Above: Foxton Mayor and Councillors 1935-37. They are (left to right):
Back - D.R. Barron, J.R. Middleton, H. Reid, E. Titcombe
Front - H.H. Podmore , D. Brooks, M.E. Perreau, T. Chaffey.
The major problems facing council were in regards to the roading and footpaths and in the operation of the gas works. An item in the Herald of 16th February 1938 recorded that four local residents were threatening to lodge a claim for damages because of the shocking state of Avenue Road and Union Street, one resident maintained that he was in danger of breaking the springs in his car when traversing Union Street. The council decided that some remedial action be taken and it was arranged that clay be procured from the county for spreading in the affected areas. A following spread of metal would assist in binding the surface. The gas works were reported to be in a state of collapse. A committee was formed to look closely at the situation. Wandering stock was a problem, Cr Barron averred that it appeared that cows could wander at will - his only advice was that residents should keep their gates shut. The Mayor commented that "we still have a ranger".
Ohakea aerodrome was under construction, the beach road was scheduled for sealing and good progress was being made on the construction of the trestle bridge at Whirokino, despite a shortage of steel. The price for the trestle bridge was approximately £50,000. This covered the construction costs which entailed 90 40ft spans set on deep driven concrete piles.
The half holiday question was exercising the minds of the Borough Council. A deputation of Wednesday supporters, Messrs Bauckham, Murray, Cull, Crotty, Dustin and Bryant waited on the council and put their view. It would appear that their powers of persuasion did not prevail as Saturday was chosen as the official half holiday for the town.
Easton Park was being relevelled, tenders were being called for the first State houses and the council was having its first look at the proposed local bodies amalgamation. This was being considered by the rabbit boards and already the council was not particularly enthusiastic over the winds of change that were evident. A grant of £2000 had been received for the purchase of material for the upgrading of the sewerage system and a promise of a 100% subsidy on labour costs made. Thirty men were at work under works scheme 13 and the decision was taken to use the unemployed on the new works created by the sewerage upgrading. The Minister visited Foxton at this time and promised full cooperation. "Tell me what you want done - decide on the necessary works and they will be done as the men become available" was the message he imparted.
Being the Borough Jubilee year of 1938 it is natural that the council gave high priority to some form of celebration and this is worthy of recording in greater detail.
Insert picture of page 46 (mayor and council of 1935 – 37)
JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS 1938
In October 19377 the Mayor, Mark Perreau, and his council decided that the jubilee of the Borough should be marked with special celebrations and it was left to the Mayor to call a public meeting to form a committee. This was not done until 23rd March 1938 when the meeting decided that the celebration programme should consist of a free picture show on 20th April, an old identities dinner on the following night, a children's sports day and grand parade on the Saturday and Divine Service on the Sunday. Coloured lights and bunting was to be displayed and all local organisations invited to honour the occasion. A proposal to form a centennial memorial playground had already been mooted and the employees of New Zealand Woolpack and Textiles had offered to contribute towards the cost. Their generous offer had gained the approval of council and it was decided that a £1 for £1 subsidy would be given and in addition to this application was made to the Government for a grant.
Co-operation in organising the celebrations was not long in coming. The R.S.A. offered to organise a concert and dance, a women's committee was formed to attend to the floral decorations and luncheon, the school staff volunteered to organise and conduct the sports day for the children, and the Maori community gave their wholehearted support in the whole project.
A later report in the Manawatu Herald records that the jubilee was fittingly celebrated despite the inclemency of the weather. The old identities banquet saw 114 of the pioneering settlers sitting down to a sumptuous spread. Naturally there was a quite lengthy toast list to work through although this was interspersed with items from several of Foxton's talented artistes of the day. The sports day was cancelled because of the weather but the greasy pig was released for the younger fry to attempt to catch. The grand parade saw the Mayor out and about in his original baker's cart and it is recorded that the parade was an excellent one with all local organisations entering into the spirit of the occasion. An innovation for those times was the grand pyrotechnics display. This was watched by a large crowd and drew much favourable comment. The Church Service saw all churches co-operating and a packed congregation was addressed by the Rev Grice of the Methodist Church. All agreed that the jubilee had been a huge success, the R.S.A. reported that their concert and ball had been a rip-roaring affair and had been instrumental in affording a venue for many old Foxtonians to socialise. The Mayor and councillors expressed their thanks and gratitude to all who co-operated.
In April 1939 it was announced that fund-raising was being started to further the centennial playground and rest room which was proposed for the area adjacent to the Borough Council Chambers. The staff of New Zealand Woolpacks announced that they planned to build much of the play equipment themselves and that they hoped to have it ready for installation in a very short time. Work commenced in May on the ground preparations and the equipment installation followed shortly afterwards. It was sad to see that a Herald report of vandalism was in the July 22nd edition, a few short days after completion. The playground was officially accepted by council in November and the official opening was performed by Mr L.G. Lowry, M.P., on Saturday 16th November before a large crowd which included some 300 soldiers from the racecourse camp who had paraded for the occasion. The Levin Pipe Band provided suitable stirring music for the festivities.
While compiling this history it became obvious that a chronological ordering of events would present many difficulties. A project mooted by council takes a long time from its inception until the completion date. For this reason it has been decided that each borough activity be dealt with as a separate entity covering the full 50 year period.
As intimated earlier, the gas works were going through a very difficult period, therefore, it is fitting that this enterprise should be given pride of place.
The Herald of 16th March 1938 carried a headline "Gasworks in a State of Collapse". There followed an interview with the Town Clerk and the manager of the gasworks over the viability of the works and the plans for the future. A subsequent meeting of the Borough Council was told by the manager that there was some truth in the allegation although as he said "They could collapse at any time and then again they could go on for years". A committee was formed to look into the position and report back. This committee duly made their report which showed that there were only 50 consumers and the works could be expected to lose at least £700 per annum. The accumulated loss stood at £3000, and an anticipated wage rise to the employees would exacerbate the already grave situation. They recommended closure, and council, after due deliberation, decided that this was the best course. The savings, once the accumulated loss had been liquidated, would-be better spent on roads. A deputation to the Minister seeking to gain permission for closure was arranged.
