In 1875, not long after arriving in Christchurch, Englishman Henry Oakley partnered with John Taylor and together they established Taylor & Oakley: Plumbers, Gasfitters, Brass Founders, Iron & Tinplate Workers, Bellhangers & Sanitary Engineers.
Christchurch was a developing city with settler numbers and development rapidly growing. Taylor & Oakley was a reputable company where workmanship and service was given the utmost attention. So much so the company won awards for its work including a gold medal at the 1906 NZ International Exhibition for its pumice concrete washtubs.
The company was people orientated with regular picnics for the staff and their families, and a company rugby team, which was competitive in corporate games, received regular column inches in the local newspaper.
In 1919 Taylor and Oakley parted ways, with Oakley & Sons remaining in Tuam Street. The company was described as a plumbers' merchant, sheet metal workers, tinsmiths, and manufacturers of hollow-ware, spouting, downpipes, canisters, pumice boilers and concrete tubs.
Upon Henry's death in 1924, one of his 11 children took over the business. Osmyn remained in charge until 1934 when he put the company into voluntary liquidation. John Taylor appeared back on the scene, purchasing Oakleys and running it as an independent company separate from Taylors, which was focusing more on its engineering division.
By 1975 Oakleys had become a specialised plumber's merchant with its warehouse and offices at Restell Road.
When the company next came up for sale it was purchased by Denis Willis. Over the years he and business partner Colin Spratt revitalised the company, moving to its current Cashel Street premises, adding a showroom and attracting retail sales with its innovative bathroomware collections and a best service guarantee.
In the last 15 years the company has quadrupled, establishing branches in Dunedin, Cromwell and Nelson to service all of the South Island. Local partnerships ensure all branches remain locally owned and committed to supporting local communities. Like the original store the newest branches offer a full complement of trade and retail sales, attracting tradespeople, designers and homeowners alike with the best products and a dedication to exceptional customer service.
Oakley & Sons at the International Exhibition, Hagley Park, 1906
Oakley & Son's award winning pumice gas copper 1906
Henry Oakley's mother "Grandma Oakley"
An Oakley & Son's family picnic at Diamond Harbour circa 1910
Workers outside the building in Tuam St, Christchurch, circa 1930
A newspaper ad from the 1920s
Oakleys as it is today with branches in Nelson, Dunedin, Christchurch and Cromwell.
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