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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


page 1066


Johnsonville, the third station on the Wellington-Manawatu Railway line, and distant from Wellington some seven miles, has many attractions for tourist or traveller, poet, painter, or artist, and may be reached either by rail or road; if by the former rare peeps of hill and dell, mountain and rock, ocean, and the dancing waters of tortuous rivulets are vouchsafed en route, together with the charming little centres of Crofton and Khaudallah; while if by road, which is capital for vehicular traffic, the traveller, after leaving Ngahauranga, negotiates some three miles of picturesque gorge with an agreeable grade and gains the township some 450 feet above the Empire City. The accommodation here is fairly good, and the sights are the mountains, grassed and bush-clad, immediately above and around. From the top of an easily-gained hill at the back, or southern side of the main street capital views of Wellington City. Port Nicholson, its shipping, and all its natural surroundings are obtainable


page 1067 Further off, Pencarrow Lighthouse, at the Wellington Heads, the long sloping heights separating Wainui-o-mata from the Lower Hutt, the blue Kaikouras across Cook Strait, and the beetling rocks of the broken coast may all be picked out from this vantage in clear weather, whilst turning face about birds-eye views may be obtained of the fertile rolling country of the Ohariu Valley, and the thousands of prime Romney-Lincolns feeding upon the well-grassed hills; further north a bit of blue water flashes up from between two gigantic rocks, and proves to be part of Porirua Harbour. Another point of altitude worthy of conquest is Kaka Peak, rising to the north-west of the township, and from it on a quiet evening one may hear the chimes from the General Post-office at the Capital.

Johnsonville, although a farming centre, boasts amongst its immediate nooks and vales several villa residences of prominent Wellingtonians. It has two churches, one State school, two hotels, and several other business places. The sheep-farmers surrounding it are well-to-do, and the land to be found in the vicinity is good and easily kept.

Johnsonville is a town district in the Porirua riding of the Hutt County, and at the census of April, 1896, had a population of 493—249 of which were males and 244 females. Its distance from Wellington by rail is seven miles, and by road about eight. The other settlements adjacent are Tawa Flat and Porirua, four and seven miles respectively to the north and Ohariu Valley to the north-west.

The little cemetery is situated on the English Church reserve. The town is on a natural slope, and needs no artificial drainage. The staple products are wool, and mutton for freezing and the meat markets.

The educational requirements are provided for by the State school, further mention of which will be made in the following pages. There is only one resident minister, the Rev. J. W. Chapman, of the Anglican denomination.

Mails for Johnsonville close daily at Wellington at 6 a.m. and 12.45 p.m., arriving at Johusonville at 7.20 a.m, and 1.55 p.m.

Johnsonville Town District, which was established in 1877, has a population of 438, the number of dwellings being eighty-three, and the ratepayers eighty-nine. The area of the township is 780 acres, the total value for rating purposes being £47,040, on which an annual rate of one halfpenny in the pound is levied. The income of the Board is about £95 from rates, £80 from licenses, and over £20 Government subsidy. The members of the Board for 1896 are:—Messrs. W. Dawson (chairman), J. Rod (treasurer), J. Ricketts, E. G. M. Corlett, and J. Moore, Mr. W. Anderson acting as secretary.

Captain William Darling Dawson, Chairman of the Johnsonville Town Board for the period 1894–1896, is an old salt who, after nearly forty years of “life on the ocean wave,” has found a “snug harbour” in his pretty little estate of three acres on Woodland Road, Johnsonville. Born in the county of Durham, England, Captain Dawson went to sea in 1857, and had many experiences in many parts of the world till his retirement in 1893. After several years in American ships, during which he worked his way up from the forecastle to the position of chief mate, he passed his examination as second mate under the English Board of Trade, and at once joined the ship “Clasmardon,” 1598 tons, in which he went to Aden. This vessel was engaged in the transport service during the Abyssinian War, at which time, on the death of the chief officer, Captain Dawson was promoted to the vacant post. The ship foundered in a cyclone near Akyab, East India, and Captain Dawson with five other survivors was exposed for thirty-six hours lashed to the cuthead before being rescued. In 1872 he become master in Sydney of the brig “Derwent,” in which he visited many New Zealand and Australian ports. In 1874 in Sydney he took command of the brigantine “Hannah Broom-field,” which had been purchased by Messrs. Greenfield and Stewart, of Wellington, and brought her to that city, since which time his home has been in the Colony. Remaining in charge of the “Hannah Broomfield” till 1879, he joined the New Zealand Government steamer “Stella” as second mate, from which he was transferred to the s.s. “Hinemoa.” Cantain Dawson was afterwards in command of the s.s. “Stormbird,” and of the p.s. “Manawatu,' in which he remained until the sale of the Wellington and Wanganu line of steamers. He was then employed by the late Captain W. R. Williams as master of one of his barques and afterwards of his steamers. On the sale of his vessels to the Union Steamship Captain William Darling Dawson page 1068 Company, Captain Dawson continued as captain of the s.s. “Maitai,” which vessel he commanded till she was lost on the New Zealand coast. He was subsequently in charge of several of the Union Steam Ship Company's steamers. When he left the sea in 1893 he was captain of the barque “Weathersfield.” The subject of this notice, who has been a member of the Masonic Brotherhood since 1863, when he was initiated in Lodge Courage with Humanity, No. 551, E.C., Calcutta' settled in Johnsonville in 1894. In 1871 Captain Dawson was married to a daughter of the late Captain John Johnstone, of Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Mr. James Moore has been a member of the Johnsonville Town Board for three years, in which capacity he his rendered good service to the ratepayers. In educational matters he takes considerable interest, and has acted as a member of the local School Committee since 1893. Mr. Moore is a settler residing in Main Street, Johnsonville.

