Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gordon vogtherr : Almost 100 years of Bacon and Ham curing in Hastings

Early in the 1900‟s an uncle of my grandfather’s, Mr. Martin, who owned
the original Kiwi Bacon Co in Palmerston North, invited my grandfather,
and his Family to emigrate to New Zealand , to eventually take over the
Kiwi Bacon Co.

When this did not come to fruition, Carl Vogtherr was paid a sum of 1000
pounds, not to start in business within 25 miles of Palmerston North for
five years.
Consequently, the Family moved the Hastings and purchased the Lowe
Brothers Cool store at Stortford Lodge, consisting of fruit cool store, an
ice factory, butchers shop, and bacon factory, named the Elite Bacon
Read paper cutting.
A delicatessen was opened in Heretaunga street next to the State
Theatre, just along from Otto Shattky, hair dresser, opposite Millar &
Giorgi, on the day war broke put. August 4th 1914.
At that time, my Father, Ernest, worked with his Father, and several
other people including Bill Marven, Jack McCormick, and Bill Wilkins.
Across the road, was W.G. Lynch. The grocer, the Stortlord Lodge Hotel,
and next to that Sawyers Furniture store.
Things carried on as most family businesses do until early in 1931, when
my Father had a row with Carl, and he left the business to chip weeds
on the railway, and sell refrigerators , when the earthquake came,
creating the mess that you can see. All the brickwork on the building
collapsed but left the wooden sections virtually undamaged. After the
quake the building was rebuilt.
At this time my Father was offered a job in Nelson, which he took
allowing his parent to occupy our house.
Managing a new Factory in primitive conditions was a challenge, which
lasted for three years when Dad threw the keys across the table and
walked out
We then moved to Marton where Ernest started up his own business,
The Rangitikei Bacon Go, using for the first time “HOLLY” brand, taken
from the Buchanans Flour Mills advertisement in the old Edmonds
Cookery book.
Three years there, and the bank wanted Dad to return to take over the
Elite Bacon Go, in Hastings, but he refused, but returned to Hastings
where a Mr. Harry Mossman, built a new factory in Karamu road, next to
the Public Trust building starting up in February 1938..At this time,
I was starting high school working to help, before and after school. Again
it was “HOLLY” brand bacon and ham. It was, and is today, a quality
product, which soon found a ready market.
!942, I decide to leave New Plymouth Boys‟ High School , and
wondering what to do, was told by my Father, “People always have to
eat” How true. So started the third generation in the business.
During the war years, we were kept very busy supplying both army and
civilian bacon and ham requirements. In our small business we
remember Frank Donnelly who served us very well. During this period, I
was involved with the Hastings Harrier Club, being successful in
provincial terms, having won six out of seven Provincial cross country
titles from 1945-1952.
By the time 1962 came along, we were having trouble with truck access
to the Factory, in Karamu road and new trustees to the Mossman estate
doubled the rent. So, my Dad said, „Time to get out‟ and he purchased a
property on the corner of St. Aubyn street, and Warren street, where we
still are. Here we built a new factory, with good water supply, drainage,
and access.
We had a good business, my Father had retired due to ill health, and the
business continued, successfully.
We had good staff, whom we regarded as Family, remembering Jim
Beattie, Dick Berry, and particularly Judy Jude, who is still with us, these
two having been with us for over twenty years. In the office we
remember Kitty Wishart, Heather Mime, and Gwen Vernon, all of whom
served the Company well.
By 1988 it was time for me to retire, and our third daughter, Claire,
asked if she could join the firm having spent a number of years nursing.
Today, it is still a Family business, there are about six staff there whom
we regard as Family, but stringent Health laws may compel Claire to
move or rebuild.
Our four generations of Bacon curing in Hastings have been exciting,
producing a high quality product for 95 years now, with 100 years not too
far away.
Years ago, we used to get our pigs locally, but gradually the local supply
dried up, and our present pork supplies are mainly transported up from
Canterbury, quickly, in modern refrigerated trucks.
All our pork is from New Zealand grown pigs. No imported product Our
product today is still dry stacked curing with no water added, takes three
to four weeks to mature, ensuring a mild flavoured product. Things have
changed over the years, .Whereas in my years we could not supply
businesses out of Hawke‟s Bay because of no suitable transport, today
there is ample refrigerated transport, which enables us to send our
quality product almost to any part of the North Island overnight, to high
quality restaurants as far away as Auckland and Wellington, which was
not possible previously.
In the early days of my involvement in the business, I used to deliver
orders on a butchers bike round town. We had numerous customers,
such as Coupers store, in Grays road, later R.C. Bauld. Ted Kelly
grocery in Heretaunga street, across the road from Bill Marr. Windsor
Park store and McDonalds Grocery in Taradale, Harold Bush, and
Norman Donkin in Te Mata road Havelock North, together with White &
Glenny, later Bourgeois Bros. And Wilsons Bakery in St Aubyn street,
We are jealous of our association with Hastings and Hawke‟s Bay. My
Mother and father gave two stained glass windows to the new Cathedral
Napier in 1960, and in 1964, in celebration of 50 years trading in
Hastings donated a large stained glass window in St.Matthew‟s Anglican
Church in Hastings.
In 1989 we completed the large stained glass window in memory of
canon Button to celebrate 75 years of business in Hastings
Today, Claire runs the business of Holly Bacon Co. Ltd producing a high
quality range of bacon, ham, sausages and other small goods.

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