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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]

Nelson Corporation

Nelson Corporation.

When Nelson was first constituted a borough on the 30th March, 1874, the boundaries enclosed an area of 2761 acres. The boundaries, however, were extended by a proclamation dated the 27th of December, 1878, and the borough's present area is 4800 acres.

Municipal government in Nelson began long before the town was proclaimed a municipality. At first the city was under the jurisdiction of a Board of Works, which was elected under “The Nelson Improvement Act of 1856.” The first election was held at the Court House, Nelson, on the 30th of July, 1857, when the following gentlemen were elected: Charles Harley, Maxwell Bury, John Luck, Joseph Webb, Alexander Rankin, Nathaniel Edwards, and William Norgrove. Mr. Maxwell Bury was appointed the first chairman, Mr. J. L. Bailey, secretary, and Mr. William Jennings, overseer.

Amongst the first tenders for cartage was one from James Moore, “Dray and two bullocks, at 30s a day.” The first rate was levied on the 15th of October, 1857, and was Id in the £ on the capital value. The first meetings of the Board were held at the Trafalgar Hotel.

In December, 1873, a petition was presented to His Excellency the Governor, signed by all the principal inhabitants, praying that Nelson might be constituted a borough under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1867, and on the 30th of March, 1874, a proclamation was issued accordingly.

At the last meeting of the Board of Works, held on the 6th of April, 1874, the following were the members present: Messrs J. Perey (chairman), D. Burns, J. R. Dodson, C. Y. Fell, Thompson, and Jennings. On the constitution of the borough the then members of the Board of Works became, ipso facto, members of the City Council. The members present at the first meeting of the Council were: Messrs J. Perey (chairman), R. Burns, D. Burns, Fell, Hooper, Jennings and Thomson.

The Municipal administrators of Nelson have done much to improve the city as the home of a cultivated community: waterworks, gasworks, street lighting and drainage all bear testimony in this connection.

Water Supply.

The city of Nelson is supplied from a mountain stream situated three miles distant. The works consist of a service reservoir and impounding dam, and the usual reticulation of mains throughout the city. The pressure in town at midnight is 130lb per square inch, and during the day it is from 80lb to 90lb. The supply is drawn from a bush-covered watershed of 1416 acres, and the water is bright and pure and suitable for all domestic purposes without filtering. The works were originally constructed by the Provincial Government in 1867, and were purchased by the Corporation in 1877. Extensive additions and improvements have been made by the City Council, including a new concrete storage dam to contain about 20,000,000 gallons of water, and a new 3-inch main, in addition to the existing main, to the town; the work having been designed and carried out by Mr. Henderson, the present City Surveyor, at a cost of about £16,000. At the same time the water rate has been reduced from six per cent, to three-and-a-half per cent, on dwellings, and to two per cent, on stores, etc.


The city is supplied by gasworks, now the property of the Corporation. They were originally erected by the Provincial Government in 1873, but were purchased by the Corporation at the same time as the waterworks. The works stand at a low level, halfway between the town and the port, and consist of the usual carbonising and distributing plant. Upwards of 3000 tons of coal per annum are carbonised and produce about 30,000,000 feet of gas which is largely used for cooking and heating, as well as lighting. The price charged is 6s 8d net per 1000 feet for lighting, and 5s 10d net for cooking and heating. The profits earned go towards the extension of the works and reduction in the price of gas, which has been reduced from 14s 2d per 1000 feet to the present price. In addition to this, the Corporation has spent, out of profits, no less than £23,010 on extensions up to the present date. The working plant is now (1905) in course of reconstruction under Mr. Henderson, City Surveyor. The additions include a new retort house, page 37 a condensing scrubber, purifiers, etc., and, when completed, the works will have been practically rebuilt.

Street Lighting.

The streets are lighted by 132 street gas lamps at an annual cost of £612 19s 6d.


The city is drained by brick main sewers through the principal streets, and pipe sewers in the by-streets; and the main outfall is into the sea. Private connections with the sewers are made by licensed drain connectors, under the supervision of an official of the Council, and all water closets are required to be fitted with proper flushing apparatus. A loan of £55,000 for a complete up-to-date system of sewers, including a septic tank, designed by Mr. Mestayer, M.I.C.E., has recently been authorised by the ratepayers, and the work will be proceeded with as soon as the negotiations for raising the loan have been completed.

