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Emotional farewell for local jewellery store

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Masterton jeweller Peter Nicol said it will be a “strange experience” when he gives up the family business that has been on Queen St for 127 years.

Nicol Jewellers was established by watchmaker and jeweller, Frank Dupre, in 1889 and has been run by three generations of the Nicol family.

Peter said the time was right for the family to move on.

“I’m retiring and I’ve got three daughters who aren’t in the same line of business. It’s been a great venture for our family.”

Peter’s grandfather, Len Nicol, was apprenticed to Mr Dupre when the business was started, leading to the family’s generations of involvement with the company.

A shot of L.S. Nicol and Sons Ltd from the 1950s. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE
A shot of L.S. Nicol and Sons Ltd from the 1950s. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE

In 1909 Len travelled to America and England to extend his knowledge of the trade, and worked in San Francisco where he had the opportunity to enhance his skills.

He returned to Masterton and eventually purchased the business from Mr Dupre.

Peter said his grandfather’s trip had provided the foundation for what would happen over the following century.

“He went to America to look at what was happening over there and gather information, and I think it really opened his eyes and gave him some great ideas,” he said.

During World War 11 Len was joined by his sons, Bill and Rich Nicol, who continued to run the business after Len died in 1950.

Bill’s son Peter joined L.S. Nicol & Sons in 1973 and when his father retired a few years later, he purchased the business that is now known as ‘Nicol Jewellers’.

Over the years the shop has offered a jewellery repair and watchmaking service as well as engraving and valuations.  It has also stocked a range of items including gold and silver jewellery, watches and clocks.

The business received a scare in June when the army bomb squad was called in to investigate the discovery of a World War I bomb in the attic of the store.

Neighbouring shopkeepers were told to vacate their stores and move away from the area while the bomb disposal team dealt with the find, which turned out not to be a live round.

It would be tough to say goodbye to the place when the day finally came, Peter said.

“When my grandfather was here the shop was down the road. Then around 1970 they moved into this building – there’s definitely a lot of history here.”


  1. Hi Pete + Judy

    congratulations and very best wishes in your retirement.

    do you guys have any travel plans in the future ?

    it would be great to see you in South Africa one day.

    regards Ross

  2. Best of luck Peter. I bet there will be a lot of memories floating around as you leave the shop for the last time. Go well. Enjoy your retirement. Arohanui and best wishes. Owen Perry.

  3. I worked for Peter when I first left school. He was a pleasure to work for. All the best to Peter and family.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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