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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


page 1266


Three miles' ride along the Mangaone saddle, starting from a vantage point overlooking Makino village, immediately under foot to the south, brings the wayfarer down to Halcombe, the tenth station on the Longburn-Wanganui Railway Line. It is distant from the former place twenty-four miles, and from Wanganui forty-three miles, the latitude being 40° 10' south, and the longitude 175° 19' east. Its population of 376 live at an altitude of 386 feet above sea-level, on the produce of the farming, pastoral, and timber country which surrounds. The trade in sawn timber is falling off owing to scarcity, the adjacent forest having nearly all been hewn down when saw-milling was at its briskest. The pastoral and agricultural lands in and around Halcombe are rich, and farmers and graziers seem well-to-do, and their flocks and herds thrive on the rich grasses which grow hereabout luxuriantly. Situate in the Waituna Riding of the Oroua County, and being a portion of the Rangitikei Electoral District, Halcombe has its local school committee, which watches over the educational requirements of the neighbourhood,


page 1267 under the Education Board of Wanganui. With the railway station is combined the post and telegraph office, the money-order, postal-note, and the post-office savings bank, mails being daily received and despatched three times to and from the north, and twice to and from the south. The locality is supplied with four churches—English, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Lutheran. The township, which is situated in the Manchester Block, was named after Mr. A. Follett Halcombe, who represented the Emigrants and Colonists' Aid Corporation during the early history of the settlement, and who is referred to below.

Mr. A. Follett Halcombe, after whom the settlement of settlement of Halcombe was named, has had a career of over forty years in the Provincial District. He has been prominent as a public man, having taken part in the Wellington Provincial Government from 1864 to 1870, during which time he was Provincial Secretary and Treasurer. He afterwards held office under the general Government as Emigration Officer, from which position he retired in 1872. Mr. Halcombe was then appointed attorney and agent for the Emigrnats and Colonists' Aid Corporation, formed to settle the Manchester Block in the Manawatu District, the town of Feilding being the principal settlement. On him devolved the sole responsibility for the arduous and complex work entailed in settling the large tract of country which had been acquired. During the period of nine years in which the district was under his management, Mr. Halcombe had the pleasure of watching the progress of the various townships. From a dense bush the process of evolution went on steadily, despite the many hardships and drawbacks of a pioneer's life in the virgin forest. The bush clearings with their rough slab huts were replaced by well grassed paddocks and smiling homesteads, while the principal townships rapidly developed, streets and squares being laid off, the more prominent corners of which were soon occupied by hotels and business places, private houses meanwhile springing up like mushrooms. In 1881 Mr. Halcombe retired from this onerous position, and removed to Taranaki, where he became Mr. A. Follett Halcombe a settler, and here he has since remained with the exception of a short time, during which he was in business in Feilding with his son, Mr. J. W. F. Halcombe, under the style of A. F. Halcombe and Son, as land and commission agents. Mr. Halcombe has ever been known and respected as a large-hearted and cultivated gentleman of strict integrity and great business capacity.

The Halcombe Town Board is the body in which is vested the care of the town. Six members are elected by the ratepayers. The area under the jurisdiction of the Board is 640 acres, or exactly one square mile. The annual rateable value of the property amounts to £850, and the revenue totals £85. There are five miles of formed and metalled roads in the district; the roads are kept in an excellent state of order. Mr. Jas. Purkiss acts as secretary to the Board, and the offices are located in Stanway Road.

The Halcombe Public School is a convenient wooden building, situate 1 at a short distance from the railway station. It was erected some sixteen or seventeen years ago, and the increased number of scholars has necessitated its being considerably enlarged. The accommodation is now sufficient for 200 children, and there is not far short of this number on the roll, the last returns showing that there were 191 children attending school, of whom ninety-eight were boys, and ninety-four girls. The teaching staff is composed of a head master, Mr. S. Strachan, two assistants, and a cadet.

Mr. Samuel Strachan is the headmaster of the Halcombe Public School. He is a native of New Zealand, and was educated at the Wanganui Boys' High School. After going through a thorough course of training as a pupil teacher, Mr. Strachan took his E2 certificate in the year 1888. He was appointed assistant-master at the Clive Public School, and held the position for three years, when he was transferred to a similar position at the Feilding Board School, where he remained for the same length of time. On leaving Feilding, Mr. Strachan was appointed to the head-mastership of the Halcombe School, where he is doing good work in training the; young. Mr. Strachan is himself an enthusiastic lover of sport, hunting, and all active pastimes. For years he has performed the laborious duties of secretary to polo, cricket, and tennis clubs. He is now a member of the Feilding Polo Club and of the Halcombe Sports Committee.

