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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]


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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.

Furkert, photo. A Tiphead On Stratford-Ongarue Railway.

Furkert, photo. A Tiphead On Stratford-Ongarue Railway.

page 165 For a number of years two newspapers were published in Stratford, but these have been for some time amalgamated in the proprietary of the local company, which daily publishes the Stratford Evening Post. Stratford's industries include a bacon factory, a well equipped dairy factory, a sash and door factory, and two sawmills, one of which is owned by Messrs Derby Brothers; there is also a farmers' co-operative store. The professions are represented by medical men, solicitors, dentists and others. Stratford has been constituted a Hospital and Charitable Aid District, under the control of a Board, and is also the headquarters of the East Egmont Forest Board. It is on a popular tourist route to Mount Egmont, which is ten miles distant from the railway station. A good mountain house, adjoining the track, stands at an altitude of 3720 feet above the sea, and guides, food, and accommodation can be obtained at reasonable terms in the tourist season. The main road to Auckland, known as the Stratford-Ongarue or Ahura road commences at Stratford. The Stratford Electric Light Supply Company has utilised the water power of the Patea river, which runs through Stratford, for lighting and power purposes. A large weekly cattle sale is held in the town. The population of the borough at the census of 1901 was 2027, and at that of 1906, 2126.