Watchmaker 'winding down'

Greymouth's long-serving jeweller and watch-maker Ian Tennent is closing his shop soon. Photo:...
Greymouth's long-serving jeweller and watch-maker Ian Tennent is closing his shop soon. Photo: Greymouth Star
Time has caught up with Greymouth's long-serving jeweller and watchmaker Ian Tennent, who will close the doors to his little Boundary St shop for the last time next month.

Mr Tennent is recognised as New Zealand's longest trading jeweller and watchmaker, but after 53 years tinkering with time, the 76-year-old has decided to call it a day.

It brings to a close a 121-year family dynasty started in 1898, when Mr Tennent's grandfather John Tennent began managing the original business for his stepfather, Horace Lloyd.

So began the family association with watchmaking.

In 1902, John Tennent established Tennents Jewellers on his own accord, and ever since it has continued to provide a watchmaking and engraving service.

"I can always remember my father engraving the Melbourne Cup when Cyril Neville's horse Dalray won it in 1952 - Dad was as nervous as hell," Mr Tennent said.

Tennent's Jewellers previously traded on the corner of Mawhera Quay and Albert St. In 1947, Ian's father Bill took over the family business, followed 20 years later by Ian, who now operates from a new location in Boundary St.

"The old building on Mawhera Quay was badly damaged during the Inangahua earthquake in 1968 and following that, masonry would fall off the walls when a train went past. It made it difficult when you were engraving or repairing a watch.

"We eventually built a new shop. At the height of our business we employed 11 staff and had three shops - Mawhera Quay, one in Mackay St and another in Hokitika."

Mr Tennent said it was finally time to close the doors after previous attempts to wind down the operation fell through.

"Four years ago, we had an expression of interest but it didn't materialise. We are winding down and will look at probably closing at the end of April. We have an accumulation of material we need to tidy up - certainly a lot has been gathered over the last 120 years.

"I will continue to do some engraving for a while, but it is the end of an era.

"When my mother passed away 10 years ago we were the oldest jewellery business in New Zealand and we are still the oldest today."

 - Paul McBride 

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