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Learn Ako

Fun learning experiences for school visits, classroom sessions, heritage walks and for families at home.

Cambridge 1900 – 1909

Dairy Industry
Around Cambridge the large estates of Fen Court, Karapiro and Whitehall had been taken over by the Government and cut up into smaller farms.  Now instead of one landowner Fencourt district had 37 new settlers, Karapiro 15 and Whitehall 8. In 1904 Ratanui Estate was also cut into 12 smaller farms.

The dairy industry was taking off and the Cambridge Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd began in 1901. It took over the factory of Hally and Watt at Hautapu and soon each district had their own creamery.

The Leamington factory was built in 1902 for £151. Fencourt was built by the settlers with material supplied by the Dairy Co-op. In 1903, Roto-o-Rangi district had a skimming station built by Potts and Hardy for £177.  In 1908 a new brick factory was built at Hautapu by Fred Potts for £1890 8/-, and the old building was removed. Further creameries were built in 1910 at Monavale, 1911 at Pukeroro and 1912 in Victoria Road.  About this time the adoption of the home separator made further expansion unnecessary.

When the Dairy Company started there was one milking machine in the district. It was a Laurence Kennedy machine, installed in 1901 on the Pukerimu farm of W N Sturges.

A good hand milker did around eight cows an hour and many did 28-30 cows each milking. It would not be unusual to spend five hours a day in the milking shed. By 1907 machines were coming into general use.

More substantial houses were being built.

Along the Queen Anne style was ‘Valmai’ in Victoria Road built in 1901 for James Hally and family, ‘Orongo’ in Thornton Road for Mr and Mrs William Earl in 1902 and in 1904, ‘Tregarthen’ in Williams Street for Mr and Mrs E J Wilkinson.

On 15 January 1907, the tender let by M E Gardner of Queen Street for a 10 room residence was given to F Marcroft for £576.

Victorian villas, with their distinctive high front gable, were replacing the square four roomed houses and two roomed cottages, and many of these still grace Cambridge today. George Simpson built in Alpha Street in 1908, Brainerd Moore built in Victoria Street in 1905 as did James Bryce in 1911.

In Thornton Road is a double-gabled Victorian bay villa with coloured glass fan lights and very tall chimneys. It was built by Cambridge builder Fred Potts as his family home, in 1910.

In 1900 golf enthusiasts were allowed to play on John Arnold’s property on the west side of Hamilton Road just past the town boundary. Nine holes were created and the game commenced.

The club was constituted in 1902 and H J Skeet, credited with most of the original promotion, was made the first life member on 12 April 1906.  Subscriptions at the time were fixed at five shillings a year for both ladies and gentlemen and an overdraft not to exceed £50 was arranged with the Bank of New South Wales, on several guarantees, so that the original shed could be enlarged to a club house.

In April 1908 membership was declared at 21 men and 25 ladies and handicaps, indicating conditions and abilities, ranged from scratch to 50. The invitation from the Hamilton Club, to play a match on Wednesday 9 September 1908, was the first official interclub game.

Te Waikato Sanatorium
In September 1902 part of the Thornton’s property at Maungakawa was bought by the Government to become Te Waikato Sanatorium. This was the first institution in New Zealand for the open air treatment of tuberculosis.

“It is difficult to imagine more magnificent scenery,” said Dr Malcolm Mason MD, Chief Health Officer, when reporting the results of his investigation to the Health Department. So pressing were the demands of the applicants that the first patients were admitted in December 1902 (twelve months before the hospital was officially opened) and were forced to be housed in tents pending the erection of wooden shelters.

Matron Miss Rochford’s experience and foresight had been invaluable. In addition to the ordinary work of nursing and housekeeping, she organised the internal economy, furnishing, bookkeeping, correspondence and supervising of the garden and farming operations. She also introduced handcrafts to her patients – now occupational therapy. Later a house steward was appointed to carry out the day-to-day running, and Mr Clifton saw to the dairying side of operations. Patients who were fit to work helped to build a workshop for themselves from which they turned out many useful articles. Bee hives and nest boxes were made from kerosene cases as well as general maintenance to furniture.

Christmas 1904, “It was found that Saint Clause had not found the road too bad to climb up, strange toys and various things found their way into the different shelters. Head office had procured a bagatelle table, two air-guns, and the long wanted croquet balls”.

Cambridge Borough Council

The Water Tower
George Russell Fellow was the bricklayer from Hamilton who built the water tower in 1903. Robert Morse and his son William, with horse ‘Darkie’, helped pulley the bricks to the top of the tower during construction. It cost £1,077. A pump was installed at the south end of Queen Street (by the Gas Works) and water from Moon Creek was pumped to the tank for the town water supply.

