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

Corporation Of Blenheim

Corporation Of Blenheim.

Blenheim was constituted a borough on the 6th of March, 1869. It is situated in the centre of the Wairau Plain, embraces an area of 1,571 acres, possesses 670 ratepayers, and 1,450 rateable properties. The capital rateable value is £387,963; the unimproved rateable value £172,154, and the value of improvements, £215,809. The rates since 1901 have been struck on the unimproved values, and thet annual rateable value is £23,277. The rates now in force consist of a general rate of 2½d in the £; a Hospital and Charitable Aid rate of 2 2/8 of a penny in the £ on the annual rateable values; a special rate of ⅜d in the £, to provide interest for a special loan of £4,500, borrowed for the purpose of paying off a loan of £3000 and overdraft; and a special rate of 5–16ths of a penny in the £ to provide interest on uinking fund and other charges on a special loan of £3,500, for reclamation works in Collie's Hollow and LockUp Creek. There are several loans of a reproductive nature; namely, the gas works loan of £14,000, borrowed in the year 1905 on £100 debentures and repayable in 1910; the town hall loan of £4000, borrowed in 1905, and the abattoirs' loan of £3,300. The total assets of the town in March, 1905, were £30,000, and the liabilities, including loans, about £30,000. Street lighting is undertaken by the Borough Council, and the streets are well lighted; there is no permanent system of drainage, but the Council has the matter now (1905) under consideration, and it is likely that an up-to-date system will soon be introduced. There is a well equipped fire brigade station under the management of an efficient volunter fire brigade, which is subsidised to the amount of £75 annually by the Corporation. The disposal of refuse is effected privately. The borough has a Free Library, which contains 3,500 volumes. The population of the borough is about 3,500. The Council Chambers are situated in the Government buildings. Members of the Council for the year 1905: Messrs E. H. Penny (Mayor), page 314 J. J. W. White, A. Wiffen, W. Carr, W. Ching, W. D. Pike, John Brown, F. Birch, G. H. Mogridge, and G. Patch-ett. Mr. D. P. Sinclair is Town Clerk.

His Worship the Mayor, Mr. Edward Henry Penny, J.P., has occupied a seat on the Blenheim Borough Council since December, 1899, and is now (1905) serving his first term in the Mayoral chair. He was born in the year 1859, at Stockport, Lancashire, England, where he was educated at the Grammar School, and was afterwards trained to business under his father, a wholesale paper merchant in Manchester. Mr. Penny came to New Zealand in 1883, but, after spending a few months in Wellington, returned to the Old Country.
Mr. E. H. Penny, Mayor of Blenheim.

Mr. E. H. Penny, Mayor of Blenheim.

He, however, came again to New Zealand in 1884, and settled in Blenheim in 1885. For several years he was employed at the Marlborough Farmers' Co-operative Stores, and in the year 1893, he purchased a general stationery business, which he has since conducted with considerable success under the style of Stationers' Hall. Mr. Penny is a member of the Wairau Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and of the Blenheim Borough School committee, of which he has been chairman since 1901. He is a local preacher of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, teacher of the senior class in the Sunday school, and was for several years superintendent of the Sunday school. In 1904, he went to Melbourne as one of the delegates to represent New Zealand at the General Conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia. Mr. Penny married Miss Blaymires, of Picton, in 1890, and has three sons and three daughters. He is further referred to as a bookseller and stationer in Market Street North, Blenheim.

Councillor William Ching is the oldest sitting member of the Blenheim Borough Council. He was first elected about the year 1882, and, excepting for an interval of about two years, he has retained his seat continuously ever since. Mr. Ching was born in December, 1845, in Nelson, where his father was for many years a farmer at Stoke, having emigrated to Nelson with the expedition under Captain Wakefield in 1842. He was educated in Nelson, and had some early experience in farming, and then spent a short time in prospecting for gold at Hokitika on the very spot that afterwards became known as the Kanieri goldfields. Later on, Mr. Ching went to Wakapuaka, where he carried on farming for about five years. He afterwards removed to Blenheim, and for some years carried on business as a carter and wood dealer. About the year 1886, Mr. Ching bought a small farm on the old Renwick road, and still conducts it; and in 1902, he opened a produce store in Grove road, and he also carries this on at the present time (1905). Mr. Ching has been a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars for thirty years, and a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters for thirty-five years. He served in the Blenheim Rifles for twenty-two years, and received the New Zealand and Imperial medals; and he was, also, a member of the Blenheim Volunteer Fire Brigade for a great number of years, and of the Blenheim school committee. Mr. Ching married a daughter of Mr. John Doidge, of Stoke, in the year 1868, and has two sons and six daughters, of whom one son and two daughters are married.

