Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures
Town Hall / Princess Theatre
The beginnings of moving pictures in Hastings began in 1880 at the Princess Theatre (or Town Hall). it was built in 1880 at a cost of 900 pounds (130,000 in todays terms) it was funded by a number of Hastings residents. It was situated between Nelson Street and King Streets on the South side of what was called Havelock Omahu Road (now Heretaunga Street West) In 1892 the Town Hall wa renamed the Princess Theatre. In 1897 George Ellis bought the Princess Theatre.
He ade alterations so it will be more suitable for traveling vaudeville artists. The first kinematograph arrived ther was a rush to see these early moving pictures.

King's Theatre
The king’s Theatre which was owned by the Hastings Permanent Picture Company
Ltd. Was opened on 18 July 1910; it was Hastings’s first purpose built theatre for exclusively showing moving pictures. The Directors wee JD Rivers, Frederick Hartshorn, and R Sorenson who was the Manager.
Kings Theatre was situated in Karamu Road, it seated 736 and prices were 1 shilling & sixpence.

The Municipal Theatre
The Hastings Munuicipal Theatre was built in 1915 at a cost of 15000 pounds (1.5 million dollars in todays terms.) The spanish mission style buildding was designed by Eli White. The Theatre was built with a Biograph (Projection box) in the Gods.
The hastings Municipal Theatre was completed on the 11 October 1915. One tender was received for the showing of moving pictures for the Hastings Municipal Theatre that was from William McCormick. 20% of all taking were to go to the Council for the Theatre hireage.
The first custodian of the theatre was Thomas Scott. Movies were charge at 1 shilling and sixpence for the dress circle, 1 shilling for the stalls and sixpence for the gods. The first film shown was "The jockey of death" The revenue received from the moving pictures would reduce the amount of rates that the Hastings residents had to pay. The showing of miving pictures by William McCormack came to an end in March 1916. It was bought buy the Council for 125 pounds 15 shillings. Phil Murdoch was appointed as Manager / Pprojectionist.
Talkies were introduce d to the Municipal Theatre on 24 March 1930 when the "Coconuts" with the Marx Brothers was screened. Divorcee was the last film to be shown before the 1931 Earthquake. The next movie didn't screen to February 1932 "The sin of Madelon Claudet"

for more information see "The Reel Story by Michael Fowler"

Monday, 10 November 2008

Michael Fowler on Moving pictures in the Hastings Municipal Theatre.

Michael Fowler is a chartered accountant who lectures in business at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Taradale. His first book was was "From Inkwell's to E-mail: The story of Accounting in Hawke's Bay", which was released in 2005, the second was "From Disaster to Recovery: The Hastings CBD 1931-35". He has written numerous articles on accounting and in recent years his research activity has focused on business history.

His current book, co-authored with David Turnbull, is called The Reel Story: A history of Napier and Hastings Cinemas 1896-1996 was launched on 28 October at Century Theatre in Napier. Material covered in the book include the history of all the cinemas based in Napier and Hastings from 1896-1996; disasters that have affected the cinemas, such as fire; earthquake and disease; some of the more colourful personalities who worked in the industry; Natalie of Napier; and a Daughter of Hastings - which were two local Hollywood style movies produced in Napier and Hastings in the 1920s.
The book launch was step-back-in-time movie night to celebrate the release of a book about 100 years of cinema in Napier and Hastings drew people from as far away as the United States and Australia. The event was staged at Napier's Century Theatre on Tuesday and attracted about 250 people. Co-authors of The Reel Story, Michael Fowler and Dave Turnbull, were delighted with the turnout. Mr Turnbull said relatives and family of people who featured in the book, particularly in the colourful 1920s and 1930s era, travelled to the Bay for the launch.
A 40-minute program of nostalgia, from Woody Woodpecker to Laurel and Hardy, delighted the audience - who were issued with Jaffas and ice cream.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wendy Doole (Whitlock Family & the Herald Tribune)

Wendy Doole (Whitlock Family & the Herald Tribune)
W. C. Whitlock set out to transform the paper into the one of the leading provincial dailies in the country.With the help of William Nelson and others he formed the Truibune Company Ltd.
The standard was incorporated into the Hawke's Bay Tribune with Whitlock as the editor . The first issue was printed on 10th December 1910. WC Whitlock was a no nonsense newspaper editor, his editorials were direct and he was never shy of forcefully stating his opinion.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Patrick Parsons 1855 Earthquake

