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Arthur Harold Fraser

Every body needs a daughter like Mrs Jean Glover.

Years ago, a photograph album was handed into the Feilding Library and this was added to the community archive material that the library was storing on behalf of the district. The album came to the newly built community archive at the Coach House Museum and has been stored in the commissioned archival-standards building that was completed in 2009. Now cleaned, conserved and data catalogued the photographs and papers tell an interesting story.

Mrs Glover set the album out to tell the story of her father, Arthur Harold Fraser. It starts with a full birth certificate that gives his arrival as 10th August, 1896. The earliest pictures are of a young Harold in the Fire Service in Hawera, the next pictures showing Harold as a private, 4th NZRB, Eyre Street, set to head overseas for WW1. Next there is a collection of the postcards that he sent back to his mother. Some are beautifully embroidered ‘from your soldier boy’ which are posted from France. Then there are photographs from Hornchurch hospital in England. Harold was discharged as ‘Walking wounded, gunshot to right arm and both legs’ in 1917.

After the war he returned to Feilding and there are photographs of his time with the Feilding Fire Service and of his wedding in 1919 to  Myrtle Ivy Townsend.  Later Harold had a bicycle shop in Fergusson Street, about where Jewellery of Distinction is now situated and just one door down from the Feilding Herald office.

His hobby was taxidermy and there are numerous photos of the deer head, pheasants, fish, wild boar etc that he preserved and mounted. Much of this was commissioned from the recreational hunters of the 1950s and 1960s. Many must have sent Harold the photos of themselves posing beside the mounted trophies he preserved, holding cups that they won for the biggest or best beast of the season. Included is a newspaper article about a 14ft swordfish found at Tangimoana which Harold mounted. This was recognized as the NZ record for an 80lb line.

Harold also made quirky birds out of polished cow horns that were often mounted on a polished paua shell. These he sold from his bicycle shop.  As well Harold was the caretaker for the Feilding Acclimatisation Society’s fish ponds.

Harold lived in Manchester Street and his daughter lived in Fergusson Street.  Asking round the Coach House elicited the information that Jean Glover was an only child and she had no children. It is not known if she handed in the photo album to the library or if someone did so when she died.  Procedure at FDCA now means every item handed in has a written receipt so the provenance of the material is known.


D. W. Fraser

A recent article told the story of Harold Fraser and how his daughter Mrs Jean Glover, had created an album of her father’s life story from his 1917 WW1 experience to his taxidermy skills recorded in the local paper up to 1976.  The article, from records held at FDCA (Feilding and Districts Community Archive) prompted a reader to donate some further photographs and records of the Fraser family history. One is a 1910 posed shot of the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade. Both Harold and his father were part of this team. Harold is seated in the very front. Another photo shows a horse and cart outside a store. The shop has the Fraser name emblazoned across the front. Unfortunately, the photo is torn and the whole name is not legible.

Research was undertaken to find out more. Finding the father of Harold was easy. The records compiled by his daughter and held at the community archive include a full birth certificate. Harold’s father was David William Fraser. At the time of Harold’s birth in 1896 in Hawera his parents were both 30. David William Fraser was a draper and his wife was Margaret Fraser. The indexed copies of the Feilding Star held at the Feilding Public Library in the Heritage Room revealed that a DW Fraser was a flautist in the Herr Berger Orchestra in Feilding.

He was also elected to be the secretary of the Presbyterian Church Choir committee. All this about 1910.

So is the photograph showing David William Fraser outside his draper shop in Hawera or Feilding? Looking at the photograph there is an attached house behind the store. It is possible the family lived out the back of the business. The photograph shows a driver standing holding the reins of the spring cart and there is a young boy seated on a pony that could be Harold. The gentleman standing under the shop’s verandah may be his father.  Searching the rate books for Feilding held at the Manawatu District Council there were lots of Frasers listed but not with the correct first names so the whereabouts of the business remains a mystery.

Another record is a Hackney Carriage Licence. It is Number 104 and was issued to Harold Fraser in 1914 by the Borough of Palmerston North. This licensed Harold to be a people or goods carrier – in other words a taxi driver.  Old records have much of this area’s history. They show what people did, what they wore, the transport of the day and how society functioned.