Mr. Robert Bould, who was a member of the Johnsonville Town Board for twelve years, for three of which he was chairman, was born in Wellington in 1853. He has lived in the district since he was a year old, having succeeded to the farm which his father occupied before him. Mr. Bould was one of the founders of the local Lodge of Oddfellows, in which he holds the positions of Master and Trustee. He was also a member of the Johnsonville School Committee for two years. In 1878 Mr. Bould was married to a daughter of Mr. James Bryant, of Ohariu Valley, and has two sons and two daughters.

The Johnsonville Public Library and Reading Room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and is very well supported by the residents of the township. The librarian is Miss E. Stone.

Johnsonville Post and Telegraph Office and Telephone Bureau is situated at Mr. W. Cook's store, Main Road, Johnsonville. For about thirty years there has been a post-office in the district, the present postmaster having held office since 1879. Two years later the office was removed to Mr. Cook's store.

Mr. James Erasmus Cunliffe, Postmaster and Telegraphist in charge of Johnsonville Post-office, was born in Brignmaugh, Wales, in 1850. When but a year old he came out with his parents to Melbourne, where he learned his trade as a baker. In 1870 Mr. Cunliffe crossed the Tasman Sea to Auckland by the s.s. “Hero,” and after three years in the Northern City and a like period in Napier, he settled in Johnsonville. Entering Mr. Cook's service as manager of that gentleman's branch store in 1881, Mr. Cunliffe has retained the office of postmaster up to the time of writing. The subject of this sketch has been prominent in local politics in Johnsonville—on the Town Board he held a seat for two years, and for several terms a he was a member of the local school committee. He is a member of the Oddfellows' Order, being a past officer of the Loyal Combination Lodge. Mr. Cunliffe was married in 1880 to a daughter of Mr. John Janner, settler, of Nelson, and has three sons and three daughters. It may be mentioned that Mr. Cunliffe is interested in a farm of 1000 acres at Nelson, where Mrs. Cunliffe and family reside.

Johnsonville Railway Station, which is seven miles distant from the Wellington Station, though only reckoned as six miles for the purpose of suburban traffic, is one of the oldest stations on the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company's line. The station building is of wood, and contains a comfortable ladies' waiting-room, general waiting and ticket lobby, office for the station officials, lamp room, etc. Johnsonville is the chief stock station on the Company's line, and large numbers of cattle, sheep, and pigs are landed at the extensive yards, which are fitted up with all conveniences for the purpose. The stock which are brought under the hammer by the well-known stock auctioneers, Messrs. F. R. Jackson and Co., each alternate Wednesday, at the large sale yards adjoining, and those intended for the Wellington Meat Export and Freezing Company, are lauded at Johnsonville. The average number arriving every month totals nearly 300 head of cattle, close on 14,000 sheep, and over 200 pigs. The whole of the work of the station is performed by the energetic stationmaster, Mr. R. P. Cook, assisted, since April, 1895, by Mr. Frederick Cording as cadet.

Mr. Robert Percival Cook, Stationmaster at Johnsonville Railway Station, has filled the office he now holds since the early part of 1888. Mr. Cook is a son of Mr. John Herman Cook, farmer, of North Makara, who was well known for many years in Wellington as the senior partner in the firm of Cook and Son, tailors, of Lambton Quay. Born in the Empire City, in 1866, and educated at the Thorndon Public School, under Mr. Mowbray, he learned the business of a grocer at Messrs. Logan and Wallace's store, Wellington. Subsequently he was for three years in the employ of Mr. T. Whitehouse, grocer, and was afterwards with Mr. A. W. Brown. In January, 1887, Mr. Cook entered the service of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company as page 1069 ticket clerk on the through train between Wellington and Longburn, and twelve months later he was promoted to the position at Johnsonville, which he still retains. Mr. Cook was married in December, 1888, to a daughter of a military man, Mr. Richard Moore, of Limerick, Ireland, and has two sons and one daughter.