It started with a hunch and some curosity as to whether the 1855 earthquake of the Waiarapa actually had any lasting effect on Hawke's Bay. There appeared to be nothing reported in the newspapers of the time idicating that it had reached Hawke's Bay. However upon researching further into to there were indications it may have been felt as far north as Wairoa. A journey with Richard Schumacher and Bob Bruce out the back of Raukawa show some scarring on the landscape that had not really been noticed before. Mick Stewart then proceded to show me
some large landslides in Valley Road, where 1/2 the hillside had slipped leaving a harsh cliff face remaining. This must have been a result of a major force. Glen Ares Valley show similar scenes and scarring of the landscape. Was this caused by the 1931 earthquake? After talking to the locals, Tom & Lenora McCormick who was raised in Valley Road, He was there in the 1931 earthquake and these crevases were already there. Stories of the Locals and locals before them indicate it was the 1855 earthquake.
At a Tsunami Conference in Napier in March 2002 at the War Memoraial Centre, Gaye Downs an Australia Proessor who has subsequently retired in Wellington, asked about the 1855 Quake and the William Colenso letters held in Kew, telling of the shake in Hawke's Bay. Gaye sent copies to Patrick Parson, the first hard evidence that the quake was felt in Hawke's Bay and the severity of it.
William Colenso letter to Butler:
.. 23 February 1855
Re 1855 Earthquake
We have recently been visited by violent shock of an earthquake on 23 January 1855.
The first shock ocurred 11pm with a very severe jolt sent us spinning, I was as usual sitting down reading at my desk. The jolt and resulting shakes and swaying sent us into a panic. I
ran around the table throught two doors to the outside door. It was only just in time as my bookshelves came tumbling down and all 4500 volumes, my specimen jars, glasses pistols
and all. I thought the chinmey had come down too...
Seeing the eartquake and nature at it best first hand was to be admired... feeling safe about
it was beyond my ability....
... the rocking motion like that of a steamer shuddering, and swaying and the tall weeping
willows with there long weepy branches lashing about the earth and then sweeping the sky
withh post fences rattling and creaking... the rivers angry mood with river levels rising and
falling looking to spill over to the stream of pale light in the sky with fire tails leaping nor more than 3 or 4 feet about the ground, bright bule and white and hurting my eye to look at it...
When I finally found my way back inside I found my table and chair hard snack against the chimney, bookshelves thrown in all directions all the volumes on the floor from the Encyclopaedia Britannica to my Diary, all my china, jars and glasses smashed.
Wellington as usual had big losses, huge damage to buildings, all brick work had come down.
Few buildings were left standing
and so it went on.
Following this another visit to Raukawa and Valley Road. Ian McPhee and Tess White daughter of the McFarlands had huge slips 1/2 hour out the back of the farm. On the west side there
were long clean breaks and huge slumps few metres down. He said its visible all the way along
and you just need to be able to read the landscape.
Poppy White said she rode up the valley after the 1931 earthquake and the massive slips and crevase were already there and had been for years. In fact there was very little change to the valley from the 1931 earthquake.
James Padman in Wairoa said in a letter that the river level had risen several metres during the earthquake.
It is now quite apparent that the 1855 earthquake had a lasting effect on no only the people but the landscape too. Patrick is recording his findings as an official document.