The Minister concurred with the recommendation and the date for closing was set at December 9th. Cr Robinson was concerned that no compensation to consumers had been discussed and this indeed proved to be a point that the consumers themselves were considering. There was report of an injunction being prepared by Mr R. Moore to prevent the closure taking place pending a satisfactory compensation clause being inserted. Council countered with a proposal to become an agent for Rockgas which could be used by those with gas appliances. This was investigated but appears to have fallen by the wayside as the sum of £63.6.2d was set aside to compensate the consumers. A threat of further legal action was made by the dissident consumers if council did not increase their compensation provisions. Apparently the matter was amicably resolved as a sale of assets was held. When this was completed there was little left to show where the works had been except for the gasometer. This in its turn was dismantled leaving only the concrete in which it operated. On 14th September 1945 this was declared by the council of the day to be a serious menace to the more adventurous of the children of the town, who were in the habit of playing in the area. A lengthy discussion followed on the best way of removing same, blow it up or fill it in. It appears that the last option won the day as the old gasometer still graces the scenery in Cook Street (to a limited degree) - the pit has long since been filled in and the ubiquitous flax bushes have been planted on top in an attempt at beautification.
The cemetery situated in Avenue Road has served the community well over the years and has, in the main, been well maintained. Little is recorded in the Herald about this area until 1942 when it was found necessary to increase the costs to £2 a plot and £1.10 for an interment fee. A correspondent to The Herald facetiously suggested that "it would be cheaper to go to the beach and jump in the sea than pay such exhorbitant rates". He even wrote a poem expressing those sentiments. The maintenance of the cemetery has always been an ongoing problem. There is the greatest difficulty in making this a self supporting operation in these times of high wages and vehicle operating expenses. That this was always the case is evidenced by the report that the Mayor had devoted his holidays to "cleaning up the cemetery". Mayor Podmore was not impressed with the remark from one of his councillors that we should "let it go to weeds and scrub - it's not our responsibility". The Mayor had no comment to make on the advice proffered, reports The Herald. Many Foxtonians will remember the Mortuary Chapel situated just inside the Avenue Road entrance. This did good service until 1952 when it was resolved that it had outlived its usefulness and should be pulled down and replaced by a tool shed and lavatory. Subsequently, a local builder offered to renovate same if council supplied the timber, and so the Chapel continued to serve a useful function until its removal in 1965.
That the maintenance problem was still around is seen by the proposal to graze sheep in the confines of the cemetery in 1960. It was not proceeded with, although one councillor opined that "desperate conditions require desperate measures". It is noted that the county council were perturbed over the weeds when they threatened the Borough Council with prosecution over the weed problem in the cemetery. Subsequently the county agreed to drop the prosecution provided certain conditions were met. What the conditions were is not recorded but the local council are reported as being incensed and refused to comply.
A decision was made to sell the portion of the cemetery on the southern boundary in 1961 and to begin the installation of cemetery facilities at the Target Reserve, but this was not proceeded with. The money from the sale of southern boundary land was used in the formation of the present lawn cemetery on the south-east corner. In 1964 the R.S.A. sought and obtained permission for the setting up of a Service men's Cemetery.
A headline in The Herald of May 7th 1964, "Cemetery Account Causes Grave Concern", and went on to state that the account was in debit to the tune of £402. From that time on the only problem has been one of maintenance. Mayor King spent many hours of his own time working in the area in an endeavour to keep the bracken and fern at bay. In the later years, with the opportunity to use subsidised labour under Government employment schemes, the situation was much more tenable although with the recent termination of subsidies for this work the problem is again becoming obvious. At present, interments are taking place in an area which was created from fill which was obtained from road construction in Norbiton Road. Looking to the future the council in 1985 purchased a block of land adjacent to the western boundary. This will not be required for some years but in the meantime is being leased for grazing. This area should suffice for the cemetery's needs for probably the next century.
Above: The Council of 1955 seated under the gaze of the first mayor, E. S. Thynne, meet in the Council Chambers.
Clockwise from the left they are:- D. Barron, W. Boyd, V. Burr, E.J. Martin, J. Roberts (Foreman),
H. Podmore (Mayor), R. Cox (Town Clerk), N. Ross (clerk), L.G.A. King, S.G.R. Small, R. Fraser,
R. Read, W. Titcombe.
WAR MEMORIAL AND HALL
In 1945 it was proposed that Foxton should honour those who had fallen and those who had served in the war. A public meeting was called to investigate the proposal and from that meeting a committee was formed to further the proposal. The Borough Council showed interest in purchasing Hamers Block, which included the then defunct Royal Theatre, for the sum of £2400. Objections were received from 94 ratepayers to the purchase and at the September meeting the proposal was rejected on the casting vote of the Mayor.
The next move was in December when the R.S.A. and the. Chamber of Commerce had a combined meeting and announced that they favoured a war memorial on Hamers corner. By this time the old Royal Theatre had been sold to N.Z. Woolpacks for use as storage space. Little further was heard on the subject until March 1949 when a memorial clock tower was mooted. This did not find favour with the R.S.A who let it be known that they preferred a memorial tablet being incorporated in the existing war memorial situated in the triangle rather than proceeding with the clock tower proposal. Another public meeting was held in September, 1949, when it was decided that the "Erection of a war memorial should be pushed ahead without delay", with a further recommendation that the clock tower, be the memorial. In the end a referendum was held which resulted in a majority being in favour of the tower, 387, to 145 against. The planned tower was to be sited on Ihakara Hill and was to stand on a seven sq foot base to a height of 25 feet. ,
The clock itself was to be four-sided and the memorial plaque set in it was to be illuminated by lights beamed on it from the base. The cost as estimated as £3300. All appeared to be in order with the clock tower proposal until 7th September 1951 when advice was received from Wellington that no subsidy would be forthcoming for the proposed memorial in Ihakara Gardens if the clock tower concept was to proceed.
At a subsequent public meeting, it was announced by the management of New Zealand Woolpack and Textiles that they were prepared to offer the Royal Theatre building and the adjoining land on condition that it was used for the war memorial purpose that had been proposed. A new committee was set up. They were cautious in their approach but a subcommittee formed to investigate the proposal further reported that the donation of the Woolpack company, estimated as being worth £2000, plus the qualifying subsidy of a similar amount, would enable the project to be completed with the input of a further £2000 from the public of Foxton. A further public meeting endorsed the proposal even though the estimated cost had been revised to £9875. November 23rd, 1951, saw fund-raising under way, and by March of the following year it was reported that £1588 was in hand. In August, Hec Forbes undertook the task of demolishing the old theatre and intimated that this would commence on 1st September.
