THE SATURDAY SHOP
Ruth Spencer takes a stroll down memory lane
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.