Rhyll and Ross Patrick are celebrating 100 years and three generations of Patrick Jewellers.
Rhyll and Ross Patrick are celebrating 100 years and three generations of Patrick Jewellers.

Business withstands tests of time

IF ONE Gladstone business has withstood the tests of time it’s Patrick Jewellers, and it’s only fitting considering the whole business started with timepieces.

Colin Patrick secured a watch-making apprenticeship with Hardy Brothers when he was a teenager. Not long after, in 1914, World War I broke out and Colin was sent out.

He was one of the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli on April 25 and was shot that day. It’s a story his grandson Ross Patrick, the current owner of Patrick Jewellers, recalls as “lucky”.

“They’ve come to cut off his arm and he says ‘look I’m a watchmaker, I need that arm’,” Ross said.

“So they didn’t cut it off, they tried to save it.

“It was one of those lucky wounds, it was bad enough to get him out of World War I but not so bad that in later years it didn’t affect him at all.”

Returning from the war with a unique skill set, Colin travelled Queensland looking for a place to set up shop when he stumbled across Gladstone in 1919. He made an offer on a small store next to the Friends Store and began operation in October. During the ’20s Colin had five sons and the business ran well until the Great Depression.

“Repairing watches was probably what kept him going,” Ross said.

Tough times in the 20s were topped off by a fire in 1938 that destroyed the store.

“The town looked after him, he got a lot of support locally,” Ross said.

Combined with goodwill from suppliers, they were able to set up again in the existing Goondoon St site.

The store reopened in 1939 before World War II broke out and all five sons served.

In the ’50s Ross’s father Noel Patrick, also trained in watch repair, took over the store with his brother Doug. They had the vision in the ’70s to expand the store to the size it is today.

Ross and his wife Rhyll took over the business in 1980 and still run it today.

They have operated through numerous booms and busts and managed to keep the doors open. Ross said there was one thing that kept the business alive: “It was the (watchmaking) skills of my father and grandfather.”