Above: Mayors Mark Perreau and Ted Field plant a commemorative tree outside the
Foxton Memorial Hall under the eyes of the Sunshine Club.
The blossom tree still blooms every year.
February 1953 saw the calling of tenders for building and this was subsequently awarded to Wilkinson and Son of Foxton, at a cost of £15,600. This called for additional fund-raising but the target was met without any great hassle. Mayor Harry Podmore was the driving force behind the fund-raising and it is recorded that he set out to achieve his target figure without having to resort to gambling in any shape or form. In this respect it was unique in a country where today this form of fund-raising is considered to be the norm.
The foundation stone was laid on September 1st, 1953, and the opening was expected to be held in eight months time. This was not to be, however, as it was not until 26th October, 1954, that Sir Matthew Oram officiated at the grand opening. Since that time, the Memorial Hall has continued to play its full part in the life of the community of Foxton.
WHIROKINO CUT AND LOOP
Although not strictly a council activity, it is felt that the vexed question of the "Cut" should be chronicled for posterity. That the council of the day (1935) felt so strongly about the issue, that it sent a deputation to Wellington, urging that the work be put in hand, contrasts sharply with the present days' views. It may seem incongrous but when one considers the amount of water that has flowed through the Cut rather than through the loop one can readily appreciate the change of heart. The deputation was successful as evidenced by the announcement by Bob Semple, Minister of Works, that the Cut would be completed in 1940. This did not come to pass as it was not until 21st February 1941 that the tender was accepted for the removal of 370,000 yards of soil which it was estimated would shorten the river by some five miles and give, in flood times, a direct flow to the sea over a spillway to be built just west of the Whirokino Bridge. Unfortunately, in the words of Robbie Burns, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley" and the flooding of the Manawatu River at a critical point in the cut's construction saw the breaching of the retaining bank of material and the river surging through on its new found direct route to the sea. Some of the old timers will aver that such was the Government's intention from the start whilst the official view is that it was an act of God.
Unfortunately the Manawatu Herald was out of production from February 1943 through to September 1944, and the debate that raged during that period over the unfortunate occurrence is not chronicled. It is evident, however, that all was not well. In the paper of 10th October 1944 it is reported that the Borough sewerage system appeared to be in danger because of the Cut, a sandbank was developing at the eastern end. The council's worst fears were confirmed when, in April 1945 it was reported that the river had been cut off and was rapidly becoming a lagoon. The resultant silting was affecting the sewerage system. From that period on the loop was an increasing problem due to the pollution caused by the septic tank discharge affecting the water which was drawn from the river by the stripping mills and New Zealand Woolpacks. Fearing an epidemic, the Health Minister was requested to arrange an inspection. Not satisfied with the action being taken, council, pressed for the reopening of the top end of the loop. A loader opened a gap 5 feet wide so that the loop would get a thorough flushing. Bob Semple had stated that his Government had accepted responsibility and that they would rectify the situation. The Hon. W.S. Goosman assured the council that his Government would honour that pledge.
He stated that mill effluent would be piped across Matakarapa for discharge and an adequate supply of fresh water for the town of Foxton would be made available even if it meant piping from another source. Adequate provision would be made for Foxton's sewage disposal. In asking for -a fair trial, Goosman stated that Semple had not promised action other than to investigate. In 1950 the Government accepted responsibility for the disposal of effluent.
Cr Fletcher at that time asked "Why do we want the river back - as long as the Government cares for our sewage, why be concerned - the health of the people is our main concern". His views were not shared by the residents who were continually complaining about the smell of the loop. The council made direct representation to the Prime Minister on the lack of action by the Hon Goosman. A plan of action to reintroduce water into the loop was opposed by the Catchment Board and the Oroua River Board. Finally, in 1953, a commission of enquiry was appointed. Approximately a year later their report was released recommending a move for the stripping mill to Whirokino and if at any time the Health Department decided no further discharge into the loop should be allowed then the State should bear cost of remedial measures. The council expressed disagreement with the report and asked the M.P., Sir Matthew Oram, to attend a local meeting. Sir Matthew gave as his opinion that there should be no interference with the "cut", water should be put back into the loop by means of floodgates, mill effluent should be piped across Matakarapa and sewage should be piped to the lower reaches of the river. The council was still not impressed. Sir Matthew suggested that the council was being unrealistic. Council was incensed at the curtness of his response and decided that it should press for urgent action forthwith. An approach was then made to the Deputy Prime Minister seeking action and asking that the Minister of Works be made to honour his promise to come back to Foxton. In the end a promise to return on 28th March 1955 was made and it was subsequently reported that the Government was intending to construct a test cut to return water to the loop - "This is a trial only", said the Minister.
Little progress was made over the next two years. In 1957 the council was making tentative moves to purchase land at Matakarapa for oxidisation ponds. Both Maori and Pakeha owners were involved and there was a suggestion that the acquiring would have to be done by proclamation. It was not until 1972 that the sewage scheme was given the go-ahead and the system was finally commissioned in 1976. At the time this booklet was prepared, the matter of the river loop has not been resolved. A "Save the River Committee" under the chairmanship of Mayor Robert Fraser, has been pressing for action. The main problem of pollution by discharge from septic tanks was solved with the opening of the oxidisation ponds, but the silting up of the tidal backwater and the loss to the town of the river as a recreational and aquatic area remains as a major blow for the local and visiting sportsmen.
Back in 1938 an official of the Country Library Service visited Foxton with a view to introducing a service to Foxton. His visit was fruitless however, as it is reported that the subsequent discussion on his visit evinced little enthusiasm. The matter was again broached in 1948 when an offer of a supply of books to the library was made, at a cost of £220 pa. This was considered by council but the motion lapsed for want of a seconder. Apparently council was going through a difficult period back in 1954 and it is recorded that the rates were to rise, the library was to be closed, and Seaview Gardens were to receive minimal attention. The impression had been given during the fund-raising for the Memorial Hall that the library would be sited in that building. This was the subject of a reported long and acrimonious debate at the March meeting it would appear that the decision was taken to move the library to the Memorial Hall. This was done in December 1955. The question of joining the Country Library Service was again discussed in 1960 and the idea was adopted in principle to allow further negotiations to continue,
The transfer of some of the older library books provoked some heated exchanges, with one councillor declaring that, because of their age, they (the books) were not fit to put on the shelves. Over the years there has been a continuing upgrading of the stock and a continuing culling of deteriorating books which has resulted in a remarkably good range of reading material being available. The association with the Country Library Service has enabled local readers to have access to an extremely wide range of technical and specialist books. At the present time there is a proposal before council for the Borough to join with the college in sharing a library which is shortly to be built at the college. A small committee has been appointed to look closely at the proposal and report back to council. Whether the location of the amenity at a considerable distance from the town will find favour is debatable as is the question of hours of opening of the facility.