Feilding's First Midwife

Among the treasures held at the Feilding & Districts Community Archive is a small, hard-covered book entitled "Register of births attended by Mrs Foster, midwife, Feilding".  Sarah Foster recorded the births she attended in Feilding from when her family first arrived in the town in 1874.  Mrs Foster, her husband Thomas W. K. Foster and their eight children, came to New Zealand on the La Hogue. 

Boarding ship in London on February 17, they sailed to New Zealand to join the Manchester block settlement.  A copy of the passenger contract ticket states Thomas was 38 and his wife 36.  Their children were aged from one year to 15 years old.   They were assisted passengers, with the New Zealand government paying the £108.15d fare for the family of 10.

During cleaning and cataloguing of the records at the Feilding & Districts Community Archive, two Foster photographs have also come to light.  One is a formal, posed family photo that is labelled "TWK Foster (clerk, auditor, accountant, librarian, registrar and councillor), wife Sarah (nurse) and family".  Six of their children are grouped around their parents.  The diary lists the children born when she attended the birth. The first is for Mrs Bosher in October 1874 when she had a son. The last recording is in 1906 when Sarah, in her late sixties, assisted Mrs Candish with the arrival of her son.  In the late 1890s and early 1900s there are quite a few Foster births.  It can be wondered if Sarah Foster was helping the next generation with the arrivals of her own grandchildren. With two photographs, a sailing ship’s ticket and a diary that is nearly 140 years old, parts of a story concerning one of the founding families of Feilding are now catalogued. Thanks to those considerate, unknown, long ago people who labelled the photographs the story of Mr Foster also is partly explained.  Did he work for the local council?  There are plenty of clues for a researcher to follow. 


Manchester Rifles and Their Drill Hall

Manchester Rifles was a group of men who were volunteers from the community. Much like territorials in the NZ Army of today they met and trained in armed combat as a reserve force that would be utilized in time of war.  It was a well organized Feilding group which had its own drill hall in Church Street. As well as being the Drill Hall where the volunteers met it was used as a community hall. (This was demolished in the 1950s and the Civic Centre now stands on the same site.)  E H Fisher from Fisher Print was the secretary of the Manchester Rifles Committee. In the years that Mr Fisher acted as secretary he was responsible for collating all the invoices and receipts of payment. Perhaps he was a hoarder as he never threw them out. All these papers were discovered in the attic space between the ceiling and roof in the old Fisher Print building in Macarthur Street. This was demolished and the Dollar City business now occupies part of the same place.  John Darragh, who removed these papers before the demolition, has since donated them to the FDCA.  It is taking time, patience and the removal of over one hundred years of dust to conserve these records. They were tied up in separate bundles with the year written on the outside covering paper – 1907 through to 1911.  As well as being a record of what was needed to maintain a hall over 100 years ago the invoices belong to Feilding businesses and show their address and often who was the business owner.


Many of the invoices – possibly manufactured by Fisher Print – are works of art with the advertising and drawings displayed. One bundle now conserved is labelled ‘camp 1910’. The dates of this camp are known as R H Worsfold delivered between 1 and 3 gallons of milk daily from 12th to 18th December and J. Gould and Son, Baker and Confectioner, Manchester Street, sent between six to ten loaves of bread from Dec 12th to December 17th. They must have eaten very well as B. Spiro, Fish & Game Merchant supplied ten schnappers on December 16th  for 17/-; John Paterson, Feilding Refreshment Rooms – 18lbs of fruit cake at 18/- and Wong You, greengrocer sent – 6 bundles carrots, 2 dozen lettuces, 24lbs gooseberries, 6 pecks peas, 36lbs plums, 40 lbs apples and 12 dozen bananas. John Collingwood and Son, Dominion Butchery of Fergusson Street supplied the meat.  The supplies needed for the running of camp were all invoiced and listed too. Bramwell Bros, grocers of Fergusson Street hired crockery, basins and plates as well as supplying 7 dozen eggs, ½ dozen Worchester sauce bottles and 25lb of flour.  William Jones – Wood and Coal Merchant, Camden and Beattie Street cut 1 ½ cords of matai for firewood @ 8/6d a ¼ cord. I. M. R. Lockhead & Co on December 12th supplied 9 bales of straw at 3/- each and 6 bales of straw on December 13th.