Earthquakes: Our ten Big Ones

Earthquakes: Our ten big ones
Here's a list of 10 significant earthquakes recorded in New Zealand's history. Nine of them are magnitude 7.0 or more on the Richter scale. (Last night's quake east of Gisborne measured 6.8).
Others in our nation's past have been higher than 7.0, but have occured in non-populated areas or offshore.
1848 - MARLBOROUGH(M 7.5, 16 October.) The earthquake that shook Marlborough on Monday 16 October was the largest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region that year.
1855 - WAIRARAPA(M 8.2, 23 January.) The 1855 earthquake is the most severe earthquake to have occurred in New Zealand since systematic European colonisation began in 1840.
1888 - NORTH CANTERBURY(M 7.1, 1 September.) In 1888 the Amuri District was shaken by a large earthquake that reached intensities of MM 9.
1929 - MURCHISON(M 7.7, 17 June.) The massive rumbling of the 1929 Murchison earthquake was heard as far away as New Plymouth
1931 - HAWKE'S BAY(M 7.8, 3 February.) The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake caused the largest loss of life and most extensive damage of any quake in New Zealand's recorded history.
1934 - PAHIATUA(M 7.6, 5 March.) The 1934 Pongaroa earthquake shook the lower North Island on March 5 1934 and was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.
1942 - WAIRARAPA I(M 7.2, 24 June.) This earthquake severely rocked the lower North Island on June 24, 1942, causing extensive damage to local buildings.
1942 - WAIRARAPA II(M 7.0, 2 August.) The shock that struck the Wairarapa Region on the 2nd of August was nearly as severe as the disastrous June 24 earthquake five weeks earlier.
1968 - INANGAHUA(M 7.0, 24 May.) The 1968 Inangahua earthquake caused widespread damage, and was felt over much of the country.
1987 - EDGECUMBE(M 6.1, 2 March.) The shallow origin of this earthquake made it very destructive, despite its magnitude of only 6.1.
* source:

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

1855 Earthquake

Te Ara Report
n 1855 a magnitude 8.2 earthquake – the most powerful ever recorded in New Zealand – rocked the southern part of the North Island. Caused by movement along a fault in Palliser Bay, it altered the landscape of the Wellington region and affected its subsequent urban development.
Intensity of the earthquake
The evening of 23 January 1855 was the end of a two-day holiday, the 15th anniversary of Wellington’s founding. Shortly after 9 p.m. a violent earthquake began; in Wellington the main shock lasted for at least 50 seconds. People fled outdoors, where they remained for the night in tents and makeshift beds, as incessant aftershocks rocked the area – one person counted 250 in the first 11 hours. The aftershocks would continue for months. For the first day after the main quake, as far away as New Plymouth an almost continuous vibration could be felt by people sitting, or when leaning against walls.
After the 1848 Marlborough earthquake, many Wellington buildings had been rebuilt in wood. Some new commercial premises, however, were constructed of brick because of fire risk. The 1855 earthquake damaged many of these, including the jail and the bank. The local council chambers and adjoining government offices, both two-storey wooden buildings, collapsed. However, single-storey wooden houses survived: although many were damaged by falling brick chimneys, or shifted on their foundations, few collapsed.
The number of fatalities caused by the earthquake is estimated at five. The sole casualty in Wellington was Baron von Alzdorf, who died when a brick chimney in his hotel collapsed. Two people died in a fissure in the Manawatū. In the Wairarapa, several Māori (their reported number varies from two to six), were killed when a whare collapsed. Surprisingly few people were injured. The quake was fekt as far South as Christchurch & Kaikoura to New Plymouth and Wanganui in the west to as far North as Palmerston North, Hawke's Bay including Wairoa.

Effects on land and sea
In the Hutt Valley, slips blocked roads and large fissures opened up in the ground. Numerous landslides scarred the slopes of the Rimutaka Range. The earthquake caused a tsunami in Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour; some buildings on Lambton Quay near the shoreline were flooded by tsunami waves.

The shock was felt across almost the whole country, and was highly destructive in Wellington 8.2 and severely damaging in Wanganui and Kaikoura. Between seven and nine people were killed in the earthquake, and five others sustained injuries that required hospitalisation.
The earthquake originated on the Wairarapa Fault and caused extensive faulting and uplift in epicentral areas. The latter was most dramatic at Muka Muka, on the western side of Palliser Bay, where the ground was raised by 2.7 m. Significant uplift also occurred in Wellington city, most noticably around Wellington Harbour, altering the city's shoreline considerably. Today, Wellington's Basin Reserve sports ground sits on land lifted by this earthquake; the area had previously been part of a waterway that led into the harbour. The ground level at Pauatahanui, Lowry Bay, and to the east of Lake Wairarapa was also raised, but it is possible that this was caused by material being deposited, rather than tectonic uplift.
The earthquake triggered extensive landsliding on both faces of the Rimutaka Ranges, along the Kaikoura coast and in Wellington, where access to Petone was cut off when a large landslide containing ~300,000 m3 of material cascaded down to block the coastal track north. The slip is still visible today along the Hutt Road. The shaking also created numerous slump cracks in flat areas of Wellington, the Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, and in the Manawatu district. In these areas the earthquake also triggered sandblows and the eruption of groundwater at the surface, the result of massive pressure increases underground that were caused by the shaking.
The earthquake was followed by many aftershocks, some of which were very damaging. There is strong evidence that the earthquake generated a local tsunami and it is also possible that small tsunami accompanied some aftershocks.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Roswhita Robertson Fashion Shows of the 50's and 60's in Hastings

Roswitha Robertson was born in the town Vienna and attended London to study fashion at the London Technical College. Roswitha Married a Senior Warrant Officer in the NZ Air Force.