PENSIONER FLATS AND STAFF HOUSING
The council started the second half century with two houses, one at Seaview which was the residence of the Borough foreman, and the second in Hall St which was for housing the picture theatre manager. It was decided in 1938 that the Borough foreman's residence should be replaced. After much discussion, a ready to erect house was purchased for the sum of £640, this to be sited on the section left vacant after the old house had been demolished. By February 1st the prefab was in the course of erection and it was stated that same would be completed in 10 days. Little is recorded about housing over the next few years, presumbly all was well in this area. In 1962, council discussed the building of a new house at Seaview Gardens to house the Town Clerk. Plans were to be drawn up for the project. This was not to be, however, as advice was received that the site on which it was intended to build was Crown land vested in the council as a reserve, and that it must be retained for that purpose. It was then decided that an existing house be purchased and a committee was set up to seek and negotiate for a suitable property. On August 23rd, it is recorded that council was taking steps to negotiate a loan for housing purposes, the Loans Board gave approval and the purchase of the Norbiton Road property was proceeded with.
The house at Seaview, originally the residence of the Borough foreman, was not retained for that purpose due to a combination of circumstances. Local appointees had their own homes or preferred to make their own arrangements. Whatever, the property was not given the maintenance it deserved and fell into a state of disrepair. In the early 1980s, an offer was made by a local resident to upgrade the property in return for the accommodation afforded, council to provide the necessary materials. This turned out to be a most acceptable arrangement, as over the next year or two the run-down property was restored to a highly satisfactory degree. Since that time it has become the residence of the Borough foreman, the role for which it was first intended. The property in Hall Street is still owned by council and presently is occupied by a council employee.
In 1957, council approached New Zealand Woolpack and Textiles seeking to use land which the company had gifted to the Borough for the purpose of erecting pensioner flats. The land at the base of Seaview Hill facing State Highway 1 was considered to be eminently suitable for such a use. Permission being granted, the decision was made to proceed with the erection of three double units at a cost of £8000. Half the cost was to be met by a straight Government grant and the remainder by way of a loan over a 30 year period at 31/2% interest. Inevitably a poll was demanded and the Mayor expressed his disappointment over the delay. The editor of the Herald opined that "some ratepayers wanted to look a gift horse in the mouth" and went on to emphasise the favourable loan conditions that were to apply.
The poll was subsequently carried 192 to 43 and tenders for the erection of the flats were called. Work proceeded apace and it was reported that one flat would be ready by Christmas and the remainder early in the New Year of 1960. Council then decided that they should press ahead with the provision of further flats and a purchase of land in Union Street for this purpose was made. The decision was made to build a block of nine units and a loan was sought to allow the building to get under way. The cost was estimated at £13,000. There was, however, a change of plans to allow for one block of six units to be built. The maximum subsidy was forthcoming and a loan poll was carried two to one. Hec Forbes was the successful tenderer and the Herald of January 30th 1964 carries the report of the official opening of the Podmore cottages by the Hon John Rae. There has been no further moves to construct additional flats although council has endeavoured to attract interest in a Housing for the Elderly scheme which involves an owner funded operation allowing for the property to revert back to Council upon the death of the occupier with, of course, a refunding to the deceased's estate.
The swimming baths in Easton Park were built in 1923 and have filled a need over the years. Using untreated bore water they needed constant draining and refilling with the consequence that they were virtually always full of fresh water which had little chance to heat up to any marked degree. The fact that they were, of course, unfiltered, was not entirely satisfactory. In November 1939 it was reported in the Herald that Council was planning to pump water direct from the river into the baths. Only the pump was needed to complete the project, all pipes had been laid. Whether this actually came to pass is not known, but it appears unlikely.
By September 1959 the condition of the baths was apparently causing concern. After 30 years it was felt that they had perhaps outlived their usefulness. At that time the Foxton Swimming Club was taking a very active role in fostering swimming among the younger folk and decided that if swimming was to prosper locally there was a need to upgrade the facilities available. To this end a deputation was organised to wait on the Council to press their case for new baths. The outcome of the meeting was that Council agreed to subsidise the club's fund-raising for new baths on a £ for £ basis over the following three years. The club already had £500 in hand and immediately launched a fund-raising drive. By February 1962 the club reported that they had approximately £4000 in sight. Estimates of the cost of the new baths was given as £6000 plus £2000 for a filtration system. When the engineer produced plans in 1962 the cost had risen to £12,000, but this included an additional cost for a diving pool and a learners pool. The decision was made to site the new complex in close proximity to the old pool. This necessitated the removal of the old pool to make way for the new. A lido type of pool was favoured, funds in hand totalled £9300 which was considered to be sufficient for stage one.
On September 3rd the old pool disappeared with a bang when Army engineers used it for demolition practice. Four strategically placed charges of explosive were all that were needed. The calling of tenders followed on November 8th and Grimmer Associates of Palmerston North were successful. Work was put in hand at an early date and October 17th 1963 the first filling of the pool took place. All was well and the young fry enjoyed the luxury of swimming in the most up-to-date baths in the country. It is recorded that the Manawatu Swimming Centre championships were staged in the pool on January 30th, 1964, and that officials and competitors alike were loud in their praise for the new facility. The seating in the new pool was made possible by a £400 donation from the employees of New Zealand Woolpack and Textiles. The baths are still a well used summer facility and apart from the odd mechanical hitch and recurring maintenance they are providing a much appreciated form of recreation for the people of Foxton.