Disposal Of Refuse.

An earth closet system has been instituted by the Council to provide for those who are unable through not being within reach of the sewers, to avail themselves of water carriage for the removal of nightsoil. The pan service is carried out weekly by a contractor employed by the City Council, at a cost of 4d per service, and the soil is removed to a depot outside the city boundary.


The rates levied in the city of Nelson are: General rate, 1s 1d in the £; water rates, three and a-half per cent, on buildings used as dwellings, and two and a-half per cent, on buildings used as stores or warehouses. There is also a special rate of 5¾d in the £. on the annual value, and a Hospital and Charitable Aid rate of 3d in the £. The total rateable annual value of all rateable property in the city is £60,205, and the annual revenue of the Corporation from all sources is a little over £18,000.


The loans raised for municipal purposes are: Nelson City Loan, 1875 (gas and waterworks), £5900, interest 6 per cent.; Improvements Loan, 1885 £4000, at 6 per cent.; Rocks Loan, 1892, £4000, at 5 per cent.; Abattoir Loan, £7500, at 4 per cent.; Tramway Loan, £1250, at 4 per cent.; Gas and Waterworks (renewal of old loan), £30,000, at 4 per cent, and 4½ per cent.; and Waterworks Extension Loan £15,000, at 4¼ per cent; total, £67,650. The principal part of the interest on the gas and waterworks loan is paid by the gas and water departments, which are more than self-supporting.

Assets And Liabilities.

On the 31st of March, 1905, these were: Assets (including Gasworks and Waterworks) £83,333; liabilities (including loans), £78,924.

Burgess Roll.

This roll contains 2133 names of persons entitled to vote at the municipal elections.

Fire Brigade.

The extinction of fires is undertaken by a volunteer body, the Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade, which was founded in 1866. The brigade is supported by an annual grant of £225 from the City Council. Two fire inspectors are appointed by the City Council, usually the captain and lieutenant of the Fire Brigade.

Rocks Road.

The main road leading from the city to the Waimea and other agricultural districts surrounding the city formerly passed over the hills to the southwest of the town. In 1892 the local bodies Interested—namely, the Nelson City Council, Waimea County Council, and Richmond Borough Council— agreed to construct a level road round by way of the coast, passing along the picturesque portion of the seaboard known as “The Rocks,” from which the road derives its name. Nelson city originally contributed £4600, Waimea County £1500, Richmond Borough £500, and Government £1500, in cash, besides prison labour towards the work. The work consists of a concrete sea wall of about a mile in length, and the necessary filling was obtained from the adjourning cliffs. The total cost of the work, including prison labour, has been about £11,000. A handsome addition to the work was made possible through the generosity of Mr. John Tinline, who presented the Mayor, Mr. Trask, with a donation of £520, to provide a coping and chain railing along the sea wall, on the outside of the road. Mr. S. Jickell, A.M.I.C.E., then City Surveyor, was the engineer of the work, which was carried out under his supervision. The name of Mr. Trask, ten times Mayor of Nelson, whose untiring enthusiasm was the chief factor in the initiation of the work will always be associated with the Rocks Road.

City Council.

The Nelson City Council consists of Mr. Harry Baigent (Mayor), and Messrs M. Lightband, J. B. Harrison, C. Haggitt, E. Webley, T. Pettit, A. H. Hounsell, A. A. Grace, H. Atmore, and W. K. Turner. The principal officers are: Messrs H. V. Gully, Town Clerk; John Henderson, C.E., M.S.E., city surveyor; James Walker, collector of rates; G. A. Edmonds, assistant clerk; W. L. Hesseltine, junior clerk, and James Graham, inspector of nuisances, etc.