After World War Roswitha move to NZ with her husband a they settled in Hastings. In 1956 astings was proclaimed a city, with apopulation of just over 20,000. Vienna had a population of 1.9 million and was only a town. Roswitha started her own dressmaking business. She was influenced by Christian Dior and Coc Channel.

The first Christian Dior couture show was scheduled for 12 February 1947. Clothes were still scarce and women wore the sharp-shouldered suits with knee-length skirts that they had cobbled together as makeshift wartime versions of Elsa Schiaparelli’s slinky 1930s silhouette. The Paris couture trade, which had dominated international fashion since the late 18th century, was in a precarious state. What it needed was excitement and Christian Dior delivered it in a collection of luxurious clothes with soft shoulders, waspy waists and full flowing skirts intended for what he called “flower women”. Then in 1948 "Dior New Look" fashion, beige silk hussore jacket with black wool skirt, the advent of the Tight fitting coat, and the bar suit. This fashion would stand the test of time.
Spring 1955's "A-line," with its undefined waist and smooth silhouette that widened over the hips and legs, resembled a capital "A."
Her first fashion show was for a Bicycle Queen pagent to raise money for the Red Cross. She had to prepare 30 garments for the fashion parade. This was all at her own expense. The show was raised some money for the Red Cross, but she didn't sell one garment and it was a financial flop for her.

In 1953 The "Greater Hastings" organisation formed and organised a "come together" to get the town a country together for the betterment of Hastings. They took the City to the country.

In 1957 the idea of a Blossom Parade and fashion show was mooted. This was to be the start of the annual Blossom parades. This time the country came to the city. There were excursion trains from Wellington and Gisborne bring people for the weekend. 50,000 people came for the Blossom Parade a nd fashion show. This harmonised the city and everyone dressed up to show off the city to the visitors. Skirt dresses and coats knee level were in and by early 1960's the bar suit above knee level was in fashion then came the minis and the hippie sixties.

1963 was Roswitha was asked to provide a selection garments for the "Selwyn Toogood" fashion Show to held in Hastings in 1964.. This was to be her biggest business gamble as it was going to take months to prepare she had to clos ethe business for 3 months while still paying her staff so she had time to make the arry of grments required. The Municipal Theatre had a cat walk built in the middle protrding out from the stage. Roswhita was required to fill the theatre full twice.
There was Selwyn Toogood, Musicians, Models and all. Selwyn Toogood tried to used the models changing room but was told by Riswhita to use the gents toilets.
29th August 1964 a full house standing room only. Roswhita fill it twice with standing room only.
Roswhita did numerous fun raising pagents. including Red Cross, Plunket

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Napoleon Bonaparte

Di Taylor shared with us an enthusiasm of Napoleon that I had never seen before. It was a live and enthusiastic talk on the life and time of Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on 15 August 1769 in Corsica into a gentry family. Educated at military school, he was rapidly promoted and in 1796, was made commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and its allies to make peace. In 1798, Napoleon conquered Ottoman-ruled Egypt in an attempt to strike at British trade routes with India. He was stranded when his fleet was destroyed by the British at the Battle of the Nile.
France now faced a new coalition - Austria and Russia had allied with Britain. Napoleon returned to Paris where the government was in crisis. In a coup d'etat in November 1799, Napoleon became first consul. In 1802, he was made consul for life and two years later, emperor. He oversaw the centralisation of government, the creation of the Bank of France, the reinstatement of Roman Catholicism as the state religion and law reform with the Code Napoleon.
In 1800, he defeated the Austrians at Marengo. He then negotiated a general European peace which established French power on the continent. In 1803 Britain resumed war with France, later joined by Russia and Austria. Britain inflicted a naval defeat on the French at Trafalgar (1805) so Napoleon abandoned plans to invade England and turned on the Austro-Russian forces, defeating them at Austerlitz later the same year. He gained much new territory, including annexation of Prussian lands which ostensibly gave him control of Europe. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, Holland and Westphalia created, and over the next 5 years, Napoleon's relatives and loyalists were installed as leaders (in Holland, Westphalia, Italy, Naples, Spain and Sweden).
In 1810, he had his childless marriage to Josephine de Beauharnais annulled and married the daughter of the Austrian emperor in the hope of having an heir. A son, Napoleon, was born a year later.The Peninsular War began in 1808. Costly French defeats over the next five years drained French military resources. Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 resulted in a disastrous retreat. The tide started to turn in favour of the allies and in March 1814, Paris fell. Napoleon went into exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba. In March 1815 he escaped and marched on the French capital. The Battle of Waterloo ended his brief reign. The British imprisoned him on the remote Atlantic island of St. Helena where he died on 5 May 1821.