In November 1939 it is recorded that there was a complete pumping station breakdown and had it not been for the good services of New. Zealand Woolpack & Textiles Ltd who came to the rescue with pumping gear, there would have been a complete shut down throughout the town. All appeared to be well until 1947 when it was decided that a new well must be sunk, this to be in the vicinity of the pumphouse and to have a 4 inch bore. That there were problems is apparent from reports that thought was being given to seeking a supply from Shannon. The Borough foreman in September of the same year reported that he was concerned over the situation and that he could give no assurance that a supply could be maintained over the summer months. Approval was given for additional pumping. In December 1950 it was reported to Council that non stop pumping was needed. Town consumption was in the vicinity of 700 gallons per minute.
With the coupling into the system of a new artesian well it was decided that three other wells be shut down for cleaning. It was decided that a further six inch bore be sunk, this was done in January 1954 and it was reported that a good flow had been obtained at 190 feet. It was producing 550 gallons per minute and was of the best quality obtained in the past 20 years. One councillor remarked that there was now plenty of water but it was costing £13 a week for pumping costs.
The Borough reported that residents in Purcell Street were seeking water connections. A guarantee to pay all costs and charges was given. At a later meeting the requested report was presented and Council decided to decline permission. In January 1955 it was reported that there was ample water but the pumps were unable to cope. A new storage tank on Government Hill (Herrington St) was mooted. This was to stand 32ft high and would cost in the vicinity of £18,000. Another new well, at the rear of Woolpacks premises, was sunk and was reported as producing 700 gallons per minute. Pumping was to be directly into the mains in Ladys Mile. This proved to be less than satisfactory however as the water contained too much gas and required aeration. This well was subsequently sold to NZ Woolpack and Textiles Ltd.
In 1957 there was a suggestion of flouridating the town supply but it was not proceeded with as most drinking water was obtained from tank supply. Consideration was being given to raising a loan of £15,000 for water and sewerage purposes in 1960 but this was not pursued. In the same year concern over the safety of the water tower was being expressed. An engineers report said that the council could expect heavy costs before long and the recommendation was made that the installation of a pressure system to negate the use of thee tower should be considered. The reason for Foxton being short of water was the question asked in an article in the Herald. It was stated that the average consumption per head was 130 gallons per day as compared to the national average of 80-100 gallons per head. The Stewart St well was in the process of being bored in 1961. By April it was reported to be at a depth of 460ft, there had been good water at 230ft but a greater flow was needed. New water bylaws were introduced in 1962 which provided for the metering of all householders. It was suggested that all ratepayers should buy their own meter. On June 30th, 1964, Council gave notice to seek a loan of £72,900 for the provision of a water treatment plant. There was only one objection and the loan was subsequently approved. Although the treatment plant was commissioned in mid 1969 it was not proving entirely satisfactory with many teething problems apparent. The hardness of the Foxton water is given as the major problem. In February 1971 Cr Mattar declared "It's been in operation for 17 months - it will never work". He went on to state that people were bringing tank water from home as the town water was unfit to drink.
The reported output from the plant was given as 400,000 gallons a day whilst the draw off by consumers totalled 320,000. There were problems with the pumps burning out even though the load being placed on them was nowhere near their capacity. The plant operator and the committee responsible for the operation of the plant battled valiantly to solve the problem and it was finally decided that the water needed aeration. Provision of the necessary aerator was put in hand and by May of 1971 it was reported that the plant was working as expected. The plant is currently working to capacity during the summer months and thought has been given to some upgrading and extensions. In the interim an investigation has been implemented into the treatment process with a view to refining the treatment accorded the water. A report will be furnished to Council recommending the steps to be taken to effect any changes deemed necessary.
The water tower has become the symbol of Foxton and is rightly featured on present Tourist and Publicity Association material. Built in 1923 it has been a prominent landmark and has served the town well in providing a high pressure water system. Over the years there has, from time to time, been concern expressed that the tower has been shedding concrete. It is obvious that this has happened and an engineer’s report back in 1960 made recommendations for alternatives for maintaining a supply in the event that the tower had to be taken out of use. In a report produced in 1987, engineer Tony Trubridge refers to the fact that spalling of the concrete around the ring beam of the top tank has taken place over the years, and he goes on to point out that the tower itself is in reasonably good condition and the carrying out of remedial work is justified. In his opinion, the application of Epoxy resin or Shot-crete concrete to the outside of the upper tank would prolong the life of the structure by a further 30 years. This could cost $15,000 to $20,000. Council have not yet considered this recommendation. It is to be hoped that the tower will remain in use for the foreseeable future and that Foxtonians returning to town will be able to sight the tower and become aware that they are nearing their destination. I well remember my own children's gleeful shouts as they came on to the Whirokino Bridge and spotted the landmark and symbol of Foxton.
Foxton was most fortunate that an early Council had the forethought to install a sewerage system throughout the Borough during the 1920s. This was far in advance of other towns on this coast, indeed we read of neighbouring Boroughs who are even now working to complete this work. By 1938 it became necessary for some upgrading and extension work to be undertaken and a grant of £2000 was being used for the purchase of materials for this purpose. Also assured was a 100% subsidy to cover labour costs. One can only marvel at the industry of those early workers in digging trenches for the installation of pipes. Today we see massive diggers at work, in some areas going down to 15 feet, excavating and exposing pipes which are starting to give trouble. To think of tackling such a mammoth task with a shovel, the depth entailing one or two extra lifts, makes one appreciate the meaning of hard work. Not for them the modern slush pumps and well pointing gear to cope with excess water, it was a case of getting on with the job despite the atrocious conditions. In 1948 it was reported that the system was again overloaded and thought was being given to a further upgrading of the system. By 1957 the number of major sewer breaks was causing concern. On April 1st it was reported that 851 man hours had been spent during the previous twelve months, 376 in Robinson St and 388 in Avenue Road. Land for the siting of oxidisation ponds was being sought. An area at Matakarapa was deemed most suitable and negotiations were put in hand. As there was ownership involving both Maori and Pakeha it was considered that there could be protracted negotiation. Council were also seeking Government input to assist in the work, this had previously been promised. The river water showed a high B.O.D. count and contamination was evident. There was a scum on the water which was "brackish, discoloured and as black as the ace of spades", according to Cr Small. Government intimated that they would be considering the extent of assistance to be given in line with previous promises and engineers were appointed to bring down a report followed by plans and estimates of cost. In October of 1959 the Mayor gave notice that £70,300 should be sought for sewerage and water. Provision would be made in the proposed loan for the installation of a treatment plant, by-pass mains and extension of sewerage reticulation. Plans of the proposed sewage treatment system were presented to Council in 1962 and it was decided that an application should be made to the Loans Board. There was a problem in deciding how much was required as Government had not yet indicated their level of support by way of a subsidy in line with their accepted responsibility because of the Whirokino cut. That things are a long time in coming to fruition is evident from the fact that it was not until March 1972 that the new sewage scheme was given the go ahead. This allowed for a pumping station and a rising main which would permit the installation of gravity delivery pipes to the oxidisation ponds which were to be sited at Matakarapa. It is recorded that Government had made a grant of $36,700 towards the project whilst a loan of $72,000 had been approved.
