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

New Plymouth Corporation

page 50

New Plymouth Corporation.

The municipality of New Plymouth was constituted in 1876. The borough has an area of 850 acres, and contains about 800 rateable properties, the annual value of which was £53,800 in 1906. On this a general rate of 1s 9d in the pound is levied, with a special rate of 10d, and a water rate of 6d in the pound. There are about twenty-nine miles of streets—most of which are formed—within the borough boundaries. The total loans of the whole borough of New Plymouth amounted, in the year 1906, to £104,000, and had been obtained for ordinary works, water supply, electric lighting, drainage, public baths, and abattoirs. Exclusive of loans, the total revenue of the borough for the year that ended on the 31st of March, 1906, was £11,000. The town is divided into three wards—East, West, and Central—and each is represented by three members.

Water Works.

The source of supply for the borough is at the Waiwakaiho river, about three miles and a-half outside the town. The water is secured at the intake, and is brought in by gravitation, through steel pipes, for a distance of one mile to the reservoir; in its course, it passes through a tunnel of three-quarters of a mile. The capacity of the reservoir is equal to one million gallons. The water is filtered before it enters the reservoir, and is led into the town, and laid on to all parts of the borough, by means of steel pipes. The water supply also serves adjacent suburbs, and is used for household supply, drainage, and power purposes. It gives a daily pressure of 133 pounds to the square inch, and increases during the night to 150 pounds pressure. The entire cost of the waterworks has been £25,400.

Electric Lighting.

The source of the water supply is sufficient also to provide the borough with an electric installation. The pipes conveying the supply from the Waiwakaiho river are carried over the brow of the hill to the power-house. This gives a fall of about 170 feet, and drives 2 turbines of about seventy horse-power each. These are coupled direct to two forty-five kilo-watts, 2000volt, single phase generators. From the power-house there are about four miles of overhead lines, which convey the electrical energy to the distributing station, at the corner of Lemon Street and Liardet Street. Thence the lines are led on the three-wire system, to supply the street lamps and private lighting of the borough; most of the street lights are of the incandescent variety; 110 are glow lights, and ten are arc lights. The cost of the whole installation exceeded £13,000.


The septic tank system is in use in New Plymouth. Before its adoption, the borough depended on the natural drainage of the Huatoki stream, which runs through the town. Since the drainage system was completed, the whole, with the exception of the surface water, runs through a tank, which is 150 feet long, by 20 feet wide, and 11 feet deep. The total cost of the installation was £10,000.

Public Baths.

At the western end of the town, on the sea beach, there are salt water swimming baths. The basin measures 100 feet by forty feet, and has a tapering depth of from five feet six inches to eleven feet six inches; it is automatically emptied and filled by the action of the tides. The basin is constructed of concrete, and is in the open; it is surrounded, however, by covered dressing boxes on all sides, and there are two rooms in front, and also two hot water baths, and some shower baths. The cost of these baths was £3,300.

Fire Brigade.

There are three stations; the central one in Powderham Street, and a branch station at the east and west of the town respectively. The Volunteer Fire Brigade is maintained by an annual subsidy of £100 from the borough, and by private subscriptions.

Town Hall.

The Town Hall stands on a quarter of an acre in King Street; it is a two-storey wooden building, and was originally erected in the early days, as the Provincial Council Chamber. The ground floor contains the offices of the Town Clerk, and of the Borough Engineer; also the free Public Library and Reading Room, which are under the control of the Council. The next floor is taken up with the Council Chamber, a small Museum, and the offices of the Electrical Engineer and the Borough Inspector.


The abattoirs are at Fitzroy, two miles from New Plymouth, and the site contains seventy-six acres of land. The building, which is constructed chiefly of concrete, was completed in May, 1904, and ranks amongst the most up-to-date of its kind in the colony. Including the purchase of the land, it cost £7000.


Of the parks and recreation grounds of New Plymouth, the Botanical Gardens are most notable, and are specially described in another article. The Western Park, however, is directly under the control of the Council; it consists of eighteen acres, all fenced, and has been so improved as to be in every way fitted for football, cricket, cycling, and other athletic sports. The site was obtained by the borough in 1903, by an exchange of land with the School Commissioners. The Western Park consists of a natural amphitheatre, from the slopes of which thousands of spectators can witness the sports on the pretty grounds below. The borough also has forty-one acres of land, which are under lease to the local Jockey Club, for a racecourse.


Under a Provincial Ordinance of the 28th of October, 1861, twenty-four acres of land were set apart for the purposes of a cemetery, which is now under the control of the Borough Council. There is a small mortuary chapel, and the grounds are prettily laid out in walks and flower borders. On the hill adjoining, and overlooking the flatter portion of the cemetery, there is a monument to the memory of the Rev. John Whiteley, who was murdered at White Cliffs by the Maoris in 1869; and also one commemorating the Gascoigne family, and other victims who lost their lives at Pukearuhe.

