#3 – Holtom’s Buildings

Francis Richard Holtom built Holtom’s buildings in 1920. He was born in Tredington, Warwickshire, England in 1881. By 1905 he was in Lower Hutt, advertising for carpenters for his building projects. He married Emma Ann Elizabeth Winnie in 1906. The couple embarked on a trip to England in 1908 on the Moldavia, with their new daughter, Esme Jean. When the Holtom family returned to New Zealand in 1910, they settled in Paekākāriki. They had two more children, Harold Dennis, and Arthur Ernest Wincott. Mrs Holtom, who was a well‑known member of the community, died in 1942. In addition to running the tea shop in her husband’s building, she played the organ for St Peter’s Church, and provided the music for community events. She is remembered with a brass plaque in St Peter’s Church. Arthur died in 1994, and Esme in 1995, both in Paraparaumu.

Mr Holtom was a businessman with a high profile in local affairs. He was local secretary of William Massey’s Reform Party, he farmed locally, started a football club, showed movies, started the bowling club, was an agent for a Fire Insurance company, and ran for Hutt County (Whareroa Riding). One 1924 advertisement shows the breadth of his talent for business.

FR Holtom

Land and Estate Agent

Sections for sale on the new subdivision on easy terms to suit purchasers. Houses to let and for sale. Can arrange to finance and build houses.

In another advertisement, he flamboyantly describes Paekākāriki as the “Brighton of New Zealand.”

Holtom’s Buildings in Beach Road sports the date 1920, but only the ground floor was completed by then. It wasn’t until 1922 that the first floor was finished. (It is reported that the builders ran out of concrete.) Mr Holtom celebrated the opening with advertisements proclaiming the virtues and amenities of his new building. He was an agent for Overland, and Willys Whippet and Knight Cars. In addition to the servicing of motor vehicles, and provision of ‘motor spirit’, his wife, Mrs Emma Holtom, was running the tearoom on the ground floor, and there was a billiard room upstairs with splendid new billiard tables. Later a new floor was laid down in the billiard parlour and it was converted to indoor bowling. Following that it became a sewing factory. Later it housed One Eye Gallery.

By 1933, Paekākāriki had expanded and several Beach Road shops had changed hands. Holtom’s garage had become Watkins & Co (“Under an efficient mechanic”!). Leighton Short’s general store was being run by G. Barnett. Holtom’s tearooms were still selling sandwiches, cakes and ice cream.

In 2020 the building again has new owners. The garage has closed, after 100 years under various ownerships. The building will now undergo earthquake strengthening, and the area previously occupied by the garage is currently expected to become a new bar and eatery. The site of the early tearooms is now a delicatessen-café and upstairs are several art galleries.