By October 1974 tenders were being called for the construction of the outfall from the pumping station to the ponds which were already being excavated. In November 1976 tests were being conducted on pumps, etc., and the cut over from the old septic tank system followed shortly after. The area at Matakarapa covers some 30 acres of which only 11 acres is currently in use as ponds. During the past year or two Council has had major problems with the ponding due, it is alleged, to the discharging of materials high in content which is upsetting the B.O.D. level in the pond water. The necessity to scoop offending material from the ponds in an endeavour to rectify the situation that had arisen proved to be most costly. Council are still endeavouring to get some redress from offending industries at the present time.
Back in 1941 Seaview gardens was described as a beauty spot and those long time residents who took the opportunity to visit there will agree that it certainly had a charm all of its own. The Borough foreman of the day, Bill Neville, who lived alongside had taken a personal interest in the area and with the ready availability of labour had drawn up and carried through a plan of beautification. There were fish ponds, sunken gardens, a fernery and pergolas; a most delightful spot which drew the comment "The Garden Beautiful" from Cr Barron back in 1945. In the following year it was reported that flowers from the area were being purloined and sent to Wellington for sale. Naturally this drew cries of indignation but the culprit was never apprehended. In May 1954 there was a retrenchment advocated by Council, activities in Seaview Gardens were to be curtailed, only the frontage was to be kept tidy and the rest left to revert to shrubbery. A Sunshine recorder was installed at the gardens in 1957, this had previously been sited at the Woolpack factory in Ladys Mile but it was felt that the move to the higher position at Seaview would mean an extra ten minutes of sunshine to be registered each morning (provided the sun shone). This was sited at the gardens until 1985 when it was moved to Mr Arie Jongeneel's property in Hilary St. The condition of Seaview Gardens continued to deteriorate with mowing only being done until in 1963 a clean-up of the area was initiated by Council.
In October 1966 the Lions Club of Foxton approached Council asking if they could undertake the clean up and ongoing maintenance of the gardens. Council were only too pleased to have this interest fostered and accepted with alacrity. The inevitable happened after a number of years and the area was once again under Council control. The maintenance reverted to mow only. Today the formal gardens, fish ponds, etc., have long since disappeared, but those of keen eye can still see the ocean in the distance and an excellent view of the township as a reward for the effort of climbing the hill.
Victoria Park, on the northern boundary, saw little development for many years until in 1938 a cycle track for the area was mooted. The formation of the Athletic and Cycling Club with their headquarters in the park saw a great deal of activity with the construction of changing rooms, judges box and equipment rooms. Later the addition of outside seating for spectators was welcomed. Regular sports meetings have been held there during the long summer evenings. These have been made possible by a dedicated band of athletic club members and have provided a venue for many up and coming young athletes. The park itself has seen little change other than in the removal and replanting of trees except for the recent erection in the western sector of the squash racquets club's new courts. These were officially opened in 1987 and are presently enjoying a boom period with a fairly substantial membership. This park has also been chosen as the venue for the Rebels Rugby League Club who have made full use of the area over the past few years. Some 15 years ago the local Rotary Club installed some play equipment for the use of the local children. This sees plenty of use, especially at weekends.
Easton Park has been in existence since 1919 when the late Mr A.S. Easton donated the area, approximately four acres, to the Borough. It has served as a venue for all sorts of activities over the years but principally as a home for the Foxton Football Club. Back in the 1920s the first public swimming pool was built in the park confines and served the public well until in 1962 it was demolished to make way for the new lido type pool. In 1950, a proposal was advanced for a grandstand to be erected on Easton Park. This was estimated to cost £12,000. At the time, the proposed War Memorial Hall was occupying the minds of the community and it was decided that the plans be deferred pending the completion of that project. The matter was raised again in November 1951 when the football club proposed that fund-raising be started but it was not until January 1954 that work commenced. The foundations were excavated by volunteer groups from the football club. By March, it was reported that the grandstand was in the course of erection but concern was already being expressed regarding the roof beams. These appeared to be sagging and Council decided to seek advice on the matter, and were reported as seeking legal advice prior to accepting the building.
That vandalism is not a new experience for the grandstand is borne out by reports of damage virtually from the time it was completed. By April 1960 it was reported to be in poor shape with many broken windows, doors kicked in and damage to the boiler room area. Steps were taken in 1961 to tart up the building, broken glass was replaced and door sashes repaired. There was a body of opinion on Council that should the glass again be broken that thought should be given to leaving the frames empty. The structure was to be decorated with a tar and oil mixture. The Herald later suggested that the word "Decorate" was inappropriate considering the mixture used. That all was not well with the sagging is shown by a report in May 1962 of the installation of two pillars to correct the sag of up to five feet. The vexed question of broken glass recurs throughout the history of the stand. In 1971 Council was reported as having all the glass removed and applying netting over the empty frames. With the building of the Foxton Football Club's clubroom, the below-stand facilities fell into disrepair and are, today, in a sorry state. From time to time the matter of upgrading the facility is raised. There are those who feel that it would be better to start again rather than send good money after bad by repairing the failing structure. There is merit in that line of thought.
A recent addition to the town's park and recreation facilities is the area on the corner of Avenue Rd and Futter Street known as Stuart Donnelly Park. The Jaycees erected play equipment in the area and there has been several plantings by local organisations. This area is popular with the children residing in the vicinity. Many young up and coming cricketers can be seen practicing their strokes during the summer months while the jungle gym and skateboard pad have regular use. With the cessation of the railway the land, formerly the goods yard became available to Council. The spoil from the reconstruction of Park
Street was used to landscape the area and various trees and shrubs were planted. This area is now kept mown and provides an attractive little spot in which to relax. The Te Awahou Bowling Hall, which is sited adjacent to this land, receives plenty of use and ensures that there is a constant presence there. The local B.M.X. Club was extremely active a short time ago and was allocated a portion of this land for a track. Unfortunately, this club recently went into recess and the track is falling into disrepair. It is expected that this will be demolished in the not too distant future if there is no resurgence of interest.