A third monument was erected by the 57th Regiment to the memory of comrades killed in the New Zealand campaign.

Members Of The Council.

East Ward—Messrs W. N. Ewing, L. M. Monteath, and F. E. Wilson; West Ward, Messrs G. W. Browne, J. page 51 F. Stohr, and P. Webster; Central Ward—Messrs D. Hutchen, F. W. Brooking, and W. A. Collis. Mr. E. Dockrill is Mayor, and was returned at the election of April, 1896.


Mr. E. Harvey-Gibbon, M.I.C.E., is Borough Engineer; Mr. A. H. Kendall, Inspector; Mr. H. Black, Electrical Engineer; Mr. F. J. Reakes, Inspector of Meat and Manager of the Abattoirs; and Mr. F. T. Bellringer is Town Clerk, Treasurer, and Borough Solicitor.

Mr. Edward Dockrill was elected Mayor of New Plymouth in April, 1906. He had previously been Mayor continuously for five years and a half,
Mr. E. Dockrill, Mayor of New Plymouth.

Mr. E. Dockrill, Mayor of New Plymouth.

from 1897, until May, 1903; and he has also held office for many years as a councillor. Mr. Dockrill was born in County Wexford, Ireland, and arrived in New Zealand by the ship “Ballarat,” in the year 1866, landing in Auckland. For fourteen years he was on the West Coast and Thames goldfields, where he followed mining with varied success until 1880, when he removed to New Plymouth, and took charge of Messrs Garrett Bros.' business, which he subsequently bought and still carries on. He has always been ready to assist in any public movement for the advancement and welfare of Taranaki. Mr. Dockrill has represented the borough for several years on the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and he has been a member, and also chairman, of the school committee, and a member of the Board of Governors of the New Plymouth High School. In the year 1882, Mr. Dockrill married a daughter of Mr. W. H. Bosworth, and has two sons.

Councillor William Andrews Collis was born in Fiji, South Sea Islands, in 1853, but arrived in Auckland at an early age, and was educated at Wesley College. The family settled in New Plymouth in 1872, and the subject of this sketch was brought up as a photographer with Mr. Hartley Webster. After some time he became manager of Messrs Williamson and Company's business, and commenced on his own account, in Brougham Street, in the year 1875. Mr. Collis was elected to the Borough Council, in 1889, for West Ward, but he has latterly represented Central Ward. He is a representative of the Council on the Board which controls the Recreation Grounds, and is the New Plymouth member of the Egmont National Park Board. Mr. Collis is chairman of the North Egmont Committee, in connection with the Park, and is secretary and treasurer of the local Scenery Preservation Society, the parent society of its kind in New Zealand. He has also been for several years chairman of the New Plymouth school committee. As a Forester, Mr. Collis is a trusted of Court Waireka, Ancient Order of Foresters; and he acts as trustee and secretary of three trusts in connection with the Wesleyan Methodist Church in New Plymouth. He was married, in 1877, to a daughter of the late Mr. W. R. King, of New Plymouth, and has two sons and four daughters. Mr. Collis is further referred to in connection with his business as a photographer.

Councillor William Francis Brooking has been a member of the New Plymouth Borough Council since the year 1896. He was born on the 11th of June, 1844, in London, England, and was educated partly in Melbourne, Australia, and partly in New Zealand. He came to New Zealand in February, 1855, and settled in Taranaki, where he learned the trade of a carpenter and builder, and was afterwards manager for Mr. George until the beginning of the year 1888, when he acquired the business on his own account. During the Maori troubles of 1861–62 Mr. Brooking served with the No. 1 Militia, and with bush parties, and was a member of the Taranaki Rifle Volunteers until the Parihaka scare in 1881. He served as colour-sergeant for many years, and rose to the rank of sub-lieutenant. Mr. Brooking is a director of the New Plymouth Sash and Door Factory, the New Plymouth Investment and Loan Society, and is chairman of the St. Mary's Anglican Church Trust Board; as a Freemason, he is a member of Lodge. De Burgh Adams, 446, Irish Constitution, in connection with which he has passed all the chairs. Mr. Brooking married a daughter of the
Collis, photo.Councillor W. F. Brooking.

