$ FREE ADMISSION

OPENING HOURS: MON - FRI 10 - 4, SAT - SUN 10 - 2.

OPENING HOURS: MON - FRI 10 - 4, SAT - SUN 10 - 2.

$ FREE ADMISSION   24 Victoria St, Cambridge , NZ

Collections

Our Cambridge Collection has changing exhibitions about Cambridge, while much of our collection is in storage. This is to ensure its preservation for future generations.

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Independent Articles

From 1988 to 1995 Eris Parker researched and wrote many articles in the Cambridge Independent newspaper.

Leamington Town Board Meeting 1910

A Lively Time at Leamington At the meeting of the Leamington Town Board on 5 February 1910, the clerk read the guarantee that had been given to the Board by Messrs F Mack, J T…

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Hewitt & Hunt – Criterion Hotel

From the book “Memories of Travel and Sport” by H Bullock-Webster  “Amongst very keen sportsmen of the very early days I must mention Ned Hewitt, mine host of the hotel in Cambridge, who was devoted…

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World War One Cannon

What has happened to the cannon that was a World War One trophy and sat next to the clock in the Jubilee Gardens? It was buried on the corner of Victoria Square. It was seen…

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Undertaking

More out of convenience than design, it was common for a carpenter or joiner to double as undertaker, having a wagon and the ability to construct a coffin. In early Cambridge Stephen Lodder, a carpenter…

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Death of a Little Girl – Elizabeth Diver

Elizabeth Diver was aged 4 years and 9 months when she died through eating poisonous tupaki berries. She was buried on her father’s section behind what is now the Central Court. A resumé of the…

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John Ferguson – Coach Builder

John Ferguson and Family John Ferguson was born in Glasgow in 1846 and lost his father early in life. He learnt the trade of a carpenter and in 1864 came to New Zealand with his…

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Hally Family

The Hally family came to New Zealand with a true pioneering spirit from Auchterarder Scotland in 1862 on the ship ‘Hanover‘. George, James, Jessie and John settled in Cambridge when they were all aged in…

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Tennis

In 1885 the first season of tennis was played on a court next to the old Courthouse. As recorded in the Waikato Times 14 May 1885 – ‘At the commencement of the season there was…

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Archaeology

Throughout the Cambridge district there are approximately 80 archaeological sites. There are pa, borrow pits, redoubts, flour mills, a mission station and a battle site. The New Zealand Archaeological Association Inc have listed these sites…

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Arbor Day

A mention was made in 1905 that Arbor Day of late had been celebrated almost solely by Civil Servants and school children. It was claimed that the decline of Arbor Day was because the date…

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Armed Constabulary Act

1867 the Armed Constabulary Act was passed in New Zealand and the Waikato Militia disbanded. An Armed Constabulary Officer wore a peakless blue cloth cap with silver lace band 1¾” (45 mm) wide, a blue…

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Cambridge and Waikato Reed Band

“Minutes of a meeting held 16 May 1877 in the Orderly Room [of the Armed Constabulary redoubt] at Cambridge for the purpose of forming a band. Fourteen gentlemen were present. Proposed by Mr Brennan and…

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Bomb Shelter

A concrete ‘bunker’ halfway down the ‘Buckland Track‘ in the Cambridge Domain and a large depression in the ground behind the old railway station, are all that remain – other than the stories of the…

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Cambridge Bowling Club

The first game of bowls in Cambridge was probably played on Martin McDermott’s lawn in Queen Street in October 1898. In December 1899, the Domain Board gave the Club permission to play in the Domain…

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Brewery (Empire Street)

The brewery in Brewery (now Empire) Street provided a service to the district for many years producing vats of pure amber beer and cordial. In the 1940s it was suggested as an air raid shelter…

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Brider Paintings

Marianne Estelle BRIDER formerly THOMSON nee DAVIS Marianne Estelle was born in Bournemouth, England to James and Frances Anne Davis c1873 and came to New Zealand c1919. Marianne Estelle was the granddaughter of Rev Richard…

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Calverts Building

Samuel Howard was advertising his business ‘Cambridge House’ in Victoria Street, Cambridge in 1893. He advertised goods such as Men’s Colonial Tweed Suits for thirty shillings. Beaver Mole Trousers, 8s 9d. Fern Boots made specially…

