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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


The Foxton Borough Council was established and held its first meeting on the 21st May, 1888. The rateable annual income of the district is £6971, and the annual income for the year 31st March, 1894, £991 11s. 9d., derived from a general rate of 1s. 3d. in the £ and a library rate of 1d. The Foxton borough has no specific loans of its own other than a proportion of the loans of previous local bodies which it had to take over at the date of the establishment of the council. The number of rate payers is 211, and the estimated population of the district 1120. The borough possesses a good library of 620 volumes, and have a light and convenient reading-room, which is well supplied with illustrated and other papers, and is free at all times to the public.

His Worship the Mayor, Mr. George Nye, who at the end of 1896, entered upon a second term as Mayor of the Borough, was born at Lewes, Sussex, England. He came to New Zealand per ship “Oriental” (after which Oriental Bay, Wellington, was named). Leaving Gravesend 15th September, 1839, he landed at Petone beach on the 31st January, 1840. The “Oriental” was one of the first three ships despatched by the Colonisation Company, the two others being the “Aurora,” after which Aurora Terrace was named, and the “Adelaide,” which served a like purpose for Adelaide Road. Mr. Nye as a boy accompanied Colonel Wakefield, the representative of the New Zealand Company, with an interpreter, to Taranoki, in January, 1841, when the block of 80,600 acres on which the town of New Plymouth now stands was purchased from the Maoris, in exchange for blankets, fronmongery, guns, and goods of divers kinds. Mr. Nye remained at New Plymouth for about two-and-a-half years, during which time he was connected with a whaling venture, which proved a failure. He with four other men then walked down the coast to Waikanae, occupying fourteen days, during which he subsisted on shellfish and the page 1130 entertainment afforded at the Maori pahs. Mr. Nye crossed over to Kapiti Island and joined another whaling company, remaining for about eighteen months. When the first Maori war broke out in 1845 he left Kapiti. About this time Sir George Grey had been sent out to settle the Maori difficulty, and the soldiers were employed in road-making. They completed the road from Wellington to Pahautanui, and the natives were employed under supervision of the military to continue it to Paikakariki. His Worship the Mayor, Mr. George Nye Mr. Nye was employed as one of the overseers at 3s. 6d. per day. This was considered a splendid pay at that time, as hundreds of men were in receipt of only 7s. per week and bare rations. Soon after this small sheep and cattle-stations began to be established, and Mr. Nye came to Foxton, after working a ferryboat at Porirua for about six months. He was employed rope - making from flax, which was dressed by the Maoris, and worth £9 per ton. White rope and running gear for rigging, and wool lashing, were the products of the business. Mr. Nye's knowledge of carpentering, acquired before leaving England, soon came in useful, and about 1851–2 Mr. Frank Able and himself built two forty ton coasting vessels at Manawatu, after which he went to sea for a short time, but returning, carried on business as a carpenter for about twenty years. On the commencement of the public works policy about 1872, Mr. Nye joined the Government service as inspector of works. His district extended over the Foxton-Wanganui section, and other important works. He superintended the laying of the first line of railway between Foxton and Palmerston. In May, 1889, he retired from the important position so long held by him, and purchased a farm of some 263 acres at Foxton, where he now resides. The whole has been securely fenced and brought into cultivation. Mr. Nye goes in for sheep-farming and fruit-culture. He has four large vineries, which are respectively 153 feet, 92 feet, 42 feet, and 36 feet long. Here he grows a very large quantity of grapes. Mr. Nye's family consists of four sons and four daughters, who are all married. He has forty-three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Councillor Thomas Westwood was born in Staffordshire, England, and came to the Colony in 1866 per ship “Columbus,” arriving in Auckland. Mr. Westwood spent his early days on the Thames goldfields, where he was educated. He was brought up to business in Foxton, and is the proprietor of the Red House Co-operative Store. He was elected a member of the Foxton Borough Council in 1894.

Mr. Thomas Francis Gibson, Town Clerk, Rate Collector, and Valuer to the Foxton Borough Council, was born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England, where he was brought up to the business of an ironmonger, engineer, and tinsmith. For seventeen years Mr. Gibson was in business in Knaresborough, where he had one of the principal business establishments in the town, with branch establishments at Green Hammerton and Little Ouseborn. He conducted a large and successful business for many years, but owing to periodical attacks of bronchitis, he was compelled to seek a milder climate, as he was almost an invalid, having to remain in his rooms the whole of the winter months. In 1879 Mr. Gibson came to Wellington per ship “Northumberland,” and took up 200 acres of land at Motua, seven miles from Foxton. Subsequently Mr. Gibson sold about one hundred and fifty acres, retaining fifty acres. He carried on farming for about eight years, until a flood came and destroyed his property. He was appointed to his present position on January 1st, 1889. He has a good knowledge of property in the district, and is in the best position to advise intending settlers as to value and position. He is agent in Foxton for Mr. J. H. Haukins, of Palmerston North, and for the New Zealand Insurance Company.