Collis, photo.
Councillor W. F. Brooking.

late Mr. F. L. Brooking, of New Plymouth, in 1879. He is further referred to as a builder and undertaker in Brougham and Powderham Strnets, New Plymouth.
page 52

Councillor James Frederick Stohr, who has been a member of the New Plymouth Borough Council since the year 1900, was born at Sandhurst, Bendigo, Victoria, in 1860. In 1868, he came to New Zealand with his parents, who settled in Dunedin, where he was educated, and learned the watchmaking and jewellery business. Mr. Stohr afterwards removed to New Plymouth, and in 1883 established himself in business in Devon Street. Ten years later he sold out, and went to Melbourne, Victoria, where he remained for fifteen months. He then returned to New Zealand, settled in New Plymouth, and for a number of years carried on business as a tobacconist; but retired from business in the year 1903. He is a member of the New Plymouth Jockey Club, cricket club, and football club. Mr. Stohr married a daughter of Mr. Edward Okey, of New Plymouth, in 1886, and has four sons and one daughter.

Collis, photo..Councillor J. F. Stohr.

Collis, photo..
Councillor J. F. Stohr.

Councillor George William Browne has been a member of the New Plymouth Borough Council since the year 1902. He was born in Hastings, Sussex, England, in 1851, and was carried, as an infant, to the great Exhibition of London. Mr. Browne
Collis photo.Councillor G. W. Browne.

Collis photo.
Councillor G. W. Browne.

was educated at St. Martins-in-the-Fields, London, and was for eleven years of his early life in France. In 1868, he came to New Zealand, and landed in Wellington, where he served as a volunteer under Colonel Reader, rose to the rank of sergeant, and had charge of a magazine at the Lower Hutt under Captain Braithwaite. Four years later he was employed by the Messrs Brogden, and, as bridge foreman erected various bridges between New Plymouth and Waitara. He also erected the Waitara wharf. Mr. Browne subsequently established himself in business as a builder and contractor, and has erected many buildings between Auckland and Wellington, including the New Plymouth Convent, Mr. Ward's drapery shop, the Fitzroy Bacon Factory, Abbott's Building, Devon Street, and the New Plymouth Jockey Club's Grand Stand. Mr. Browne was for eighteen years a member of the local Horticultural Society, and has been associated with many movements in the district. In the Queen's Jubilee year (1887) he took an active part in promoting the erection of a drinking fountain in the Recreation Grounds, and was a member of the original committee that laid out the athletic part of the same grounds, an undertaking involving the reclamation of a swamp. In 1905–6 he was chairman of the Western Park committee, which successfully laid out the park. Mr. Browne served as chairman of the Carrington Road branch of the Farmers' Union, and is (1906) a member of the Provincial Executive. He married a daughter of the late Mr. James Butterworth, of New Plymouth, in 1892, and has one son and three daughters.

Councillor Frank Edwin Wilson has been a member of the New Plymouth Borough Council since the year 1904. He was born in Dunedin in the year 1868, was educated at the Dunedin Boys' High School, and afterwards studied law under Mr. Justice Edwards, in Wellington. He was then for some time in the office of Messrs Chapman and Tripp. In March, 1893, he removed to Taranaki, was for eighteen months at Stratford, and for five years acted as managing clerk to Mr. T. S. Weston, in New Plymouth. Mr. Wilson was admitted to the bar by Mr. Justice Williams in July, 1899. In January, 1903, he became a partner in the firm of Roy and Wilson. As a Freemason, Mr. Wilson is a member and Past Master of Lodge Ngamotu, 48, New Zealand Constitution. He was at one time a football player, and was secretary of the New Plymouth Lawn Tennis Club. In October, 1905, he married a daughter of the late Mr. J. Bell Thomson.

Councillor William Neilson Ewing was elected to the New Plymouth Borough Council for East Ward in 1905. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was educated and brought up to commercial life in his native city. In 1882 he arrived in Auckland, and twenty years later removed to New Plymouth. He holds the position of accountant to the firm of Smart Brothers. In 1893 Mr. Ewing married a daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Smart, and has two sons and one daughter.

Councillor David Hutchen, who has represented Central Ward in the New Plymouth Borough Council since 1905, was born in Invercargill in the year 1865, and was educated at Wellington College. He is a son of Mr. James Hutchen, of the well known firm of Messrs Stuart and Co., Wellington. He served articles with
Collis photo.Councillor D. Hutchen.

Collis photo.
Councillor D. Hutchen.

Mr. Edwards, now (1906) Mr. Justice Edwards, and was admitted to the bar in 1886. Shortly afterwards he began the practice of his profession at Pahiatua, whence, at the end of two years, he returned to Wellington. In 1894, he removed to New Plymouth, and has since then practised his profession in that town. Mr. Hutchen was married, in 1901, to a daughter of Mr. O. E. Hoby, of Waitara West, farmer, and has one son and one daughter.

