Spence and Bee's Store (Former)
1 Itchen Street, Oamaru
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
25th September 1986
Extent of List Entry
The extent includes part of Lot 2 DP 6417 (CT OT330/113), Otago Land District, and the building known as Spence and Bee's Store (Former) and its fixtures and fittings thereon.
Lot 2 DP 6417 (CT OT330/113), Otago Land District
Nestled in a cluster of small limestone buildings in the early business district of Oamaru, this shop was built for businessmen John Johnson Spence and William Bee in 1878.
Grain and wool production on the pastoral estates boosted the development of Oamaru as a port town. The early 1870s saw the town transformed from an ‘insignificant collection of stone and wooden buildings’ along the west side of Tyne Street to an ebullient show of Victorian architecture.
In 1872 William Bee and his brother James advertised their premises on the corner of Itchen and Tyne Streets, on what is still known as Bee Corner. The North Otago Times reported: ‘Messrs, J. and W. Bee have also improved their stores, in Tyne and Itchen streets, by the rearrangement of the building and putting in a new front.’ William Bee and John Spence subsequently entered a partnership as ‘Wholesale and Retail Grocers, Wine and Spirit Merchants’ in the premises previously occupied by J and W Bee and Company.
In February 1878 architects A.T. Brindley and Stewart (of Dunedin and Oamaru) advertised for tenders for the masonry and carpentry work for the construction of new premises for Spence and Bee.
The course of business did not run smoothly. James Bee was involved in bankruptcy proceedings in 1878 and John Spence and William Bee, trading as Spence and Bee, followed in 1879. Spence and Bee’s partnership was dissolved in 1884, with William Bee carrying on the business on his own account as family grocer, wine and spirit merchant, baker and confectioner.
In 1902 William Bee was still advertising as ‘family grocer, bread and biscuit manufacturer, and wine and spirit merchant. The advertisement indicates that the offices were located on the corner of Tyne Street and the retail grocery and other departments occupied the Itchen Street frontage. Behind the shop a two-storey building was used as a bakehouse, where bread, cake and biscuits were manufactured.’
Information provided by the North Otago Museum indicates that the store went through a variety of incarnations in the twentieth century, including general merchants Mercer and Mitchell in the 1940s.
In 2012, Spence and Bee’s Store (Former) remains a retail business in the historic Whitestone precinct of Oamaru.
Brindley and Stewart
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
Construction of first building
Current building constructed
Façade detail removed
General merchant on this site
1st August 2012
Report Written By
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905
William Bee entry
Conal McCarthy, Forrester and Lemon of Oamaru, architects, Oamaru, 2002
K C McDonald, 'White Stone Country', Oamaru, 1962
A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.
This building is part of the Harbour conservation area registered as the "Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area" (7064) which was initially listed as the Harbour Street Conservation Area 2/7/82, BCC paper 65/1982.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.