Community Contributed

A walk through historic Foxton - Part 1

Kete Horowhenua2020-03-23T16:54:15+00:00
On 28 February 2010 I collected a pamphlet from the Foxton Museum (open Sundays 2-4pm) and walked through historic Foxton stopping to look at the plaques (the text of some is included in this topic).

Starting at Coronation Hall where the plaque shows a photograph of cars assembled 'outside the Coronation Hall (c1915) in readiness for a parade. The front car's sign urges citizens to "Support the Wounded Soldiers". The others read "Remember Grand Patriotic Concert". Such concerts were held in 1915 and 1916.

The Manawatu Hotel stands in the background. Between the hall and the hotel is a house belonging to S. Howan.

Photo below: circa 1915 Photo below: 2010

Click here to see more details of the Foxton Coronation and Town Halls.

Over the road are Ihakara Gardens. The Maori settlement of Te Awahou was located in this area. The war memorial stands on the triangle reserve which is reputed to have been the site of the meeting house of the settlement. The Ngati Raukawa people that lived here were led by Ihakara Tukumaru. Nearby Ihakara Gardens are on the site of the kainga's burial ground which was used by both Maori and Pakeha. Although Ihakara's people later abandoned the settlement they returned to bury the body of their chief there in 1881. This is one of the six graves still marked by a headstone. Photos (left): Sign outside Ihakara Gardens (right): View of 4 headstones in Ihakara Gardens.

In Ihakara Gardens there is a plaque with three photographs taken by Wanganui photographers Harding-Denton in 1878. The originals of these photos are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. In the foregrounds of each is part of Ihakara Gardens with picket fence marked graves.

This photograph shows at left the two storied Manchester House (with horses tethered outside) and residence. The building burnt down in the 1880s and was replaced. It had various uses including a drapery shop (Osborne), Bryant's billiard saloon, boarding house, butcher's shop, photographer's studio and a Gentlemen's Club. When it burnt down again in 1937 it was not rebuilt.

In the distance can be seen some of the bush that lined the sand ridge along which a road was laid. Originally known as The Avenue but today it is Avenue Road.

In the middle of the photo: "Tansley's Manawatu Hotel" had been in existence for over ten years (at the time of this photo). It began life as White Hart Hotel in the mid 1860s. The present day building is a 1900 replacement of the original that burnt down.

On the right of the photo is Trasks's bakery and home.

On the left of this photograph are the barracks used for housing immigrant settlers when thay had to wait for railway transport after they had arrived at the port of Foxton. It was also used as the Borough Council office when it was formed in 1888.

At the back can be seen the privately owned public hall after which the street it is located in, Hall Street, was named. Originally this thoroughfare was known as Loudon Street.

In the middle of the photo is the Court House, built c1865. This section also housed the district's first policeman, John Purcell, appointed in 1867. The Court House was not just used by the judicial system but also by several groups for meetings. Sittings of the Maori Land Court were also held here for, in early years, the only other village in the area was Otaki. This Court House was used until 1929 when it was replaced by the building now housing the Museum of Foxton History.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church is the next building along Main Street and it is the oldest building in town. New Zealand's first Presbyterian Missionary, James Duncan, raised funds from all over the Wellington Province to pay for the church, which opened in 1867. It was used as a church until 1970 and became the home of the Foxton Little Theatre in 1971.

This photograph shows St Andrew's Church and several business premises including the newly built two stories Whytes Hotel. Down the right hand side of the street there is another group of business premises including Liddel's two storied shop. In the foreground is what was to become the Manawatu Herald building. Horses and a cart stand on the Triangle Reserve which today accomodates the town's memorial for fallen soldiers.

The tram/railway line ran down the middle of Main Street from 1873 to 1881. In a later year a deviation was constructed which took the line to the west of the town through what is now the grounds of Manawatu College and down to a riverside reclamation. The Triangle Reserve in the foreground was first tidied up in 1899 when a post and chain fence wes erected. Cabbage trees and a seat were also installed. In 1908 John Chrystall drilled a well here which supplied water per a hand pump. Note there is no road running between Ihakara Gardens and the Triangle Reserve. The land to the west was the property of Rev. Duncan and roads through were not laid out until several years later.

Photograph: The "Old Cemetery" as it was known, became very much neglected and from the early 1900s locals began agitating for it to be cleaned up. This photograph shows how it had been invaded by pine trees. Also in the photograph is the old Court House built in the mid 1860s and replaced in 1929.

Historical background: Before any upgrading could be started the Borough had to approach the Maori owners. Several years of discussion etc. resulted in the land being offered to the Borough as a gift. In the mid 1920s the "Old Cemetery" became the focus of the activities of the Foxton Beautifying Society and they organised the cleaning up of the section, shaping and grassing of the hill, laying of footpaths, construction of the fence and planting of shrubs. Thus the "Old Cemetery" became Ihakara gardens and the town had one of its iconic features.

