The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Stratford is a thriving borough on the Patea river, in the centre of an extensive dairying district, thirty miles south by rail from New Plymouth, in the county of Stratford, and in the Ngaire survey district of the Taranaki land district. It is situated about 1000 feet above sea level, about nine miles from Mount Egmont; the climate is bracing, though somewhat moist. In the year 1877 the whole countryside was covered with a vast, virgin forest, and the timber stood like a wall on either side of the Mountain road. In that year the population of Stratford and the surrounding district numbered about half a-dozen settlers, and most of these had been compelled to cut tracks through the bush to reach their holdings. A small store was erected on the present site of Broadway, before the survey of the township was completed. In 1878 the railway line was opened from New Plymouth to Stratford. Three years later, the settlement is described as still having only one store, which stood on the site now (1906) occupied by the Bank of New South Wales. The ground was in such a condition that planks had to be stretched across the present Broadway, and it was no uncommon thing to see bullock teams and the drays they were attempting to draw, stuck in the mud. But from that time forward, the progress has been steady, and in recent years, even rapid. The local government of the district was for a number of years conducted by a Town Board, which did good work; but in 1898, Stratford was constituted a borough. The main thoroughfare, Broadway, is a fine wide street, and contains a large number of substantial shops, with handsome plate glass show windows. Stratford has a town hall, and a fine building known as the Municipal Chambers. The town has a District High School, a private school, and a technical school; and the Roman Catholic high and primary school is conducted in connection with the Monastery of Our Lady of Perpetual Succession. There are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Primitive Methodist churches, and the Salvation Army is also represented. Stratford has several branches of the various banks doing business in the colony, and the Government Departments include the police station, the District and Stipendiary Magistrate's Court, the Stock Office, the Public Health Office, the Post and Telegraph Office, railway station, and the Public Works Department for the whole of the Taranaki provincial district.