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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


Featherston Town Board, which got its designation when the Town Districts Act came into operation in 1881, was previously a local board. The Board has the control of the township of Featherston, and also of the cemetery and domain. The latter is sixty-six acres in extent, part of it being used as a recreation ground. The cemetery is a short distance to the south of the township. The Town Board also owns and controls the Public Hall and Free Public Library, the latter being managed by a library committee elected by the subscribers. The Public Hall, a large wooden building facing Clifford Square, was erected in 1894 at a cost of about £800, £500 of which was a loan voted for by the ratepayers, and the remainder voluntary contributions. The annual rateable value of property in the township of Featherston is £16,005. The Board's property is valued at £1,200. The rates are 3/4d. general, 1–16d. library, and 1/4d. Town Hall. There are 150 ratepayers, 107 dwellings, 190 properties, and 769 people. The members of the Town Board, who are elected every two years are (1896): Messrs. J. Donald (chairman), J. G. Cox (treasurer), C. Cundy, W. Hodder, Junr., W. H. Nicholls, A. Anderson, and W. Benton; Mr. W. Bock being town clerk.

Mr. Walter Bock, Town Clerk, Clerk and Treasurer to the Road Board, and Collector for the Town Board, has been in Featherston since 1884, and during the whole of that time, besides holding the above offices, he has been valuator for the Featherston town district. Prior to that Mr. Bock was in Greytown from 1876 to 1882. He was valuator for the Greytown borough from the inception of the Property Tax Department to the time of his leaving the district. In conjunction with the above offices, Mr. Bock for five years carried on a forwarding agency business at Featherston, but his premises being destroyed by fire, and his professional duties having largely increased, he has now discontinued that branch of his business. Mr. Bock was born in Hobart, and left there for Wellington in 1876 per schooner “Young Dick.” His first situation was in Masterton, where he was clerk to Messrs. Caselberg and Co. (now the Wairarapa Farmers' Co-operative Association. After a few months in this situation he was removed to Greytown to take charge of Messrs. Caselberg and Co.'s books in that district, which position he relinquished to take the clerkship of the Greytown Borough Council. In 1882 he returned to Wellington, spent a year in the Property Tax Department, and about the same time in the Registration of Friendly Societies Department. He then left Wellington for Featherston, and commenced as above. Each of these situations Mr. Bock left on his own account. He is a popular officer, and extremely courteous and obliging. For three years he was secretary of the Foresters at Greytown, and for five years secretary of the Wairarapa Racing Club, Featherston. The secretaryship of the Wairarapa racecourse trustees and the clerkship to the South Wairsrapa River Board are still in Mr. Bock's hands. Mr. Bock's private residence is in Woodward Street, and his public office in the Town Board Building, Fitzherbert Street, where he carries on business as a land and commission agent besides fulfilling his official duties.

Featherston Road Board, which was brought under the Road Boards Act in 1882, was known as a highway board since 1874. Its functions are the control and maintenance of roads and bridges in a wide district, bounded on the north by the Pahaoa River, west by the Tararua Ranges, east by the sea, and south by the Summit and a line to Palliser Bay. It takes in the townships of Featherston, Martinborough, Pirinoa, Tauherenikau, Kaitara (or Morrison Bush), Kaiwaiwai, and Cross Creek. The annual rateable value of property under the Board's jurisdiction, exclusive of Crown and native lands, is £1,118,434; the Crown and native lands are valued at £36,990, and the rates are 3/4d. in the £. The estimated number of dwellings in the district is 500, the properties numbering 600 and the ratepayers 440. This Board is in the Wairarapa South County Council district. The members of the Board (1896), who are elected triennially, are:—Messrs. A. Matthews (chairman), W. J. Nix, J. Donald, W. E. Bidwell, T. F. Evans, J. P. Russell, E. R. Harris, and J. Macleod, Mr. W. Bock being clerk and treasurer.