Mr. Henry Baigent , Mayor of Nelson, was also Mayor from 1901 to 1904. He was first elected to the City Council in 1893, when he defeated four other candidates, including Mr. John Graham, now member of Parliament for Nelson City. He worked hard to ensure the progress of the improved water supply scheme, as well as in many other public works. Mr. Baigent was born in 1844, at Wakefield, near Nelson, and was educated and brought up in the district. His father, the late Mr. Edward Baigent, who served as a member of the old Provincial Council, was among the earliest pioneers, and arrived by the ship “Clifford,” in 1842. He brought with him a small grist mill, and also a sawmilling plant, and took up land at Wakefield, where he set up a sawmill. The mill was of a very primitive kind, but was the nucleus of the large sawmilling business now carried on by Mr. Henry Baigent, whose Nelson yards cover about an acre of ground. On this area the office, sheds, and factory stand, and the yards are heavily stocked with timber. Mr. Baigent has installed the latest English and American machinery, including circular saws, band saws, planing and moulding machines, and a chain mortieing machine, all driven by a steam engine. The machinery at his mills was erect-
Tyree, photo.Mr. H. Baigent, Mayor of Nelson.

Tyree, photo.
Mr. H. Baigent, Mayor of Nelson.

page 38 ed by Mr. Baigent himself, and he has erected and re-erected over a score of mills, in connection with each of which he has instituted improvements. The factory produces sashes, doors, blinds, and building timber, which are supplied in large quantities throughout the Nelson district; and Mr. Baigent employs, on an average, between forty and fifty men. Mr. Baigent has represented Golden Bay on the Charitable Aid Board for the past ten years. He has had a long connection with the Order of Oddfellows, and is a Past Master in the Order of Freemasons, with which he has been associated for a quarter of a century. Mr. Baigent is also President of the Nelson Cricket Association, and has been President of the Wakatu Hockey Club, and Vice-President of the Waimea Agricultural and Pastoral Association. At the Mayoral election in April, 1905, he stood against the sitting Mayor, Mr. Jesse Piper, and received 728 votes to Mr. Piper's 563.

Councillor Edward Webley, who was elected to the Nelson City Council in 1901, is a member of the Public Works and Reserves Committees. He was born in 1857, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, and was brought by his parents to Nelson by the ship “Sir George Pollock,” in 1861. He was educated at the Nelson public school, and afterwards worked for about seven years in his uncle's— Mr. Joseph Webley's—woollen mill, which was the first, and, for a considerable time, the only, woollen mill in New Zealand. Mr. Webley subsequently learned the trade of a carpenter, and started in business as a builder, in partnership with his brother, under the style of Webley Brothers. This partnership was dissolved in 1901, and Mr. Webley and Mr. H. H. Johnson then constituted the firm of Webley and Johnson, which now carries on business in Vanguard Street, Nelson. Mr Webley has been connected with Court Robin Hood, Ancient Order of Foresters, since 1894, and has passed all the chairs. He served for four years as a volunteer in the Nelson Artillery cadets. Mr. Webley was married, in 1881, to a daughter of Mr. Robert Lockerbie, of Glasgow, Scotland, and has five sons and one daughter.

Tyree, photo. Councillor E. Webley.

Tyree, photo.
Councillor E. Webley.

Councillor Martin Lightband, who was elected to the NelCity Council in 1902, serves on the Drainage and Public Works Committees. He is further referred to as a former member of the House of Representatives.

Councillor Thomas Pettit was elected a member of the City Council in August, 1902, and re-elected at the succeeding elections. He serves on the Public Works, Reserves, and Cemetery Committees. Mr. Pettit is further referred to in the mercantile section of this work.

Councillor Charles Haggitt was elected to the City Council in April, 1903, and is a member of the Public Works, Reserves, and Cemetery Committees. He was born at Bury, St. Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1863, and educated at Dodham and Bury Grammar school. Mr. Haggitt studied for the profession of a surveyor, and came out to New Zealand by the ship “Piako.” Prior to settling in Nelson some years since, he followed various occupations. Mr. Haggitt takes more than ordinary interest in sports, especially in cricket and football.

Councillor C. Haggitt.

Councillor C. Haggitt.

Councillor John Berkeley Harrison, who was elected to the Nelson City Council in 1903, was born in 1847, in London, and took his B.A. degree in 1870, and his M.A. in 1873 at Queen's College, Oxford. Mr. Harrison was a master in the Richmond School, Yorkshire, for eight years before coming to New Zea and in 1879. He taught for some time at Christ's College, Christchurch, and was afterwards headmaster of the Akaroa High School for five years. Mr. Harrison was married, in 1880, to a daughter of Mr. John Marshman, of Christchurch.

