A half gallon Harts ice cream tin, probably dating from the mid-late 1970s.
This unusual Auckland ice cream tin came up on Trade Me today which prompted me to do a bit of looking into it.
I was able to eventually crack this one as being established around WWII or just before by a Leo Francis Hart, who was born in Inglewood, Taranaki in 1900 to James Hart and Catherine Elisabeth Campbell.
He probably established the brand in the late 1930s – he first appears at 136 (now 136-138) Greenlane Road in 1935 with his wife Ivy Maud (nee Bell) – and gives his job as “dairyman.” Clearly there was a residence there originally – now long since gone and replaced with a building housing a “Nosh” food market. From the mid-Nineteenth Century Greenlane was known as excellent pasture land for successful dairy herds and crops, but once grand country houses on farms – it was beginning to disappear by the time the Harts arrived on the scene.
152-154 Greenlane East today: The blue building is probably the original factory, and the lemon house to the left may have been the later family home.
By 1943 Leo had joined The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association (NZICMA) as “Harts Frozen Novelties Ltd.”
Leo bought the adjacent land at 152, 154 and 156 over 1944-1945 from three owners – Noel Edward Stewart, Raymond Joseph Goold, and Alton Garnett. By the mid 1940s the business name was “Hart’s Delight Ice Cream Ltd”, and then in July 1948 it was finally changed to “Hart’s Ice Cream Ltd’, which stuck – but without the apostrophe on the packaging.
Robert James (Bob) Hart, his son, was born 1931 and had joined him in the business by the late 1940s. Leo then added more land to his holdings bought from Walter Louis Castaing in 1949 (probably number 150 at the road front). Their given domestic address changed from 152 to 154 Greenlane Road this year so clearly they built a new house and moved into it.
At the same time Leo also did a number of transactions for property he owned, as well – he had sold some other land to two Auckland parties; Central Stores (Pine Island) Limited and Evelynne Dadley.
Aerial map of Greenlane East showing the Hart family’s holdings: Lots 136-138, 150-152, and 154-156. The factory appears to have been down a drive at the back taking up most of Lot 152.
The Auckland Council have on record a contract that Onehunga Council made with Harts in 1954 to supply ice cream to them. No doubt they also supplied local business like the 1920s-era Lido Cinema (which still operates to this day) as well as Greenlane Hospital.
Leo travelled numerous times over the years, taking trips to Southampton, England (1958), also Port of Spain, Balboa, Papeete, Suva, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle, Durban, Cape Town and Las Palmas.
1966 seems to be the last mention of any association with NZICMA that is on record. Leo died in1967, and the business seems to have gone on until 1978, around the year his widow Ivy passed away. Perhaps the inheritor(s) decided to call it a day. I’d place a bet that like just about every smaller (or even larger) ice cream business, it was probably snapped up by General foods and subsumed.
Electoral roll showing the Harts working as well as residing at 152 Greenlane Road, in 1957. Previous to this Leo had continued to describe himself modestly as “dairyman.”
Leo’s son Robert James Hart had married Shirley Rose in 1958, and they were living at 11 Lochinver Rd, Papatoetoe for many years (up until then he had lived with his parents). From the mid-1950s he had always described himself as “manufacturer” like his father. However from after Leo’s death he henceforth gave his profession as “manager.”
Robert had moved to Main Road, Paerata near Pukekohe, around 1978, and then to Paerata Road by 1981 – where he had clearly left the ice cream gig for good, and was now in the gardening business. He passed away in October 2011, seemingly taking the history of Harts Ice Cream with him. They did have at least one child so perhaps one day someone will see this article and add some information to it. It would be nice also to have any kind of advertisement, to add to the story for interest.
At the back of a car park, that takes up most of the area fronting onto the street at numbers 150-156 Greenlane Road today- there is still a modest mid-century house, now an office, next to an older-style, slope-roofed building. No doubt this was once the factory where the Harts made cold, creamy treats for nearly forty years.
Credits: Thanks to Karen Ruane from The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Assn (Inc), http://www.nzicecream.org.nz/, and also Chris Newey from Foodworks On-line – the New Zealand Food & Beverage Directory http://www.foodworks.co.nz/
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