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227 Cuba Street - Former Beattie & Proctor Building

Former Beattie And Proctor Building

Building Details 

Building name: Former Beattie and Proctor Ltd Building
Address: 227 Cuba Street
Construction date: 1919
Architect: Unknown
Original Owner: Beattie & Procter Ltd
Builder: Unknown
District Plan Category: Street Character 11
Building number: 89
Heritage NZ Category: Nil

Physical and Social History 

This small shop was designed as the showroom and workshop of a small plumbing business. Its frontage appears to be fairly original.

Prior History
There is nothing recorded in the 1914 and 1916 Wises' Directories for this site. At the time, the property was bounded on the Lombard Street side by Mrs Elizabeth Barnett's Temperance Hotel, and on the Taonui Street site by grocer George GH Miller and Sam Lee's laundry, both of which shared a property.

The property belonged to William Sykes, described as a settler, from 1882 until 1885, when it was transferred to his wife Emma Ann Sykes. Thereafter it was transferred in 1888 to Mary Ann Tarrant, a widow, and then in 1897 to Elizabeth Miller, wife of George Miller, a Palmerston North settler. In early 1916 it was transferred to George Clisham Keeble, an accountant, with a right of way over the adjoining property to Taonui Street, and a new CT (WN 245/213) was issued[1]

Keeble was from a very well connected local family and had a successful future ahead of him, while his wife Beatrix was a member of the prominent Waldegrave family. However, whatever plans he might have initially had for this property, they were probably disrupted by World War One, where he saw service in the infantry in France.[2]

The property was next transferred in late 1919 to Beattie & Procter Ltd, and the Beattie family was to own it until 1977.

Beattie & Procter Ltd

An article in the 1927 Manawatu Standard describes the early years of this firm. It was entitled: Beattie and Procter Ltd: A progressive firm

To commence in a small building with a staff of only two, and to grow to the extent of having 14 hands, in seven years, is a fair criterion of good service to the public and the gaining of their confidence. This has been accomplished by Messrs Beattie and Procter Ltd, plumbers, gasfitters and sanitary engineers.

In 1917 they commenced business in a shop of modest dimensions but soon - the inevitable reward of expert workmanship and reasonable rates - the business dealt with began to expand rapidly, and in order to cope with the expansion up-to-date and more spacious premises were necessary. Accordingly, in 1919, Mr GB Cope joined the firm, and it was made a limited liability company; spacious premises were secured in Cuba Street, and a fine modern building erected. Expert workmanship and considerate attention is the slogan of this enterprising firm. All work is under the personal supervision of Mr AN Beattie, who holds the City and Guilds of London Institute certificate.[3]

Although the original plans of this building survive, there is no indication on them as to who designed or built the shop. The property was transferred into the name of Beattie & Procter Ltd in December 1919, and the building was probably constructed soon after. This agrees with the above 1927 article. An entry on the Certificate of Title in January 1920, in relation to a party wall between this property and its western neighbour, supports this as its time of construction.

Noticeable on the building's upper façade in the aforementioned plans, is the spelling of the surname of Arthur Nelson Beattie's original business partner. This is spelt "Proctor" on the plans, while the name on the upper façade of the building itself is spelt "Procter". The spelling is also "Procter" in the property's CT, as part of the company's registered name.

It is known that the partnership split in difficult circumstances at a very early stage - probably about 1919. While this person has not been identified in this study, it is noteworthy that there was a plumber named Proctor in Palmerston North in 1919, while another plumber named Procter was advertising regularly in the local newspapers in the 1930s.[4]

The 1920 Wises' Directory lists two properties in Cuba Street as occupied by the partnership. Both are spelt "Beattie & Proctor". One is the building being studied here, while the second is on the other side of the road and on the corner of Cuba and Andrew Young Streets (on the side closest to George St). This is thought to include land still occupied by the plumbing firm trading as Beattie & Horne (founded by Arthur Nelson Beattie's son Joseph, known as 'Joe'), the address of which is now 8 Andrew Young Street.

Arthur Nelson Beattie (of Ngaio Street) died suddenly on 1 September 1941, aged 55, and his obituary described him as having been one of West End's most ardent supporters. He had done a great deal to further the interests of the suburb during the 31 years he lived there. He was a member of the West End School Committee for 15 years, and was one of those mainly responsible for the provision of the school's tennis courts and swimming pool.

Born in Denniston and educated in Westport, Arthur was subsequently apprenticed to the plumbing firm Larsen Bros. He later worked for the same firm in Greymouth. He then came to Palmerston North in 1910, where he worked for WA Kyle Ltd until 1917, at which time he entered a business partnership with Mr Proctor.

