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Plumbing history demolished

Going ... going ....

The building that housed a mainstay of the Gisborne business community for decades — J S Allan and Son — is coming down.

Demolition work started this week on the Grey Street building, which is listed on Gisborne District Council's list of 13 potentially earthquake-prone buildings, which were originally scheduled for strengthening by March 2018. However, the district council granted a five-year extension.

J S Allan and Son former company managing director Derek Allan — grandson of James Smith Allan, who started plumbing in Gisborne in 1896 — said the business acquired the site in 1950 and started operating from there in 1952.

The company was previously based in Derby Street for 25 years.

J S Allan operated as an independent trader for 100 years before becoming part of the Mico Wakefield network in 1997.

Mr Allan said he enjoyed a strong and lengthy relationship with many suppliers and customers.

There were big farming stations, which, like J S Allan, were three-generation-old businesses, where the original generation had broken in the land.

The Allans also had a strong relationship with the Findlay family, owners of adjoining properties.

Mr Allan said another strong memory was the company's fun run of the 1980s, which featured more than 1500 participants, prizes valued at more than $14,000 while the company installed free open-air showers outside the showroom for the runners.

Spa and Pool Warehouse operated at the site until last year.

Property co-owner Walter G. Findlay said they had considered repairing the building “until it got crazy''.

They had other ideas for the site, but nothing was definite at this stage.

The former J S Allan and Son building is coming down. Demolition work started this week on the building, which is among 13 buildings listed as potentially earthquake-prone. J S Allan and Son acquired the site in 1950 and started operating from it two years later. It operated independently until becoming part of Mico Wakefield in 1997. Picture by Paul Rickard
The former J S Allan and Son building, seen in its full glory in 1982. Gisborne Herald file picture