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


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Feilding is on the Wellington-Wanganui-New Plymouth line of railway, and is the centre of a large agricultural, dairying, and pastoral district. It is ninety-nine miles by rail from Wellington, twelve miles from Palmerston North, and is in the county of Oroua. The local railway station stands at an elevation of 235 feet above the level of the sea. At the census of 1906 the population of Feilding was 2,971, as against 2,298 at the census of 1901. The town is well laid out, has wide streets, and two fine squares: that in the centre, known as Manchester Square, has several enclosures planted with shrubs and flowers, and there is also a large band rotunda. The drainage of the borough is excellent; the system in operation is on the septic tank principle. The source of the water supply for the borough is at the Oroua river, and the water is brought in by gravitation to the reservoir, which has a capacity for 240,000 gallons. Twenty miles of mains have been laid, and the entire cost of construction was £27,264. The usual Government offices are represented in Fielding, The Post and Telegraph office—an imposing two-storeyed brick building, with clock tower—stands at the corner of Kimboiton Eoad and Manchester Square. The town is lighted by gas, which is supplied by the Feilding Gas Company, Limited, a private company. There are Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Primitive Methodist churches, and there are also two public schools. The industries of the town include timber-mills, sash and door factories, engineering and coach-building works, a brewery, and a flour-mill. Feilding has a daily evening newspaper, branches of the Banks of New Zealand, New South Wales, Australasia, and the Union, a free public library, a jockey club, and the usual athletic, social, and musical clubs and societies. Accommodation is provided in Feilding by several good hotels and private boarding-houses. As the market town of a thriving farming district Feilding is visited by large numbers of the surrounding settlers, more especially on market days, when sales are held. The Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association hold a two days' show in February, in the Jockey Club's grounds at South Street. The town is surrounded by a flourishing dairy and general farming district, and among the neighbouring centres of settlement are: Cheltenham, Kiwitea, Birmingham (or Fowlers), Pemberton, Rangiwahia, Apiti, Colyton, Makino, Beaconafield (also called (Cunningham's), Waituna West, Awahuri, and Sanson. The town is named after the Hon. Colonel Feilding, who visited the Australasian colonies as a representative of the Colonists' Land and Loan Corporation, Limited; and the Manchester Block and the chief square in the town are named after the Duke of Manchester. During Colonel Feilding's visit the Manchester Block was acquired at fifteen shillings per acre. This land was obtained under very stringent conditions, which were backed up by penalties. The Corporation entered into agreement to survey, subdivide, and lay out roads throughout the block, and contracted to send 2,000 immigrants and settle them on the land before the 1st of April, 1877. The General Government agreed to provide free passages for the company's immigrants, and to employ 200 men on railway construction works. The Provincial Government of Wellington agreed that an annual grant of £2,000, to be expended in road formation, should be made. The first settlers introduced by the Corporation landed from the ship “Duke of Edinburgh” in January, 1874, and before the end of April of that year 458 persons had arrived. These early settlers started work on the site of the township, and their first employment was to build houses. The colonising company placed the men, their wives, and families on the ground free of cost, and for some time afterwards
Railway Station, Feilding.

Railway Station, Feilding.

page 646 advanced to them the required tools, cooking utensils and food. The magnificent block of land was covered with dense bush when acquired, with the exception of 12,000 acres. It lies between the Rangitikei river and the Ruabine ranges, by the Manawatu Gorge. The terms granted to the settlers were of the most liberal character. No payment was required during the first three years of occupation, but it was stipulated that during that time improvements should be made to the extent of thirty shillings per acre. Advances were then made by the Association on the security of these improvements at the rate of six per cent, interest for three years, and seven per cent, for seven years, and from that time forward the progress of the town has been steady, and in recent years even rapid. The Corporation also made grants of land as endowments to four leading religious denominations, as well as to some of the public bodies.