Remembering Roxburgh

21:49, Mar 25 2014
Southland Times photo
Roxburgh’s nonogenarians from left back Barbara Broad, 92, Jean Robb, 90, Vi McNutt, 90, Marion Torrence, 93, Hettie Gunn, 97, Grace Campbell, 93, Jean Smith, 91 . (At front) Margaret Baillie, 93, Rona Story, 94, and Nanc Stevenson, 95.

Take 10 women, all aged over 90 and ask them about the Roxburgh of yesteryear.

Two butchers, the blacksmith, the bootmaker and the banks were just some of the early businesses in Roxburgh's main street recalled by the group gathered in Roxburgh over a cuppa recently. 

Most of the women had lived in the area and most were still independent. 

From the fish and chip shop at one end of town where Forged and Crafted is now, to Miss Manson's tuckshop and mixed dairy where Roxburger was situated, they told the stories of the businesses which had come and gone, the people behind the doors and a way of life almost forgotten. 

Robbs Garage is the only surviving business from those early days, changed from a garage to a service station when Whelan's house and the Monkey Puzzles on the corner disappeared and the forecourt and offices were added.

Teviot Tearooms has passed through a number of owners and changes during the years from when 97-year-old Hettie Gunn was a waitress there. 


''We were waitresses serving teas, with our uniform and apron,'' Mrs Gunn said.

''There were no takeaways or ice creams.'' 

Coal fires sent smoke palls across town as every home had a coal range.

The coal merchant was a thriving business, recalled by 92-year-old Barbara Broad - who could still remember the correct way to swing the shovel to fill the coal sacks.

Some women told tales of teeth being pulled out by the blacksmith before dentist Roy Service set up practice; of all the young people boarding at Avoca House when they came to work at the banks; the school, and of the Saturday night dances - with Ollie Gordon on the piano and the men standing around the hall reluctant to ask any of the girls to dance.

There were memories of the day peace was declared at the end of World War II and each had a story to tell and a sharp memory to recall during an all too short afternoon.

The women all believed new cycle trails had made the town a lot busier from the quiet times of a few years ago, but it would take a lot to bring it back to those heyday years of 50-70 years ago. 


The Southland Times