Councillor Arthur Herbert Hounsell was elected to the Nelson City Council in May 1904, and is a member of the Gas, Water, and Finance Committees. He is also a member of the Harbour Board, and Secretary of the Nelson Rugby Union. Mr. Hounsell was born in Nelson, in 1872, and educated at the Bishop's School. He carries on business as a wine and spirit merchant in Hardy Street.

Councillor Harry Atmore was elected to the Nelson City Council on the 26th of April, 1905, when he polled 1046 votes. He is elsewhere referred to as a member of the Nelson Licensing Committee.

Type, photo. Councillor H. Atmore.

Type, photo.
Councillor H. Atmore.

page 39

Councillor Alfred A. Grace was elected to the Nelson City Council on the 26th of April, 1905, when he polled 1,065 votes, the highest number recorded at that election. He is a member of the Finance Committee of the Council. Mr. Grace was born in 1867 at Auckland, and is a son of the late Rev. T. S. Grace, whose interesting life as a missionary is sketched in another part of this volume. In 1875 young Grace went to England, and studied at St. John's college, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, where he took a scholarship. On returning to the colony, in 1887, he engaged in literary work, and for many years was a close student of Maori lore. He has written several books, including “Tales of a Dying Race,” “Maoriland Stories,” “The Tale of Timber Town.” and “‘Tales of a Stone Age People.” Mr. Grace is a member of the Incorporated Society of Authors, London, Secretary of the New Zealand State Control League, Lieutenant of the H Battery, New Zealand Field Artillery, and a member of the Committee of the Nelson branch of the Navy League. He is also a Past Master of the Victory Lodge of Freemasons, Nelson, No. 40, New Zealand Constitution. Mr. Grace was married, in 1890, to a daughter of Mr. David Jennings, of Pangatotara, Motueka, and has a family of two sons and two daughters.

Councillor William King Turner, J.P., was elected to the Nelson City Council on the 26th of April, 1905. He was born in Nelson in 1846, and is a son of the late Mr. Robert King Turner, one of the earliest settlers in the province. After receiving his education in his native city, young Turner went to sea, a calling which he followed for twenty years, and for the greater portion of that period he was a master mariner. About 1874 he took up a sheep run at Admiralty Bay, near the French Pass, and this he carried on in conjunction with his trading vessels. When he retired from the sea he settled on his run where he resided up to 1904, when he handed over the property to his sons. Since then Mr. Turner has lived in retirement in the city of Nelson. He was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace by the late Judge Robinson in 1899. Mr. Turner married a daughter of the late Mr. Isaac Harvey, of Happy Valley, Nelson, and has a family of two sons and three daughters.

Tyre, photo. Councillor W. King Turner.

Tyre, photo.
Councillor W. King Turner.

Mr. H. V. Gully , Town Clerk of Nelson, is the second son of the late Mr. John Gully, the well-known artist. The family arrived at New Plymouth when Mr. H. V. Gully was only two years of age, and after a residence of eight years there, they were compelled to leave for Nelson, on account of the Maori troubles. After receiving the usual course of instruction at the public schools and Nelson College, Mr. Gully entered the office of Messrs Adams and Pitt, solicitors, Nelson, and was admitted a barrister and solicitor in May, 1874. Practice was commenced in Nelson, but after a year the position of town clerk became vacant, and Mr. Gully was appointed, and has creditably filled the office since that date. Mr. Gully also holds the office of secretary to the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board; he is a director of the Permanent Building Society of Nelson, and a prominent member of the Howard Lodge of Oddfellows. In 1874 he married a daughter of Mr. B. O. Hodgson.