Napoleon's own opinion of his career is best stated in the following quotation:
I closed the gulf of anarchy and brought order out of chaos. I rewarded merit regardless of birth or wealth, wherever I found it. I abolished feudalism and restored equality to all regardless of religion and before the law. I fought the decrepit monarchies of the Old Regime because the alternative was the destruction of all this. I purified the Revolution.”

Monday, 30 June 2008

Di Taylor talking on Napoleon Bonaparte

Di Taylor is a Local Library user and Book Club member. She Is a book lover and Napoleon Queen extraordanaire. Di appeared on the NZ TV show "Mastermind" and Napoleon was her specialised topic. Napoleon is a the brillant and talente dindividual in history according to Di Taylor.
Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France1769-1821
One of the most brilliant individuals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte was a masterful soldier, an unequalled grand tactician and a superb administrator. He was also utterly ruthless, a dictator and, later in his career, thought he could do no wrong.
Not a Frenchman by birth, Napoleon Bonaparte was born at Ajaccio on Corsica - only just sold to France by the Italian state of Genoa - on 15 August 1769 and learnt French at the school of Autun and later the military academy at Brienne. He never fully mastered French and his spelling left a lot to be desired.
The revolutionary fever that was spreading when Bonaparte was a teenager allowed a talented individual the opportunity to rise far beyond what could have been achieved only a few years previously.

His first real military opportunity came as a captain of artillery at the siege of Toulon, where he expertly seized crucial forts and was able to bombard the British naval and land forces, eventually forcing them to sail away.
Now a brigadier-general, Bonaparte served in the army campaigning in Italy but found himself arrested and jailed for being an associate of the younger brother of Maximilien Robespierre.
With no position for him after his release, Bonaparte thought about joining the Turkish army and even joining a naval expedition to Australia, but became involved with a member of the Directory, Paul Barras, who used the young man's zeal to put down a royalist mob in 1795 with the now legendary " whiff of grapeshot".
With his loyalty and ruthlessness proven, the next year Bonaparte took up command of the Army of Italy and set off on a campaign that was to take him to absolute power in France and Europe.
Initially treated with suspicion, and not a little contempt, by the older generals he superceded, Bonaparte won over his badly treated soldiers with promises of great things to come and a large helping of personal bravery. Like Caesar, he was not afraid to get into the thick of the fighting to inspire his men.
In a series of battles that included such as Motenotte, Mondovi, Arcola and Rivoli, Bonaparte swept the board of ageing Austrian generals and established himself as one of the leading soldiers of his time.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Angus Gordon - Clifton Station

Tonights meeting was attended by approximately 78 interested members of the community, as well as Library Staff and Landmarks Local History Committee members.
A 140-year old sheep and cattle station at Clifton Beach, which has been in the same family for five generations. From the exquisite homestead, throught to the extensive coastal garden farm buildings and old woolshed the ornate history has been preserved.
The homestead, a 100-year old two storied colonial mansion looks across the Bay to Napier and the Mahia Peninsula. From the top of the hill behind the house, you will be rewarded with views over all of Hawke's Bay and a short walk will take you to some early Maori dwelling sites.

