But wait – there’s more to tell

Hamilton Central Libraries’ Perry Rice has been digging in the drawers again and come up with a postscript to his recent article on the old Bisley building.

New information is to hand. This happens from time to time when searching for a particular photo you’ve seen maybe five years ago – the image is clear in one’s mind but the location of the photo is not.

Searching through drawers of photo cards does not involve as much technique as it requires luck. There is also in every such expedition a more than fair degree of serendipity.

Thus, when one goes in search of a photo of elderly (that’s older than me) people posing in a Model T one finds other groups of interest – the ‘FAC’ staff outside Bisley’s building! (it happens often enough – there are 14,000 photos in those drawers. That’s ‘fourteen thousand’)

Now, we can write another paragraph, if not a chapter, in the life of this building which was built to last. It was probably built for ‘FAC’, a probability of which we had not the slightest inkling because as it was demolished in the sixties (we think) it is not the subject of any historic research.

So, Mr Bisley did not stipulate the architectural style with the intriguing mix of elements but he did buy it. That is, I venture, an even more definite approval of the building. You surely wouldn’t want your business operating out of a building you personally detested.

FAC must have moved to the building in Victoria Street, now Les Mills Gym, leaving the Ward Street building available for rent or sale. Not in the photo of the FAC staff is the plaster lettering on the frieze. That was removed when Bisleys took over except they left ‘offices’ above the door. What we can see is part ‘auctioneering’ and part ‘co-operative’.

The actual name of the company was ‘Farmers Co-operative Auctioneering Company Limited’. Shortened to FAC the all important, indeed essential, ‘cooperative’ element is rendered redundant yet that is precisely why the company was formed. It was based in Hamilton having its genesis in a meeting of Hamilton farmers. The BOP Times of April 1919 carries an ‘advertorial’ informing readers of the company’s performance.

It makes interesting reading – all through the First World War the company paid 8% on preference shares which was a sound performance. Interestingly to me, the company had an agency for the American car the Hupmobile. Sturdy vehicles and even innovative but the company went broke in 1940.

FAC got its foothold by purchasing the business of Messrs McNichol & Co which had been around Hamilton a good few years by the time FAC was incorporated in 1907.

So, I digress somewhat but not so much that I have found out the fate of FAC. Was the company swallowed up by Wright Stephenson? National Mortgage? Dalgetys? Perhaps someone can let me know.

Oh, I suppose the Victoria Street building was also designed at the behest of FAC directors. Have a look sometime – it’s smothered with pilasters. Nothing quite like a smattering of neo-classical to make the business look solid.

Email Perry here – he’d love to hear from you.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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