Mr. John Henderson , C.E., M.S.E., City Surveyor, Nelson, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was educated at the Normal School and High School, and was brought up as a civil and mechanical engineer. He was for some time a student of the Edinburgh University under Professor Fleming Jenkins, and afterwards obtained an appointment in the Edinburgh gasworks. Mr. Henderson shortly afterwards entered the navy as assistant engineer on H.M.S. “Jackal,” and after serving for some time in that capacity, left the service to take up the position of surveyor and gas and water engineer to the borough of Aberavon, in Glamorganshire, South Wales. He held this position for six years, during which he obtained a first-class certificate and silver medal and money prize at the examinations of the City Guild and London Institute for gas manufacture. Then he went to London, where he was engaged by the National Oil Gas Company of Victoria to go to America to investigate oil, gas, and paper water pipes and railway wheels, and other matters connected with gas, water, and other municipal works. At the conclusion of these investigations. Mr. Henderson went to Victoria, and was for fifteen months consulting en-
Tyree, photo.Mr. J. Henderson.

Tyree, photo.
Mr. J. Henderson.

page 40 gineer to Messrs McLean Brothers and Rigg, Melbourne, after which he was engineer and manager of the Maryborough Gas Works and Coke Company, Queensland. During the eight years and six months spent in that service, he re-modelled the works, and was also engaged as consulting engineer to the Charters Towers Gas Company, and Messrs Cran and Company's gas works at Milliquin and Yengarie. He was then engaged by the Borough Council of North Sydney, one of the largest suburbs of Sydney, to design and construct municipal gas works, the crection of which was then contemplated, and received testimonials from the Council for his work. After serving for four years and three months as gas engineer and Acting-Borough Engineer at North Sydney, Mr. Henderson joined the Sewerage Construction branch of the Public Works Department of New South Wales, and was Resident Engineer for nearly three years at Double Bay and elsewhere. He then accepted the position of Resident Engineer to the Lloyds Copper Company, Limited, at Burraga, near Bathurst, and constructed a concrete dam to contain 85,000,000 gallons of water. Mr. Henderson came to New Zealand in 1902, under engagement to the Nelson City Council as City Surveyor, and has since then built the Municipal Chambers, Trafalgar Street, at a cost of over £4000; and a large concrete dam at the Brook Street water reserve, and laid a new main to the city, at a cost of over £16,000. The wall of this dam is 320 feet long and 43 feet high from the foundation to the top of the overflow. The storage capacity is about 22,900,000 gallons, and the water is carried through a twelve-inch pipe, which branches off into an eight-inch and seven-inch pipe respectfully; the latter being intended to supply the higher levels, and the former the lower levels of the city. Mr. Henderson is now (1905) engaged in carrying out extensive alterations at the gas works at a cost of about £5000. As a Freemason. Mr. Henderson is connected with Lodge Southern Cross, E.C., and Lodge Victory, New Zealand Constitution. He is also a member of the Vestry of the Cathedral, Nelson, and of the Nelson Club.
Civic Institutions.

The Nelson City Abattoir , at Annesbrook, Stoke, is a large concrete building on a site of forty-one acres, and was erected, in 1900, at a cost of £7500, including the cost of the grounds, fences, etc. It contains all the most modern improvements. The adjoining land is divided into five-acre paddocks, which the butchers rent from the City Council, and in which they keep their stock until required. The works are connected with Nelson by telephone, so that the butchers are able to ring up the works day by day, and give their instructions for killing as occasion requires. About 800 animals are killed at the abattoir every fortnight.

Mr. Alfred William Barnes ; M.R.C.V.S., Manager of the Nelson City Abattoir, was born in 1860, in London, and was educated at the London University College School. After qualifying as a veterinary surgeon he practised his profession in England for four years, and then came out to Queensland. Mr. Barnes was subsequently appointed Government Stock Inspector and Veterinarian, and was in veterinary charge of the Central Queensland Meat Export Company's works—the largest meat works in the Southern Hemusphere—for eight years. He went to South Africa as Veterinary Captain to the Second Queensland Contingent, and was on duty in South Africa at the time of Cronje's capture, the relief of Kimberley and Ladvsmith, and the capture of Bloemfontein. Mr. Barnes received the Imperial Government's medal with one bar for service in South Africa, and soon after his return to Queensland he left for New Zealand to take up his present position, under the Nelson City Council. He has since been appointed Government Veterinarian and Veterinary Inspector of Abattoirs in the Nelson district. Mr. Barnes was married in Queensland, to a daughter of Mr. H. Rogers, editor of the “Gympie Times,” and has four sons and three daughters.