Mr. Alfred Matthews, J.P., the Chairman of the Featherston Road Board, is one of the best known and most popular residents in the Wairarapa. His father—one of Wellington's earliest settlers, who came to the Colony in the ship “London” in 1812—was widely known as a sheepfarmer. The subject of this notice was born in 1845 in Wellington, where he was educated. He adopted his father's calling, and lived for some time on the run at Palliser Bay, which he still holds. On his marriage. Mr. Matthews took up his residence on the Waiorongomai estate, to which he succeeded upon his father's death. This fine homestead is a feature of the southern part of the Wairarapa district, and the unvarying hospitality of the owner is much appreciated by travellers. To Mr. Matthews' generosity Featherston is indebted for the free public library and reading room, which would be a credit to a larger place. The building, which was erected in the early part of 1896 on land given by Mr. Matthews, was entirely free of debt on the opening day. Many other institutions in Featherston have received liberal gifts from this gentleman, who is popularly referred to as the “patron saint of Featherston.” For twenty-one years he has been prominent in the Road Board, and for thirteen years he has been a member of the Wairarapa South County Council. As president of the Wellington Agricultural and Pastoral Association, member of the committee of the Wairarapa Agricultural and Pastoral Association, chairman of the South Wairarapa River Board, chairman of the Featherston Literary Institute Committee, vice-president of page 851 Mr. Alfred Matthews the Wairarapa Rifle Association, and patron, president, vice-president, and member of a large number of athletic clubs and pastime institutions, he has never grudged his time to the public. Mr. Matthews has also been a director of several companies, notably the Meat Export Company.

The South Wairarapa River Board controls the outlet of the Wairarapa Lake, which closes four or five times yearly, flooding the low-lying lands. The Board, which was established in 1886, consists of five members elected trienially by ratepayers in a special district. The annual rateable value of property is £70,360, the rate being 1/4d. in the £. The members of the Board (1896) are: Messrs. A. Matthews (chairman), J. O. Bidwell (treasurer), C. E. Hume, W. O. Williams, and F. Pearce, Mr. W. Bock being clerk of the Board.

Featherston Free Public Library was erected in 1896. The building is very prettily designed, and stands in the centre of the town. Its cost was defrayed by the public of Featherston, and Mr. Alfred Matthews, who also gave the ground. The public reading room is well supplied with the daily papers and magazines, the library containing some 1300 volumes. There is a comfortable chess-room, also a ladies' reading-room. The place, which is open daily, is neatly furnished and splendidly kept.

Featherston Town Band, which was formed in 1884, has fifteen members, the reed and brass instruments being mostly the property of the Town Board. The members, who wear blue uniforms, with white facings and cheesecutter caps, practise every Tuesday evening. The officers (1896) were:—Messrs. A. C. Bicknell (conductor), Benton (secretary), and A. Burt (treasurer).

Mr. Alfred C. Bicknell, Conductor of the Featherston Town Band, was born in 1869 in Kaiwaiwai, where he was educated. After serving four years at the building trade with Mr. Benton, of Featherston, he spent a year in Wellington, which he left in 1887. He is now a contractor, and employs several hands. He occupies a quarter-acre section in Featherston, on which a commodious residence is erected. Mr. Bicknell can play almost any band instrument, and makes music his hobby. While resident in Greytown he was a member of the Amateur Operatic Society. Mr. Bicknell is a married man, and has one child.

Featherston Railway Station, Post, Telegraph and Telephone Office is fifty-one miles from Wellington on the Wellington-Eketahuna railway line. The station is a wooden building, having suitable waiting-rooms for ladies and the general public, and an extensive covered-in platform. The postal, telegraph and telephone business is carried on in the southern part of the building. All trains stop for a few minutes at Featherston. The post-office is opened for the delivery of letters every evening upon the arrival of the last train from Wellington.

Mr. George Grantham Wellsted, the Stationmaster, Postmaster and Telegraphist in charge of Featherston Railway Station, Post and Telegraph Office, was born in Birmingham in 1848. His father, the Rev. A. O. Wellsted, was an Episcopalian clergyman in charge of St. Jude's, Bristol. At sixteen years of age, having been educated at a private school in Birmingham, he was placed under Bishop Grey at the Cape of Good Hope, with the intention of being trained for the ministry. After nine months study, Mr. Wellsted came to Wellington, where he joined the Wanganui Cavalry. Afterwards he entered the Armed Constabulary, serving seven years during the native troubles. Subsequently entering the page 852 Telegraph Department in Wellington, he was transferred to the Railway Department in 1878, his first appointment being stationmaster at Waitati, Otago. After three years he was removed to Caversham, and a year later to Balclutha. Twelve months after, Mr. Wellsted went to Lumsden, where he was stationed for about thirteen years, being transferred to the position he now holds in May, 1896. Mr. Wellsted is a member of the Masonic fraternity. He is married, and has a family of four children. As a cricketer and a cyclist he is enthusiastic and devoted.

