The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Featherston is a prosperous township and town district, situated at the foot of the Wairarapa Valley, forty-six miles north-east by rail from Wellington, and in the county of Featherston. It is the distributing centre for a rich agricultural and pastoral country, and has butter, cheese, and dairy factories, as well as a sash and door factory, a coach-building and an engineering establishment. There are four churches, a public school, a town hall, Masonic hall, Oddfellows' hall, a court house, public library, two banks, two hotels, and a motor garage. The business of the post and telegraph office, with all the usual branches, is conducted at the railway station. A new post and telegraph office is to be completed in brick by November, 1908, the building to be of two storeys. Featherston is well provided with reserves, and the domain, within five minutes walk of the railway station, is fifty-seven acres in extent. Lake Wairarapa, a large and beautiful sheet of water, lies within a few miles from the town.
The Featherston Town Board was constituted in the year 1881, and has a municipal area of 700 acres. The capital value of property is £64,556, and the rates consist of a general rate of 1£½d. in the pound, a town hall rate of 1£1/16d. in the pound, and a charitable rate of £¼d. in the pound. There are 182 ratepayers, 162 dwellings, and the population at the census of 1906 was 670. A high pressure water supply was inaugurated in 1906, at a cost of £4,500, and the town is lighted by acetylene gas. Meetings of the Board are held on the second Wednesday in the month. Members of the Board are: Messrs. J. W. Card (chairman), W. Benton, M. B. Tait. W. Gilpin, A. Donald, J. A. McCarthy, and W. Hodder. Mr. C. J. Kent-Johnston is town clerk.
Mr. John Wiltshire Card, Chairman of the Featherston Town Board, was elected a member of the Board in the year 1896, and has been chairman since 1904. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, is a past grand master of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows, a member of the Wairarapa Rugby Union, of which he was secretary and chairman for two years, and takes a keen interest in golf, being an ex-captain of the local club. Mr. Card was born in Marsden, Westland, in August, 1871, and is the eldest son of Mr. John Card, of Featherston. He was educated at the Greymouth State school, and then studied law under Mr. M. Hannan, of Greymouth, and, later, with Mr. A. S. Menteath, of Wellington. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1894, and shortly afterwards commenced practice in Featherston, and, later, opened a branch in Martinborough. Mr. Card, who has built up a good practice, is solicitor for (inter alia) the Government Advances to Settlers' Department, the Featherston County Council, the Tawaha Dairy Company, Limited, the Featherston Co-operative Dairy Company, Limited, the Wairarapa Racing Club, and the Lower Valley Jockey Club. He is married, and has three children.
The Featherston Chamber of Commerce was founded in the year 1907, and has a membership of forty. The object in forming the Chamber of Commerce was to have a representative body of citizens that would co-operate with the Town Board, and also deal with matters tending to the advancement of the district, which were outside the jurisdiction of the Town Board. Considerable activity is displayed in connection with all matters affecting the well-being of Featherston and the surrounding districts. Mr. A. J. Too-good is president and Mr. C. J. Kent-Johnston is secretary, and meetings of the Chamber of Commerce are held monthly in the Town Board offices.
Stewart and Son, Civil and Mechanical Engineers, Featherston. This business was established in Featherston in the year 1908, but had been conducted for some years at Te Maire, by Mr. Stewart, junior, under the direction of his father, who was then engineer to the Featherston County Council. The premises are situated in the centre of the town, and comprise civil and consulting engineering offices, a large and well-appointed mechanical engineering department, a garage, and electrical and hydraulic workshops. There is a complete plant for the manufacture of every branch of the trade, machinery of every description is designed, manufactured, installed, and repaired; plans and estimates are prepared for road- page 754 making, bridge-building, river protection works, and reinforced concrete constructions, and installations of electric and hydro-carbon light are made. Only expert tradesmen are employed, and the mechanical engineering department, is in charge of Mr. Stewart, junior.
Mr. George Tiffin Stewart was born in Diss, Norfolk, England, was educated at Epsom College, and for some years studied for the medical profession, but subsequently abandoned it in favour of engineering. In the year 1880 he came to New Zealand, and entered the Government service, in which he spent ten years in the public works department, first on the survey staff, and afterwards in the railway workshops. Subsequently he was appointed assistant engineer to the Pahiatua County Council, and resigned in 1893 in order to accept the position of engineer to the Featherston County Council, which office he held until 1908, when he established his present business. Mr. Stewart is consulting engineer to the Featherston County Council. He is married, and has three sons and one daughter.
