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Remember the Marble Cafe?

Graham Groombridge, grandson of Fred Groombridge Snr, lives in the USA but stopped by the Archive on a recent visit to Feilding to reminisce about his family's businesses in the town.  

The Marble Cafe, located  in Manchester Street before moving to Fergusson Street in 1932 (where McCraes Pharmacy now stands), took its name from the marble slab top tables with which it was furnished and served the very first ice cream in Feilding.  Graham's father, Fred Jnr and Uncle Alan also worked in the Fergusson Street shop.


Grandfather Fred also owned the Tivoli Theatre (1927-1951) and was responsible for the film "Francis of Feilding". 

Fred Snr travelled in the early days with Montgomeries' Company of Entertainers, singing and playing banjo and telling stories and jokes.


We Love Coincidences!

Earlier this month, an 1890s photograph of Emily Russell and her family was brought along to the Coach House Museum for "Smoko" discussion, and on the same day we received a CD from the Waikato Bay of Plenty Council Library relating to Herman Louis Seifert - who turns out to be the man Emily Russell married!  

The "Seifert Photo Album 1929" contains 45 photos taken on trips to flax plantations in the Manawatu, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and East Coast.  Herman was a flaxmill owner/dairy farmer living in the Foxton/Levin/Palmerston North area.

Herman and Emily married in Wanaka on 1 November 1894 and after "a substantial wedding breakfast had been partaken of, the happy young couple left for Queenstown by coach, taking with them the best wishes of all friends and well-wishers."


Restoring the Colonel

Held in pride of place within the archive is a painting of Feilding's namesake, William Henry Adelbert Feilding (son of the 7th Earl of Denbigh), and steps are being taken to restore the portrait and its interesting frame.

General The Honourable William Feilding was a British soldier serving with the Coldstream Guards.  He served in the Crimean War and was British commissioner to the French Army during the Franco-Prussian War.    In 1871, as a Colonel and Director of the Emigrants and Colonists Aid Corporation, he was selected to travel to both Australia and New Zealand looking at blocks of land suitable for their proposed emigration scheme for the labouring classes.

Finding offerings in Queensland not to his taste, he sailed to New Zealand and within a short time journeyed to Foxton where he met Arthur Halcombe and the two of them travelled inland to the Manawatu for a look at land the New Zealand Government had for sale.  Back in Wellington on 20 December 1871 an agreement was reached to purchase 106,000 acres for 75,000 pounds and the recruiting of emigrants in England began.

The Colonel came back to visit the new settlement of Feilding in 1875.  Immigrants had been arriving for a year, and life had been struggle for them - not the rolling green fields they had been expecting with a wet winter adding to their woes.  However, when (now General) Feilding made his next visit in 1895, great progress had been made and he was able to view a thriving settlement.

Unfortunately, General Feilding died of cholera in Bangkok on his way back to England, and is buried in the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.





Feilding & Districts is a dedicated repository for the area's history.
If you have any historical documents or photographs about this area or its people,
please consider donating them to the FDCA.