Mounted Constable Frederick Charles Smith, Officer-in-charge, Clerk and Bailiff of the Magistrate's Court, also Inspector of Factories and Slaughterhouses, Acting Relieving Officer under Charitable Aid South Wairarapa County Council, and other minor offices, Featherston, is a native of Ireland, and left there in 1864, arriving in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, in the following year. Turning his attention to farming, he spent a few years on a special settlement in the Bay of Islands, but a disinclination towards that line of life led him, in 1868, to join the Mounted Armed Constabulary, in which force he served till its reduction in 1877. Constable Smith was then a first-class sergeant of police in charge of the Wellington station, and two years later he resigned and went into business. After a break of some three years he again joined the police, and was appointed to the charge of Featherston district, in which position he is very popular.

Featherston Public School, which has three rooms, is situated in Clifford Square near the town hall, standing in a beautifully kept playground, surrounded by a high macrocarpa hedge. This school and its outbuildings are kept in a scrupulously clean and neat state. The children are trained to take a pride in the institution, and the consequence is it has become quite a show-place for neatness, the floors being kept so clean that the grain of the wood stands out as if French polished. With 216 children on the roll, the average attendance is 184. A good library of 300 volumes is attached to the school. The headmaster is assisted by two certificated assistants and one pupil teacher.

The Rev. Thomas Porritt, Headmaster of the Featherston Public School, is a native of Cleveland Park, Yorkshire. He left England for New Zealand per ship “Humphrey Nelson,” commanded by Captain Fell, and arrived in Nelson in 1864. Mr. Porritt was educated at Bishop Barrington's Grammar School at Greatham, County of Durham, and afterwards studied at St. Cuthbert's College, Durham. For six years prior to his leaving the Old Country, Mr. Porritt was engaged in teaching, and held the position of headmaster of the St. John's National Schools, Hartlepool. He had previously gained a Queen's scholarship and certificate of a very high order from the Durham College, which on his arrival in New Zealand, ranked as the equivalent of the teachers' D1 certificate of this Colony. On arriving in Nelson Mr. Porritt was appointed schoolmaster, lay-reader, and catechist at Kekerangu under Bishop Hobhouse, the estate being owned by the Hon. Joseph Dresser Tetley. This position he filled till 1868, when he was appointed headmaster of the Public School, Picton. Two years after this he was ordained by the late Bishop Suter, and sent to take charge of the Kaikoura Parochial District. In 1874 the Rev. Mr. Porritt accepted the position of headmaster of the English High School at Wellington, a post which he occupied for many years. The Featherston Public School is under Mr. Porritt's management, admirably conducted in every respect. He has a staff of competent teachers, and obtains satisfactory reports of the school from the visiting inspectors each year. Mr. Porritt holds an honourable position in the Masonic Fraternity. He is P.M, P.G. Chaplain Grand Lodge of New Zealand, P.Z., P.G. Chancellor, and Third Grand Principal Supreme Grand R.A. Chapter New Zealand, and Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge A.F.A.M., Delaware, U.S.

Private Day School (Miss Clava McShane, principal), Featherston. This school was established by the present teacher in 1892. There are about twenty scholars, who receive tuition in the various branches of an English education, including drawing.

Church of England, Featherston, is a wooden building capable of accomodating about eighty worshippers. Services are held once every Sunday, alternately morning and evening, by the Rev. A. V. Grace, assisted by lay readers. The musical portion of the service is under the control of Mr. Geo. Fenwick. There is a good Sunday school attached to the church.

Roman Catholic Church, Featherston, stands in the centre of the township, on a section with a good frontage to Fitzherbert Street. Services are conducted periodically by the Rev. Father McKenna. The building is a wooden one, capable of accomodating about 150 worshippers.

Featherston Wesleyan Church, a wooden building capable of seating 150 people, is situated near St. George's Hall—seated for about 200—which is church property, and is used for meetings and the Sunday school. The church and hall stand on freehold land, on which other buildings have been erected for page 853 business purposes. A large Band of Hope and a Christian Endeavour Society are conducted in connection with the Church. Services are held every Sunday in the church, morning and evening, and the Sunday school—one of the best in the Wairarapa district—is held in St. George's Hall. The church is in the Greytown circuit, under the supervision of the Rev. S. J. Garlick, preaching stations having been established at Cross Creek, Carterton, Waihakeke, Moroa, and other places.

