Fac­tory get­ting a new lease on life

CHB Mail - - Farm Focus -

The Coles fac­tory at On­gaonga was par­tially opened for viewing to the pub­lic on Sun­day Oc­to­ber 14.

Ed­ward Per­cus Coles es­tab­lished the busi­ness in On­gaonga af­ter he ar­rived in 1877 and built many of the homes and busi­nesses in On­gaonga as well as the wider com­mu­ni­ties of Cen­tral and South­ern Hawke’s Bay.

The com­pany pro­vided de­sign, build­ing join­ery, plumb­ing and paint­ing. About 1899 they built a shop over the road — the present store — to sell their wall­pa­per and paint. The ma­chin­ery was pow­ered by a steam en­gine with wa­ter drawn from a well in the cen­tre of the build­ing.

In the fac­tory’s hey­day em­ployed 17 men.

They also built coffins and were the lo­cal un­der­taker. Dur­ing the 1920s they were the Royal In­sur­ance Agency.

In 1905, three of Ed­ward’s sons, Wil­liam, Charles, and Ge­orge, took over and they con­tin­ued

it to grow the busi­ness and in­crease the work­shop size.

In 1926 up­dates were made and the steam en­gine and boiler that pow­ered the ma­chine was re­placed.

A small rail sys­tem was used to re­move the saw­dust and waste to a dump be­hind the fac­tory. The orig­i­nal brothers sold the fac­tory to Frank Coles in 1935.

At this point the un­der­taker busi­ness closed.

The com­pany was taken over later by Mark Coles who owned it un­til it wound down grad­u­ally and then closed in 1963.

The prop­erty was owned by Greg and Ann Frater from 1985, who used as a work­shop and built their own home be­hind the fac­tory area.

In 2016 the fac­tory build­ing was sold to the On­gaonga His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. It is a clas­si­fied as a Grade 1 listed build­ing and be­lieved to be the only one of its kind still stand­ing in New Zealand.

The par­tial open­ing of the build­ing was carried out by Doug Simp­son cut­ting the rib­bon. Doug worked at the fac­tory from 1954.

The On­gaonga His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety would like to thank all those who turned out to visit the build­ing and who gave do­na­tions which will go to­wards a fund to re­store the build­ing.

The Coles fac­tory at On­gaonga is be­ing re­stored.

Doug Simp­son cuts the rib­bon to open the par­tially re­built Coles fac­tory.

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