Councillor Lawrence McLacrin Monteath, who has represented East Ward in the New Plymouth Borough Council since 1905, was born in 1868 in India. He was educated in England, brought up to mercantile life, and came out to Wellington in 1889. For ten years he engaged in farming in the Okaiawa district. After a trip to the old country, in 1900, he commenced business as a grain and produce merchant in New Plymouth. In 1892, Mr. Monteath married a daughter of the late Mr. H. C. Raikes, of Nelson, and has three daughters and one son.

page 53

Mr. Felix Templeman Bellringer, Town Clerk and Treasurer of the Borough of New Plymouth, has been in office since July, 1901, and he was also appointed Borough Solicitor in the year 1906. He was born in the borough in March, 1877, studied for the law, and was admitted a solicitor in March, 1900. He practised for a year as a member of the firm of Richmond and Bellringer, before his appointment as Town Clerk. Mr. Bellringer has taken an active interest in outdoor sports. He occupied the position of chairman of the Taranaki Rugby Union for three years, and is also president of the Taranaki Reforces Association. As a volunteer, he is at present a lieutenant of the Taranaki Rilles. Mr. Bellringer was married, in 1901, to a daughter of Mr. J. Abbot, of New Plymouth, and has one daughter.

Mr. E. Harvey-Gibbon, Assoc. M.I.C.E., London, was appointed Engineer to the Borough of New Plymouth in March, 1901. He was born at Portsmouth, England, was educated at St. Aubyn's Grammar School, Jersey, and subsequently by private tutors. He passed the preliminary scientific examination at Lincoln's Inn, London, and entered St. George's Hospital, as a medical student. After remaining in the institution for a period of three years, and finding the studies uncongenial, he left it to follow his natural inclination—engineering, and served his articles under his uncle, Mr. Valentine Hale, as a civil engineer. Mr. Gibbon then went to Australia, travelling, and gained experience in Queensland and New South Wales. He subsequently came to New Zealand, was engaged as assistant county engineer at Waimate, Canterbury, and afterwards was engineer to the borough of Waimate, in the same county. On resigning this, he travelled over nearly the whole of New Zealand, practising his profession in many centres, and finally returned to Brisbane, where he was for many years assistant city engineer, and gained extensive experience in all sorts of municipal work. He resigned this position to take up his present office.
Mr. Alfred Henry Kendall, Sanitary Engineer for the Borough of New Plymouth, was born in December, 1867, at Rawdon, near Leeds, England,
Collis photo.Mr. A. H. Kendall.

Collis photo.
Mr. A. H. Kendall.

where he was educated. His father was a builder and contractor, near Leeds, Yorkshire. Mr. Kendall assisted his father till the year 1895, when he was appointed assistant district surveyor for Rawdon. Eighteen months later, he became assistant overseer and rate collector at Heysham, Laneashire, and for several years subsequently had experience on large water and drainage works. For some time afterwards, Mr. Kendall was contracting on his own account in Lancashire, and came to New Zealand by the s.s. “Whakatane” in 1901. He then joined the Public Health Department in Wellington, and for the first year travelled in the Wellington and Taranaki districts. He was afterwards stationed at Wanganui, and later at New Plymouth. In December, 1904, Mr. Kendall was appointed to his present position under the New Plymouth Borough Council. Dr. Valintine, of the Health Department, in his report for 1905, commented on Mr. Kendall's capabilities, and expressed regret at his resignation. He is an associate of the Royal Sanitary Institute of Great Britain, and holds a testimonial from the Borough Council of Stratford in respect to his services as Health Inspector. Mr. Kendall married a daughter of the late Mr. John Kendall, of Rawdon, in 1897, and has two sons.
Mr. Vincent West Ardern was appointed Foreman of the New Plymouth Borough Council's stone crushing and street rolling plant in the year 1903. He was born in Manchester, England, in 1866, and came with his parents to New Zealand in 1869. Mr. Ardern was educated at Inglewood, and for some time afterwards served time as a mechanical enengineer, with an uncle, Mr. W. T. West, in the erection of dairy factories in the Taranaki district. Later, he was employed in sawmilling, and subsequently
Collis photo.Mr. V. W. Ardern

Collis photo.
Mr. V. W. Ardern

took charge of the Stratford County Council's stone crushing plant, for seven years, before receiving his present appointment. Mr. Ardern holds a first-class competency certificate as a driver of locomotive and traction engines, and has a dairy farm of 100 acres in the Inglewood district. He is married, and has six children.
page 54

Civic Institutions.

The New Plymouth Volunteer Fire Brigade was established in 1883. The principal station is in Powderham Street, and there are branch stations in Devon Street—east and west. The brigade has thirty members, and there are five auxiliary members resident on the central station. Officers for 1906: Mr. Fred Bellringer, superintendent; Mr. A. Boon, sub-superintendent; Mr. T. R. Ford, secretary. Mr. Bellringer has been superintendent since the year 1896, and is at the present time (1906) President of the United Fire Brigades' Association of New Zealand.