In the late 1890’s, after leaving New Plymouth’s Central School, Charles Cameron Ward took up an apprenticeship with his uncle, who operated a local cooperage. Charles became an expert copper as everything in those days was packed, transported or kept in barrels.
In 1885 however, the introduction of refrigeration to the transport industry almost wiped it out the labour force overnight, and subsequently put Charles out of a job.
In the same period Charles’s father, Joe Ward, bought a small drapery store on Devon Street East by the name of ‘Excelsior Drapery’, which Charles leased off him. In 1905 Charles became the formal owner of the property and renamed the store C.C. Ward Ltd.
Commonly known as ‘Wards’ the store has become well known and loved by both those in the region and also by travelers passing through New Plymouth. In the early days Charles’s takings were £5 a day, which was good money in times when his father had paid £750 for the store and land. Much of Charles’s business was to local Maori who referred to the store as “Tarlie Tarlie”, as there is no ‘C’ in the Maori language.
The store developed over the years as the business grew and additional land was acquired on both Devon Street and adjacent Currie Street, this land made way for the £4000 new three-story building that is today still in use.
The business was passed from Charles down to his four sons, Keith, Lyn, Neil, and Ron thus it remained in the Ward family for 90 years. In November 1984 current owners Roslyn and Murray Holyoake bought the store from the brothers. The store has continued to be run to Charles’s original spirit and has developed to remain current with the times.
As the store did over 100 years ago C.C. Ward Ltd stocks top quality merchandise for the discerning customer with specialist areas now including Bridal, Lingerie, Ladies Fashion and Accessories.
Devon St frontage in the 1930’s
Start of Summer Sale, 10 February 1986
Nola Foreman tendering the elevator, 1992