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Cambridge in the 1970s
1970 saw the average weekly earnings rise to $45. Ten years before the average wage was $27.99c. Cambridge Borough Council introduced bi-monthly payments for rates. A farmlet of 9 acres with a three bedroom house was $18,000; a 4 bedroom home on ¼ acre section was $9,000; a 300 acre farm was going for $340 an acre.
In February 1970 the Cambridge Electric Power Board celebrated its 50th anniversary. Shops throughout the town staged special window displays and the Power Board staff put on a special display of pole erecting and also held an anniversary reunion social.
A commitment of 65 years between the Browns and the Waikato Hunt’s hounds ended in 1970. Ned Brown relinquished the pack to Ron Cropp.
Ned’s father Wynn Brown’s association with the hounds started in 1905. Before this a few hounds were given out to the farmers of the club and they cared for them between hunting seasons.
Wynn had married Louisa Victoria Walker and they went to live at ‘Ngaheke’ in the new settlement of Fencourt. Mrs Brown woke one morning to find that her husband was huntsman, master of the hunt and the whole pack of hounds had come to stay.
In the 1920’s and 30’s the hunt would walk to Tauranga and Rotorua through mud and slush up to their bellies along the tracks over the Kaimais and Mamakus. They would stay overnight – then walk home again. Later they went by rail. Ned Brown took over as Master in 1957 and helped to design the new kennels on Fencourt Road to where the hounds moved in 1970.
The Presbyterian Church variously known as the ‘Pink Church’ or Craft NZ, or Cambridge Country Store was built in 1898. It is very typical of the late Victorian era when N Z copied English gothic stone churches but in wood. It was built of kauri and rimu by J Lye & Sons from designs by architect Mr E Bartley for the total sum of £813 6/11. It was the first public building in the district to be illuminated by acetylene gas.
In February 1970 the Cambridge Methodist and Presbyterians met at Epworth Camp for their first combined annual service and picnic. Rev A E B Johnston led the first combined service in the Presbyterian Church in May.
The two churches united in 1975 after an arsonist burnt the Methodist church. Trinity St Pauls Union Church has been built in its place on the corner of Queen and Bryce Streets and the old presbyterian church sold.
In 1983 a Memorial Seat made from Hinuera stone, was erected to commemorate over 100 years of worship by the Trinity Presbyterian congregation.
As Craft NZ and now Cambridge Country Store the presbyterian church building is still bringing prestige to Cambridge as a tourist attraction and popular craft centre.
Ross Todd Motors led the way and installed the first computer in Cambridge for preparation of monthly accounts, paying creditors and wages in March 1971. United Tractors Ltd imported New Zealand’s first maize harvester.
Cambridge Borough Council moved into new Chambers in Queen Street in April making more room for the Library and Museum. The Historical Society moved their Museum from the Leamington Sub Station to the old Chambers a few months later.
The Cambridge Municipal Band was revived and in 1977 celebrated 100 years in Cambridge with the opening of the new $25,000 band room.
Disco fever started to spread.
Kathy Fraser represented New Zealand at table tennis at the Commonwealth Championships winning a medal in the women’s team event.
Trevor Discombe put Cambridge on the map with his success in motorcycle racing and Alan Wallace represented New Zealand in the World Ploughing championships. And the new Centennial Swimming Pools were opened in Williamson Street, November 1971.
A $600,000 sewerage scheme got under way with oxidation ponds constructed at Pukerimu. In 1973 the northern route for the Cambridge Bypass was decided upon and estimated to be another twenty years before the project would be carried out. The Seventh Day Adventists built their new church on the corner of Browning and Shakespeare Streets in 1973 and the bus depot moved from the railway station to Commerce Street. The railway continued its decline as the old station, built in 1884 when the line opened, was demolished.
In August 1973 a loyal local group of Corso workers disbanded. Reduced demand for clothing and increased freight costs forced Corso to end their overseas shipments and Mrs D Johnson, Mrs Helen Willis, Miss Hazel Forbes, Mrs Jean Hall, Mrs Gladys Robinson, Mrs H Watts and Mr Seymour Sharp packed the last Cambridge box after 26 years of service.
