Wellington Province



Page 590

Godber, James, Caterer and Confectioner, 84 and 86 Cuba Street, Wellington. Telegraphic address, `Godber, Wellington.' Telephone 263. Bankers, Bank of New South Wales. Private residence, attached to business premises. The large business now being carried on by Mr. James Godber was established in the early days of New Zealand, when the European population of the entire Colony numbered but 37 000. A site for the shop was chosen in Cuba Street in 1855, and no sooner were the premises completed than they were taken possession of by Mr. Robert Miller, who continued in occupation for eight years, disposing of the business to Mr. Joe Dixon in 1863. Under Mr. Dixon's management the business grew considerably, and in 1878, the year in which it was purchased by Mr. James Godber, was a going concern. During the fifteen years which followed, Mr Godber bestowed his best attention on his business, and, as a result, it grew to so great an extent that in 1893 the premises were no longer sufficiently commodious or convenient to permit of the carrying out of his extensive orders. Accordingly, Mr. Godber decided to erect a new building two doors further up the street. A site was chosen, the plans drawn by Mr. F. Mitchell, and a large two-story place of wood and iron - shop and dwelling combined - was erected by Mr. Butler, the contractor. No expense was spared to make this shop one of the finest of its kind in Wellington. It has a frontage to Cuba Street of 40 feet, by a depth of 160 feet, and possesses a large double window, eminently suitable to the display of the choice variety of good things in the confectionery line which Mr. Godber keeps in stock. A portion of the shop is divided off into refreshment rooms - a large general room and a private one; but, at times of extra pressure, other rooms are brought into requisition for private parties, by which means the comfort of all patrons is thoroughly secured. The bakehouse is situated at the rear of the premises, and contains biscuit machines, sponge machines, an almond machine, and all the other necessary appurtenances to a well-appointed bakehouse. Probably few faces are better known in Wellington than that of Mr. James Godber's. Born in Sheffield, in Yorkshire, he left Home, with his father's family, in 1858, in the ship `Empress Eugene,' for Melbourne. Here he was educated. In 1863 he crossed the Tasman Sea - in those days known as the South Pacific - and on arrival was apprenticed to Mr. Joe Dixon - whose business he eventually purchased - completing his term in 1867. The next ten or eleven years were spent by him in travelling about the country, gaining further experience in his trade by acting as journeyman baker in various parts of the Wellington province. However, he returned to Wellington in 1878, and bought out his former employer. The principle qualities of a good businessman are energy, promptness, industry and perseverance, and these Mr Godber seems to have possessed in a marked degree. As a caterer he has few equals, and is consequently a great favourite with the public far and near, his business extending from Palmerston North to Picton and Blenheim; while he is so celebrated as a maker of wedding and other cakes that orders come in from all parts of the Colony. He is also a large importer of wedding cake ornaments; and every kind of English confectionery can be obtained at his shop. As a specimen of the extensive orders which Mr. Godber receives, it may be mentioned that at the opening of the Salvation Army building he catered for 1300 people, of whom 905 sat down at once; and at the Industrial Association banquet, in August, 1888, no less than 1000 people sat down to dinner, their wants being bountifully supplied by the indefatigable caterer, Mr. Godber. On the occasion of the Jubilee, in 1890, he was again to the fore, and supplied refreshments for the 5200 children who had taken part in the demonstration. He is the favourite caterer, too, for a large number of the Masonic bouquets and balls, besides the balls given by the Star and Wellington Boating Clubs, Hunt Club, Football Clubs, and many of the numerous private balls given by the leading citizens of Wellington. At the New Zealand Exhibition, in 1885, he bore off the silver medal for the best wedding and other cakes, and his reputation has by no means deteriorated since then. The promptitude with which Mr. Godber executes his commissions renders him one of the most popular men in the city. He has displayed his energy also in social and public matters as a Past Master in the Waterloo Lodge of Freemasons, and as an ex-member of the Mount Cook School Committee.

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