Tyree, photo. Mr. A. W. Barnes.

Tyree, photo.
Mr. A. W. Barnes.

The Nelson City Gas Works were erected forty years ago, and the buildings, which are of brick and concrete, include a retort house with forty-three retorts, a purifying house containing four large purifiers, an engine house, containing a two-horse power engine, and governor house, containing an automobile governor. There are four Ketch purifiers, and 150 feet of seven-inch condensing pipes in the open; and a scoop on twowheeled trollies is used for charging the retorts. A foreman, six stokers, and two yardmen are employed at the works.

Mr. James Hart , Foreman of the Nelson City Gas Works, was born in 1842 at Galston, near Yarmouth, England, and was brought up to a seafaring life. When nine years of age he was working in the coastal trade on the east coast of England, and was, later on, in the fishing trade out of Yarmouth Harbour. Mr. Hart came out to New Zealand as a young man, and, after working for two years at Anderson's mill, Auckland, went to sea for about twelve years. In 1875 he settled in Nelson, where he was appointed to his present position as foreman to the Gas Company. As a Freemason, Mr. Hart has been connected with Lodge Southern Star, Nelson, for eighteen years. He is married, and has one son and two daughters.

Tyree, photo. Mr. J. Hart.

Tyree, photo.
Mr. J. Hart.

page 41

Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade . For equipment and efficiency this brigade ranks amongst the best in New Zealand. It was farmed in 1866, after a disastrous fire at Mr. G. McGee's Hotel, whereby the four corners at the crossing of Bridge and Collingwood Streets were consumed. The citizens then met to consider the advisableness of forming a brigade to protect themselves in case of further outbreaks, and the Provincial Council contributed liberally towards its formation. Support was obtained by annual subscriptions from the public, supplemented by a gift of £100 per annum from the various insurance companies, and £40 a year from the Provincial Government. In 1889 the insurance companies withdrew their subscriptions, and consequently the burden of support was cast upon the City Council, which levied a fire rate for the purpose, and now spends over £200 per annum on the brigade. The plant is most efficient, and is valued at about £1,000. It consists of one 24manual engine, one hook and ladder carriage, with over 50 feet of ladders, and all necessary appliances connected therewith. There are nine hose stations in various parts of the town, equipped with all appliances for the extinction of fires. In each of these stations there are hydrants and 600 feet of hose, with branches, etc. Upon the nine reels there is over a mile of canvas hose, which is the only kind of hose used by the brigade. There are twenty-five members in the brigade, and the officers in 1905 were: Mr. T. M. Wimsett, captain; Mr. T. Woodward, lieutenant; Mr. J. Lipscombe, foreman of the hook and ladder; Mr. J. Whiting, No. 1 hose, Mr. W. Miller, No. 2; Mr. E. Boyce, secretary, and Mr. J. E. Hounsell, treasurer. Mr. Wimsett, who is the only member who has been connected with the brigade from its formation, is elsewhere referred to in connection with his business.

Mr. William Cooksey , for many years Secretary of the Nelson Fire Brigade, became a member at the Brigade's inception in 1866. He was born in London, England, in October, 1834, and went to Ballarat, Victoria, where he worked for about ten years. Mr. Cooksey then came to Otago, where he was for three years on the Dunstan, and then he moved to Nelson. He died on the 23rd of December, 1902.

The Late Mr. W. Cooksey.

The Late Mr. W. Cooksey.

The Queen's Gardens , Nelson, contain three acres and a-half, and were opened in 1891. They are tastefully laid out with flower beds, and there is a pretty little lake at one end, and a playing fountain in the centre of the grounds. There is an aviary, which contains some of New Zealand's rare birds, and on the lake there are black and white swans and other aquatic birds. Seats have been provided throughout the grounds, and the footpaths are all laid down in asphalt. The gardens are under the control of the City Council, which maintains them in excellent order as a popular resort.

Mr. Edward Christian , Caretaker of the Queen's Gardens, was appointed in 1891. He is a native of the Isle of Man and came to New Zealand in 1874.