South Taranaki Star

A celebratio­n of history

- CATHERINE GROENESTEI­N

Grocery tills that rang up part of Eltham’s history are back on show as the town’s official historians celebrate their society’s 50th jubilee.

A trio of tills owned by the late Jack Stark, who founded the first self-service supermarke­t in the area, have been donated to the Eltham Historical Society just in time for their celebratio­n this month.

Kieran Williams, who owns the Eltham Four Square with his wife Nicole, said they had passed on the tills to the society to ensure they were preserved.

Stark, who died in 2006, started his grocery business in the 1940s in a shop across the road, then moved it into a new building which later became the present Four Square.

The original shop site is now Stark Park, named in honour of a man who is well remembered for his generosity, and was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 1998 for his services to the community.

‘‘Jack’s part of the shop, people still talk about him daily,’’ Williams said.

‘‘It [the shop] is a real hub for memories, people talking about how Jack always gave the kids fruit and lollies. That’s what we hear, the memories of how generous he was.’’

Stark’s pioneering shop had aisles where shoppers could select their own groceries. In those days, shoppers would hand over their lists and the grocer would go and fetch their orders from out the back, Williams said.

‘‘His was the first self-service store in South Taranaki, if not one of the first in New Zealand. He was well ahead of his time. People used to drive here from all over the show. They’d come down from New Plymouth to shop.’’

Williams said the store’s legacy – there is a display board about Stark in the shop – made it a special place.

‘‘I’m the fifth or sixth owner since Jack retired in 2001. You inherit it, it’s a community thing, it makes the place, it’s special to them, it’s definitely a part of the history, the culture of the place. We are just custodians.’’

The three tills – one a wooden chest for storing money, then two old push-button models – are part of a month-long exhibition at the Village Gallery, to celebrate the Eltham Historical Society 50th Jubilee.

Administra­tor Maree Liddington and other volunteers spent the long weekend setting up displays of paintings, photograph­s and other memorabili­a, as well as interestin­g papers and magazines for people to read.

The society’s major collection­s include a full set of the Eltham Argus newspaper and the collection of negatives, glass plates and acetates from Connell’s Photograph­y, which members are digitising.

Its archives are popular with family history researcher­s and also newcomers to town wanting to know more about their houses, she said.

‘‘It [the shop] is a real hub for memories, people talking about how Jack always gave the kids fruit and lollies. That’s what we hear, the memories of how generous he was.’’

Kieran Williams

 ?? VANESSA LAURIE/STUFF ?? Maree Liddington, of the Eltham Historical Society, and Eltham Four Square owner Kieran Williams, have helped bring together ‘‘Jack’s Corner’’ celebratin­g the history of grocer and Eltham community man Jack Stark.
VANESSA LAURIE/STUFF Maree Liddington, of the Eltham Historical Society, and Eltham Four Square owner Kieran Williams, have helped bring together ‘‘Jack’s Corner’’ celebratin­g the history of grocer and Eltham community man Jack Stark.
 ?? VANESSA LAURIE/STUFF ?? Maree Liddington has organised the event and displays at the Eltham Village Gallery.
VANESSA LAURIE/STUFF Maree Liddington has organised the event and displays at the Eltham Village Gallery.

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