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Bridges

Karapiro Creek Bridge The first Karapiro Creek Bridge, built by Mr Greville, was swept away in a flood in 1869. It was replaced in the same year by one built on a much higher level…

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Cambridge Businesses 1850s

Traders and missionaries were the first Europeans to venture into the Waikato in the 1850s. After Cambridge was established in July 1864 general stores were set up on both sides of the Waikato River to…

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Cambridge Club

In August 1906, a meeting of 20 gentlemen unanimously agreed that the forming of a social club should go ahead. This became the Cambridge Club with John Lundon as president, J A Hammond vice president,…

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Cambridge Domain Paths

On 15 June 1880 reserve lands in New Zealand were brought under the Public Domains Act 1860 and the first Cambridge Domain Board was appointed. The first meeting was held 3 July 1880 when Thos…

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Police: 1886 – 1930

The first European force policing the Cambridge area was the 3rd Regiment of the Waikato Militia under Colonel William Charles Lyon. On 10 October 1867 the Armed Constabulary Act was passed and the Waikato Militia…

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Camp Cambridge – How Cambridge began in 1864

On 13 July 1864 the site for the 3rd Waikato Militia, was chosen. ‘Camp Cambridge’ was named after the Duke of Cambridge, then Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. It was on both sides of…

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Cambridge Cemetery

The first burial recorded on a headstone in the Cambridge cemetery, at Hautapu, is Dugald Charles Edward S MacColl who died 6 August 1866 and his wooden memorial can be seen beside the front gate.…

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Chronicles of Cambridge

Chronicles of Cambridge (author ‘Chicot’ 1885) Chapter I Now in the year of Our Lady Victoria, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-five, there was a city in the uttermost parts of the earth, the ancient…

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Chrysanthemum Society

This Society was started in 1891 by Thomas Wells and Martin McDermott, J R S Richardson, Mrs Willis, and Jos Chambers. More keen members joined – W F Buckland, Miss Ewen, the Misses Sharkey, G…

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Coaching Days

William Kennedy Carter had his stables on the block of land now occupied by Briscoes, bordered by Lake, Kirkwood and Brewery (Empire) Streets and the National Hotel. He came from Halifax, Canada and started his…

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Depression Days in the 1930s

Imagine you are back in the 1930’s depression. Your family is struggling on a farm on Buckland Road. Many neighbours are just walking off their farms. Aunty Ethel in Australia leaves you some money in…

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First Cambridge Borough Council

The Cambridge Borough Council came fighting and yelling into the world at their first meeting on 7 September 1886 – twenty two years after Cambridge was founded. (The first local body was the Cambridge North Highway…

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Leamington School

The school was opened 12 October 1880 with 46 pupils and Mr H Hyatt teacher. He was remembered 50 years later by Tom Hicks as … a unique teacher who did his best to set…

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Leamington Cemetary Monument

The following is inscribed on a Monument at the Leamington Cemetery. Maori War This memorial marks the last resting place of eleven men of the Colonial Forces who died during the Maori War, and whose…

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Looking for a Death in NZ

In the Cambridge Cemetery there are already thousands of potted family histories, a garden and an art gallery of headstones and statues. But the unmarked gaps between the headstones are the most tantalizing. The 3rd…

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Maungakawa

Maori history tells of a chief, Koroki from whom has descended the Ngatihaua tribe which subsequently occupied the Maungakawa hills and fought under Te Waharoa. Following a defeat of the Ngatihaua by the Arawa Tribe,…

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Motoring in Cambridge

The first motor car in Cambridge arrived in 1905 and was owned by Mr James Sinclair of the Masonic Hotel. It was a White Steam Car, and took an hour to raise sufficient steam to…

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Mystery Creek

By Bernard Johnson © ‘Mystery Creek’ is clearly a place with an intriguing past, and fortunately a classic local history source gives us the background to the name. In ‘Plough of the Pakeha’ (1975) Eric…

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The National Hotel

The National Hotel has always been a Landmark in Cambridge. In 1866 in the infant town of Cambridge, the Alpha (now National) was erected for Mr Robert Kirkwood – his name is perpetuated in a…

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Old Cambridge

(By K L Wilkinson, From ‘The News and Theatre Courier’ 12 August 1936) ‘Cambridge, my birth-place, still my home-town. This Jubilee time [Cambridge Borough Council 50 years Jubilee] naturally sets free a flood of reminiscences…