Benton, William, and Sons, Builders and Contractors, Revans Street. Featherston, and Otaraia Road, Martinborough. This prosperous business was established by the present senior partner. Mr. William Benton, in the year 1882. The premises stand on a large corner section in Revans street, and comprise a workshop, bulk storerooms, and a large timber yard. There is a complete modern plant for joinery and wood-working, which is driven by a ten-horse power oil engine. The firm undertake building contracts in concrete, brick and plaster, and wood, and are in a position to complete their work, to the extent of painting and plastering, with their own employees. Among the many buildings erected by Messrs. W. Benton and Sons may be mentioned the residence and outbuildings of Mr. W. E. Bidwell. of Rototawa station, and of Mr. A. Matthew, of Wairongamai and Oporai stations, also the town residence of Mr. John Card.
Mr. William Benton was born in Wellington in July, 1853, and is the eldest son of Mr. Thomas Benton, who came to New Zealand in one of the first ships in the year 1842. He was educated at Karori, afterwards had some farming experience, then learned the building trade in Greytown, and subsequently followed his trade as a journeyman in Featherston for a few years before starting business on his own account. Mr. Benton is a member of the Featherston Town Board, and has been chairman of the school committee for a number of years, is a Freemason and an Oddfellow, and a member of the local bowling club. He served for a number of years as a volunteer officer, and when the local corps was disbanded he formed the present Featherston Rifle Club, of which he has since been captain. Mr. Benton is married, and has four sons and three daughters.
Robertson, Ernest George, Hair-dresser, Tobacconist, Billiard Saloon Proprietor, and News Agent, Fox Street, Featherston. This business was established in the year 1896, and was taken over by its present proprietor in 1903, since when extensive improvements have been made. The shop carries a fine stock of tobaccos, tobacconists' wares, toilet requisites, books, magazines, stationery, post cards, and a number of daily papers. The hair-dressing saloon is well appointed, and has two chairs. The billiard room possesses an up-to-date table, and is well fitted up. Mr. Robertson was born in Featherston in March, 1879, and was educated at the State school. He afterwards followed a sea-faring life for eight years, then left the sea, and after a short experience of commercial life, purchased his present business. Mr. Robertson is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Gun, Cricket, Football, and Bowling Clubs, and the Orders of Freemasons and Oddfellows. He is married, and has one son.
Mr. James Crawford, proprietor of the Royal Hotel, was born in the year 1850, at Glasgow, Scotland, where he was educated and learned the trade of a mechanical engineer. After completing his apprenticeship he spent four years in his profession in America, then returned to Scotland, and in the year 1874 came to New Zealand in the ship “James Nicol Fleming.” For a time he followed his trade in Oamaru, and in 1885 removed to the North Island and leased the Opunake Hotel. He afterwards successively conducted the Central Hotel, in the Lower Hutt, the Branch and Imperial Hotels, in Wellington, and in 1898 took over his present hotel, of which he has since purchased the freehold. Mr. Crawford has been a member of the Order of Druids since 1888.
The Executors of The Toogood Estate, General Merchants, Featherston. This business was established in 1875 by the late Mr. W. Toogood, and is now conducted by Mr. A. J. Toogood as manager. The premises, which occupy a central position, consist of a large two-storeyed building, containing the store, general office, and the manager's private office. The firm are direct importers, keep a well-assorted stock of groceries, ironmongery, crockery, drapery, clothing, furniture, grain, seeds, and produce, and do a steady trade throughout the town and district. The firm, in conjunction with their business, operate flax property of 1,500 acres in the Wairarapa and Manawatu districts, and are greatly interested in the flax-milling industry.
Mr. Alexander James Toogood, Manager for the Executors of the Toogood Estate, was born in Wellington in September, 1870, and after leaving school assisted his father in the business, in which he has since been continuously employed. Mr. Toogood takes a keen interest in public matters, is president of the Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the Featherston branch of the Greytown and Lower Valley Horticultural Society, a steward and treasurer of the South Wairarapa Racing Club, captain of the Golf Club, and a member of the Bowling Club; also patron of the Featherston Fire Brigade, and vice-president of the Cricket and Football Clubs. He is also a director of the Humphries' Patent Bracket and Scaffold Company, Limited. Mr. Toogood is married, and has three children.