The Stanway Public School was established in 1882, and at the present time there are some sixty-three children on the roll. The building is of the usual Government school type, and consists of two rooms capable of seating 100 children. Close by the school is the master's residence—a comfortable and roomy house.

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Mr. Dugald Matheson, Headmaster of the Stanway Public School, was born at Queenstown in 1868, and received his education in the public schools of Palmerston North. After passing his examination as pupil teacher, his first appointment was to the Linton school, of which he had charge for six years. He was then promoted to the Stanway school, and has been in charge ever since. In volunteer circles Mr. Mathuson is well known, having been a sergeant in the Manawatu Mounted Rifles, and in 1894 he was awarded the gold medal for best accoutred and mounted man in the troop. In football he played for a number of seasons with both Mortion and Feilding Football Clubs. In shooting and swimming Mr. Matheson has always taken great interest, and at the present time (1896) is busy in forming a local rifle club. Recently Mr. Matheson married a daughter of the late Mr. Ferguson, of Marton.

Court Loyal Halcombe, No. 6947 (Halcombe). Mr Alex, Williamson is the secretary.

Williams, W. M. Coachbuilder, Wheelright. Farrier, and General Blacksmith, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Telegraphic address, “Williams, Halcombe.” Private residence, Willoughby Street. Mr. Williams is a native of Brecknockshire, Wales, where he was apprenticed and thoroughly mastered all details of the business. He completed his term as long ago as 1858, and for many years worked at his trade in the Old Country. In 1876 he decided to come to New Zealand, and embarked in the good ship “Wamea” from London. On arrival he settled in Halcombe, and founded the business it 1878, which he has conducted ever since. The premises occupied by Mr. Williams are central and extensive, affording about 3000 square feet of floorage space. Mr. Williams does a considerable trade in all departments of his business. In local politics he has long held the position of a member of the Halcombe Town Board. Mr. Williams is also interested in the various friendly societies, and has held all the important offices in the local branch of the Foresters' Society.

Cowdrey, William, Boardinghouse Proprietor, Halcombe Restaurant, Willoughby Street, Halcombe, Mr. Cowdrey is a native of Wiltshire, England, and in 1877 decided to settle in New Zealand. Before leaving for the Colony Mr. Cowdrey selected a section of land in Halcombe, at an office in Queen Anne's Gate, in the city of London. He came out to New Zealand per ship “Northamptonshire” in the above year. For eight years Mr. Cowdrey conducted the business of a baker in Halcombe, at the same time cultivating his farm. In 1894 the Halcombe Restaurant was founded. The building contains eight rooms, including a comfortable parlour and a large dining-room. Mrs. Cowdrey attends personally to the requirements of visitors.

Purkiss, James, Stationer, Newsagent, Land, Estate, and Commission Agent, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Mr. Purkiss hails from Essex, England, and arrived in the Colony per ship “Ardenernig” in 1862. He was brought up to a seafaring life; but the glamour of a gold digger's experiences lured him away. He went right through the Otago and West Coast goldfields, and in 1880 settled in Halcombe. The freehold premises occupied by him contain about 750 square feet floorage space, the building being constructed of wood. Mr. Purkiss is agent for the Commercial Union Fire Insurance Company. He is registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, and is the secretary of the Halcombe Town Board. Mr. Purkiss has had many years experience in matters affecting property in his district. He is fully acquainted with all parts, and is in the best position to advise intending settlers. He has a good assortment of farms on hand for sale, and is also in a position to give reliable valuations of any lands in the locality.

