Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Joe Nimon and the Nimon Bus Co.
Mr. Nimon belongs to one of the oldest families in Havelock North. His mother was born at Exmoor, Somerset, in England in 1855. She came to New Zealand to join her brothers who had taken up land some time previously in the Kimbolton district (Manawatu Area). She took a job with Mrs. Kirkaldy in Wellington to help with the family and later with Mrs. G P Donnelly (a Maori princess) who was Joe Nimon’s Godmother. In 1894 she married Mr. J.G. Nimon and carne with him to Havelock North in 1897 when Joe was a year old. His father took over the management of Beecrofts transport which were in the days of horse and coach. Young Joe was eventually sent to Havelock North school and that was all the education.
He was able to get as he was needed to help his father in the
business. All his brothers were sent to secondary schools.
After his father took on the business from Mr Beecroft he made steady progress. The first motor bus was solid tyre Studebaker
and was purchased by his father in 1912 and replaced the horse and coach on the Havelock-Hastings run.
In 1920 Joe, following his father’s footsteps, he was elected on the Town Board. He subsequently became Chairman of the Board and later Mayor of the first council.
In his younger days Joe loved playing football but Said his work was his main hobby" He was a member of the original Havelock North swimming baths committee and played an active part in raising money for the construction of the pool.
0n the retirement of Mr. J. Phillips in 1938, Mr. Nimon succeeded him as the Havelock nominee on the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board. He has been a member of the Power Board ever since.
Mr Nimon was created a Justice of the Peace and has since been the recipient of the coronation medal in 1952 and MBE in 1972.
He and his three brothers were members of the Havelock Volunteer Fire Brigade in the early days of the Brigade.
The History of the Bus & Nimon Bus Company in Havelock North
Mr. W. A. Beecroft operated the Havelock North-Hastings service from the mid-1880s, with stables maintained at Hastings and at Lucknow Lodge, The Bus service itself was started in 1883 by William Beecroft who kept a stables from which horses could be hired. He built the house at the old site used as Nimon's offices, on the corner of Lucknow Road and Middle Road. At that time there were stables attached to the house, which was known as Lucknow Lodge.
The first Hastings bus was, of course, a horse-drawn ve¬hicle, Havelock North. It started with a daily return service. The service was soon expanded.
The late Mr. John G. Nimon started with Beecroft on this run in 1895 and bought out the Havelock North bus service in 1900, buying two horse buses, gigs, buggies plus 30 horses and all equipment for cash paid in gold sovereigns.
At that time, the Boer War was raging and the buses were named Ad-vance and Retreat, no doubt indicating the progress of hostilities at the time.
The Nimon family were living in Railway Rd, near where the An¬gus Inn now stands, when the 1897 flood swept through Hastings. They had to be rescued by boat.
So Mr. Nimon decid¬ed to move his family to higher ground and moved into the cottage next to Lucknow Lodge.
Nimon's horse buses —Advance and Retreat —
outside Lucknow Lodge
The early bus service was a grim, unpleasant run. Starting at 7am, the driver continued right through, with only meal breaks, until 11pm frequently for seven days a week.
The Havelock North-Hastings road was a swirl of dust in summer, requiring goggles for the driver.
It was a quagmire in winter when the big trees on the northern side kept the sun from melting the frost and ice on the slippery, rough, metalled road.
Three or four horses were required to pull the bus through the winter mud compared with two horses in sum¬mer. Opposite St Andrew's Road one can see a belt of poplars planted in 1900. They were planted well back from the road to allow the road to dry more quickly.
Nimon's drivers have had their moments. When Wirth's Circus came to Hastings the smell of the elephants sent the horses in a frenzy and, on at least one occasion, the horses bolted with a full load of passengers and were quite uncontrollable. There were a few frightened passengers looking rather pale when they left the coach.
The original J. G. 'Nimon had a wonderful reputation with horses and his eldest son, Joe, frequently had to hold a horse's head while his father extracted a tooth.
Fuel for the service was no problem. Chaff came in by traction engine in 40 ton loads from Ngatarawa to be stored in the loft above the stables in Lucknow Lodge.
Drove buses at 13
The late Mr J. J. Nimon left school in 1909 and was 13 years old when he started driving the buses. More than 60 years later he was still taking his turn at the wheel when required. He carried the pupils of the boarding schools for over - three
generations and Mr Nimon often received a message from a boarder “Mother and grandmother send you their regards. You took them both to school.”
The company's first motor vehicles were two Studebaker 7 passenger cars purchased in 1913 to supplement a quick service along with the horse buses. These were some of the first cars in the district with electric self-starters, as Charles Kettering of Delco did not produce the first self-starter until March 1912.
Nimon's cars were used for years to pull the Havelock North Fire Brigade hose reel, and later one of their bus chassis, a Denby, became Havelock's first fire engine.
The first motor bus in 1915 was a Garford with solid tyres and a horse-bus body. Mr. Nimon would not take delivery from the Tourist Motor Co. until it fitted hooks on the front so the horses could maintain the service if the engine failed.
A Nimon Thorneycroft bus at Havelock North. It carried
21 passengers inside and 14 on the roof.
Mr Nimon said he remembered, as a small boy travelling on this bus with seats straights across like a toast rack.
A new landmark on the Havelock North scene will be the Nimon's Bus Depot and Workshop on the corn¬er of Martin Place and Karanema Drive. The building
Commenced in February 1967, but it is hoped that it will be completed at an early date hopefully by Easter. I t is designed and built by J.C. Mackersey Ltd., the new complex will house facilities for three Companies. Nimon and-Sons Ltd., operates the well¬ known Bus, Service between Havelock North. Road-Air Hawke’s Bay Ltd., carries refrigerat¬ed freight and perishable goods between Hawke’s Bay and Auckland. The third company in the group is Road-Air Coach Builders which does most of the coach building for the freight company and is at present situated in Napier Road.
At present the Depot on the corner of Lucknow Road and Middle Road carries out the servicing and mainten¬ance of freight trucks and buses on an area of about three quarters of an acre. The new Centre in Martin Place is four acres in extent.
The new building will com¬prise a workshop, coach shop, a wash bay, and body-building shop. The administration area will include offices, a lunch room, locker and change rooms.
Construction of the garage and workshop areas will be steel frame which will be metal clad. The offices will be of concrete with wide attractive windows surrounded by inset panels.
The building is to be set well back from Karanema Drive to allow for the two lane highway which is eventu¬ally planned. This frontage will be bordered with a plantation strip to be planted by the Borough Council. In addition there will be some landscaping on the site, with a small lawn area and trees and shrubs.
The main entrance to the new buildings will be from Martin Place, so as to make the least possible interruption to traffic in Karanema Drive. The exit will allow space for a wide sweeping turn into the two-lane highway when it is, constructed.
Best of all the new site will allow space for further growth, and as the Managing Director, Mr. John Nimon, said in inter¬view, "We take any opportuni¬ties we can, to expand."
The Nimon bus company now situated on the corner of Karenema Drive and Martin Place.
Some of the buses from several years ago up to last year.