Havelock's General Store


The colourful store building painted with tuataras in Havelock’s main street has a long history. The building dates back to the 1870's and was built with high quality milled native timber from the area, which is why it still stands today.  The store is a big part of local resident, Pam Burrows’ (nee Horton) family story and she told Linden Armstrong (5th generation Canvastown) a little about it.

Havelock Blackball with cottages

Blackball is just to the west of Havelock and was a port before it became silted up. The little mill cottages can be seen behind the ship. John and Phoebe Horton lived in one of these cottages for a time. Marlborough Historical Society - Marlborough Museum Archives

The Horton family arrived in Nelson on the Thomas Harrison on 25 October 1842. On the passenger list was an agricultural contractor, John Horton, aged 32, and his wife Phoebe, aged 18. According to the Captain’s diary, Phoebe had a ‘child female’ on the ship on 9 July 1842.

The family lived in Motueka where Phoebe was the first woman to teach English to local Māori. They then moved to Motupipi (near Takaka) and then to Kaiuma and Blackball near Havelock, where John worked at Brownlee’s mill. Before it became silted up,  Blackball, just west of Havelock, was once a port from where sailing ships collected timber.   The Hortons lived in a little mill cottage which still exists.

Havelock John and Margaret Horton

John (son of John and Phoebe) and Margaret Horton. Photo supplied by Pam Burrows

Their son John was born at Motupipi in 1855 and married Margaret Coutts (originally from the Shetland Islands) in 1880. John and Margaret’s son, Robert James Horton, was born in Kaiuma on 16 February 1881. He married Rose Elizabeth Lovell on 30 July 1908 and they had nine children. The eldest, Ivan John Horton (Pam’s father) was born on 6 September 1909.

Havelock Lucknow Street

An early photograph of Lucknow Street- now SH6, Havelock. Marlborough Historical Society - Marlborough Museum Archives

Pam’s grandfather, Robert stayed in the Havelock area working at tree felling and as a mechanic, sharpening the pit saws and fixing some of the early machinery.  They lived in Lucknow Street (now SH1) in a house, previously owned by Dr Cantrell and now the Blue Moon Backpackers.

Havelock Horton delivery truck

Ivan Horton’s delivery truck. Photo supplied by Pam Burrows

During the Depression, Ivan being the eldest, left school aged 13 and went to work in Orsman’s Store in Havelock.  William Henry Orsman was initially employed as a storeman in the store of Messrs Brownlee and Co in 1888.  In July 1901 he started his own business in Union Street as a general storekeeper.

Havelock Brownlee Co Store

The Brownlee and Co store which was to become Horton’s Stores in the 1950's. Marlborough Historical Society - Marlborough Museum Archives

William (Bill) wouldn’t let Ivan Horton play rugby on Saturdays, so Ivan went to work for the Brownlees instead.  Messrs Brownlee & Co Store was established in 1872 in the building now occupied by the marine shop Bow to Stern.

Havelock brochure

A tourist brochure showing two of the Horton’s businesses- the stores and the camping ground. Photo supplied by Linden Armstrong

Dinny Mills and Ivan bought the shop from the Brownlees and Ivan bought Dinny out in the early 1950's, when it became known as Horton’s Store.  Ivan and his wife Molly rented the house across the road from his parents’ house on the corner of Lucknow (SH1) and Lawrence Streets - the house is still there.  They later moved to a flat above their store.  Ivan was Havelock’s fire chief for many years, a Justice of the Peace (JP) and a coroner. He was secretary of the Havelock Anglican Church when the new vicarage was built in the 1960's. 

Ivan’s brother, Tom, worked in the store and started the motor camp down by the Havelock Marina. Tom married a widow, school teacher Katherine Holmes later in life.

Ivan owned the store for many years.  Pam remembers going up the Wakamarina Valley on grocery deliveries with her father.  They would stop for cups of tea and  Ivan bought eggs and other produce on these trips. Linden Armstrong remembers him buying eggs from her grandmother, Jessie Rush. He would deduct the payment for the eggs from Jessie’s grocery bill.

The old store building was used as a general store from 1872. Today it is still used as a shop with accommodation upstairs.

By Linden Armstrong based on an interview with Pam Burrows (nee Horton), Havelock, September 2015. Updated July 2020

Sources used in this story

For resources about this area,  see the Havelock story.

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  • I am looking for the store owner Frank Cohen who had the store from 1872? Do you know anything on his time there? Thanks faye woods

    Posted by Faye Woods, 09/05/2018 12:57pm (6 years ago)

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