Rowers David Rodger and Peter Britton with cox Mark Powell won the Senior Coxed Pairs in March 1974 and in December the girls – Debbie Brown, Glenda Rodger, Sue Risi, Liz Hamblyn and C Irwin cox – were the first to take part in a competition for the Cambridge Rowing Club.
In 1975 the BNZ pulled down the imposing building on the corner of Duke and Victoria Streets and built a new building. The former bank – which was the third BNZ building in Cambridge – was built in 1916 by Fred Potts.
The Leamington Town Hall was bulldozed and scraped in 1976.
In 1978 the Bank of NSW pulled down their imposing building on the corner of Victoria and Alpha Streets and erected what is now Westpac.
With the demise of these buildings and the destruction of two large cedar trees the Cambridge Borough Council made a special effort to prepare new bylaws to protect trees and historic buildings. With the help of the Cambridge Historical Society lists were drawn up and NZ Historic Places Trust added many structures to their protection list.
The Cambridge Primary School succeeded in a strong effort to retain their historic building when the South Auckland Education Board thought that demolition would be better than remodelling.
Cambridge Lions and Matamata Rotary organised a stud tour in 1974 when 211 people participated. They saw Arragon and Silver Dream at Nelson Schick’s Windsor Park Stud; Philoctetes and Hermes at P & J Hogan’s Fencourt Stud; Great Wall and Tric Trac at J Atkins’ Middlepark Stud; 18 mares at F Bodle’s Whakanui Stud; Rocky Mountain, Showoff 11 and Gold Sovereign at J W Morris’ Rodmor Stud; Bucaroon, Head Hunter and Lumley Road at J K Cameron’s Grasslands Stud; Alvaro and First Grey at D C Fisher’s Morven Stud; horses in work and yearlings being prepared for sale at Miss J M Bull’s Chester Lodge; Ardistaan and Bismark at J W Campin’s Chequers Stud; and Alcimedes, Old Soldier and Patron Saint at L S & J S Otway’s Trelawney Stud.
In 1956 Thomas Hogan brought Blueskin 11 to the Fencourt Stud and John and Patrick took over the business from their father in 1964. Patrick and Justine Hogan established the Cambridge Stud in 1975 with Sir Tristram and Heir Presumptive and John and Jean Hogan went into fat stock grazing at Fencourt.
Mrs Moira Penman started as Cambridge’s first Public Relations officer in December 1974 working from the Museum in the old Council Chambers, Monday to Saturday mornings. The position was for four months but it was not until June 1978 that Mrs Penman retired from the job and Mrs Julie Redder took over the office in the new Library.
In 1975 St Andrews Anglican Church was about to start the first five pensioner units next to the church. Already three flats in St Andrews Court were housing elderly residents and money was being raised for this next stage.
The Cosmopolitan Club was established in 1975 and the DB Tavern was opened in Leamington in November 1976. Then the Riverside Motor Lodge opened its licensed restaurant.
In the late 1960’s plans were afoot to move the Library to new premises on the corner of Kirkwood and Lake Streets. It was envisaged that the administration offices would also extend to this area and plans were drawn to include the future additions of the Museum and Art Gallery and fire station – but to no avail.
After 10 years of discussion and controversy a new proposal won favour and the Library was built in 1977 on the old swimming baths site in Victoria Street – the same site as the ‘cottage’ library of the 1870’s.
The architect for the new library was R M Mercer, the builder Foster Construction Ltd and the cost $145,466. It was financed from the nett proceeds of the Buckland Place and Hall Street subdivisions.
Twenty years later there was no room to move. The staff and books had increased to keep pace with the trends and increasing population. The Library collection went onto computer and ‘The Net’ was installed. An Anti-Theft System was put in place and charges for books introduced.
13 acres on Carters Flat was developed by the Cambridge Borough Council as an industrial area. As land sales funds were not available for use to develop land for industry or commercial purposes the Council had to spread the project over seven years.
At this time the swampy area at the eastern end of Te Koutu Lake was filled in with earth from the hill on Carters Flat.
In 1979 we saw the Minister of Energy introduce car-less days because of an oil shortage. The Courthouse closed down and the property was bought by the Cambridge Borough Council. Gwynneth Common was nearly named Market Square!
Japanese students arrived in Cambridge for three weeks of intense culture shock, but left contented with a little bit of New Zealand under their belts.