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

Town Of Blenheim. — Blenheim

Town Of Blenheim.

Blenheim , the chief town of Marlborough, is picturesquely situated at the junction of the Opawa and Omaka rivers, near the centre of the Wairau Plain. In some respects, on account of the almost unbroken flatness of the surrounding country, it resembles, in miniature, the city of Christchurch. For many years it was known as Beav-ertown, or colloquially “The Beaver,” but was re-named Blenheim, in commemoration of one of the victories of the Duke of Marl-borough, whose name is borne by the province. Blenheim's natural endowients, its municipal improvements, and the development of the adjacent country favour the furtherance of practical interests; and the place has, also, considerable scenic beauty. The rivers by which the town is intersected are fringed with willow trees, and their windings enhance the general attractiveness, which is largely due to the vigorous growth and striking freshness of the vegetation, and the prevalence of deciduous and evergreen trees. Blenheim, too, enjoys one of the sunniest and healthiest climates in New Zealand, and is specially noted for its mild and even temperature.

In the early days the timber industry was of much importance; but, as the soil was well adapted for agriculture and pasturage, sawmilling was but a means to the establishment of the more permanent business of farming. Indeed, Blenheim soon became recognised as essentially a farming centre, and, as such, it has experienced a steadily increasing prosperity. The town was constituted a borough in 1869, and Mr. F. J. Litchfield was elected its first mayor. Population throughout the province has gradually grown, and the number of residents within the borough is now (1905) about 3,500. Though farming is the main industrial support of Blenheim, there are several
Protected. Market Place, Blenheim: looking North. Macey, photo.

Protected. Market Place, Blenheim: looking North. Macey, photo.

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Protected. Market Place, Blenhim: looking South. Macey, photo.

Protected. Market Place, Blenhim: looking South. Macey, photo.

flourishing subsidiary industries; namely, flourmills, flaxmills, fellmongeries, breweries, a large lolly factory, and several others of minor importance. The main thoroughfares in Blenhein are: Market Street, Maxwell Road, Grove Road, Walter Street, High Street, Alfred Street, and Manse Street. Blenheim has handsome Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches; a High School, and a Borough School, in addition to private schools; gas works, a fire brigade, municipal abattoirs, and three licensed halls; and a large public hall is (1905) about to be erected on a central site, at a cost of £4,000, more or less. Of the public reserves, Seymour Square is situated in the centre of the town, and possesses a fine band rotunda, built by public subscription in memory of the late Dr. Cleghorn. The town has a number of clubs, societies, and associations connected with sport and social entertainments and amusements. Blenheim is, by reason of its situation, a self-contained town, and business maintains its briskness throughout the year, with prices, in general, at a creditably low level. Communication with Wellington is by rail to Picton, and thence by steamer, or direct by boat from the town, via the Opawa river, which is navigable for vessels of about eighty tons.

The cutting up of large pastoral estates has materially advanced the interests of Blenheim; and the extension of the railway, and further development of the province, will assure a permanent pros-perity to the capital town.