Its farewell to the Gething leg­end

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN WIL­LIAMS

Gethings Mo­tors, a Main St busi­ness in Up­per Hutt since 1932 and re­put­edly its old­est, is clos­ing.

With only 14 ‘‘heav­ily re­duced’’ used cars to sell, Colin Gething is get­ting near to the day he will not be part of a busi­ness started by his grand­fa­ther in 1932.

While Gething is look­ing to lease rather than sell the 2360 square me­tre site which also fronts Fer­gus­son Dr, he knows this is the end of the line and a three-gen­er­a­tion trad­ing legacy.

Evan and Martha Gething – Colin’s grand­par­ents – started out a mod­est op­er­a­tion in 1932 sell­ing and re­pair­ing bi­cy­cles, wash­ing ma­chines and also run­ning a taxi and rental car ser­vice.

They bought the prop­erty four years later and, fronted by mo­tor me­chanic Evan, added petrol pumps and car ser­vices.

The death of Evan at 41 in 1948 meant his son Ken – Colin’s fa­ther – took over.

He ran the busi­ness for 32 years be­fore it was sold to Colin in 1986. He had joined the fam­ily busi­ness in 1970, two years af­ter leav­ing Here­taunga Col­lege, and af­ter time at Lower Hutt’s Mag­nus Mo­tors. He also be­gan ac­coun­tancy study and was later a lec­turer at Massey Univer­sity.

But his con­tri­bu­tion to the fam­ily busi­ness had started much ear­lier – he had worked pump­ing petrol af­ter week­ends.

Up­per Hutt was a bur­geon­ing but small town in the late 1950s. ‘‘Much of the land on the Main Rd south, what is Fer­gus­son Dr to­day, was open pad­docks all the way to the to river.

‘‘I can still re­mem­ber An­gus McCurdy [Up­per Hutt’s first mayor] com­ing across the river on a horse from his house which we all called McCurdy’s Cas­tle.’’

His Sun­day work was school and on es­pe­cially mem­o­rable for hav­ing to hand crank the petrol pumps as power board main­te­nance meant elec­tric­ity in the busi­ness area was turned off for the af­ter­noon.

On the cor­ner of Main and Wil­son streets, Gethings Mo­tors fronted State High­way 2 for more then five decades un­til the River Road by­pass opened in 1986.

‘‘From Sil­ver­stream to Akatarawa it was 30mph. Peo­ple used to say it was the long­est stretch of road at that speed in the coun­try. It car­ried a lot of traf­fic and in those days we did very well with the ser­vice sta­tion.

‘‘We stopped sell­ing petrol in the late 1990s.’’

The com­pany’s time was af­fected by the clo­sure of the car assem­bly in­dus­try, and the Gen­eral Mo­tors plant at Tren­tham in par­tic­u­lar.

‘‘That hit us and it hit the whole town. I did a bit of re­search on it and it’s proven that for ev­ery job in assem­bly five more peo­ple were em­ployed in re­lated in­dus­tries.’’

That af­fected the spare parts arm of Gethings Mo­tors as did con­stant im­prove­ment in car tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘Up un­til 25 years ago spare parts were big busi­ness,’’ the 67-year-old said. ‘‘To­day’s mod­ern cars prob­a­bly don’t need any re­pairs in their first 10 years. It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent in­dus­try.’’

A Mit­subishi parts and ser­vice deal­er­ship for 27 years, the clo­sure will af­fect nine staff. ‘‘At one stage we had 22 here.’’

Re­tire­ment will mean rest and reg­u­lar travel for the Gethings.

‘‘Of­ten, at times, it’s been im­pos­si­ble to get away.’’


Colin Gething in his car yard on Fer­gus­son Dr. Above, the busi­ness in the 1960s.

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