Established by William Twentyman in 1867 during the hectic gold rush days on the Coromandel, William was a Builder and Undertaker trading as W. Twentyman – Builder & Undertaker with the business premises located in Owen Street, Grahamstown.
History of Twentymans
Twentymans has been committed to serving our community longer than any other funeral business in New Zealand. Twentymans Funeral Directors has been dedicated to serving the people of Thames and the greater Coromandel Peninsula since 1867, longer than any other funeral home in New Zealand.
In 1876 the business moved to the newly built home and office at 709 Pollen Street, Grahamstown where the workshop was located at the rear of the section.
During this time, William managed his business and was assisted in due course by his sons Robert and William.
William Twentyman died on 16 Sep 1888 at age 47, he was buried at Shortland cemetery. At 20 years of age, Robert and his brother William carried on the family business after the death of their father, Robert was the builder and undertaker while William was the carpenter. Robert later brought his brother William out of the business.
On the 23rd of November 1880, Mr William Twentyman purchased 710 Pollen Street, Grahamstown, Thames. The existing buildings were demolished and William built a two storey dwelling – house and shop on the site.
Horses and carriages and later, motor vehicles were hired when required from W. White whose main building faced Pollen Street, north of Salvation Army Hall, with stables behind on the corner of Kirkwood and Cochrane Streets. W.White had a passenger service contract to Auckland in those days. In 1936, Twentymans owned their own Hearses.
Robert Twentyman married Miss Catherine Jane Peace and they were blessed with six children – Kate (Catherine), Alice, George, Alan and Eva (Evelyn). Robert’s wife Catherine Jane died on 20 February 1919, aged 54. Two years later, Robert married Mrs. Milfred Cox, a widow.
Robert continued to give building and undertaking services to the people in the Coromandel Peninsula assisted by his three sons George, Robert and Alan, until the day of his death on 17 October 1947 at 82 years of age. He was also buried in the Shortland Cemetery.
After Robert Twentymans’ death. Robert was succeeded by his sons (Grandsons of the founder). Alan Stuart Twentyman took over the management of the business specializing in the undertaking (later called Funeral Directing) trading as Twentymans Bros. Ltd, while his brothers took care of the sawmill and building work. Alan married Miss Phyliss Boyle of Thames and were blessed with three children, Maxwell John, Patricia Lynne and Rosheen.
In 1950 Twentymans bought out Lamanquis Lamb, Funeral Director, Paeroa. In 1957 the Twentyman family took over and operated the timber mill at Thames. This was an important addition and convenience to the company for the supply of timber for their building projects and the making of coffins.
Alan Stuart Twentyman died on 12 November 1976 aged 70 years and was cremated at Purewa. Maxwell (Max) John Twentyman (great grandson of founder) took over the Funeral Directing business trading as Twentyman Funeral Services. Prior to this, Max assisted his father with the funeral directing and all work associated with the profession.
In 1976, the saw-milling and building department of Twentymans closed down.
Coffins since have been purchased from a manufacturer in Auckland.
1990 saw Twentymans Funeral Services business and property sold to Rod Demler and David McMahon. Rod Demler was the Manager at the time.
In 1993, the Twentymans Funeral Services business and property was sold to current owners Adrian and Julie Catran. Tarading as Twentymans Funeral Directors, both Adrian and Julie are co managers in the business.
In April 2019, our Art Deco function centre, The Thames on Kirkwood opened.
In Nov 2019 Thames Valley Crematory and Forever Pets opened in what was formerly known as the Judds Foundry building in Kirkwood Street.