246 Queen Street
Fashion retail in early 1960s New Zealand was dominated by department stores, exclusive salons and a growing swathe of hip young boutiques such as Jennifer Dean and Elle.
A new development at 246 Queen Street sought to provide a new concept. Established by entrepreneurial businessman and cinema owner Robert Kerridge, the 246 Shopping Centre was a sophisticated multi-storey, high-end mall. The sleek and stylish building, that could be accessed from either Queen Street or Lorne Street, was designed by architects Rigby Mullan and opened in July 1964. Prestigious foundation tenants included El Jay Chapeau, the exclusive Christian Dior Boutique, Iris Currie (who sold Emma Knuckey designs), Vance Vivian Menswear, Maitland Knitwear, Scandinavian furniture store Danske Møbler and on the top floor, the Gold Room restaurant. Designer Bruce Papas opened a salon there in 1965, Barker and Pollock in 1966 and Babs Radon in 1967.
The 246 building was a significant landmark for teen model Judith Baragwanath. “We got our kicks parading up and down the main drag every Friday night during the 60s and 70s,” she says. “In those days the street was alive with late night shoppers, tearaways, runaways, show-offs, hot rodders, bikie gangs (for a bit of rough) and cops on the beat. We’d rendezvous outside 246, which was, at the time, Auckland’s tallest building.”
But by the 1980s 246 had lost its gloss and attention was instead centred around the boutiques of Vulcan Lane and the now hip High Street District.