Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arthur Yates & Co - Seed Merchants & Growers - 1882 to 1985

Arthur Yates & Co premises, Queen & High Streets, Auckland, circa 1902. 

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Auckland Provincial District, volume 2, 1902, entry on pp 400-401 (reformatted into shorter paragraphs):

"Yates, Arthur, and Co. (Arthur Yates and Ernest Yates), Wholesale and Retail Seed Merchants and Growers, Queen Street, Auckland. Bankers, Bank of New South Wales. Cable address, “Seedsman, Auckland.” Head establishment, Mr. Samuel Yates, 75 Shudehill Street, Manchester; Australian branch, 237 Sussex Street, Sydney, New South Wales, established 1887.

This well-known business was first established by Mr. Samuel Yates in 1826, and is now one of the largest businesses of its kind in England.

The Auckland branch was established in 1882, and to such an extent has the business grown that it has been found necessary to extend the premises, which now consist of a large three-storey warehouse with a thirty-three feet frontage to Queen and High Streets, and a depth of 200 feet, and a total floorage space of over 14,000 square feet. Machinery for seed cleaning has been especially imported from England, and fitted up in the new premises, and the firm claims to hold the largest stock of garden and farm seeds in the Colony.

There are seed farms at Mangere and Papatoitoi under the management of Mr. E. Allan. There are agents of the firm in every town of importance in the Colony, and a complete catalogue of “Yates' Reliable Seeds” can be obtained free from any leading storekeeper, or direct from the head office in Auckland, as well as the firm's other publications, “Yates' Garden Guide,” and “How to Grow Onions for Market.”"

As previous posts suggest, Arthur Yates & Co flourished in the decades following, specializing in seeds for the home gardener. Apparently the family business continued to be profitable in the hands of Arthur Yates' children and grandchildren until such time as it passed from their hands into those of the financial speculators. As Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand puts it here:

"For 102 years the Arthur Yates seed company supplied seed and garden advice to New Zealand gardeners. Arthur Yates, the founder of the company, was the son and grandson of British seed merchants. His children and grandchildren ran the company profitably until it was taken over by ill-fated investment bank Equiticorp, and went into receivership in 1985."

Not the first time, nor the last, that a main street business was driven into bankruptcy by the speculators and a carefully-tended enterprise was cast off as if dust in the wind.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

*sigh* So sad that a 'quick buck' can relegate heritage, history, tales and, yes, even key parts of culture, to the rubbish heap.