood, was born on 20 August 1847, at City Road, London England.

In 1852, at the age of 5 years, he set sail on the ship 'Blackheath', with his parents and two younger brothers, Cornelius aged 3 years and Thomas aged 1 year. The family intended to settle in Melbourne, Australia. Tryphena was sick and pregnant and the ship's Captain was not happy with her continuing the long journey, so the family left the ship at Cape Town, South Africa in 1853.

They settled in Claremont, South Africa, where they opened a country store and later made, sold and delivered Ginger Beer to small storekeepers. Here they remained for 13 years. Two children were born in South Africa, Claremont Africa in 1853 (named after the town they lived in) and Tryphena Jane in 1856. There were now five children in all.

William Wood jnr.

Annie Wood

The family was asked by a friend in South Africa, to join them in coming to New Zealand, and in January 1866 the family boarded the barque 'Frederick Bassil' for New Zealand, landing in Auckland in March 1866, a total of 66 days at sea.

They found work of all description in Auckland. William junior's diary states: “Started to dig potatoes today at paddock in Newmarket wanted for railway where men are now working making the line - 3 _ days , 32 _ sacks for the grand sum of One pound Four shillings and Six pence, to be divided between the three of us.” Three months and many jobs later after landing in Auckland, they opened a shop in Newmarket, then when business fell away, a Bakery and Pastry Shop at the corner of Queen and Wakefield Streets.

December 1866 saw William senior leave Auckland in the barque 'Kate' for Melbourne to see a cousin. The family continued to work in Auckland. By July 1867 news had come through of the gold found on The Thames. Interest was being shown by William junior in going to Thames and on November 1st 1867 he left Auckland in 'P.S. Enterprise No. 2' for Longbottom's camp on the Thames Goldfields, landing on the beach at Shortland Creek.

Newspapers were a form of communication for the locals. Saturday April 11th 1868 - William junior's diary reads:

“Today the first issue of the Thames Advertiser came out. Price 2 pence. Corlet and Wilkinson Proprietors. Published Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday afternoon. Printed and Published at Shortland Town.”

9th May 1869 saw both William senior and junior travel to Auckland to become Special Constables to assist the police on the arrival of the Prince of Wales on the 10th. Their pay was - quote “6 bob”.

During the next few years of his colonial life William junior was engaged in Thames mining, and with his brother Thomas also worked in mines in New South Wales, at Bathurst, on the Palmer Goldfield, Bingera, and in other parts of Australia. On his return to New Zealand, he registered the 'Brothers' goldmining claim in Tairua, a family claim including William senior, William junior, John Wood and Claremont Wood. They also part owned the Halcyon mine.

Wm Wood & Son, Central Cheap Stores.

In 1876 William junior, along with his parents, established himself in business in a small shop in Pollen Street north, with a stock of biscuits and confectionary, branching out later to include fruit. He continued working in the mine with the help of his father and sister. They worked in the shop when he was on a day shift, and when he was on a night shift he managed the shop himself during the day. As a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, William was attached to the Star of Hauraki Tent.

Thames by this time was a thriving goldmining town, much bigger than Auckland. His diary points out the daily workings of the mine and the shop, but it was the increasing shop trade that enabled him to have the foresight to acquire three buildings a few shops further north on Pollen Street, devoted to the sale of crockery, seeds, produce, grocery and fruit. This was the second shop as the first was burnt in a fire. These shops were either side of where Battson Plumbers still stands today.

William junior married Miss Annie Herringshaw of Mangere on 6th November 1880. Annie had immigrated to New Zealand from Lincoln England in February 1880. Both William and Annie worked in the shop, and raised their family - William Lawson, George, Elsie, Annie, Stanley, and Leslie, in premises above the shop. George and Annie, the third generation, now joined the family in the store after their schooling, Annie in charge of the crockery department and George and William junior the grocery produce side. As shown in the daily work books, customers were from all walks of life - owners and managers of local foundries, church ministers, school teachers, mine managers and workers, shop owners and mine workers and their families.

Thames was now growing beyond the town boundaries, orders for groceries were being taken and delivered by horse and cart down the Thames Coast and around the Parawai area. More people were employed to work in the business as the town was growing so quickly. Shortland and Grahamstown were as one, more shops had sprung up, including many hotels. Shipping was the main means of transport from Thames to Auckland and the family would travel to Auckland on the night 'Wakatere', buy produce from the markets in the morning and return to Thames on the evening boat, ready to supply the public with fresh produce the next morning.

The Thames Sentinel and Miners' Journal, a 4-page Local News free paper was printed in 1890 for the Thames people. It included Random Readings, Advertising, Wit and Wisdom, Poems and Shipping News. The Thames Sentinel and Miners' Journal states:
“The Thames Sentinel and Miners' Journal is Published by Wm Wood jnr, Pollen Street, Thames, and Printed by D. J. Wright, at his Registered Printing Office, Albert Street, Auckland.”

William senior died on the 30th July 1895, and Tryphena on the 23rd May 1888. They are both buried at the top of Shortland Cemetery.

In 1977 the decision was made to close the family business and sell the building. By now the shop was nearly 100 years old, and from the first flood in 1881, had withstood many more, with water from the Karaka Creek under the floor boards and through the shop, and a fire through the top storey. With the arrival of modern supermarkets the little corner store was out of favour. After much consideration, the business was closed in 1977 and the building sold. The new owners demolished the building, constructing three shops in its place. It was the end of one of the Thames family businesses, one which was 100 years old, a milestone for these days of short-lived work places.


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