Mr. Thomas Williams Phillips Williams, who for two successive terms occupied the high position of chief magistrate of the borough of Foxton, preceding Mr. Nye in that office, was born at Tenby, South Wales, in 1840. After being educated in England he was put to the soft goods trade, and emigrated to New Zealand with two of his brothers in 1863, where he arrived in Auckland per ship “Queen of the Mersey.” He readily found employment at his trade in the well-known house of Messrs. A Clark and Sons. Subsequently Mr. Williams became traveller for Messrs. J. H. Burnside and Co., representing them on the East and West Coasts. After leaving this firm he had an experience of a couple of years in Sydney in the retail branches of the firms of Messrs. Thompson and Giles, and Messrs. Farmer, Painter and Pope, George Street. About 1867 Mr. Williams went to Queensland, having been attracted by the accounts from the gold-fields. After three years spent there, he left owing to ill-health. Returning to the Colony, the subject of this notice spent a short time at the Thames, but soon left to take up a position in Wellington with Messrs. Warmoll and Co., who had premises on the site now occupied by the Evening Post. When this firm closed up their business, Mr. Williams entered the employ of Messrs. Jacob Joseph and Co., afterwards Joseph Nathan and Co. For ten years he represented the last-named firm in the warehouse and on the road as traveller, visiting periodically the West Coast of both Islands and Nelson and Marlborough. About 1880 Mr. Williams settled in Foxton, commencing business as a general storekeeper, in which he continued for some three years, when his premises were destroyed by fire. After this untoward event, he went into the hotel trade, becoming licensee of the Old Manawatu Hotel, which he conducted for six years. While in the hotel Mr. Williams put money into the flax business, for which Foxton is famed, and eventually he sold out of the hotel and went heart and soul into this industry. His mill was unfortunately burnt down on three occasions. After the first and second conflagrations, Mr. Williams pluckily re-erected and re-fitted the mill. On the third fire happening, however, he decided to give up the trade; his misfortune on this occasion was accentuated by the fact that seventy bales of dressed flax, which would have been shipped but for the boat being bar-bound, was also destroyed. Within about eighteen months Mr Williams lost some £2000 by fires, having no insurance, and it is not surprising that he was disheartened. Since this time he has engaged in dairy farming. A large portion of Mr. Williams's time page 1131 is cheerfully given to public duties. For upwards of fourteen years he was an active member of the Foxton School Committee. He was one of the first members of the Foxton Borough Council, in which he sat for many years. He was elected to the chair of the Council in 1893, and in the following year was returned to the office of Mayor unopposed. Mr. Phillips was also a member of the local Licensing Committee. In 1896 he left the district in which he was so well and popularly known, and is, at the time of writing (December, 1896), residing in Auckland.

Mr. R. Austin, ex-councillor, was born in London, where he was educated. He came to the Colony in 1857 per ship “Indian Queen,” landing in Wellington, and was in business on his own account as an engineer for some years in Wellington. About 1883 he came to Foxton, and occupied a seat on the Borough Council for about five years. He was at one time chairman of the licensing committee. As a flaxmiller Mr. Austin has been established since 1889. His mill, known as Paretao, is on the river bank, and is replete with all the latest machinery, and is driven by a ten-horse-power portable steam-engine. Owing to the depression in the flax trade, it has been closed for about one-and-a-half years, but is ready to start at a few hours' notice. Mr. Austin has twelve horses and five drays ready to begin work at any time. He has three sons, who assist him in connection with the business. He has fifty acres of land, specially purchased for bleaching purposes.

Mr. W. Hamer, ex-councillor, was born in Bolton, Lancashire, and educated at the local grammar school. Mr. Hamer came to the colonies in 1890, per ship “Oratava,” to Sydney. He was elected as a member of the Borough Council in the month of September, 1893, and was an active member of that body during his term of office.

Mr. Frederick Edward Jenks, ex-councillor, was born in Flintshire, North Wales, and educated in the old city of Chester, where he also served an apprenticeship to the trade of painter and plumber. Completing his time at twenty-one years of age, he came to New Zealand per ship “Cathcart” in 1874, arriving at Lyttelton. He worked for a short time at his trade in Christchurch. Subsequently Mr. Jenks visited Auckland and Ohinemuri, and settled in Foxton, 1876, after having worked on the first hotel in Woodville, and on some of the earlier buildings in Palmerston North. Soon after settling in Foxton, Mr. Jenks was elected to a seat on the Town Board. On the foundation of the borough, Mr. Jenks was elected to a seat, and has mostly been a member ever since. In the various elections which he has contested, he has frequently polled within a very few of the highest number of votes. Mr. Jenks is an ex member of the Foxton School and Licensing Committees.

