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Richard Battson said the newspaper was found in the walls of the Walter St cottage. Photo: GORDON PREECE

130-old family business advert found

A bathroom renovation in an old Thames miner’s cottage led to an unexpected “rare find” by a Thames plumbing firm recently.
Plumber Richard Battson said while removing the wall linings of the cottage bathroom on November 14, they found a 130-year-old newspaper advertisement for his family plumbing business.
The remains of The Evening Star newspaper published in 1892 contained an advertisement for Richard’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s business: Francis Battson Plumbing, which was established in Thames in 1890.
Richard told The Profile the newspaper was discovered by his workmate Gareth Scott.
“Gareth found it when he was doing a bit of demolition work taking the wall linings off and he said pretty much the paper was open right in front of him with the ad straight in view so it was quite uncanny,” he said.
“When I came round to scope the job out he then showed me and I thought I better take a quick photo of that and my old man [Gordon] who’s a plumber too, he said he had never seen anything quite that old.
“He’s got a bit of history in regards to the family business so to find something of that vintage that was only two years after Francis had originally started the business is quite a rare find.”
Richard, who has been the director of R H Battson Plumbing since 2020, said the 130-year-old newspaper was “in pretty average condition” when it was found and had passed it on to Gareth’s father, Jim Scott, to keep it preserved.
“He’s going to look to frame the piece with a bit of kauri that’s come off the job as well so he’s going to frame it and probably give it to my old man,” he said.
“Over the years my dad has found bits and pieces along the way with ties to the family business, but half of Thames has kind of been done by a lot of past workers in terms of the plumbing side of things.
“Maybe when [the owners] built the place they put the paper in there for something like this to possibly happen, to find it 130 years later, but that’s Thames for you.”