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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

A fine tradition ends

John Purbrick might best be known as the chairman of Tahbilk Winery - but he has decided to retire from his other claim to fame.

CHALPAT SONTI March 20, 2014 10:52am

Kay Crawford and John Purbrick have retired from their pickles and preserves business.


All good things must come to an end and so it is for one of our most popular food businesses.

After almost 19 years, the pickles and preserves business Purbrick and Crawford is no more, with the retirement of John Purbrick and Kay Crawford.

The couple turned out up to 9000 jars a year at their Telegraph Rd property, and were a staple at local — and further afield — shows for many years. They have now moved in to Seymour.

Mr Purbrick, who remains chairman of Tahbilk Winery — ‘‘It’s a lovely title, the kids have been very kind to me’’ — said retirement was a fact of life.

‘‘Everything has to come to an end and the body was telling us that we’d better think about it,’’ the 84-year-old said.

‘‘It was just getting too much on the five acres out there, and it was logical to move in closer to care.’’

The couple started the business just before their official retirement in 1995 and have seen it gradually grow. They made the products in a 20 foot (6m) by 10 foot (3m) portable building.

‘‘We were going to all the shows and everything back then, we chased everything that moved,’’ Mr Purbrick said.

‘‘It was great fun and a really good little business and we met a lot of people through it which was great.

‘‘Just in the last four years we stopped going to shows — we were (a) getting older and (b) if you took out the cost of doing those you were doing it for fun. But then age and fun don’t go together.’’

They will continue to make a few bottles for themselves and friends, and believe the diehard fans of their work will have moved on to something else soon enough.

And the couple have a lesson for others from their experience. They managed to put a little aside out of the business each year to pay for their new home in Seymour and are delighted about that.

‘‘It might have been a little pickle and preserves business, but it just goes to show how a little bit can add up to a big bit.’’

They have also been busy donating to local volunteer groups. About 300 jars and some display shelving went to the new CWA Seymour Central branch and Vinnies got an unexpected bonus out of a couple of trailer loads of items.

In a more than 100-year-old book were lots of pressed flowers, believed to be of the same age.

Vinnies volunteer Kyria Crombie is also a member of the Seymour and District Art Society and set to work framing them up. She used her own handmade paper as backing and the result is spectacular. The artworks will also be sold with proceeds going to Vinnies.

And Mr Purbrick, who was presented with the frame above as a thank you, is delighted with the result of both donations.

‘‘Instead of selling them, why not let others enjoy them,’’ he said.

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