The Foxton Public Library and Reading Room, which has been established for some years, is under the care of Mr. H. Blake, who was appointed librarian in 1886.

Mr. Henry Blake, the Librarian of the Foxton Public Library, was born in Leamington, Warwickshire, and came to New Zealand by the Cape of Good Hope, having resided about seven years at Cape Colony. Not long after arriving in the Colony, Mr. Blake embarked at Onehunga on a vessel for the Buller, but on the voyage down the coast the vessel was wrecked at Foxton, and but for this fact the subject of this notice might never have seen the district, in which he has resided for twenty-two years. Mr. Blake has held the position of librarian for the last eight years. For some time prior to this he was engaged chiefly in contracting for roads and wooden bridges, and in the course of his business he made the main street in Foxton, and did all the curbing. He also used to do a good deal of contracting work for the late Captain Robinson. Mr. Blake has a son and daughter, the latter of whom is married to Mr. William Keys, who is in charge of Mr. N. Reid's farm at the Upper Hutt.

The Foxton Police Station is situated in a central position adjoining the Stipendiary Magistrate's Court. Mr. John Gillespie is the constable in charge of the station, and he also holds the positions of clerk and bailiff to the S.M. Court, and inspector of licensed houses for the Otaki district.

The Foxton Railway Station is the terminus of the New Plymouth-Foxton section of New Zealand Government Railways. Since the construction of the Manawatu Company's line a good deal of the traffic which used to pass through Foxton has of course been diverted. When the flax trade is brisk there is a large traffic in that commodity.

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Mr. J. Imrie, the stationmaster in charge, was born in Perthshire, and served his apprenticeship to the railway service in Scotland. For some years subsequently he followed the sea, between New Zealand and Melbourne, eventually settling in New Zealand. Mr. Imrie joined the Railway Department in 1884, and in the following year was appointed stationmaster of Greatford, where he remained for one year. He was subsequently for five years at Waitara, and has been in charge of the Foxton Railway Station since August, 1889.

Stephens, Henry, Engine-driver on the Foxton-Wanganui section of New Zealand Government Railways, was born in 1843 at Hockworthy, Devonshire, England, where he was educated. After nine years experience as a fireman on the North London Railway, he came to Napier, per ship “Halcione,” in 1874, and joined Messrs. Brogden and Sons as a general hand. Twelve months later Mr. Stephens was engaged by Mr. Passmore, then engineer-in-chief, as driver, which position he has since held. He is a member of the society of engine-drivers and firemen of Great Britain.

The Foxton Public School was established about the year 1877. It is a large wood and iron building, containing three lofty and convenient rooms, one being devoted to the infants, another to the boys and girls of the first two standards, and the third for standards three to six. The head master, Mr. Washington Smith Stewart, B.A., is a Graduate in Arts of the Royal University in Ireland, and holds the classification of B1 under the New Zealand Department of Education. There are 252 children on the roll, the average attendanc being 202. There are fine large playgrounds surrounding the school, which is centrally situated in the district, and the headmaster's residence has been erected on the property.

All Saints' Anglican Church is situate in Main Street, Foxton. It has been built about twenty years. It is a wooden building with iron roof, and has sitting accommodation for one hundred and twenty. There is a Bell American organ to lead the singing. The congregation numbers about one hundred. The church is erected on a section of three-quarters of an acre in extent. In connection with the church is a Sunday school having eighty children on the roll. Services are held in connection with the church at Shannon and Levin. The parsonage is erected on a section of six acres, and another section of equal acreage belonging to the church is used by the minister.

The Rev. Robert Young, Vicar of All Saints', Foxton, was born in Sunderland, England, in 1843, being educated at Tatham Street Academy in his native town. For some years before leaving for New Zealand in 1879, Mr. Young was in business as a merchant. Arriving in Wellington per ship “Wairoa,” he became a local preacher in connection with the Wesleyan Church, and subsequently accepted the position of home missionary, successively at Greytown North, Opunake, and Motueka. In 1893 Mr. Young was appointed Curate of Palmerston North, and after three years took up his residence at Foxton as Vicar of All Saints'. The reverend gentleman is a musician, his instrument being the clarionet, which he has played in connection with the Palmerston North Orchestral Society, of which he has been an active member, and was one of the founders. During his residence in Palmerston North, Mr. Young has been closely associated with hospital work as a regular visitor. He was married in England to a daughter of Mr. John Eggers, contractor, of Sunderland, and has three daughters and two sons.

