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A Silent Tribute to Those Who Served

There are many photographs already held at the Feilding & Districts Community Archive of young men from Feilding and surrounding farming areas who headed off to the various war zones of World War 1. When conserving and cataloguing photographs of these young men, volunteers at the archive often research the pictures and make connections between those who returned, their families, and the part they played in the ongoing development of our community.

Most soldiers had a formal or studio photograph taken of themselves in uniform before they headed off. Such formal photos of the young men in uniform sometimes included a family group, friends or sweethearts. For our World War 1 remembrance project, Feilding & District Community Archives is planning a silent digital presentation of photographs of our local men to be screened in the theatrette in the Coach House Museum.

We need your help! We need as many of these photos as we can lay our hands on. We’d like people to dig out those old albums and biscuit boxes and find those photos that are tucked away in many of our homes. Either the original photo (on loan if preferred) or a high resolution digital scan is required as photocopies will not be of suitable quality. Archive staff can help to convert the original photographs for computer use if needed.  

Include the name(s) of the person or persons in the photo, printed clearly on the form provided (see link below), and drop them off at the reception desk of the Coach House Museum marked for delivery to the “FDCA WW1 Project”, or email them to archives@feildingarchive.org before the end of February 2015.  If you wish the photograph returned, please include your name and mailing address, or alternatively gift the photograph to the community archive collection. 

Help us to create a small tribute to all those local lads who served in the Great War, and to their families who waited anxiously for them to come safely home.

WW1 Project Form


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.