Factory getting a new lease on life
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.