The Town Hall was the focal point of the social life of the community back in the 1930s. It had been destroyed by a disastrous fire in March 1926 but the City Fathers had lost no time in launching a rebuilding exercise. The Council had been operating the picture theatre in the hall for many years with the Town Clerk, Mr Wm Trueman, being the manager. In August 1942, disaster again struck in the form of an earthquake. Fortunately, the damage this time was not so severe and the Council of the day commissioned an architect to inspect and report on the repairs needed. His report called for buttressing the side walls and strengthening of the Dress Circle. This work was put in hand with the builder promising completion by the end of November. That the hall was serving a leading role in the social life of the town is confirmed by letters to the local paper claiming that the town was stagnating because of the closure. There was, of course, a war on. There were troops in the racecourse camp and there was no other suitable hall of a comparable size available except the Masonic which was not always free.
That the advertising, on 27th November, of a resumption of screening was greeted with some relief is evident from the local papers reporting of the event. In 1951 the Council made the decision to lease the picture theatre operation to a local tenderer, Mr Morrie Howard, the amount agreed upon being £1837 p.a. There were certain conditions applying over availability of the hall for other functions. The lease was transferred to Mr M. Christensen, who operated until June 1962, when it was reported that Council assured the public that there would be no cessation of screening when the lease expired at the end of the month. The Mayor stated that should a new lessee not be found by that date the Council would arrange for showings to continue. The new lessees were Mr and Mrs Martin of Foxton Beach, who were, in their turn, followed by their son Colin. When in 1969 he ceased operating the theatre there was an 18 month period when there were no pictures shown. Council during that period went ahead with renovations to the interior and screenings were resumed in 1970 when Council, with oversight from Cr Chas Pearce, were responsible for the operation. Later the lease was taken up by Civic Cinemas Ltd, who continued until the eighties.
There have been numerous schemes advanced to make use of the building but unfortunately they have all fallen by the wayside. During the past year the local Te Awahou Work Trust were in occupancy and undertook minor decoration of the interior. The Foxton Gymnastics Club are currently seeking to get the use of the hall and if successful will be using same for the training of their young gymnasts. No doubt the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations will see some activity in this venue. Old Foxtonians will be able to recall the hall as it was when they were young and will certainly be able to bring to mind some happy reminiscences of past balls and entertainments.
The disposal of household refuse was a continuing problem over many years. Council provided a tip for residents to dump their rubbish but the matter of a refuse collection service received scant attention until 1955 when householders were circularised to ascertain their thoughts on the matter. The outcome was not conclusive and it was not till May 1956 that the matter was again raised. After lengthy discussion there was still no recommendation forthcoming. The District Health Inspector in 1957 recommended to Council that a weekly collection service should be instituted. It was decided by Council that a questionnaire be circulated outlining the proposal. The collection fee was to be £1 per annum each household and £2.10.0. per business, collections to be done monthly. This was not enthusiasm and the plan was dropped. The next move was for the introduction of a voluntary scheme, 1/6d per cu ft for householders joining the scheme, they to provide their own cans. Council was strongly criticised by the Health Inspector over the state of the dump, the continuing disgraceful state was a matter of serious concern.
A regular rubbish collection was started in February 1959 and it was advertised that the tip would be fenced and locked, a key would be available from the Council offices for the use of carriers, etc., upon payment of a deposit. The dump would be open on Saturday mornings for two hours only. Cr Kane expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the tip, he claimed that he had got three punctures on a recent trip to the dump. In April 1964 a paper bag collection was instituted in the town, stated to be a pilot scheme only. The continuing fires at the tip provided many a heated discussion at the Council table and again there was the threat of the dump being locked. "An utter shambles," maintained Cr Cook.
The maintenance and use of the tip area has continued to be a problem with all Councils. Fires, rates and indiscriminate dumping have all been to the fore at various times. In recent years the close proximity of the tip face to what is known as the "Sawdust Pile" has given rise to concern. Opinion was that a tip fire burning through into the sawdust could cause major problems in endeavouring to quell the inevitable deep seated smoldering. To obviate this the tip face was reformed and dumping was started in a new direction. No doubt the problem will again arise in the future.
For the past two years dumping at the tip has been controlled by a Council appointed operative who has "scavenging rights", but no other payment. This has proved to be satisfactory but again the vexed question of setting official tipping times, locked gates and days of closure has been suggested to Council. There has been opposition to this but the matter has not yet been finalised. At present an official "Kleensak" collection only is made once weekly. With an open tip this is proving satisfactory.
The piping of natural gas from New Plymouth to Wellington roused interest in the Foxton Borough Council, more especially so when it was ascertained that, because of prior reticulation of gas throughout the Borough, the Council could obtain a franchise for the area. After much discussion it was decided that the distribution locally would be beyond the resources of the Council. The laying of pipes, then operation of the gate station and the employing of trained operatives would not be possible on the limited financial resources of the Council so it was decided that the Levin Borough Council be given the use of the franchise for a period of ten years from the time of the connection of the first user in Foxton.
Although the agreement was drawn up in 1973 it was not until mid 1974 that the factory of Messrs Stevens Bremner was connected to the supply, this being the first connection. The prediction was made at that time that 60 per cent of the residents of Foxton would have access to gas within two years.
Whether that target was achieved is not known but reticulation was pushed ahead with vigour. A ring line was installed, which traversed Norbiton Road, Futter and Union Streets and joined with an existing main serving the potato processing plant and other industries at the south end of town. This has allowed for many connections to be made to residences in or adjacent to those streets. A major reticulation of the Main Street was completed in 1986 when opportunity was taken of laying mains in conjunction with the power board and Post Office prior to the upgrading of the footpaths in that area.
The use of this efficient and clean fuel is enjoyed by an ever increasing number of residents, it is to be hoped that progressive laying of mains will continue until the entire borough is reticulated. It is noted that moves are under way to establish an energy authority in the Horowhenua region. This will embrace the operations of the power board and gas company. No doubt the city fathers are keeping a close watch on proceedings to ensure that local interests are protected in the event that such an amalgamation is achieved.
