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The Nelson Photo News



Local Identity
Mr B. B. Jones

"They do me wrong who say I come no more,

When once I knock and fail to find you in.

For every night 1 stand outside your door,

And bid you rise again and work and win."

The lines above constitute a simple little poem called "Opportunity". They apply, to more or less a degree, to everyone. They certainly apply to Mr B.B. (Burchard Bartrum) Jones, one of Nelson's best-known citizens. Opportunity did knock once at Mr Jones's door, but it found him in and ready to accept the bidding. And that opportunity led to his establishing one of Nelson's leading land agencies.

In two months time, Mr Jones will celebrate his 88th birthday, but he has no thoughts yet about retiring. Although he was instrumental in establishing the firm of B. B. Jones and Son, it is not generally known that the business, since its foundation in 1933, has been that of his son Noel. Mr Jones has been associated with the firm throughout, however, working, he says, without salary while handling all the firm's subdivision work. This is not to say he is penniless. He is, in fact, a business success, but he has made his money out of subdivisions and the building of hundreds of houses.

Many now well-established Nelson families have Mr Jones to thank for setting them up in their first homes - homes they entered for only a small deposit or none at all. "I like to help people, as I was helped when I was a young man," he recalled. He also established many of the residential shopping centres and, here again, many Nelson businessmen owe their start to Mr Jones's aid. "I have had to gamble a great deal on human nature, and 1 must admit there have been times when that gamble hasn't come off," he said a little wryly.

Mr Jones was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. At the age of 15 he left school to work on a farm in McLaren's Bay in the Croiselles for only 60c a week and keep. Bridge building, scrub-cutting, shearing and fencing were all undertaken by him before opportunity knocked at his door. The opportunity, at the age of 21, was a machinist's job with the building and timber firm of J. D. Robertson. He made 35c a day. After 12 months with the firm he extended his carpentering knowledge and not long afterwards went to England for a trip. While there, at the direction of Mr Robertson, he learned to make leaded windows and when he returned to Nelson he made the leaded windows for the Nelson College assembly hall. When this was dismantled the windows were re-sited in the residence now occupied by the headmaster, Mr B. S. Wakelin (left). It was while working for Robertsons that he thought of building houses to let. He borrowed money and commenced his building project. Since that time he has built hundreds. But life has not been all work. When younger he was a keen shooter and today he gets tremendous enjoyment from playing indoor bowls with the Senior Citizens' Friendship Club. He is also a great gardener, a recognised authority on carnations and the grower of a great strain of Iceland poppies. A closing quote, from Mr Jones:-

"It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it' s good also to check up once in a while to make sure you haven't lost the things that money can't buy."