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Initially treated with suspicion, and not a little contempt, by the older generals he superceded, Bonaparte won over his badly treated soldiers with promises of great things to come and a large helping of personal bravery.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.