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

Civic Institutions

Civic Institutions.

The Blenheim Borough Gas Works were originally erected and conducted by a private syndicate, and were purchased by the Blenheim Borough Council in December, 1887, since which they have undergone considerable improvements. They are situated at the corner of Customhouse Street and Redwood Street, occupy about one acre of ground, and are built chiefly in brick and concrete, with iron roofing. The main building includes the retort house, the purifier, the meter house, the engine room, the store house, and the coal shed; also a commodious gasometer, a detached workshop, and a suite of offices. The plant is replete with all necessary machinery, and carries out its work with efficiency. The consumption of coal is 750 tons per annum, and from this about 80,000,000 cubic feet of gas is page break produced. Fifty street lamps are supplied at an annual cost of about £300. Most of the public, commercial and private houses, are connected with the works, and a large amount of gas is consumed in the generation of power, and for heating and cooking purposes. Theere are about 300 gas cookers, and sixteen gas engines in the town. The charges are ten shillings net per 1000 cubic feet for lighting, and six shillings and eightpence net for cooking and heating.

The Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade was founded in the year 1869 by Messrs Walter Litchfield, C. J. Rae, S. Johnson, James Gorrie, E. Bythell, H. Silvins, John Taylor and others, but it did not reach its present efficiency till 1881, when it was thoroughly re-organised, and the plant greatly improved. Since that date it has been a popular body, and has had amongst its members some of the most prominent men of the borough. The station is situated on a central site in Alfred Street, and comprises an engine shed; a conveniently appointed wooden building, which contains a social room, and sleeping quarters for three firemen; and a large iron framed bell tower, which carries a bell weighing five hundredweight. There are also two fire bells in other parts of the borough. The plant includes two powerful Shand-Mason portable and stationery steam engines, which pump 450 and 1000 gallons of water per minute, respectively one chemical engine of two cylinders, each with a capacity of thirty gallons; over 4,000 feet of hose; and reels, ladders, fire plugs, Blenheim landscape etc. The staff consists of twenty-seven members, including the captain, lieutenant, and two engineers. Regular and frequent practices are held, and also occasional competitions with other brigades.

Mr. Alexander Morrison Miller , Captain of the Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade, joined the staff in 1841, and for a time was branchman, and, later on, an engineer of the brigade. He was born in Dunedin, Otago, on the 28th of August, 1865, and is a son of the late Mr. D. H. Miller, a pioneer settler, who came to New Zealand in the ship “Three Bells.” He was educated at the public schools in Dunedin and Lawrence, was apprenticed to the ironmongery trade with Messrs Ross and McNeil, of Dunedin, and was afterwards employed by Messrs Findlay
Macey, photo. Mr. A. M. Miller.

Macey, photo. Mr. A. M. Miller.

and Company, where he latterly had charge of the hardware department. Later on, Mr. Miller accepted a situation under Mr. T. C. Litchfield, ironmonger, of Blenheim, and in July, 1899, in conjunction with Mr. McKay, he purchased Mr. Litchfield's business, which was subsequently conductted under the style of Messrs Miller and MeKay. Mr. Miller takes a keen interest in social affairs, is a member of the Blenheim Defence Rifle Club, was for many years a member of the Blenheim Rowing Club, and is a member of various musical societies, including the choir of the Presbyterian church, with which he has been connected for about fourteen years.

The Blenheim Municipal Abattoir was established in December, 1902. It is situated at St. Andrews, the south-eastern suburb of the town, where a valuable section has been set apart and conveniently appointed for the purpose. The main building is a substantial concrete construction of one storey, built on the most up-to-date plan, and includes killing and hanging rooms. There are also several smaller wooden buildings, including an official room, an office, etc. The institution handles, monthly, about fifty head of eattle, 500 sheep, 105 lambs, and forty pigs. Mr. C. J. Barron, Meat and Dairy Inspector, is manager.

Mr. Charles James Barron , Government Meat and Dairy Inspector for Blenheim, and Manager of the Municipal Abattoir, was born at “Rainbirds,” near Broad Bay, Otago, on the 3rd of March, 1875, and is the eldest son of Mr. William Barron, of “Nga Wiro,” Caversham, near Dunedin, whose biography appears in the Otago volume of the Cyclopedia. He was educated at the Otago Boys' High School, in Dunedin, and at the Canterbury Agricultural College, at Lincoln. In 1899, Mr. Barron was appointed assistant meat inspector for the Government at Timaru; he subsequently held a similar position in Wellington and in Hawke's Bay, and was appointed Inspector of Meat at Blenheim, in 1902. He was subsequently made inspector of dairies, and in March, 1903, he succeeded to the management of the municipal abattoir. Mr. Barron is a member of the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association.

The Omaka Cemetery , Blenheim, is situated at the head of the Maxwell Road, to the south-east of the borough, and contains an area of forty-four acres. Six acres are already in use, and a portion is set apart for the Roman Catholic denomination. The cemetery was opened many years ago, and there is now an annual average of fifty burials.

Mr. William Hay , the Caretaker of the Omaka Cemetery, took up his duties in July. 1889. He acts as agent for Mr. W. McGill, monumental mason, of Wellington, for whom he does a considerable business, and is supplied with all the latest monumental designs, Mr. Hay was born in Edinburgh in 1834, and came out to the colonies in 1852 by the ship “Monarch of Leith.” For about nine years he was on the Victorian goldfields, and later on for a couple of years in Otago, where he took part in the Molyneux “rush” of 1862. He subsequently followed his trade as a carpenter at Lawrence for five years, and afterwards at Tapanui for more than ten years, when he removed to Marlborough to take up his present duties. Mr. and Mrs Hay have reared up page 317
Mr. W. Hay.

Mr. W. Hay.

a family of four sons and four daughters, all of whom are creditably settled in their respective trades and stations in life.
Market Place, Blenheim, in Flood. Macey, photo.

Market Place, Blenheim, in Flood. Macey, photo.