The book came about through a number of factors, the largest one being the safe in the homestead. It was full of old documents, books, letters & accounts dating back to the 1870's.
Frank Gordon was not interested in history but was a great station manager and stickler for detail. Frank reported back to England at least each month sometimes more often. He would give a summary of activities, detailing numbers of sheep, wool prices, sales costs of feed and accounts paid etc. This combined with family requesting the history be kept alive increased the desire to write a book. Originally to be the great New Zealand novel, the first paragraph
"the light is Grecian, hectic on the exposed brow, but soft on the perception, draining in its lucidity, but quite fluid. it filters though the manuka trees along the cliff tops, dropping off the edge into the bay. The bay which is clam, stony but sandy in spells hold clues to light , which are not altogether historical..."
but after the second paragraph
"... An elegant full masted schooner slips across the horizon and enters a brand new dimension of time... the owner is my great great grandfather James Gillespie Gordon accompanied withone of his son's William Cracoft Gordon..."
decided that it would be non fiction - a factual story about the family and the Clifton Station area.
James Gillespie Gordon was born 1794 in Dumfries, Scotland the son of Thomas and Agnes Gordon of Clouden Bank, Dumfries. Agnes had been a Kirkpatrick and was the first Cousin of William Kirkpatrick, the Grandfather of Empress Eugenie of France , Napoleon III’s wife.
James married Elizabeth Don of the wealthy jute manufacturing family of Dons in Forfar, Scotland. They had two sons Thomas Edward Gordon and William Cracroft Gordon. James his fortune as a merchant in Benares, India.
After the Indian Mutiny in 1857 he returned to India to find the bank crash had severely depleted his assets and was faced with having to start a new life. He saw an opportunity in sailing to New Zealand to make a new start, being able to buy a lot of newly available land at reasonably cheap prices.
James had a schooner and came to New zealand in 1861 to check out the feasibly of his idea
James Gillespie Gordon decided sheep farming in the newly developing colony of New Zealand was the way to go for the future of the family now and for generations to come.
James Gillespie Gordon by the time he arrived in New Zealand in 1866 was a white haired gentleman.The original Clifton Station of 13,500 acres was purchased in 1859 from the Crown by James for ₤3375 (this included the later purchase of the Ranga Ika Block). It stretched from Cape Kidnappers to Ocean Beach. He went back to get his family and loaded the schooner up with timber and prefabricated teak house blocks for the homestead he wanted to build and some Indian army mules. He bought with him all the antique furniture and other personal belongings and headed for New Zealand.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Clifton History - "In the shadow of the cape..."

This is the story of one family’s attachment to a special piece of land, Clifton, for the last 145 years. The Gordon family at Clifton are now into the sixth generation to live here.
The original Clifton Station of 13,500 acres was purchased in 1859 from the Crown by James Gillespie Gordon for £3375. It stretched from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers and right down to Ocean Beach. Today the home block of Clifton Station is 2000 acres and is owned by Angus and Dinah Gordon.
Clifton now is more than a productive property that has kept many Gordons nourished for a long time. It is an emotional attachment to the land, where every corner holds a memory. It is a place of varying lights and hues, where the dynamics of the weather change it yearly from a green oasis to a burnished and parched landscape, and where the sea challenges each day with a myriad of different moods.
Want to find out more come along on Tuesday 10th June at 5.30pm @ Hastings Central Library.
Gold coin donation for a great evening learning about our history.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Angus Gordon and his topic is “In the Shadow of the Cape – the Gordon family history of Clifton”.

Our Guest speaker for June 10th meeeting is Angus Gordon and his topic is “In the Shadow of the Cape – the Gordon family history of Clifton”. Gordon will talk to us about his book and the history of the cape and in particular the clifton area.
This is an easy-to-read, 216 page history of the original European family, the Gordons, who in 1859 bought the iconically beautiful 13,500 acre (5465 hectare) Cape Kidnappers block of land in Hawke’s Bay from the Crown, and called it Clifton.
It is a very personal book, written by the current owner of Clifton Station, Angus Gordon, who has a degree in English Literature from Victoria University (1972). Like a novel, it traces the lives, tragedies, disasters and triumphs of the 6 generations of the same family, who still own and farm 5774 acres (2338 hectares) of the original block at Clifton and at Ocean Beach.
Stories of some of the more colourful characters to have lived and worked at Clifton Station are also included. 200 black and white photographs are placed strategically throughout the book to give further interest to the story. There is also a selection of colour photographs at the back. The book, published by the author himself, is a trimmed A4 size with hardcover, and has been printed by CHB Print.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Overview of James Chapman Taylor From Judy Siers Talk & Book

