Home' Greymouth Star : March 25th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Kevin Barlow was born and raised in
the family home in Cobden by parents
Wattie and Lil Barlow, along with his
three older sisters Elsie, Margaret and
May, and brothers Patrick and Warren.
When Kevin was 10 the family moved
to Coal Creek, their father working on the farm
"I went to the Cobden Convent until standard three
and then went across to the Marist Primary School
and ended up doing three years at the Marist High
School. at was enough for them --- and enough for
me," Kevin said.
"Brother Cletus or 'Cheezy' as we used to call him,
was the principal and Brother Edmund was one of
my main teachers back then."
at early focus on farming saw Kevin working on
Kevin Ryder's Inchbonnie farm for a time, working
seven days a week for £7 plus keep.
"I was working on the dairy side of things and also
helping with the horses. We did a lot of ploughing
and always had early starts. Eddie Cowie, who
eventually trained trotters on his own accord, was
working up there then. One time we had worked a
long day and decided to go into town to the dance,
borrowing the boss's car. Eddie was driving and
coming home we were so tired we both fell asleep
and rolled the car over into the lake.
"I was with Kevin at Inchbonnie until he sold
up and moved to Clarkville just out of Kaiapoi. I
worked for him over there doing a lot of fencing and
he then set up a stud farm and started moving in
on the American market, setting up a thoroughbred
importing operation. Kevin Ryder was years ahead of
Kevin returned home to the Coast, working for
Jack Moynihan, who had a small dairy farm at North
Beach, Cobden, but the allure of ice-cream soon had
him working at the Snow ake factory he already
knew so well. It was the start of a career in the
"Owen Norton had the Snow ake factory then,
and it was a great operation. I went through a few
ups and downs, as you do, but I started o as the boy,
mixing the ice-cream and worked as a general hand.
"All the ice-cream was sold in chrome metal
containers and you had to scrub them ready for the
next pour. I did that for ve years before taking over
from Kevin Haughton as the factory manager, while
Owen was the general manager."
It was a labour intensive process for making the
ice-cream, using milk from the farm next door or
buying it in from the milk company.
"Milk powder would be added to bring up the
solids and make it rich. We'd put in blocks of
butter to bring the fat content up in the ice-cream
and give it a richer, creamier taste.
"When I rst started we were doing a batch a
day of around 1800 litres of ice-cream, but when I
nished up we were making up to 8000 litres. e
milk would arrive in 10-gallon cans and we would
process it and then put it in the refrigerated tanks,
where it would sit overnight. Next day we'd make it
into the nished product.
"Snow ake was a great company and it made a very
good product. I don't like to push my own barrow
but we did make a very good product.
"Jimmy Bothwell, Michael O'Donnell, Mary
Palmer, Lois Magon --- over the years I worked with
a lot of people. We had a cross-section of workers.
We normally had a sta of eight but at one stage
there were only two of us, and we got the contract
for the Countdown supermarkets throughout the
South Island. We had to do the mixing, cooking,
chilling and packaging, but we lled all orders and
eventually got more sta . I took my son Warren on
in later years."
Love blossomed for Kevin in the old Park Hotel
after the resident housemaid caught his eye.
"Evelyn was working there and all the fellows
were saying I should ask her out. I was fairly shy
back then but I did and we were eventually married.
We have two sons, Warren and Aaron, and two
daughters, Kirstie and Samantha, and have lived
in our home at the top end of High Street all our
After the ice-cream factory Kevin went to work
for the milk treatment factory in Whall Street, but
it closed down 18 months later so he set his sights
in a new direction, working for the Corrections
"Initially, I was working in Greymouth doing a
couple of days a week and then it went to three days
and so on. I was supervising the community work,
and that was a bit of an education to say the least.
It got pretty full-on so I decided to go and work in
Hokitika doing less hours, which was good.
"I really enjoyed Corrections down there and I was
my own boss and got on good with the boys. I had a
very good foreman and all the boys were prepared to
work and do all the tasks. ey were a good bunch
of blokes and I had respect for them, and they did
likewise. I was a father gure to a lot of the boys and
they responded positively, which was important for
"In Corrections there is so much red tape these
days but it does ser ve its purpose. I've seen a lot
of lives turned around, they still know me and still
acknowledge me, which is great. Even though I am
now retired I work part-time in the o ce for Alan
Devine and I love it."
Kevin Barlow is a past-president of the Union
Hotel social committee and the current treasurer. He
says the group is pretty proactive, to say the least.
"We have an activity every month and there are
33 of us. We have been overseas seven times ---
Rarotonga, the Murray River, Perth, Bali, Dar win,
the train through to Cairns and to Singapore. At
present we have 110 nancial members."
Kevin also loves his rugby league and is a keen
follower of cricket, having recently returned from
seeing the New Zealand side demolish India.
"I saw all the records getting broken, which was
quite an experience, actually being there when it all
"I enjoy my singing, too, and I'm in the St Patrick's
Church choir. We practise every Wednesday night,
which is our choir night --- Mike Curragh, Jack
Flood, Tom O'Callaghan, Sue Falvey is the organist,
conductor and boss. I love it, it is the Irish in me, I
think, but I don't know what part of Ireland!"
Kevin was also an active member of the Coast
Capers, an entertainment group of West Coast
artists during the 1990s.
"We had a pretty good group --- Matt Lysaght,
Paul O'Brien, Skinny Growcott, Carolyn Williams
and Marion James was on piano. Some weeks we
would be entertaining four nights a week, great
times. We'd stay in the bar and meet people on tour
and they'd end up big nights!"
Kevin Barlow has just about seen more ice-cream than Mr Whippy. Ice-cream was a big part of his life, growing
up right next door to the Snow ake factory at Coal Creek and then working on the production line for 44 years.
PAUL McBRIDE reports.
PICTURE: Paul McBride
Kevin Barlow, at home in Greymouth.
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