Councillor William Carr has been a member of the Blenheim Borough Council since April, 1903. He was born in the North Island of New Zealand in the year 1859, and educated in public schools. Mr. Carr is first engineer of the local Volunteer Fire Brigade, and has been a member of the Wairau River Board for about twenty years.

Councillor George Patchett was first elected to the Blenheim Borough Council in the year 1904, and re-elected in April, 1905. He was born in England in 1864, and came to New Zealand in 1876. Mr. Patchett is a member of the Wairau River Board, the local Volunteer Fire Brigade, and the Blenheim Bowling Club.

Councillor Frederick Birch is a member of the Blenheim Borough Council. He was born in Worcester, England, where he served his time at engmeering in his native town with Mr. George Lacy, and subsequently was for several years with two large engineering firms—Messrs Tangye Brothers and Messrs May and Mountain—of Birmingham. In 1874, Mr. Birch came to New Zealand, and established himself in business in Blenheim as a patternmaker and turner. Seven years later, he procured a small plant that enabled him to deal with engines and machines generally, and he now (1905) conducts a prosperous business as a turner, machinist, engineer and cycle expert. Mr. Birch was for many years a member of the Wairau River Board, and was chairman at the time of the construction of the flood-relief channel. He has, for twenty years, been a member of the local school committee, of which he has been chairman on several occasions, and has been a member of the Garrison Band for twenty years, of which he was master for two years. Mr. Birch, who is a tenor singer of some ability, is further referred to as a [gap — reason: illegible]ner, machinist, engineer and eyele expert.

Councillor John Brown was elected a member of the Blenheim Borough Council in August, 1905. He was born on the 30th of October, 1854, in Worcestershire, England, and was educated at Cowley school, Oxford, and Cathedral King's school, Worcester, and afterwards served an apprenticeship to the ironmongery trade. In the year 1876, Mr. Brown came to New Zealand, landed in Lyttelton, and spent the two following years at station work in Canterbury. He joined the Armed Constabulary in Wellington, in 1878, and was sent to Taranaki. Two years later, Mr. Brown went to the Wakamarina diggings, where he prospected with some success for about five years. In 1885, he removed to Blenheim as book-keeper to the late Mr. E. Bythell, builder and contractor, with whom he learned the trade of carpenter and joiner; and, except for the years 1892 and 1893, when he went goldmining in Australia, he has remained at Blenheim ever since. On the death of Mr. Bythell, in 1894, Mr. Brown was appointed manager of the business. He was a member of the Blenheim Borough School committee, and of the local volunteer fire brigade for several years, and for a long time a member, and afterwards a lieutenant, of the Blenheim City Rifles, and a trustee of the local cemetery. Mr. Brown married Mrs Bythell, widow of the late Mr. Elijah Bythell, in August, 1896.

Councillor Georce Henby Mogridge was elected to the Blenheim page 315 Borough Council in the year 1905. He was born in London, England, in 1859, and served an apprenticeship in a large soft goods warehouse. Mr. Mogridge came to New Zealand in 1882, and after holding various important commercial positions was appointed in 1899 to manage the Blenheim branch of the New Zealand Clothing Factory.

Councillor Willie Davis Pike was elected a member of the Blenheim Borough Council in April, 1905. He was born in Honiton, Devonshire, England, in February, 1863, and is a son of the late Mr. William Pike, who is referred to on another page as an old colonist. Mr. Pike emigrated to New Zealand with his parents in the year 1864, and was educated at the local borough school. He afterwards learned carpentry, and after completing an apprenticeship he
Macey, photo. Councillor W. D. Pike.

