Gone but not Forgotten
Many years ago I was fortunate to spend a few days over a Christmas break with members of our family, who lived in Eastern Southland, namely, Wyndham.
About eight kilometres south of this modest farming community, the once busy hamlet of Glenham lay in a shallow sun soaked valley. A place we later returned to live for five short years, and a place our family learned to love with all our heart.
Here I sketched an old country store, still standing at the time and a short distance from our home. This store played an important role in the development of a once thriving township. As well as being a general store, there was a space at the western end of a long veranda, where a butcher once practiced his trade.
The store, so I believe, was erected by D.C.McKenzie, a local building contractor I 1908.
Only a short distance to the east, a small red brick Presbyterian Church remained and drew a small, but faithful congregation regularly each month. These two structures, apart from the existence of two or three homes, are the only visible signs that a prosperous village ever existed in this delightful valley.
It is hard to believe now, but Glenham became the terminus for the Edendale to Glenham railway line. Of course originally, that line had been planned to extend much further into the countryside. However, improvements to roading and the development of more modern transport, proved to be the beginning of the end, for this extension.
A dairy factory, so I am told, stood about one hundred metres to the south of the old store, while a telephone exchange was conducted from the home of a railway ganger and his family. Of course the public hall, the school and railway station, were but a few of those amenities that made up this once blossoming frontier township.
As I flew past this old store in my humble VW, on my way to work in Invercargill each morning, it never ceased to fascinate me. Always meaning to stop and sketch it one day, I never seemed to get a round to it.
However, given an opportunity one weekend to wander through the old place, I decided to sketch it, there and then.
Apart from some of the interior being used for storage
much of the old shelving and wooden counters were still in place. Some of the less popular products though, they still sat where they had been left many years before.
Memories of a by gone era flashed before me as I wandered about. Images of a storekeeper in my old village flashed before me. With a tin scoop, he measured an order of sugar from a Hessian bag behind the counter. A roll of cured bacon, draped in mutton cloth and hanging from the ceiling, waiting to be taken down and sliced as you waited.
Boxes of dried fruit, raisins, sultanas, apricots, dragged out from behind the counter where the storekeeper used to dig out an order from a wooden box with a sturdy tin scoop. Now, that was not yesterday.
Mr A. C. Bulling took over this general store and butchers shop on February 1st, 1930, however, after sixteen years, it appears he retired and his two sons Frank and Morrie succeeded him on August 1st 1946.
They traded as F and M Bulling, expanding the business by making home deliveries as far away as Fortrose on the southern seacoast, as well as home deliveries to Waimahaka, Gorge Road, Titiroa, Te Peka, and Pine Bush.Unfortunately, a migration of the southern rural population to the north, or to the cities, saw trade fall away, forcing the closure of F and M Bulling in 1972. Once more, national statistics could chalk up yet another vanishing village to their mounting catalogue.
On Facebook. Plow and Pickle Press