Bell, William, General Storekeeper, Corner of Willoughby Street and Stanway Road, Halcombe. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Private residence, Levin Street. Mr. Bell's store is one of the oldest and best in Halcombe. It was established by him in 1880, and the departments comprise grocery, crockery, drapery, ironmongery, and patent medicines. Mr. Bell does a large reciprocal trade with the farmers, selling them general merchandise, and exporting their butter in very large quantities. He is a director and treasurer of the Halcombe Dairy Company, and agent for the New Zealand Insurance Company. Mr. Bell, who has had a most eventful career, was born in Linlithgowshire, Scotland, educated at Bathgate Academy, and arrived in New Zealand, per ship “Stormbird,” from Glasgow, landing at Dunedin, when that now great city was a settlement about two years old. He remembers the site of Dunedin when it was so boggy that a team of bullocks “got stuck” in what is now the very heart of the town. Narrow escapes figure prominently in Mr. Bell's history. Joining in the West Coast rush, he tried hard for a passage thither in the “City of Dunedin,” but as she was filled up for three trips, he decided to go overland. After a most exciting ride, during which he was pulled through the river at his horse's tail, he arrived there not very pleased with his decision, until he learned that the “City of Dunedin” was lost, and that all on board had perished. At another time he walked over the exact spot near Greymouth and Notown, where, three days after, Burgess, Kelly, and Levy committed one of their nefarious murders. Mr. Bell saw some very rough times on the diggings. He drove the first team of horses (his own property), into Gabriel's Gully, where he had a store, and was among the first to arrive on the West Coast fields. In 1875 he visited Melbourne, having done very well on the diggings, and stayed in Victoria till 1879, when he returned to the Colony and prepared to start in business as above. Mr. Bell is well respected in Halcombe, where he is chairman of the school committee, and ex-chairman of the Town Board.

Tyler, Mrs. W., Baker and Fruiterer, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Estab. 1895.

King, John, Boardinghousekeeper, Willoughby Street, Halcombe, Established 1887.

Wahle, Robert, Farrier and General Blacksmith, Willoughby Street, Halcombe. Established 1894.

Bennett, Chas, James, Saddler and Harnessnaker, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Established 1890.

Colville, John, Bootmaker, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Established 1891.

Runciman, Geo. Mitchell, General Storekeeper, Halcombe. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand, Feilding. Established 1895.

Williamson, Alex., General Storekeeper, Stanway Road, Halcombe. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Established 1878, and conducted by present proprietor since 1894.

Callingham, Thos. Robert, Farmer, Halcombe. Mr. Callingham is the owner of a compact little property on the Halcombe Road, and has resided in the district for the past fifteen years. Mr. Callingham was born in Sussex in 1858, and received his education in his native country. In 1871 he decided to come out to New Zealand, and upon his arrival in the Colony page 1269 started acquiring the necessary experience to fit him for becoming the owner of land. As a member of the school committee Mr. Callingham has for a number of years done good service to his district. For many years he was an active member of the lodge of Rechabitas. Mr. Callingham is married to a daughter of the late Mr. Thorns, for many years county engineer in Rangitikei, and has two sons and one daughter. Mr. Callingham takes great interest in all local affaire, and is ever willing to give his services.

Riddiford, Daniel George, Sheepfarmer, Halcombe. “Burnside,” the station belonging to Mr. Riddiford, is situated on the main road from Stanway to Halcombe, and stands back some distance from the road. The property comprises 2000 acres of first-class grazing country, carrying 6000 odd Lincoln sheep and 150 head of Polled-Angus cattle. Mr. Riddiford's estate has the reputation among buyers of producing some of the best fat stock in the district. The subject of this sketch was born at the Lower Hutt in 1859, and received his education at Uppingham Public School, in the Old Country. In 1878 Mr. Riddiford returned to New Zealand, and spent several years on his father's run in the Wairarapa. About fourteen years ago he acquired his present estate, and has lived at “Burnside” with his wife and family ever since. The house is a handsome two story building, which contains fifteen rooms, and has a fine commanding outlook. At the back is very complete stabling accommodation for Mr. Riddifford's numerous polo ponies and hunters. In hunting and polo circles Mr. Riddiford's name is well known, he having acted as master of the Rangitikei hounds for many seasons. As captain of the Rangitikei Polo Club, he has a good sporting record, having skippered his club in 1894 when they won the Saville, Cup, and again in 1895 when they were the winners of the All-round Challenge Cup. As master of the hounds he has led the way for many a dash over stiff timber and tough country. He breeds all his own polo ponies, and is the possessor of some excellent animals. In all forms of sport Mr. Riddiford takes the keenest interest, being a good shot and angler. He is also a steward of the Marton Jockey Club, and for many years was a member of the council of the Munawatu and West Coast Agricultural and Pastoral Association, of which society he is still a leading member. Mr. Riddiford is a Justice of the Peace for the county, having been appointed many years ago. He is married to a daughter of the late Mr. John Glennie, of New South Wales.