STREETS AND FOOTPATHS
The threat of claiming for damages to motor vehicles was the first business on the agenda for the February 1938 meeting of Council. This damage was, they maintained, being due to the potholes in the roads, especially Union and Avenue. Clay from a local source was easily obtained according to the report and it was decided that this be used to bind the metal. The need for sealing some streets was discussed and it was agreed that Cook and Thynne Streets be treated with Colfix and chips. Others were to follow. In 1945 there was concern over streets cracking up, Robinson, Victoria and Lady's Mile were the worst. The Mayor opined that "We would be wise to consider a loan for this purpose". £1000 should suffice.
The engineer, Mr H.V. Bond, was asked to bring down estimates for a street and footpath upgrading programme. This was done and it was recorded that by May 1953 Council were pursuing a loan of £37,000 for the implementation of the programme. Why this amount is not known as the engineer's recommendations were - overall roads and footpaths tar sealing £46,697. Tarsealing of roads, concrete footpaths £52,705. Obviously there had been some modifications done. The Loans Board agreed to the loan over a term of 20 years, principal and interest repayments were to be at the rate of £3000 p.a. The inevitable poll followed which resulted in the loan proposal being defeated. In April 1955 the engineer was again asked to bring down an amended schedule allowing for a capital expenditure of £15,000. It was decided that some sealing be undertaken, the first of this to be in Liddell St, cost £200.
In September 1957 Council adopted a long term sealing policy. Streets were to be sealed ultimately to 26ft. The first seal 12 or l8ft, second to maximum of 26ft. New footpaths 6ft wide with a 2½ inch kerbing wherever necessary to assist with run off of stormwater. The concreting of Thynne St footpath followed by Whyte St in 1959 marked a turning point. (This ongoing policy continued until 1986 when the Council adopted a policy of upgrading footpaths in conjunction with the kerbing and channeling of associated streets.) The wide grass verges have posed problems of maintenance over the years. In September 1958 Cr Prew stated "residents in Coley Street are frightened to go out at night in case a tiger leaps out on them". Cr Dustin voiced an aside "As long as it's not wolves".
The kerbing and channeling of portion of Lady's Mile, upgrading of part of Avenue Rd, Hall and Jenks St. was to be put in hand in 1960. There was an intitial delay with the upgrading of Jenks as no legal survey had been done. Many frontages were found to be encroaching on the roadway, some by as much as five feet. Other anomalies listed were Whittaker St, not dedicated, Council Chambers sited on land not owned by Council (Gray St), Thynne St - some residents gardening on Council land which they mistakenly believed to be their own. It was decided that Lady's Mile be completed in 1961.
The matter of maintaining the verges was again to the fore in 1962 when Council decided that all verges be haymown every 4 weeks in summer and every 8 weeks in winter. Upgrading of roading followed as and when funds became available by way of subsidies or from revenue. Park Street, Union Street, Main, Clyde, Whitaker and Jenks were among those given "the treatment".
Roads Board subsidies have been instrumental in allowing a steady ongoing programme of upgrading streets in the Borough. In the term of Mayor Donnelly we saw a programme drawn up that listed the remaining streets in order of their considered priority and a completion date given for each. It is to the credit of successive Councils that this order of priority was adhered to, a fact that was noted and given due weight to by the National Roads Board and District Roads Council when allocating subsidies. 1986 saw a change in Government policy and the granting of a subsidy for the upgrading of Hillary Street was not made available. Council are proceeding with the reconstruction, kerbing and channeling of this street and are also undertaking the sealing only of Hetta Street.
There are only a few streets left to be upgraded to Council's high standard. Gladstone, part Cook, Hetta, Wharf and Harbour, together with a joint operation with the Manawatu County on Purcell Street, will see the completion of this programme. Provided that ongoing maintenance is continued the Borough will enjoy the benefit of excellent streets and footpaths for many years to come.
Foxton enters the next century with several major obstacles and problems to overcome. The greatest hurdle facing the Council at this time is that of amalgamation. That this is not a new threat is apparent from the proposed amalgamation of Rabbit Boards back in 1938 when the then Council registered strong disapproval of the move to amalgamate local bodies. Over the years, successive Governments have given lip service to the need to reduce the number of local and ad hoc bodies. Being ever wary of offending the electors, there was little progress in this regard until in 1981 the government of the day decreed that the Councils in this region should form a United Council covering the Manawatu. This Council would replace a locally formed committee which had been fulfilling a similar aim in providing a district coordinating role. The only difference between the two bodies was in cost and restrictions on the role the United Council would play.
Things again drifted along, the Government were still being cautious over upsetting the electors. With the election of a Labour Government in 1984 the implementation of an amalgamation of local bodies took on a new impetus. The then Mayor of Palmerston North, Mr B.C.G. Elwood, was appointed to the task of carrying through the legislation without undue delay. In this district the Counties of Manawatu and Kairanga are shortly to become one while further north Kiwitea, Pohangina and Oroua are going through the steps which will see these three bodies amalgamated. Foxton has so far been reprieved although there is little doubt that moves will be made during 1988 to bring about the demise of our local Council. Whether the Commissioner can be convinced as to the viability of the local operation and can be persuaded to let Foxton retain its autonomy is a moot point. It is to be hoped that the Mayor and councillors will be striving to see that this is achieved.
Whatever the outcome of the amalgamation issue, it is obvious that the road ahead will be rocky. The water treatment plant is in need of expansion to allow for the ever-increasing demands for water. Unfortunately, major leaks in the reticulation system have occasioned a loss in the water account of some $40,000. Steps will have to be taken to recover this amount over the next few years. A similar tale of woe is to be found in the sewerage account, problems with the oxidisation ponds have necessitated the expenditure of large sums to desludge the ponds. A deficit of $40,000 has resulted. To add to the problem, it has become necessary for the sewer line under State Highway One to be replaced. Council has recently committed itself to seeking a loan for this purpose.
The one bright spot is that the roads and footpaths which were so much to the fore at the start of the 50 year period, are now not a problem, as was seen above. The early 1990s should see the completion of the upgrading, provided of course that the present programme is maintained.
The centennial committee, under the chairmanship of Councillor G.E. Rotherham, is working hard to ensure that the centenary of the borough is celebrated in fitting style. It is to be hoped that the past and present day citizens take the opportunity to join in the festivities and thus ensure that Foxton retains its reputation of being the leading town on the Sunshine Coast.