James Walter Chapman-Taylor’s life was dedicated to designing and building houses. His style, consistency and commitment aligned with the principles of William Morris, and Chapman-Taylor would become his farthest-flung follower. The two did not meet: William Morris died in 1896, and it was not until 1909 that Chapman-Taylor returned to England, the country of his birth, which he had left in 1880. However, in 1909 he was to meet English architects who followed the Arts and Crafts creed, and who further inspired him.
Chapman-Taylor built his first house in 1903, and the 96 buildings that followed all revealed his commitment to the English Arts and Crafts Movement, which had become, by that time, an international movement.
His childhood was spent in colonial Ngaire, south of Stratford in Taranaki, living with his parents on heavily forested land that they slowly converted to a highly productive dairy farm. The assumption was that Chapman-Taylor would become a dairy farmer but his ambition lay elsewehere, as did his heart. He wanted to design and build houses, and the first step was a building apprenticeship with Boon Bros Construction Company in Taranaki. As well, he studied architecture by correspondence with the International Correspondence School, Pennsylvania, USA. He graduated and his career unfurled and flourished in Wellington through the early 1900s.
His education was superior to that of many colonial children, as he was taught by both parents: Theodore, his highly educated father, and his mother, Ada, who had been employed as a governess in England and Europe before her marriage. She was also an experienced writer and regularly contributed to English and New Zealand newspapers. She taught her children to learn literary tracts by heart – the Bible, Shakespeare, the classics – and they learnt astronomy. Chapman-Taylor became enthralled with the mysteries of the southern skies – so bright and clear in the darkness of the Taranaki bush – and later in life he would become a highly successful, professional astrologer. The family was isolated, with few neighbours, and they developed their imaginations and a creative understanding of the world around them – the spiritual world of the trees, the birds, all under the shadow of the Mount Taranaki that Chapman-Taylor would photograph as an adult and about which he would write his romantic descriptions:
“Taranaki gathers his Korowai cloak around his shoulders. The gathering clouds tinged to rose-pink with the colours of the sunset, are likened to a Maori cloak lined with the feathers of the Kaka.”

Chapman-Taylor attended the local Ngaire School that opened in 1882. Here the standards of scholastic achievement were variable, and, in country style, adventure was never far away. Stories of the boys’ escapades have survived, and some are retold in the Ngaire School Souvenir Booklet, A History of the School and District 1882-1957; Chapman-Taylor contributed his story, titled “An Old Boy Looks Backwards”. Here he explained the inability of the teacher to control the children, of whom he was one: “For justification my words must speak. My ‘concrete’ mind developed later on, but in childhood I lived in a dream-world of romance which was evidence of things to come, if only my parents had known it.”
Theodore had a passion for English heritage and volumes of books that he could share with his children. Ada’s interests included art, architecture, education and socialism, and books included John Ruskin’s and William Morris’s writings. Reading these with his parents, alongside the regular magazines and newspapers from London, shaped and influenced the young Chapman-Taylor. Many of the books became his enduring literary treasures.
Chapman-Taylor married Mary Gibson in 1900, two children were born soon after, and the family moved to Wellington in 1905. He designed and built their first home, at Island Bay, a house the locals called “The Church House” because of the high gabled extension to the roof, above the front entrance.
He advertised and promoted himself as “architect and craftsman”, and his business cards offered designs for “houses, furniture and gardens”. His first houses were signposts of the future, revealing his distinctive touch and his vernacular interpretation of the English cottage style that the Arts and Crafts Movement promoted, and Chapman-Taylor preferred.
They were constructed in timber, followed by experiments in lath and plaster with rough-cast, exterior finish; but also employing brick, stone, and concrete block. Reinforced concrete houses would follow after 1912. The characteristic high roof with Marseille tiles, small paned windows and a love of jarrah timber in the interiors of the houses defined his work. Many room designs were completed with both built-in and free standing furniture, an opportunity Chapman-Taylor welcomed. He worked the timber with a distinctive adzed finish – a technique he had perfected as a child on the farm. He designed his houses, interiors and furniture to suit the client’s way of life, and he often included careful planning of how the rooms would be used to full advantage – a position for the writing desk, for example, shelves for books, the studio space, the piano. His fireplaces were either an inglenook design, with built-in seating, or corner pieces with seats on each side.
The mantle pieces were artfully planned for ornaments, lamps, candles, flowers and niches for special artistic objects; and, imagining that members of the family could well seek quietness within the embrace of the family, in the sitting room (often referred to in Arts and Crafts language as the “Houseplace”), he offered half-walled corner designs that he called “the den”.
Small windows, sometimes rounded, were positioned for just enough light into the allotted space, often onto the ingle-nook – practical but with a theatrical flair.
Chapman-Taylor loved his houses as if they were for himself and kept in contact with his clients over many years, some until his death. It was hard for him to let them out of his life – visiting them regularly and taking photographs. Yet he knew his limits and wrote that “the craftsman builds the house but those who live in it make the home”.
His magazine articles, as early as 1907, are evidence of a confident young architect and designer, and an indication of his search for more than the material results in his achievements. Romance engaged with the spiritual path and the magical ingredients of love, commitment, truth and beauty. The words of William Morris - “have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” – resonated, were consumed and took flight in Chapman-Taylor’s vocabulary:
“When we set out to build a cottage it is well that we should realise the responsibility of our undertaking. We all know that man is the result of a chain of circumstances which from his earliest moments gradually builds and moulds his character. Man is influenced by his environment for good and evil. But besides its mechanical perfection it has spiritual beauty. Most of us are born in cottages. In them we receive our earliest and most lasting impressions. In them we live out our lives. Our cottage exercises an influence on our characters such as most of us little dream. Beauty in our homes will put beauty in our hearts.”
Later in his life, from the mid-1920s, Chapman-Taylor turned his remarkable multi-talents to photography; and his understanding of astronomy to astrology and the production of horoscopes. These became professional activities in addition to his architectural and building commissions, and served him well during the lean years up to and during the Depression; he continued until his death.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Judy Siers - Mystery Speaker