Mr. Herman Foston, the Home Missionary in charge of Wesley Church, Featherston, was born in Tealby, Lincolnshire, England, in 1871. His father, a tailor by trade, was choirmaster, superintendent of the Sunday school, and a local preacher in the United Methodist Free Church. Educated in Lincolnshire, Mr. Foston accompanied his parents to Christchurch in 1882, and was employed in a drapery establishment in Sydenham for fifteen months; but, preferring a country life, he took a situation on a farm at Aylesbury, where he remained about six years. Subsequently he worked for Mr. Gimblett, at Woolston, and afterwards at the establishments of Mr. Tyree and Messrs. Strange and Co. in Christchurch. After three years he left the last-named firm to accept the position he at present occupies. In January, 1894, Mr. Foston was accepted as a local preacher in the Wesleyan Church, Sydenham. For several years he was prominent in Church work in Canterbury. As superintendent of the Sydenham Wesleyan Sunday school, the largest Methodist Sunday school in Canterbury, for three-and-a-half years, and a member of the central committee in connection with the New Zealand Wesleyan Methodist Sunday school work, he has been a recognised organiser. In the temperance crusade he has taken a leading part, and holds the degree of P.W.P. in the Sons and Daughters of Temperance. Mr. Foston holds the first and second grade certificates as a Sunday school teacher. He is a member of the Canterbury Progressive Liberal Association, a delegate to the New Zealand Prohibition Council, and is connected with many other public and philanthropic organisations.

St. John's Masonic Lodge, No. 37, Featherston, meets on the Thursday nearest full moon in every month, and the annual installation is held in October, The Lodge meets in its own hall—a substantial wooden building erected in 1884. The officers (1896) are:—Messrs. H. C. Smith (W.M.), A. Donald (S.W.), G. Reynolds (P.M., J.W.), and Rev. Thos. Porritt (P.M., P.G.C., secretary).

M.U., No. 5928, Featherston, was opened in 1872, and has now fifty-two members. The Lodge possesses a good hall, erected on a quarter-acre section near the centre of the township. The officers (1896) are:—Messrs. M. B. Tait, E. Cox, and W. Benton (trustrs), Mr. C. J. Kent-Johnston (secreatary), Mr. J. W. Card (treasure.).

Featherston Cricket Club. Mr. J. Penny (secretary), Bank of New Zealand, Featherston.

Featherston Football Club. Mr. J. W. Card (secretary), and Mr. J. McCarthy (captain). The club's colours are red and black stripes, the membership being thirty.

Featherston Frothers Football Club —established in 1891—has a membership of forty, the subscription being 3s. The Club, whose colours are blue and black, plays on the Featherston Reserve, ranking as a junior club in the Wednesday Rugby Union. The officers for 1896 were:—Messrs. C. R. Bidwell (patron), J. Barr (president), W. Bock, H. J. Unwin, J. Card, senr., A. H. Knowles, and C. Tringham (vice-presidents), T. Sheen (captain), T. Saunders (vice-captain), and Louis Keys (secretary).

Wairarapa Racing Club, which has its headquarters at Featherston, possesses a membership of over 200. The Club leases the Tauherenikau Racecourse Reserve, where two meetings are held every year. The officers (1896) are:—Messrs. J. P. Russell (president), N. Grace and H. S. Wardell (vice-presidents), G. Reynolds (treasurer), G. T. F. Hutton (secretary), and a large number of stewards, of whom Mr. W. E. Bidwell is chairman. At the meetings in 1895 the gross amount of the stakes competed for was £1250, the principal race being the Wairarapa Cup.

Card, John W., Solicitor, Johnson Street, next to the Empire Hotel. Telegraphic address, “Card, Featherston.” Bankers, Bank of Australasia. Agents: Wellington, Messrs. Menteath, Hannan and Beere; Greymouth, Messrs. Jones and Hannan. Mr. Card is a native of Marsden, Westland, was articled to Messrs. Jones and Hannan, of Greymouth, and held a subsequent appointment for eighteen months with Mr. A. A. S. Menteath, of Wellington. In June, 1894, he was admitted a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, having passed the final examinations in November, 1893. Mr. Card attends the courts at Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton, as well as attending to legal business at Featherston. He is agent for Messrs. Monteath, Hannan and Beere, of Wellington, Messrs. Jones and Hannan, of Greymonth, and others.

Fife, William, Chemist and Druggist, Medical Hall, Fitzherbert Street, Featherston. Telegraphic address, “Fife, Featherston.” Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. Mr. Fife is a native of Renfrew, Scotland, and left there in 1851 for Victoria. During the same year he visited Christchurch and Wellington, and returned to Melbourne after travelling over a good portion of the South Island of New Zealand. Three years later he left Victoria and came to this Colony for permanentresidence, and entered into business in Wellington, where he was well known for many years. Mr. Fife learned his business with Mr. Robert Barr, of Paisley, prior to leaving the Old Country. His present business was establisned in 1874, by Mr. D. C. Keir, and was taken over by him in 1884. Mr. Fife was one of the first members of the Pharmacy Board, being a Government nominee to that body. He is public vaccinator to the Featherston district.