Johnsonville Public School, which stands on one of the numerous eminences in the town, was established about twenty years ago. It is a comfortable wooden building, having four rooms, with accommodation for 180 scholars. The playgrounds, which surround the school building, are about one acre in extent There are 143 pupils on the roll, the average attendance being 131. The headmaster is supported by two certificated teachers and a pupil teacher.

Mr. Finlay Bethune, Headmaster of the Johnsonville Public School, is a Scotchman, born in 1862, who came with his parents to Lyttelton when only two years old. He was educated in Geraldine, where he became a pupil teacher at fifteen, gaining his first certificate three years later. Mr. Bethune was after-wards assistant master at the Temuka High School, and at the Masterton Public School, and was promoted in 1885 to the position of headmaster of Pleasant Valley School, where he remained two years. After a year at Carterton he was appointed to Manakau in 1888, where he remained till 1896, when he was trans ferred to Johnsonville. In 1891 Mr. Bethune was married to a daughter of Mr. N. Dunlop, of Geraldine.

St. John's Anglican Church, Johnsonville, was originally established about forty years ago. The present building, which is of wood and has a spire and bell, was erected some fourteen years ago to replace a building, which, like the first church, had been destroyed by fire. The church is seated for 140 persons, and a Sunday school of about seventy children assembles in the edifice.' The glebe attached to the church consists of about thirteen acres, in which a capital parsonage of ten rooms is pleasantly located. The vicar holds periodical services at Ohariu Valley, where there is a wooden building having accommodation for eighty, where also a Sunday school—of about forty children—assembles; and at Tawa Flat a small church built of wood, seating sixty persons, is utilized also for a school on Sundays, about thirty scholars attending.

The Rev. John William Chapman, Vicar of St. John's Church, Johnsonville, is an Englishman. Born in 1859, he came at an early age to Melbourne, where he was educated at Wesley College and the University of Melbourne. In 1887 Mr. Chapman was ordained deacon, and three years later priest. He was stationed at St. Mark's, Wellington, for a year, at Christchurch and Wanganui for four years, and at Waimate Plains, Taranaki, for three-and-a-half years, being appointed to his present charge in August, 1896. Mr. Chapman was married in 1888 to a daughter of Mr. Arthur Nicholson, of Whareama, settler, and has one son and two daughters.

Loyal Combination Lodge, Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity, No. 6191. The meetings of the Lodge are held in the Oddfellows' Hall, Johnsonville. The members meet on every alternate Wednesday.

Hope of Johnsonville, I.O.R., No 46, Johnsonville. This Lodge meets on alternate Thursdays. Secretary, W. Ange.

Railway Hotel (Benjamin P. Walker, proprietor), Main Street, Johnsonville. The Railway Hotel is well situated, being close to the Railway Station, and a good business is done with the travelling public. It is a wooden structure of twenty-two rooms, and is in excellent condition. There are good stables, paddocking, and all conveniences. The proprietor, Mr. Walker, who has recently taken possession, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and arrived in this Colony per “Claud Hamilton” from Sydney in 1865. For some sixteen or seventeen years he kept the Newcastle Hotel, Hokitika, and is therefore well known to the travelling community.

Johnsonville Hotel (Thomas Bould, proprietor), Main Street, Johnsonville Established 1876.

Styles, Robert Thomas, Farrier and General Blacksmith, Main Street, Johnsonville. This business, which was established in 1877, has been very successful, and ranks as the most important of its kind in the township. The proprietor was born at the Hutt, where he was apprenticed to Mr. Jones. He was initiated a member of the Foresters' Order in 1868, and has continued an active member up to the time of writing. In 1871 Mr. Styles was married to the second daughter of Mr. T. W. Hall, Government bookbinder, of Wellington.

Retter, Frederick William. Blacksmith and Wheelwright, Main Street, Johnsonville. Established 1894.

Cook, William, Baker and General Storekeeper, Main Road, Johnsonville. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Head office and store, 38 Molesworth Street, Wellington. Branch at Kaiwarra. Manager of Johnsonville branch, Mr. J. E. Cunliffe. This branch of Mr. Cook's business was established about twenty years ago. The premises, which are freehold, comprise a large store with convenient bakehouse, and Mr. Cook's residence behind, For the past fifteen years the Johnsonville post and telegraph office, to which a telephone bureau has been added, has been situated at Mr. Cook's store, the manager, Mr. Cunliffe, being the postmaster. For further particulars respecting Mr. Cook's business see pages 739 and 740.