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Plunket

As reported in the Waikato Independent on 28 September 1917, ‘A large number of ladies (and several babies) assembled in the Council Chambers for the purpose of forming a sub-branch of the Hamilton centre of…

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Post Masters

When the 3rd Waikato Militia arrived in 1864 the Cambridge Post Office was one of 89 new offices established in the colony. The first Post Master – John Henry Wilkinson – was born in Middlewick,…

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Police Station

On 11 April 1882 the Waikato Times reported :- “The Government is contemplating the erection of a suitable Police Station at Cambridge. As there is no place at present for the convenience of the local…

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Cambridge Primary School

The Ten Star Redoubt (behind the present Museum) was home for the first school in Cambridge. In January 1865 the militiamen were allotted farms from confiscated land around the Cambridge district. Wives and children arrived…

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Pukekura Dairy Factory

‘Times were hard in 1880s. Beef, mutton and dairy produce all alike were difficult to dispose of at anything like remunerative prices. But there came to farm near Hamilton a Mr [David] Gemmell from California…

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Cambridge Railway & Kissing Gates

The Cambridge branch of the railway starts near Ruakura, and it was here that the first sod was ceremoniously turned on 6 May 1882. Good progress was made on the section between Ruakura and Matangi.…

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Rail Journey 1884

Excerpt from The Waikato Times 9 October 1884 ‘The Cambridge railway passes through one of the most forward and prosperous settlements in the North Island. Though the land in the immediate vicinity of the line…

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River Travel

The Invasion of the Waikato 1864. Excerpt from ‘Such Things Were’ by C W Vennell (1939) “Tamehana’s stronghold at Te Tiki o te Ihingarangi [Pukekura] was definitely threatened, and his watchers renewed their vigilance. On…

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Returned Services Association

The New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association was formed in 1916. Cambridge returned soldiers rallied each Anzac Day and attempted to form an Association. In 1920 the Government declared 25th April in each year, the anniversary…

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St Andrews Anglican Church & Bells

In July 1881, a month before St Andrews Anglican Church in Cambridge was dedicated, Ed Hewitt, the proprietor of the local Criterion Hotel, offered to buy a 16 cwt bell if the Vestry could see…

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Sanitary Inspection

Sanitary Inspection of Cambridge Borough covering Victoria and Empire Streets – 13 June 1921. “The triangle comprises a little more than two acres and is built over with shops along the Victoria Street side with…

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South African War Veterans

6,495 men from New Zealand went to the South African War 1899-1902. There were 228 New Zealand deaths – 59 killed in action, 11 died of wounds, 25 from accidents and 133 from disease. 166…

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Te Waikato Sanatorium

In September 1902 part of the Thornton’s Maungakawa Hill property was sold to the government for the sum of £4000 and they established the first open air sanatorium for Tuberculosus sufferers in New Zealand. The…

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Thornton Family

Ten thousand acres of land were leased and bought in 1868 by Daniel Bateman . He was visiting with his brother-in-law Josiah Firth of Matamata and had travelled by river to Cambridge. They continued on…

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Town Hall

Originally the area occupied by the present Town Hall was the sale yards – the centre of activity for Cambridge. A controversy arose when it was decided to move the yards out near the race…

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Waikato Farmers Club

The Waikato Farmers’ Club was formed 20 October 1875, to advance the development of agriculture and pastoral lands; for essays on agricultural subjects and discussions. It was a common meeting ground for ideas on farming…

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Waikato River Bridge

(From ‘The News and Theatre Courier’ 12 August 1936) ‘As told by Mr John Scott Fisher, the last man to cross over the old bridge built on the rocks was Jack Fitzgerald. He had come…

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The Game Farm

In July 1916 the Cambridge Domain Board informed the Acclimatisation Society that they were prepared to let them have what land they required on Carter’s Flat for a Game Farm, on a lease to suit.…

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Advertising

Anyone who has the opportunity to browse through old newspapers and magazines will know what fun it is to read the advertisements. Delving into history reveals that outdoor signs were the first forms of advertising…

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Returned Service Women

At a meeting in Cambridge to form a branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Association in 1917, there were 4 women on the promotion committee. Women already working for various patriotic groups could be Honorary Members…

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1913 Watersiders’ Strike

The Watersider’s Strike was the main topic of conversation in Cambridge towards the end of 1913. By the end of October, 13,000 Wellington watersiders were out on strike and it was spreading. The farmers’ interests…

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