Saturday 20 September 2014

Time Standing Still- Langford Store

We were disappointed to find the Langford Store closed when we passed through Bainham on our way to the Heaphy Track a couple of weeks ago so I was looking forward to returning once the shop opened again for the new season.

Langford Store is thought to be the oldest operating shop in New Zealand, it opened in 1928 and has been in the same family for four generations. The original owner, EB Langford’s great grand-daughter now runs it with her partner. Before the latest family member took over, the store was run for a whopping 61 years by Lorna Langford, a grand-daughter of EB, she finally retired in 2008.

It was great to see the tables & chairs out under the veranda but unfortunately nobody having a coffee. In fact other than the owner we had the place to ourselves once again.

Stepping through the door was like stepping back in time, an Aladdin's Cave of nostalgia, a walk down memory lane. The first thing that surprised me was the actual size of the store inside, it was so tiny. And so full. There are three sections; the shop is located in the middle section, a kitchen and private area are through an opening behind the counter on the right hand side of building and in the narrow left section is the Post Office with it’s entry from the veranda.

Here’s a selection of shots from inside the store, I’ve left them single so you can click to enlarge them to check out all the familiar items.

Memorabilia, grocery items, books, handkerchiefs, gumboots, sweets, posters, old price lists and crockery compete for attention around the stacked shelves and walls in shop. Along side the memorabilia there are everyday items for sale, it was actually hard to work out what was current and what was not.

I loved reminiscing over all the old china, I once had a collection to match this lot but I sold most of it when we were downsizing for our life on the road. I kept just a few treasured pieces that belonged to my grandmother.

There was plenty of retro items for sale too, I was given a fondue set just like the cacky yellow coloured one (calf poop colour we used to call it) on the top left, for a wedding present many years ago. I love the named boxes, especially the tea cosy ones! And I bet inside the crocheted bowl cover box would be covers exactly like the ones I have that belonged to my Nana and were crocheted by her.

The “spy hole” in the wall above looks through to the “Post Office”, below. What an amazing amount of “stuff” is in there! Again, it was hard to work out what was current and what was from the past.

When Lorna started working for her grandfather in 1947 she was still at correspondence secondary school. The mail came into the shop three times a week & she was postmistress and accounts clerk. She would bike to the store and home each day with her typewriter on her knees.

The store room, to the side of the shop, has been converted into an art gallery with art work on sale from local artists. There is more nostalgia lining the walls and more table and chairs to sit at.

We decided to have a late lunch/afternoon tea at the store, I ordered a coffee & scone and David had a pie. It was great to see it served on china in keeping with the store’s history.

Some of the items on the wall in the Store Room Gallery.

I love the “midget sausages”- I wonder if those are what we now call cherrios. And Ham & Chicken Paste, I’m sure we had that when we were kids. The p├áte of the past!

From the rustic and worn look on the outside to the dozens of shelves stacked with hundreds of items from today and yesteryear inside, Langford Store is definitely one of a kind and a New Zealand historic icon which I hope survives the test of time. It has become famous by standing still.


  1. This was a good read and the pictures were fascinating. My parents had a grocery and hardware shop in Chch through the 50s, 60s and a bit of the 70s so it was great to see this old shop. I'd heard about it on the radio. A lot of nostalgia can be too much for me and get a little depressing but this was just enough.

    1. I love nostalgia so you're lucky this wasn't twice as long! :) I hope it survives but I have the feeling that it will always been a struggle, such a shame.


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