Ruth Spencer takes a stroll down mem­ory lane

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

Look­ing south along the shops in Queen St, North­cote Point from be­tween Beach Rd and Duke St, Lep­per’s sta­tionery, fancy goods and lend­ing li­brary is on the right. The premises of Clow Bros, bak­ers and con­fec­tion­ers, and a store owned by Car­roll, are on the left. North­cote Tav­ern can be seen in the dis­tance. We see this thanks to a photo taken by William Archer Price, circa 1910.

The berm could use a mow; per­haps they hoped a pass­ing horse, such as the one that has re­cently dec­o­rated the street, would nib­ble it down. With a stark sun blaz­ing down on wooden shopfronts in a near-de­serted road, it could be a scene from a West­ern, but it’s North­ern; the minia­ture isth­mus that is North­cote Point.

You may sus­pect the two young ladies in flow­ery hats of hav­ing re­cently pur­chased some fancy goods. Closer in­spec­tion shows that they’re more likely to have just come from Clow Broth­ers Bak­ers and Con­fec­tion­ers across the road, as both of them are eat­ing in the street — which their moth­ers def­i­nitely told them never to do. The one on the left is dusted in ic­ing sugar, sug­gest­ing turk­ish de­light or, at the very least, just de­light.

If they had popped into Lep­per’s sta­tionery shop, per­haps to catch a furtive glimpse of el­dest son Ge­orge, they would have spo­ken to Edith. A pi­o­neer of mul­ti­task­ing, in 1910 Edith was a wid­owed mother of 8. She was also the post­mistress and in charge of the tele­phone of­fice, sta­tionery, hab­er­dash­ery and lend­ing li­brary. The Lep­pers were the main North Shore agents for the NZ Her­ald, and Ge­orge would row across the har­bour to col­lect the pa­pers in the morn­ing un­less the con­di­tions for­bade it. For most of us our own con­di­tion for­bids it.

In case you were won­der­ing, “fancy goods” is a catch-all term for lit­tle dec­o­ra­tive items, knick-knacks, gift­ware; any­thing de­signed to catch your fancy. Like Ge­orge.

What might catch your fancy now is that these build­ings still stand, sans ve­ran­das, as pri­vate res­i­dences. The North­cote Tav­ern at the end of the street is the only one still ply­ing its trade. The berms are ti­dier, too.

A look along North­cote Point’s Queen St in 1910.

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