Chapman, J. W., Storekeeper Main Street, Johnsonville

Braid, David, Baker and Grocer, Main Street, Johnsonville. Anderson, Andrews, Bootmaker, Main Street, Johnsonville.

Chapman Bros. (Joseph and Albert Chapman), Tanners and Fellmongers, Johnsonville. Bankers, National Bank of New Zealand. Established 1889. Baker, Frank, Butcher, Main Street, Johnsonville. Established 1892. Rod, John, Butcher, Main Street, Johnsonville.

Bannister, Edwin, Settler, Woodlawn Farm, near Johnsonville. The subject of this notice was the son of the late Mr. William Bannister, coal pit owner and ironfounder, of the firm of Bannister, Banks, and Bannister, Wolverhampton. Born at Dudley Castle in 1827, he came to New Zealand with his parents, per ship “Bolton,” in 1840, and was apprenticed to Mr. F. Revans of the New Zealand Gazette newspaper. Subsequently he worked on page 1070 the Spectator and Cook Strait Guardian, The Independent, and the Evening Post. Mr. Bannister afterwards joined the staff of the Government Printing Office, where he remained till retiring from active city life to his pretty homestead. During his long residence in the Empire City he was an enthusiastic Oddfellow, his native lodge being the Brittannia, M.U. Mr. Bannister was one of the founders of the Loyal Antipodean Lodge, of which he was secretary for forty years, and acted as provincial corresponding secretary for the Wellington District, No. 7, retiring only because of failing health, when he was the recipient of various presentations testifying to the value of his long and ardent services. For his genial and obliging disposition, as well as for his readiness to assist others, he was well known and sincerely respected in Wellington, and his death on the 31st of May, 1895, at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. W. Rowlands, of Fitzherbert, Palmerston North, was the cause of profound regret. Mr. Bannister left a widow and seven daughters and four sons. He was the last of his family, but his name is very unlikely to die out, as the grandchildren now number over forty.

Bramley, William, Settler, Pine House, near Johnsonville. Born in Westlerk, Nottingham, in 1819, Mr. Bramley was brought up as a professional gardener. Coming to New Zealand, he worked three or four years in Otago, and afterwards removed to Wellington. Mr. Bramley has retired to his estate near Johnsonville, where he has 100 acres of land, and a homestead of three acres, on which Pine House stands. In 1863 Mr. Bramley was married to Miss Glover.

Drake, Walter, Sheepfarmer, Johnsonville. The father of the subject of this notice—Mr. Thomas John Drake—was one of the earliest Port Nicholson settlers, having arrived by the first ship, the “Aurora,” on the 22nd of January, 1840. He had purchased land from the New Zealand Company before leaving England, and after about ten years in Wellington he settled on the farm of 350 acres in the Johnsonville district, which is now worked by his son on behalf of his widow. Mrs. Drake, née Ceres Selina Walters, who was born in 1813, was married to her late husband at St. Paul's, Deptford, Kent, in 1836. The family consists of five sons and three daughters, and there are eighteen grandchildren. Mr. Walter Drake, who looks after the farm on his mother's behalf, was born in Wellington in 1851 and was brought up to a country life on his father's farm. The estate is in good heart, and carries 700 sheep in the winter, and 900 in the summer.

The late Mr. T. J. Drake.

The late Mr. T. J. Drake.

Orr, John Forbes, Settler, Johnsonville. Born in 1834 at Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland, and apprenticed at the age of ten years to a baker, after serving five years, Mr. Orr worked at his trade in Glasgow for four years, when he shipped for the Crimea on a transport ship engaged in conveying troops and sick and wounded soldiers. For a quarter of a century he followed the sea, becoming cook on sailing vessels and on steamers, visiting many Australian and New Zealand ports till 1872, when he settled in Wellington. As a restaurant keeper he was in business for five years in Lambton Quay opposite Barrett's Hotel. In 1877 Mr. Orr built the Buffet, a wood and iron building, which was burnt down on New Year's Day, 1888. The present substantial three-story brick structure, nearly twice as large as the first, was conducted by him with success till March, 1896, when the property was leased. In 1892 Mr. Orr purchased the property—twenty-four acres in extent—in which he resides at Johnsonville. The house and grounds are among the most prominent in the district, a large vinery having been added. Mr. Orr has been married twice—in 1856 to Miss Margaret Anderson, of Greenock, who had five children, of whom three sons survive—and in 1877 to Miss Manson, of the Shetland Isles, by whom he has three sons and three daughters.