The oldest marked grave (1850) is that of Dr J. Best a nephew of Capt. F. Robinson whose son is also buried here. Ann, the daughter of one of the district's other early settlers T and K Kebbell, was buried here in 1854. There are certainly others whose graves are no longer marked, buried here, for this urupu of the Te Awahou marae was the only burial ground in the town until 1871. Besides Ihakara, there are six other Maori of his whanau listed on the headstones. Earlier photographs show picket fences around sites where there is now no indication of a burial having taken place. There are twelve people who it is considered would almost certainly have been buried here.

Main Street, Foxton

PHOTOGRAPH: Main Street c 1922. The Memorial to Fallen Soldiers is in place but the water tower is not. The new Ihakara Gardens fence is still to be built but note there is no sign of the marked burial plots of the 1878 photos.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: The early 1920s saw several changes at the northern end of Main Street. Noticeable in this photo is the Fallen Soldiers' Memorial on the triangle reserve. The fence around the memorial was later replaced by a concrete one which has since been removed.

On the let stands St Andrew's Church which was erected as a result of the fund raising efforts of Rev Duncan. Beyond it are the brick buildings replacing those destroyed in 1912 fire. The first of these is the general store of Barr and Tyer. Behind is the two storied Whytes Hotel.

On the right is the two storied McColl plumbers building and next to it is the home of the Manawatu Herald (now Manawatu Print), which was built 1879. This publication began in 1878, in a building next to All Saints' Church. It served the district well, although not only from this site, until 1996. There is no building next to the Herald as in 1920 the Racing Club office was burnt down and was not replaced until 1922.

The first verandah denotes Bauckhams store. This business was moved in 1924 to a new building on the corner of Clyde and Main Streets, which was built after a fire in that area. Bauckham's store was the forerunner of Foxton New World which was opened accross the street in 2002.

The picket fence in the photo was replaced by the present roughcast one as part of the Beautifying Society's upgrade in 1921-22. The present day plantings in Ihakara Gardens were part of a 1990s clean up by te Historical Society and Keep Foxton Beautiful, using funds from the sale of the Band Hall in Cook Street.

A similar photo on Kete around 1922:

Similar view in 2010:

Secondary department Foxton D H S

Foxton District High School Secondary department taken from Ihakara Gardens.

This photograph shows the building (now demolished) which stood on the land beside Ihakara Gardens. It was built as the Secondary Department of Foxton District High School and opened in 1927. As well as classrooms it contained woodwork and cooking rooms. A few years earlier the site had been considered as a possible site for school baths.

Historical Background: Until this building was opened local children had to go to boarding schools or travel by train to Palmerston North for their secondary education. The latter option meant arriving at school late and leaving early, ideal for some nut not for the serious scholar.

For many years School Committees and Headmasters pushed for provision of secondary education. Finally, in 1925, it was decided to translate Foxton Primary School into a District High School. This meant adding secondary classes to the already existing state school. During 1926 headmaster Frank Mason taught a few secondary pupils in his office while the new building was being built.

In 1952 the secondary department moved to new buildings in Lady's Mile as increasing rolls had created overcrowding. These new buildings became the basis of Manawatu College in 1961. This building continued to be used for manual training for primary and decondary classes. The primary section of the school moved a class in and also established their library in one of the rooms.

The building was later condemned and it was demolished in 1973. Ownership of the site was returned to the Maori descendants of the original owners who had donated it for educational use.

Click here to see more details of the Foxton War Memorial.

Click here to read exerpts on the History of the Foxton War Memorial published in the Manawatu Herald in 1919/1920.

The view from Clyde Street dates from the early 1900s, prior to 1905. It was in that year that the old Bank of New Zealand building (next to the first telegraph pole on the left) was burnt down. Whytes Hotel is on the left and on the other side of White Street is the Red Store of M H Walker. A flag flies on the Post Office Hotel. On the right a group stands outside the building which was built as the Bank of Australasia and in the photograph is probably a doctor's surgery. It was also used by the Salvation Army Red Shield Club before it was burnt down.

Historical background: The wide Main Street of Foxton has been one of its features from the first plan. The original tramway/railway ran down the middle to the station next to the Wharf Street corner. There were often complaints about the wagons of stock left in the street overnight and Foxtonians were pleased to see the line removed to the riverside in 1881. The muddy surface was not sealed until 1912.

In the foreground is an ornate gas lamp. The reticulation of coal gas through the town was started by a private firm in 1908. The gasworks were in Cook Street and the Borough took them over in 1910. These works were closed in 1938 and all signs of them have now been removed. The lamplighter lost jis job when electric lighting was installed in 1925.

The red Store across Whyte Street was founded by Thos Westwood in 1894 and sold to M H Walker in 1899. The next owner was Thomas Rimmer who was also a builder. It was burnt down in one of the many fires of 1912.

Continued on next topic: A walk through historic Foxton - Part 2 - Click here to read