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



Alton is a farming settlement in the Otoia riding of the county of Patea, and forms part of the Carlyle survey district of the Taranaki land district. The village is about fourteen miles from Hawera, and eight from Patea. Its railway station, which is two miles away, is known as Bull road; it stands at an altitude of 297 feet above the sea, and is sixty miles distant from New Plymouth, and 191 miles from Wellington. The chief local industry is dairying, and there are two creameries in operation. The village of Alton has a public hall, a State school, a public library, a general store with a post office, and a local hotel, besides a number of private residences. A church belonging to the Methodist denomination is supplied by the minister at Patea, and the Anglican vicar of Hawera holds a monthly service in the local hall.

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The Alton Post Office, Telegraph Office and Telephone Bureau are domiciled in the store of Mr. Charles Edward James. Mails are despatched and received twice daily.

Mr. Charles Edward James, Postmaster at Alton, was born in Devonshire, England, in the year 1876. He was brought up to the drapery trade, and in 1892 came to New Zealand, settling in Nelson, where he entered the employment of Messrs Cock and Company. He was subsequently employed by Messrs Sargood Son and Ewen, with whom he remained for about nine months. Mr. James then removed to Napier, where he was for a short time in the boot trade, before joining a survey party in the Ruahines. He afterwards went to Australia, and was engaged in various occupations in New South Wales and Queensland for three years. On his return to New Zealand he worked at Paeroa and the Upper Thames goldfields for about four years, and was employed for twelve months on a sheep station in Hawke's Bay. Mr. James then worked for five years in Alton, and was for one year with Gibsons Limited, of Hawera, before taking over his present business in February, 1905. He is secretary of the Sports Club, librarian, and a member of the Library Committee, and has also been a member of the Hall Committee. Mr. James is married. He is further referred to as a general storekeeper.

The Alton Public School was established in the year 1881, and is conducted in a wood and iron building, containing one class-room and a porch. A teacher's residence stands on part of the school ground. There are sixty-four names on the roll, and the average attendance is fifty-three. Mr. William Alexander Swinburne was appointed headmaster of the Alton public school in April, 1902. He had been stationed previously at Wangaehu.

James, Charles Edward, General Storekeeper, Alton. This business is conducted in freehold premises. Full stocks of groceries, ironmongery, drapery, boots and shoes, etc., are carried, and there are two delivery carts, by which goods are delivered throughout the district. Mr. James is agent for the New Zealand Fire and Accident Insurance Company, Coopers' Seeds, Shacklock Ranges, the Auckland Weekly, the Hawera Star, and Wangangui Chronicle, etc. He is more fully referred to as postmaster at Alton.

Gibbs, James, Farmer, Alton and Hurleyville. Mr. Gibbs, one of the early settlers of the district, has a property of 506 acres at Alton, and another farm of 130 acres at Hurleyville. He carries on dairying, grazing, and sheepfarming, and at one time engaged extensively in the growing of cocksfoot for seed. He was born in Wakefield, Nelson, in the year 1851, and is the son of one of Nelson's pioneer settlers, who came out to New Zealand in 1842, and died in the early nineties, at eighty-six years of age. After a general experience of country life, Mr. Gibbs went, about the year 1875, to North Queensland, where he engaged in goldmining, and afterwards worked on various stations. He then returned to New Zealand, and settled in the Manawatu district, and about March, 1877, took up two hundred acres of his present holding. Mr. Gibbs takes a keen interest in the progress of the district. He is chairman of directors of the Kakaramea Dairy Company, chairman of the Alton Library Committee, and a member of the Egmont Agricultural and Pastoral Association. At one time he was a member of the West Patea Road Board—the position is now (1906) held by one of his sons; and he was for some time chairman of the local school committee. Mr Gibbs, who is a Justice of the Peace, has two sons and two daughters.

Gungall, photo.Mr. J. Gibbs.

Gungall, photo.
Mr. J. Gibbs.