Colonial headquarters of the colonisation scheme, instituted in 1869 by the Colonists' Land and Loan Corporation, Limited, which was formed by a number of noblemen and other influential men, headed by His Grace the Duke of Manchester, Feilding
has prospered rapidly, and has now become the second inland town in size and importance on the West Coast of the North Island. The block known as the Manchester Block is situated in the Manawatu district, and was acquired under the terms of the agreement with the Colonial Government, generally known as the “Feilding Contract.” The Hon. Colonel Feilding, after whom the town was named, visited the Australasian colonies, on a commission by the Directory, to find a suitable field for colonising operations. As a result of the Colonel's visit, negotiations were completed for the purchase of the block of 106,000 acres, the price-being 15 shillings per acre for 100,000 acres, 6000 being allowed for roads and reserves. The Corporation agreed to execute all Colonial surveys, and undertook, under heavy penalties, to introduce 2000 immigrants into the Colony, and to settle the same upon the land before the 1st of April, 1877. The Colonial Government provided free passages from England for the Corporation's immigrants, and agreed to employ 200 men on railway formation. The
High Street, Feilding.
The Square, Feilding.
Provincial Government of Wellington agreed to recommend an annual grant up to £2000 on account of road works in Corporation boundaries. The first ship bearing immigrants for the Feilding block was the “Duke of Edinboro,” arriving in January, 1874, and within the first four months of that year 458 persons were introduced by the Corporation. The Manchester Block extends from the Rangitikei River to the Ruahine Ranges by the Gorge of the Manawatu River, and is twenty miles long by an average breadth of eight miles, and, with the exception of 12,000 acres, was, at the time of purchase, all covered with bush. The main line of railway between Wanganui and Wallington runs through the whole length of the block. The immigrants introduced by the Corporation were placed upon the ground without cost to themselves, and for some time after arrival were supplied with all necessary tools, cooking utensils, and supplies of food, which were charged at reasonable rates against their future earnings. The men were at once employed in road-making, bush-clearing, carpentering, brickmaking or any other work for which they were best fitted, the earlier batches being set to work on the site of the township erecting houses for themselves and their families. The settlers were from time to time drafted out to the country, and the whole of this splendid block has been sold, the greater portion of it being now in cultivation. Feilding, which became a municipality in 1880, is situate on the Longburn-Wanganui Railway, 100, miles north-east of Wellington and about fifty miles from Wanganui. It is in the County of Oroua, in the Electoral District of Rangitikei, the latitude being 40° 15” south, and the longtitude 175° 25” east. The inhabitants of the borough, 2045, appear to be comfortably housed, at an altitude of 235 feet above sea-level, and enjoy a mild climate with a fairly dry soil. Feilding is also advantageously situated from a tourist's point of view, it having railways from Wellington in the south, and Wanganui and New Plymouth in the north, running twice daily, while capital coaching roads lead to Auckland, via
Hawkes Bay, and thence through the fairyland country of the hot springs. Surrounding on every side stretch the most fertile of lands in the Colony, which annually yield enormous crops of grain and produce, and support thousands of sheep. It is the market town for the weekly sales of live stock from the runs and stations for many miles around. Its streets, roads, and bridges are all kept in capital repair, and its mail and telegraph
Fergusson Street, Feilding.
services appear to give every satisfaction. The accommodation is first-class, there being four good hotels. The local newspaper is the Feilding Star
, a very readable paper published every evening. Capital municipal chambers, where fortnightly meetings of the Feilding Borough Council are held, were built in 1895, and attached to them are commodious public library and reading-room, where all the best literature of the day caters to the reading public. The other public places are:—Kiwitea County Council Office, the Banks of New Zealand and Australasia, Drill Hall, the Assembly Theatre, State school, and Anglican, Presbyterian, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist churches. In the way of out-door amusement Feilding has its cricket, football, athletic, cycling, and racing clubs.