Joe Beattie was at an Air Force training camp at the time of Arthur's death.[5] He had done his plumbing apprenticeship with A & T Burt in Wellington, as his father had not wanted him to do his apprenticeship at Beattie & Procter Ltd. When Joe returned from the Second World War, he discovered that there was still no place for him in his late father's firm, now managed by G Cope[6]. So he and an ex-Air Force friend named Horne established a new plumbing firm called Beattie & Horne in Andrew Young Street. Horne returned to the Air Force several years later, however, his name remains with the present firm.

Arthur's City and Guilds of London Institute certificate still hangs on the wall at Beattie & Horne, and Joe's well-known brown and cream 1947 Chev Thriftmaster 'one-owner' plumber's truck is still in daily use around the city on behalf of the firm, and driven by one of his sons. One of his grandsons has just joined the firm as an apprentice, thus becoming the fourth generation of Beattie plumbers in Palmerston North.[7]

This building appears to have ceased being used as a plumbing shop in about 1958, by which time GB Cope was aged about 75. CT WN 245/213 records that the building was leased for a period of ten years with right of renewal, to Auto Electrics Ltd, the lease beginning on 1 November 1958. In 1959, the property was transferred from the name of Beattie & Procter Ltd, and into the names of Joseph Powick Beattie and Arthur's widow Delpha Beattie as tenants in common in equal shares. The former manager of Beattie & Procter Ltd, Gerard Brentnall Cope (an accountant), died on 17 July 1971, aged 88, after some four decades with the firm

Delpha Beattie died on 1 March 1974, aged 85, and Joe Beattie died on 2 September 2003, aged 87.

The property was transferred to Wai Buildings Ltd, in 1977, and then to Roger Edgar George Holmwood, company director of Palmerston North, in 1978. In 1985 an undivided half share of the property was transferred to Vera Lily Holmwood, married woman, of Palmerston North. A subsequent unclear transfer that evidently occurred in 2007[8] moved the property entirely back to Roger Edgar George Holmwood's ownership. The building was then sold in late 2009 to a partnership of Filip Van Den Hout, Carla Van Den Hout and Ian Gordon Stuart Donald.

The building was tenanted by auto accessory businesses for over forty years. Auto Electrics Ltd that leased the building in 1959, was in due course replaced by Auto Electrics 1973 Ltd. In the latter 1970s the shop became the Auto Accessory Centre. From around 2003 the building was occupied by Dynamic Computer Solutions. That firm left in late 2009, and the removal of its signage revealed the old Beattie & Procter name on the concrete façade. Its new tenant is Livingstone Business Equipment.

The frontage of this building appears to be generally unaltered from the original plans, other the altered spelling of the word 'Proctor', a replacement verandah, and some differences to the two central pillars. However, the present verandah may be covering some of the original decoration in that area. An old gantry behind the building is thought by Roger Beattie to date to the Beattie & Procter business.

Architectural Description 

The original drawings of the building show the façade style as symmetrical Art Nouveau with shallow curved parapet, central projecting parapet supported on bracketed pilasters with a projecting fine cornice and matching pilasters projecting above the parapet, also with projecting fine cornices.  The below verandah designed shows the pilasters with tiled panels and a wide shallow chamfered ingo.

It is not certain whether this was built, but what survives today is a very simple Stripped Classical styled building lacking the central pediment and Art Nouveau detailing.

The plan shows the single storeyed building with the shallow ingo leading to an L shaped building with an open shop with two office on one side at the front and a narrower work room at the rear.  The work room has large, possibly steel windows and a sliding timber door.

Construction appears to be concrete with timber roof framing and timber joinery.

Statement of Significance

This building has moderate local significance for historical and design values, representivity of building style and level of external authenticity. 

This building has moderate historic values in its association with Beattie and Procter Ltd who owned and built the building, using it for their plumbing business. The building continued to be owned by the Beattie family until 1977.

The building has moderate design values as a representative example of a simple version of the Inter- War Stripped Classical style.

The building has high design values as one of a number of buildings in the Cuba Street, George Street, Coleman Place, and The Square area which, when considered collectively, form a coherent group of buildings of a similar age, general style, form, use, and scale.

The building's above verandah street façade design is largely authentic.

[1] CT WN 29/122

[2]Manawatu Evening Standard 21 August 1912 5(7), 7 March 1973, p3

[3]Manawatu Evening Standard, 26 February 1927, p31 (4) 'Beattie and Procter Ltd: A progressive firm'

[4] Ref: 1919 Palmerston North Electoral Roll (re Proctor), and a regular daily advert that was sighted during this study in 1930s local newspapers, but the date was not noted (re Procter). Probably this person also appears in the Palmerston North Electoral Rolls around this time.

[5]Manawatu Evening Standard, 4 September 1941 6(6); 11 September 1941 2(6) 'Obituary'

[6] 1944 Wises' Directory, p568

[7] Interviews with Roger Beattie (10 January 2010) and Drew Beattie (November 2009)

[8] Note that the entry on CT WN245/213 is in fact dated "20.11.1007".