Jones & Company
First Published 7 November 2023 on the Tauranga historical Society Blog: https://taurangahistorical.blogspot.com/
At 143 Thirteenth Avenue, Tauranga is Hillsdene Chapel, a faithful replica of early colonial architecture, housing Jones & Company, funeral directors. It was named Hillsdene in recognition of the history of the former estate on which it stands.
Jones & Company - Image capture Feb 2010 Copyright 2023 Google
Hard to believe the business was established back in 1909, although it was not entirely recognisable then as the same business it is today. Somewhere along the way the name of the business changed, as did the owners and even its founding trade as furniture manufacturers.
Advertisement - Bay of Plenty Times 11 October 1911
In 1909 the Jones family set up business on the Strand as “Furniture Makers & Upholsters”. The business soon moved to premises in Hamilton Street and in 1910 formed the company ‘Tauranga Furnishing and Manufacturing Company’. A newspaper article in the Bay of Plenty Times states: “Amongst the most attractive premises in town are those occupied by the Tauranga Furnishing and Manufacturing Company in Hamilton Street.”
21 Devonport Road - Tauranga City Libraries 993.42 SETT (Sladden Collection)
Mr Hugh L. Jones was the company director in those days and he employed over five staff, as he had expanded his casket making to a funeral business. The funeral directors wore top hats and tail coats and the horses that pulled the hearse were hired from a local stable in Spring Street, where the old Post Office building is.
By 1913 the Jones family had moved to a much larger and grander building at 21 Devonport Road, which these days is where the temporary library, He Puna Manawa is located.
The premises had a large workshop which enabled the Tauranga Furnishing and Manufacturing Company to produce a large range of furniture – as well as wooden caskets. The furniture making side of the business remained in Devonport Road until 1945 when it was taken over by Babington Bros.
Babington's Furnishings - Photo pn-3149
Mr H. E. (Bill) Jones, Hugh’s son, took over as manager of the funeral side of the business and another son, Frank, entered the business about 1946. In 1938, Jones and Company, as it was then known, built the distinctive Spanish styled building at 107 Grey Street and the funeral parlour moved there. It was situated just in front of Charlie Haua’s blacksmith business and there were very few shops surrounding it in those days.
107 Grey Street c. 1950s - Photo 02-156
The Grey Street building, with its attractive facade, became quite a landmark in Tauranga and for many years its location was ideal for the funeral business. The business remained in the Jones family until March 1980, when it was purchased by brothers, Dave and Jim McMahon, however they retained the Jones and Company name.
Jones & Co. Chapel c. 1940 - Photo 03-354
By 1983 Jones and Company had outgrown the building on Grey Street and they moved to ‘Hillsdene’ in 13th Avenue. The Grey Street building was sold to new owners and it still stands today as an iconic reminder of Tauranga’s past, although it currently has a “For Lease” sign in the window giving it a rather forlorn appearance. People may recognise it most recently as the Versaille Restaurant, which operated on Grey Street for a number of years.
Versaille Restauranga at 107 Grey Street 2015 - Tauranga city Libraries Photo 15-331