Fire Brigade
From the booklet put out in 1964 by H G Carter for the Centenary of Cambridge we read, “In March 1903 a committee, formed to go into the question of forming a Fire Brigade, recommended to Council that steps be taken to organise a volunteer brigade, erect a station to accommodate two firemen and plant, and procure a reel and 800 feet of hose with hydrants.

“In May 1904 a special meeting was called and it was decided to go ahead with the formation of a brigade. A canvass was made for funds, the Council granting £120. The building was erected by voluntary labour, a hose reel was made by John Ferguson (the local blacksmith) and other plant procured. The Brigade was officially opened by the Mayor Thos Wells on 14 August 1904 and their first call was on 18 August to a chimney fire at the Masonic Hotel.”

Gas Works
The honour of charging the first retort at the Cambridge Municipal Gas Works on 22 April 1907 was given to the Mayor, W F Buckland. When he had put the first shovel of coal into the retort he took the opportunity of making a few remarks appropriate to the occasion. He commended the engineer George Smithies and concluded his speech by expressing the hope that – “the lighting of Cambridge would also tend to the enlightenment of the whole town.” (Applause).

On 2 May 1907 the Waikato Independent recorded – “At 7.30 o’clock last evening, at the Fête in Victoria Square, his worship the Mayor (W F Buckland) performed the ceremony of officially declaring the gas works open. His worship said they had now got the gas and he believed it was going to be a first-class thing for Cambridge (Applause). The plant was one of the finest in the colony, and they were enabled to supply the gas to consumers without any adulteration of any sort. (Applause).

“Mr Buckland went on to urge his hearers to avail themselves of modern advantages rather than stick to antiquated methods in the hope of saving a few shillings. In the course of some humorous remarks the Mayor advised the ladies to see that the gas was installed in their residences.

“He stepped from the platform and advanced towards the pole in the centre of the tent, from which hung two double burner arc lamps and turned on the gas. (Applause).”

Victoria Bridge
The Waikato Independent newspaper on 21 December 1907 recorded the opening ceremony as follows. “The town was gay with bunting, and streamers were hung across Victoria and Duke Streets, and flags were flying from the clock tower of the new Post Office building, Fire Brigade station, the flag-staff in Jubilee Gardens, and from a number of business places. During the morning a large number of country people flocked into Cambridge, and the town presented a very lively appearance. His Excellency the Governor, Lord Plunket arrived by special train from Auckland at 1pm. The D Mounted Squadron escorted the Governor’s carriage from the station along Queen Street, Victoria Street, Duke Street and over the two bridges to the west side. During the procession there was a light drizzle but not enough to dampen proceedings. A large crowd had assembled at both ends of the new bridge and gaily coloured streamers at either end of the structure waved in the breeze.

“In the course of his speech Lord Plunket paid flattering tribute to the designer of the bridge and congratulated the local bodies and all concerned in its erection, saying the structure was a beautiful ornament. He also said, ‘The Victoria Bridge was not only a means of communication for the present settlers, but also for their children’s children’.”

The Governor cut the ribbon held at either end by Mrs Elizabeth Buckland (the Cambridge Mayor’s wife) and Mrs Marion Fisher (wife of Robert Fisher, chairman of the Pukekura Road Board).

Band Rotunda
On 1 February 1908 it is reported that – “For some time past the Domain Board have been actuated by a laudable desire to provide a suitable pavilion, where the Town Band would have better facilities for the rendering of their selections. They are therefore to be complimented that during the past year this object has been attained, by the erection of an elevated pavilion of substantial construction and ornamental design. In the early part of the year designs were submitted from a firm of Glasgow iron founders, one of which was chosen and ordered forthwith.”

Town Hall
Controversy reigned when the tenders for the Town Hall were all over budget. Chappell & Woolley were the lowest tender of £5194. The budget was £5000. The mayor, W F Buckland, moved to go ahead but was defeated five votes to four. It is reported that – “After the vote had been taken, a sensation was caused by the mayor, who spoke with considerable warmth, stating that the council could get someone else for mayor”. He wrote out his resignation and left the meeting but returned the next day with the support he needed.

The mayor had applied to the philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, for a grant of £1000 for a new library. (Carnegie did not give to charity but believed libraries would help people better their own situations). George Dickinson the chairman, and the library committee rather resented the matter being taken out of their hands and promptly wrote to Mr Carnegie.

