Queen St West in Hastings was once the location of three motor garages in the early part of the 20th century. Tourist Motor Co, Williams and Kettle and the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-operative Association garage.

Only one of the garage buildings remain, and that is the former Hawke's Bay Farmers' garage at 206 Queen St West.

Stock and station agents Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-operative Association had established a store at 200 Queen St West in 1899, and rebuilt this in 1930 after this building was destroyed by fire.

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Hawke's Bay Farmers' had purchased the business of A Jones and Sons in 1912, which was Hastings' earliest motor garage.

With the growing prosperity of Hastings, a property belonging to D W Hursthouse was purchased at 206 Queen St and the Vulcan Foundry built a garage for Hawke's Bay Farmers' on this property, with an unusual barrel roof line.

Hawke's Bay Farmers' announced its new home at this garage for Buick sales and service in July 1926. It had a showroom, three petrol bowsers, and a workshop.

Buick is an American carmaker, which was established in 1897, producing its first vehicles in 1899. William Durant, who assumed control of Buick in 1904, would form General Motors Holding Company in 1908, which would produce Buick automobiles and other brands.

The photo shows the showroom upon its opening, and on close examination of the pictures hanging on the wall, they reveal the outline of the 1924 Buick "Sixes".

The Buick Sixes were named for their six-cylinder automobiles manufactured from 1916 to 1924, and after this the Buick Master Six was produced from 1925 to 1928.

In 1926, General Motors opened a plant in Petone which made Buick, Chevrolet and Pontiac vehicles. The Hawke's Bay Farmers' garage would promote that their cars were New Zealand-made after this date.

The garage was at one point managed by Bill Greer, who went on to found Stewart Greer Motors.

During the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, the east side of the building was badly damaged, but able to used and Grants Pharmacy set up in the front of the building after its building was wrecked on Heretaunga St West.

The late Cyril Smith (1911-2006), who had just started as an apprentice mechanic at the garage as 19-year-old, told me in 2006 when the 1931 earthquake struck that he felt the ground shake a little bit, "and then bang, it arrived with all its pressure". He waited to see what the older men did, and when they headed out the service garage doors, he followed quickly.

The force of the earthquake was so strong, the men crawled along the alley way between the Hawke's Bay Farmers main building and the garage. He looked up at one point and saw the roofs of both buildings almost touching with the violent movement of the earth. He went home, and found his parents where sheltering at my paternal grandparents' home in Outram Rd.

Smith lost 12 close friends in the earthquake.

The next day, Smith returned to the garage to repair damaged vehicles over the next few weeks with his colleagues so that they could be used in the earthquake recovery effort.

In 1934 the garage was added to and a bay was added on the west side.

Guy Baillie had founded a garage in the late 1930s, on the corner of Eastbourne and Hastings Sts and was helped by Andy Dysart of Ross, Dysart and McLean, who had a garage on the corner of Karamu and Eastbourne Streets. I'm not sure that would happen today. Both of these garage's Art Deco buildings still survive today.

In 1971, Hawke's Bay Farmers' took over Baillie Motors to form Baillie Farmers' Motors.

A rationalisation of the stock and station agency firms began in the 1980s, and Hawke's Bay Farmers' merged with Dalgety to become HBF Dalgety in 1982, and eventually the name disappeared after the 1980s era of mergers and takeovers.

Baillie Farmers Motors was caught up in the fervent takeover activity, and eventually went into liquidation in 1989.

When the garage ceased to be used in the 1970 /early 1980s, it was used by retailers Briscoes and Payless Plastics.

Coming soon, Historic Hawke's Bay by Michael Fowler. A collection of his best articles 2016-2018

Michael Fowler (mfhistory@gmail.com) is a chartered accountant and contract researcher of Hawke's Bay's history.