Published: 26 August 2013
At the age of twenty, John Harris's grandfather Charles, his wife Anne and two children Harold and Herbert arrived in Western Australia from Birmingham, England in 1921. Charles had been sponsored to come to Western Australia by a Perth jeweller called Levinsons, as he was a skilled ring maker and diamond setter. Harold had completed an apprenticeship as a toolmaker in Birmingham, but had also helped his father manufacture jewellery from their home.
Charles and his son Harold rented a room at 158 Murray St, Perth, where they began melting down their watch chains and making rings themselves. It was during the 1950's that Harold began to design and make wildflowers in sterling silver to enhance the tops of sugar and tea spoons.
Charles retired in 1950 and Harold retired in 1984 due to failing eyesight. During the 58 years they occupied the same room in Murray St, Harold opened several shops – in Narrogin, in London Court and in what is now known as Forrest Chase. Harold's eldest son Max was an apprentice in the family business and went on to open shops in Moora and Merredin.
John Harris began helping his father, Harold, at an early age, beginning with melting the scrap and rolling the ingots. Saturday afternoons were spent in the workshop in Como, using the 'lost wax' method of casting. After leaving school at the age of 15, John worked as a farmer in the Wheat belt of Western Australia. He then returned to the city to take up a drafting position with a large engineering firm, where he worked for over 10 years. But 'the bush' was calling...
As John's father was now in his mid-seventies, he discussed the possibility of manufacturing the silverware in Albany, while he father sold the pieces in Perth. By this time the business had moved to St Georges Terrace and John purchased the business twelve months later, with his sister running the retail shop. John continued to manufacture from his idyllic setting at King George Sound, with his wife and three children. Twenty years later, when the last of their three children moved to Perth, John and his wife Rosemary followed.
Whilst the business was flourishing, John decided to enter into 'full-time ministry' at his church. So, under instruction from John, his friend Paul Morgan took over the business creating the now famous 'Harris & Son' brand of silverware.
Paul moved to Queensland in 2006, so John's son Cameron began to manufacture the products, again under John's supervision. Sadly Cameron contracted a rare form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma and passed away in 2011. It was during this time that John and his wife relocated to York, where John manufactures the silverware today.