They explained that as they had £76 13/7d in the Post Office as a nucleus for a building fund, there was no need to ask for his help, “and to do so comes with a very bad grace from the Cambridge Borough Council, which has never contributed a penny to the Library funds”.

Frank Brooks, the Town Clerk, in answering these points advised Mr Carnegie that the population of Cambridge was 1,244, and a further 1,500 in adjacent districts. The premises occupied by the library and the land on which it stood, were the property of the Council and the library committee had had free use thereof.

The small building fund was inadequate and it would take decades to raise the necessary funds for building and the Library Committee was failing to grow with the times. Mr Brooks explained the scheme for a new town hall and library, which had been authorised by the ratepayers, but had been vigorously and bitterly opposed by a dormant and unprogressive section of the community, including the present library committee. It was therefore necessary for the Council to act independently in order to advance with the times and growth of public sentiment.

Andrew Carnegie granted £1,000 towards the library with the conditions that the Reading Room was absolutely free and that persons over 14 years should have the privilege of taking out one book free. The cases of curios were moved to the new library and all the books fumigated by the Department of Health. (By-laws were in place that no books could be loaned to persons with contagious diseases).

The hall and library were designed by architect A B Herrold and built by Chappell & Woolley, with the foundation stone laid 21 April 1909 and the opening ceremony held on 14 December 1909.

Police Cells
The Waikato Independent reports on 8 April 1905 – “The Cambridge Police Station has been furnished with a brand new lock-up. The two cells measure 12′ x 14′, so it will be seen that if the people of this district continue to maintain their reputation for being the most law abiding citizens to be found anywhere, the accommodation is not likely to prove at all inadequate for a long time yet. Of course one does not expect to find every comfort in such an institution, but still the conveniences and requirements of the individuals who may have the misfortune to be incarcerated have not been entirely ignored. The cells are well lighted and ventilated.”

The Cambridge Club was established in 1906 and the tender from Fred Potts of £664 was accepted for the building of the Clubrooms in 1907. At the opening the Waikato Independent reports on 17 October 1907 – “The Cambridge Club should supply a long-felt want, and prove not only a boon to the members living in the town, but also to country residents and visitors to the place, who are often at a loss where to spend a pleasant and quiet hour in a way such as the several facilities of the institution will afford.”

11 August 1906 – ” Motor cars are becoming almost as numerable as stray cows. Messrs Souter and A Wilkinson are the latest to import one of these modern pace eaters.”

In a talk to the Cambridge Historical Society in September 1969, Neville Souter related that – “Cambridge’s first car was a White Steam car and was owned by James Sinclair, proprietor of the Masonic Hotel. Steam was generated by a kerosene lamp, an operation taking something over an hour before there was enough stream pressure to move off. It had the conventional tiller steering of the day, the body something akin to the double buggy and wheels not much heavier than bicycle wheels.”

Mr Souter used to watch from a distance while it got up steam, as there were dire predictions among the prophets of gloom that one day it would blow up.

“This car was followed closely by a Vauxhall and a French Vinot owned respectively by Hugh Ferguson and Fred Bunyard. These two cars were very similar in construction being small two seaters of 5 h.p. two speeds forward but no reverse, tiller steering and chain drive.

“In the same year my father (Edwin Souter) in partnership with Arnold Wilkinson imported a 5 hp Starling. This was very up-to-date in that it had a steering wheel, three speeds and reverse”. The Cadillac was their next buy and they resold this to W F Buckland – and from then on Souter & Co were in the motor industry.

“They became the local agents for Ford cars and by 1909 it is reported that Cambridge was the most up-to-date town in the car line in the Waikato with over 16 cars in the district.”

In 1907 the Salvation Army opened a new hall in Duke Street.

The old building had been built in 1873 for the Duke of Cambridge Lodge and was sold to A E Harris, a grocer, who hauled it away with a traction engine and used it as a storeroom.

At the opening of the hall the Waikato Independent reported – “At 3 p.m., the time appointed for the ceremony, a fairly large number of members and sympathisers, assembled in front of the building. There were also present a number of visiting officers and local ministers. Adjutant Thurkettle, the District officer, then made a few introductory remarks, and called upon the mayor, W F Buckland, to turn the key and open the door of the hall. This having been done those present stepped inside and took their seats.

“The mayor expressed the great pleasure it gave him to preside at the ceremony. He said it showed what a small section of the community could do when their heart was in their work. The new hall showed that the local branch of the Army was advancing with the progress of the district and he hoped the Army would prosper in their work and grow stronger and stronger. (Applause).”