Macey, photo. Councillor W. D. Pike.

continued for some time as a journeyman. Mr. Pike was then taken into partnership by his father, a farmer, and continued as such until the year 1894, when the business was taken over by Messrs W. D. Pike and T. Pike, under the name of Messrs W. Pike and Sons. The firm immediately added to its business traction engine work, and to-day the grain-cutting and chaff cutting plant owned by the firm is one of the largest and most efficient in the province. Mr. Pike is a member of the Blenheim school committee, and a trustee of the Methodist Church. He has for twenty years been musical conductor of the Methodist Sunday school, and has for twenty-four years been a member of the church choir. Mr. Pike married Miss Mary Gifford, of Spring Creek, in the year 1891, and has two sons and one daughter.

Councillor Arthur Wiffen is a member of the Blenheim Borough Council. He was born on the l2th of June, 1849, in Essex, England, where he was educated. Mr. Wiffen afterwards learned the business of a brewer and malster in Gloucestershire, and at twenty years of age went, under contract, to manage extensive malthouses in Chicago, America. Three years and six months later he returned to England, and shortly afterwards saded for New Zealand, under engagement to Messrs Wigram Brothers, of Christchurch. Though he contracted for only three years' service with that firm, he remained in its employment for eight years, and he then resigned to establish himself in Dunedin, under the style of the Otago Malting Company. The imposition of the protective tariff, however, rendered his business in Otago unprofitable, and in January, 1904, he opened up under the same style in Blenheim. Mr. Wiffen occupies offices in High Street, has extensive stores on the riverbank, near the centre of the town, and trades as a malster and wholesale dealer in grain, wool, seeds, flax, and other produce. During his long residence in New Zealand, Mr. Wifien has taken a keen interest in public affairs. While a resident of Canterbury, he was a member of the Christchurch Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and of the Selwyn County Council, and was for some years chairman of the Heathcote Road Board, and of the Heathcote Valley school committee.

Councillor John James Winsbury White was re-elected to the Blenheim Borough Council in April, 1905. He was born in Surrey, England, in December, 1844, and came out to New Zealand with his parents when he was fourteen years of age. Mr. White was appointed, in May, 1860, to a junior clerkship in the office of the Superintendent of Marlborough. In 1862, he was appointed Land Office Clerk, and, later on, in addition to that office, Clerk to the Superintendent, Accountant to the Provincial Treasury, and Clerk of the Provincial Council, and continued in these positions until the abolition of the provinces in 1876. He was then transferred to the Government Lands Department. In 1879, Mr. White was appointed Returning Officer, Registrar of Electors, and Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, but in 1891, he resigned to establish himself in business as a land, estate and finaneial agent; and in this capacity he has acquired an extensive connection. Mr. White also acted as auctioneer for the Land Department, not only during his term of service under the Provincial Government, but also under the General Government. Mr. White is a member of the Marlborough Education Board, and of the Wairau Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, as well as of the Nelson Diocesan Synod, and the General Synod of the Church of England in New Zealand.

Mr. David Patrick Sinclair , Town Clerk of Blenheim, is a son of the late Mr. James Sinclair, the founder of Blenheim. He was born in Blenheim, and educated at the wellington, Nelson, and Canterbury Colleges. Mr. Sinclair passed his solicitor's examination in 1893; four years later, he was admitted as a solicitor by Mr. Justice Denniston, and in October, 1897, was called to the bar by Chief Justice Sir James Prendergast. Mr. Sinclair is prominently associated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. He was appointed Town Clerk of Blenheim in the year 1903.

Mr. James Muir , Engineer and Surveyor to the Borough Council of Blenheim, and Manager of the Municipal Gas Works, was born in the year 1856, at Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, where he was educated. He emigrated to New Zealand as a youth, and shortly after his arrival, was apprenticed to Mr. S. Hutcheson, an engineer of Caversham, near Dunedin. About seven years later, Mr. Muir was sent to direct the construction of the present gasworks in Blenheim, and on their completion was appointed engineer to the company. Subsequently the works were municipalised, and Mr. Muir was appointed to his preset of-fice. Mr. Muir is a member of the Blenheim Bowling Club.

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.