The cook was W.D Bowne and he charged nine pounds for the eight day camp. And William J. Jones, general carrier, listed all the gear he was required to cart out to the camp. It included cartage of piano, load of gear for cook, 13 tents and 17 tables and trestles. (No wonder there are numerous invoices for tuning the piano.)  As well as being a training camp to improve the skill of the Manchester Rifle volunteers, their exercises seem to have been a valuable source of income for local business people.

Divided Skirts

The Wanganui Chronicle of 5th November 1910 reports that “for the best harness horse Miss Jessie Campbell’s Aristocrat took first prize and Mr. F.E. Hocken’s Prince second. In the Ladies’ Driving Competition Mrs F. S. McRae knocked down most of the pegs and was given first place. Miss Jessie Campbell of Brunswick took second place with five pegs. There were only two entries for the best lady rider with divided skirt both tying for first place.”

Miss Jessie Campbell came from Brunswick Farm on Brunswick Rd, Aramaho in Wanganui and seems to have been an early advocate for women’s rights . Her letter to the Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association in 1905 is just one of many letters that were kept by Mr E. H. Fisher of Fisher Print in Feilding and gives insight into how show entrants competed over 100 years ago.


January 16th 1905.

The Secretary,
Feilding District Industrial Association’

Dear Sir,

In Class 9 in your prize list – Ladies Hunters Competition and also in the lady’s hack class where it says to be ridden by a lady (but not to any particular style). I am intending to be an exhibitor at your show if the horses can be ridden by ladies in divided skirts. I think I can get three if not more for ladies hunters competition if they have no objection  to the “new style” and very likely two more ladies to go down and patronize your show if the divided skirts can be worn but not unless. In Wanganui and Hawera they give prizes especially for that style and I don’t see that any other association ought to object. If they allow them to compete in the new style this year I will give a special prize of one guinea next year for the best girl rider in divided skirts under 15 years.

Hoping to hear from you at an early date and make entries

I remain
Yours sincerely

Jessie Campbell


Manchester Square Site has always had a use for paper

In early Feilding there was a dilemma when you came to town. Where could you go the toilet?   For men the answer was simple, the hotels always had the necessary facility as did the gentlemen and working men’s clubs. But what of the women and children? Some of the handed-down stories related to the angst of coming to Feilding, usually on a sales day, and where was there a place to ‘spend a penny’?  The WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) actually made money out of this problem. They charged a penny for the privilege at the Feilding IA&P Show where they had a rest and refreshment booth. It proved a good fundraiser for the group. They were a worthy advocate for many social issues and no doubt used these ‘donations’ wisely. 

The Feilding Railway Station was probably the first building to have a woman’s restroom and toilet facility for public use in the town. While the first railway station was little more than a tin shed by the time the main trunk line was finished there was a more substantial building. Such a facility became a socially recognized necessity for most railway stations throughout the country.  And in Feilding the station restroom had to serve as the only respite from ‘the call of nature’ for women up until 1920. In this year the Salvation Army Church in Manchester Street (where it has always been) offered a room to be converted to a women’s restroom. It was only open on Fridays – sale day.

The WCTU had been active all along in petitioning the council for a purpose built public toilet for women where they could also take their children. Their efforts were rewarded. In 1923 Feilding Borough Council designed and planned a women’s restroom. This council maintained public toilet for women was to occupy the ground corner of the Jubilee Building. It was a much needed public facility and was in operation right up until the 1980s when it moved to the new public toilets built in the square.  Women’s Restrooms were not just a polite term for a toilet block. Farmer’s wives and travellers would need to stay the whole day in Feilding when they came to town. The restrooms provided a place to sit and relax; change the baby’s nappy and chat with other women. They provided a welcome place for ‘time out’.

The Jubilee Building is sited in Manchester Square. It was built, and named, to coincide with the 50th year celebrations of the founding of Feilding and the Manchester Block. This whole building is in the process of being rebuilt and the recently opened bookstore occupies some of the space that had been the women’s public toilet for about sixty years. It is co-incidental that it was also the site of probably Feilding’s first women’s toilet – The York Tearooms.    

Dorothy Pilkington wrote an excellent story about the Public Restrooms dilemma of both Palmerston North and Feilding. This article ins in the #5 issue of ‘ The Manawatu Journal of History.’ Dorothy was the reporter for Feilding Herald in the 1980s.