Good, F. W., Chemist, Druggist, and Stationer, the Pharmacy, Fitzherbert Street, Featherston, Telegraphic address, “Good, Featherston.” Mr. Good was born and educated in Dorchester, England. His father and brother were then in practice as medical men in that town, and it was as dispenser to these gentlemen that Mr. Good gained the experience which has been of such use to him in this Colony. In 1883 he left England for New Zealand, and arrived in Wellington per s.s. “Ionic” during the same year. His first appointment in the Colony was that of assistant to Mr. W. C. Fitzgerald, the well-known chemist and druggist, of Wellington, which situation he filled for about a year. After a shorter period in the employ of Mr. Geo. Mee, also of Wellington, Mr. Good was asked to take the post of dispenser to the Wellington Hospital. In this position he of course gained further valuable experience: and page 854 after a-year-and-a-half, considering himself exceptionally well qualified for a business of his own, he commenced as above. This was in October, 1886. The premises are centrally situated near the public buildings, built of wood and iron, the builder being Mr. W. Benton. Mr. Good's trade extends throughout the district, and in the extraction of teeth he does quite a good business. His proprietary articles are numerous, the principal being “Glycerine and Lime Cream,” the “Marvellous Embrocation,” and a Hair Restorer. For the Glycerine and Lime Cream (a preparation for the skin) there is a ready sale, which proves its value. The “Marvellous Embrocation” is for man and Least, and is said to be a really excellent remedy for rheumatism, sprains. etc. On the Hair Restorer Mr. Good risks his reputation, as [unclear: he] guarantees its efficacy. In stationery, as in the other branches of has business, an increasing trade is done. In the matter of public offices, Mr. Good has kept in the background, the exigencies of [unclear: his] business not permitting his taking part in public life. He is, however, secretary to the Knights of Labour, and to the Featherston School Committee.

Bank of Australasia, Featherston. This branch was opened in 1877. The present building, a commodions wooden structure, has a frontage of about forty feet to Fitzherbert Street. The banking chamber and manager's room occupy the front portion of the premises, the rest being occupied as the manager's residence. The local officers are Messrs. A. H. Knowles (manager), and C. D. L. Barclay (teller).

Mr. Arthur Hamilton Knowles, Manager of the Bank of Australasia, Featherston, was born in Wellington in 1859, his father being a banker. After a course of instruction at Mr. Mowbray's school, Sydney Street, Wellington, Mr. Arthur Hamilton Knowles Mr. Knowles spent a year at Nelson College, and afterwards attended Mr. Bowden's school in Wellington. On leaving school Mr. Knowics joined the Survey Department as a cadet, and was transferred to the Stamp Office in 1875. Two years later he resigned his position to join the Bank of Australasia. In 1884 he was promoted to the position of teller in the Wellington office, and later on in the same year he was sent to Palmerston North as accountant. After two years Mr. Knowles was appointed manager at Foxton. In 1889 he was transferred to Waipawa, where he remained till 1892, when he was removed to Featherston. Since his arrival Mr. Knowles has taken a conspicuous part in the social life of the place, as a member of the Featherston Literary Institute, Cricket Club, and Tennis Club. He is also a vestryman in St. John's Anglican Church. Mr. Knowles is married, and has two children.

Bank of New Zealand, at Featherston, is a substantial wooden building in the principal street. The banking chamber and the agent's office occupy the front part of the building, while the rear is used for residential purposes. The agent is assisted by an accountant.

Mr. George Fenwick, Agent of the Bank of New Zealand, Featherston, was born in 1858 in Denmark, where his father was Italian consul. Leaving Denmark in 1863, the Fenwick family came to New Zealand, and settled near Oamare, Otago, two years later. Educated at the Oamaru District High School, he joined the Bank ef New Zealand as junior in the Oamaru branch in 1881. After serving four years, Mr. Fenwick was at Waikouaiti and Queenstown branches, eventually being located in Dunedin, where he remained eleven years, holding the position of teller for seven years, and afterwards that of bill clerk. After ten months as agent in Picton, he was transferred to Featherston. Mr. Fenwick has long been prominent in musical and athletic circles. In Otago he was a member of the Oamaru, Carisbrook, and Phœnix Cricket Clubs, and of the Dunedin Amateur Athletic Association, the Dunedin Rifle, and Carisbrook Lawn Tennis Clubs. In Featherston he has gained considerable popularity as a leader in all that tends to improve the social life of the township.

Featherston Assembly Knights of Labour holds its meetings on the first Tuesday in every month. The officers (1896) are:—Messrs. A. Keys (master workman), L. F. Keys (worthy foreman), and F. W. Good (recording secretary).