Topic: Bowlarama (Formerly Swanson's Engineering Ltd/Devon Footwear Ltd/Clarks Shoes Ltd)

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Bowlarama opened in 1991, New Plymouth’s first automated ten-pin bowling centre. The complex now has an indoor mini-putt course, with entrances on both Dawson Street and Devon Street West. In July 2020 a $1.5 - $2m extension/alteration to the complex began to incorporate a new 'Laser tag' game.

It's likely that the first commercial structure on the site was erected in 1935 when a building permit was issued to C. Swanson Ltd. for a workshop on town sections 224 and 226. At the time there was a large two-storey residence on the corner (now Huziff Motors) and over the years more buildings have been added, wrapping around Huziff Motors on Dawson Street to Devon Street West. 

Swanson’s were an engineering firm and over the next 15 years the business grew and more buildings erected. About 1965/66 Swanson Engineering moved to Carrington street and the Devon/Dawson property was sold to Wellington businessman, Mr A.S. Cornish for “something less than the Government valuation of $96,000”.

Cornish’s idea was to consolidate the different branches of his footwear company, Burkes New Plymouth Ltd., on the one central city site. The buildings were completely refurbished for the new business and a name change to Devon Footwear Ltd. followed. Production began in 1969 and the new premises were officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Overseas Trade, Jack Marshall on 23 February 1970.

Devon Footwear Ltd. went into receivership in 1975 and was the business was bought by Clarks Shoes Ltd. The economic changes in the 1980s were the nail in the coffin for the local shoe production business and Clarks Shoes closed on September 28, 1988. Some staff were able to move to the company’s Auckland factory.

Three years later Bowlarama opened in the large Dawson Street building visible in the photograph above. 

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Bowlarama (Formerly Swanson's Engineering Ltd/Devon Footwear Ltd/Clarks Shoes Ltd)

City:New Plymouth