The Foxton Presbyterian Church is situated in Main Street, and was erected in 1867 to the order of Messrs. G. Nye and I. Cameron, at a cost of £440. The church was opened by the Rev. James Duncan, who has been in charge ever since.

The Rev. James Duncan, Minister in charge of the Presbyterian Church, Foxton, was born in Airdrie Scotland, in 1813, and educated at the Glasgow University, also studying at the Theological Hall. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1842 by the Glasgow Presbytery, and arrived in the Colony in 1843 in the ship “Phœbe.” In 1844, he went to the Manawatu, where he has resided ever since, except three years. The Presbyterian Church in Main Street, Foxton, was erected through his efforts. Mr. Duncan was married to Miss Struthers, of Blackness. Scotland, in 1842, the lady dying in Foxton in 1884. The issue of the marriage was four daughters, one of whom survives.

The Primitive Methodist Church is in Main Street, Foxton. The building, which is constructed of wood and iron, was built about the year 1876, and provides accommodation for about 170 people. There is a Sunday school in connection with the Church, numbering 100 children. The Primitive Methodists also hold services at Shannon, where they have a wood and iron building, and a Sunday school having eighty children on the roll. They also conduct services at Tokomaru and Moutoa in the State schoolrooms. The minister in charge is Rev. S. Barnett.

Manawatu Herald (Ernest Stephen Thynne, Proprietor), Manawatu Herald Office Main Street, Foxton. Bankers, Bank of Australasia. P.O. Box 4. The Manawatu Herald was established on the 28th of August, 1878, by Messrs. J. and G. Russell Mr. Thynne has been the proprietor since 1889. The Manawatu Herald office was built for the business by Messrs. Russell Bros. on freehold land well situated in Main Street. The total floorage space afforded by the commodious wood and iron building is about 1400 square feet The Manawatu Herald is a tri-weekly newspaper of 23 by 34 inches in size. It is issued on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The machinery comprises a wharfdale press by Annabell and two or three good jobbing presses. There is a very complete printing plant, and splendid work is turned out from this establishment. Four hands are employed exclusive of runners, &c. Politically the Manawatu Herald is a liberal Conservative, and represents the views more particularly of landowners than the business people of Foxton. Generally its views are against the present Government. The proprietor, Mr. Thynne, is also a sheepfarmer, his private residence being on his farm at Kawaroa about four miles from Foxton. The latter adjoins the celebrated Motua Estate. Mr. Thynne was born in Westminster, London, and was educated at the King's College School, London. He served his articles as a civil engineer with Mr. J. Bailey Denton, of Parliament Street, Westminster, S.W., completing his term in 1865. He followed his profession until 1868, when he came to the colonies by one of Messrs. Wigrams' vessels to Melbourne. In the same year he settled in the Foxton district, and in 1869 was elected to represent the district in the Wellington Provincial Council. He was made a J.P. about the same time. Mr. Thynne served for three years in the provincial council, and at the next election was page 1133 defeated by Mr. Dalrymple. Mr. Thynne has been prominent in local politics. He was the first chairman of the Manawatu County Council, and was the first mayor of Foxton, a position which he occupied for two years consecutively. He was also chairman of the local board twice. Mr. Thynne contested the seat in the House of Representatives on two occasions, but in each case was unsuccessful, though the numbers were rather close. For about twelve years Mr. Thynne was chairman of the Foxton School Committee, and has been vice-president of the racing club ever since its inception. He has also taken general interest in the various other clubs in the district.

Hamer, William, Chemist, Druggist, and Aerated Water Manufacturer, Corner of Main and Clyde Streets, Foxton Bankers, Bank of Australasia. Mr. Hamer studied for the medical profession in England, being apprenticed to Dr. William Court, of Bolton. Subsequently he went into the drug trade in Manchester, and for some years was manager of various establishments in different parts of England. On arriving in Auckland Mr. Hamer proceeded to Wanganui, and for seven months was in the employ of Messrs. Williamson and Co. as dispenser. When he came to Foxton he purchased a branch of the business of Mr. R. Leary, of Palmerston North. He is the only chemist in Foxton, and does a considerable dispensing business. His knowledge of medicine has proved very useful in his career in Foxton. Mr. Hamer has a capital aerated water plant, including a machine by Tyler. He makes first-rate cordials and aerated waters of all descriptions. The writer can speak from ex-experience of the splendid quality of these lines. Mr. Hamer is an importer of most of the stock required in the business, and intends to erect a convenient factory for the purposes of the aerated water [unclear: trade].