Judy Siers author and publisher in her private life and in 2007 published the biography: The life and times of James Walter Chapman-Taylor, architect and builder, best known in Havelock North for his Arts and Crafts houses.
Judy was previously a Wellington City Councillor, 1992- 2004, working in all areas of Council business. Her particular focus was the community, natural and built environment; and in cultural heritage which fits well with the Napier Art Deco and Heritage City objectives.

Judy gave us an inspiring talking about history, from her house in Ngaio to the Wellington area and the "Onslow Historical Society" to "James Walter Chapman-Taylor"
Judy was over-whelmed with the fabulous response to the first edition. 1,500 copies sold in 10 months and the correspondence from readers who have enjoyed the work has been hugely appreciated. So much so that a second volume book is now underway. This is a form of epilogue that could have been included in the first edition except for the size and scale of The Life and Times of James Walter Chapman-Taylor - it was already a massive tome.
'The Life and Times of James Walter Chapman-Taylor' judy enabled us to enter into the life and times of a man, a family, a society, and ways of thinking and acting different to, yet not so distant from, our own. We enter the world of an architect, who is also an artist; builder, craftsman; a theosophist, an astrologer, a photographer, a furniture maker. We are presented with the life story of a complex and talented man, a man who influenced the lives of others, and was influenced by particular beliefs, both religious and artistic.
A fabulous night enjoyed by a group of 48 interested Historians, Genealogists, Librarians and members of the community.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Inaugural Mystery Speaker for Landmarks Historical Group

The inaugural speaker for our first meeting will be a "Mystery” speaker.
Tuesday 13th of May 2008
Hastings Central Library
Activities Area Upstairs
Gold Coin Donation

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

HDC Landmarks Historical Group Formed

A group of 12 people have formed a historical group focusing on the history of Hastings and the District.
They will meet/organise a speaker every 2nd Tuesday of the month at the Hastings Library at 5.30pm till 6.30pm.
Currently the main contact people getting everything started are: Michael Fowler, Joyce Barry and Lily Baker.
In the next few weeks Landmarks and Michael Fowler will look after press releases to encourage people to share their Hastings memories and local knowledge with our “community”.
There will be a $2.00 coin donation on these evenings to cover the costs of a present for the speakers and possibly refreshments.
Their first speaker will be a “mystery” speaker on Tuesday 13th of May 2008 at 5.30pm…