The Loyal Duke of Cambridge Lodge began in Cambridge in May 1867 in the Duke of Cambridge Hotel. They built a hall in 1873 and in 1878 were using the old Baptist Tabernacle. (This had been moved from Thornton Road to Victoria Street where the Prince Albert pub is now situated). In 1908 a new hall was built in Empire Street (now occupied by Empire Rose). It was built of matai and totara by William White and soon became the meeting place and social centre for many Cambridge people.

Post Office
When Mr H J Jeffries became Post Master in 1900 he had a staff of four. By February 1908 when the new Post Office was opened, with many new country mail services and a telephone exchange of over 50 subscribers, his staff had risen to nine. The new Post Office was built by W G Care for £2,964 and opened by Sir Joseph Ward.

The clock tower on the Post Office was requested by the Borough Council and Chamber of Commerce to which the Government contributed £300. The Borough Council gave £100 and £245 was collected by subscriptions and a fête. (The clock tower was later dismantled as a precaution after the big Napier earthquake of 1931.)

The Cambridge Post Office has always been one of the town’s more prestigious buildings, but in 1936 its ornamentation became unique.

In February 1908 when the building was opened the royal cipher over the doorway read “ER VII 1908″. When the building was added to in 1936, King Edward VIII was on the throne and his royal cipher is over the second doorway. He abdicated on 11 December 1936 to marry Mrs Wallace Simpson and the possibility of another building with similar ciphers would be rare.

Fred Potts built the Cambridge courthouse which was opened on 9 September 1909 by the Hon. Dr Findlay, Attorney General, Minister for Justice. The Independent reports, “The Minister motored over from Hamilton and was accompanied by Mrs Findlay, and his private secretary Mr E N G Poulton.

“The party assembled in the main courtroom where the speechifying took place. Dr Findlay expressed his pleasure at again being able to visit this picturesque town. Cambridge was widely known as a pretty place, and he hoped that its beauty and prosperity would always go together. (Applause).

“He stated that the first court sitting was held here in 1867, in a hotel. In turn the sittings were held in the Town Board building, then in Mr Macky’s (the government agent) office, and afterwards in the Armed Constabulary building, where the sittings had been held up to the present.

“During the first year, 1867, there were only 59 civil and 50 criminal cases, whilst for last year the figures were 92 and 59 respectively. These figures showed that the people did not go in a great deal for litigation, and Dr Findlay humorously remarked: ‘If you can’t double the number of cases in 40 years, it is not a place where I would like to settle as a lawyer’. (Laughter).”

Cambridge West – Leamington
When Cambridge West became a Town District in March 1908 the name Leamington was adopted. James Keeley (a driving force in public affairs) had come from Leamington Spa in England and put forward the suggestion.

William Tucker wrote to the Editor of the Waikato Independent and asked “… whether it was done by the will of the people or by a clique of a few of the inhabitants.” He would much prefer a Maori name being given and thought ‘Karangi’ (true love) would be more appropriate. Another reader stated the original name was ‘Karangi Puke’ meaning ‘the restless hill’. Another reader thought ‘Keeleyville’ might be appropriate. ‘Briton’ sought the meaning of ‘Karangi’ from the Native Department and received the interpretation of ‘giddy, foolish, weakness, staggering, unreliable’. ‘Pakeha’ suggests ‘Pukekarangi’ with the meaning of ‘restless hill’ to be correct.

A petition was mounted and in June a public meeting was called. It turned out that the name was not the issue but the way in which it had been selected that really upset the residents.

Leamington Band Rotunda
It was a gala day and Leamington was en Fête in May 1910 “… on the occasion of the opening of the new pavilion recently erected to the order of the Town Domain Board by Mr W Hogan. The building, which is an exceedingly handsome structure, contains every convenience in the shape of dressing rooms, and tea room, with a band rotunda above, and was much admired by the numerous visitors, of whom there were between three and four hundred present. Prior to the opening ceremony the Cambridge Band played the first verse of the National Anthem.

“Arrangements had been made for Mr W H Herries MP, whose genial personality makes him particularly fitted for the conduct of such ceremonies, to open the pavilion. Mr Herries, upon rising, was greeted with loud applause. He congratulated the chairman and members of the Leamington Domain Board upon the splendid structure they had erected, and expressed the greatest confidence in the future of the district. In years to come he hoped to see Cambridge and Leamington combined in the form of a large city (laughter). They might laugh, but if they lived for a hundred years he thought the laugh would be on his side.”

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