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Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)


Sports and Recreations

No game was ever yet worth a rap, for a rational man to play in which no accident or mishap could possibly find a way.—A. L. Gordon.


The first recorded sporting event in the district appears to have taken place on the 8th March, 1840, when three Maori canoes, commanded by Te Puni, Wharepouri, and Tuarau respectively, raced round the "Adelaide" and other vessels at anchor off the Petone beach. We are indebted to Mr. T. Clay for the picture of this event, which is reproduced on page 13.
The statement in the preceding paragraph is substantiated provided that the shooting of wild ducks and pigeons near the mouth of the river, and huias on the eastern hills by members of the first survey party some months earlier, are not considered as sporting events. It is fair to record, however, that they shot only two or three huias, as these birds were so tame that they followed the decoy almost on to the barrels of their guns.
To celebrate the first Anniversary Day in 1841, a variety of sports was held at Te Aro, and included races with horses, whale-boats, and rowing and sailing boats, and also athletic events and a rifle match.


In October, 1842, races were held on the Petone beach, under very primitive conditions. The winner of the Cup Stakes was Cigaro, owned by Mr. J. Watt.
In 1861 the Wellington Jockey Club, which had previously held its meetings at Burnham Water (Miramar), transferred to Hutt Park, where the first Wellington Cup was run in 1867. The second Cup meeting took plaec in 1874, and five years later the club was re-named the Wellington Racing Club, under which name it operates to-day. In 1890 the first totalisator was erected at Hutt Park, where racing continued until the Trentham Racecourse was opened in 1906; and the Park is now used by the Wellington Trotting Club.


While there is a record of Ludlam's paddock being used as a football ground in 1868, the Taita Club, established in 1888, was the first Rugby Football Club in the Valley. The team played in a field near Park Avenue, and included: Four Welchs, three D'Aths, two Pringles, two Speedys, Tiki Milne, F. Avery, R. Ross and A. Pike, with Graham Pringle as captain.
In the following year the name of the club was changed to Epuni, after Te Puni, whose son had joined the team.
In one memorable match with Palmerston North, the late Sir Thomas Wilford, who later became M.P. for Hutt and subsequently High Commissioner for New Zealand in London, won the match by dropping a field goal from near the half-way mark.
Mr. "Mot" Welch, a member of the original team, relates how the Epuni and Melrose teams fought out the junior championship at Newtown Park, where seven games were drawn, until Melrose finally won the championship by a potted goal.
The Epuni Club amalgamated with Petone, and temporarily lost its identity. Shortly after this the Kia Ora Club was formed in Lower Hutt, and this team, which played on a ground at the north end of Porutu Street, where numerous Government houses have recently been erected, won the junior championship in 1908. Mr. William Judd gave the Epuni and Kia Ora Clubs a section of land for a gymnasium and a club room provided the two clubs amalgamated under the name of the Hutt Rugby Football Club. The offer was accepted, but the club sold the land, which was in the brick area, and eventually it built a gymnasium on what is now Strand Park. The club won the Wellington senior championship in 1931 and 1934 and also the club championship in 1937. Those who have rendered long and outstanding service to the club are:—Mr. "Mot" Welch, Mr. Charles Slater (club captain), Mr. J. E. (Tom) La Roche, Colonel J. E. King, and the late Mr. Alexander McBain, whose memory is perpetuated by the A. McBain Memorial Shield, a trophy competed for each year since 1934 by the Hutt and Petone senior teams. The present President is Sir Alexander Roberts, and Mr. C. W. Budding has been Secretary for the past 18 years.


The early days of cricket in Lower Hutt are associated with the old Waiwhetu Cricket Club which played where Riddiford Park now is prior to the Recreation Ground being opened in 1905.
Prominent players of this Club were Messrs G. F. Judd, E. Judd, J. Pilcher, A. Pringle and T. H. Wilson.
A second eleven was put into the field in 1907 and a third just before the Great War.
On the 30th August, 1910 the club was re-named the Hutt District Cricket Club (with Mr. E. P. Bunny as President) and under this name plays in the Wellington Cricket Association.
In 1922 the Hutt Club won the Wellington Cricket Association Senior Championship and since 1925 has maintained six teams.
New Zealand representatives who have played for the club include Messrs L. T. Cobcroft, W. J. Condlifie, E. G. McLeod. H. M. McGirr and H. Tattersall
Of the original team only Mr. W. A. Aldersley is still connected with the Club although the late Mr. G. F. Judd's three sons are players.
The Hutt Valley Cricket Association was formed about ten years ago to cater for "one day" matches for mercantile houses and other clubs and at the outbreak of the present war had twelve affiiliated clubs, with forty-two teams and nearly five hundred registered players.


The Hutt Golf Club (Inc.) was formed as a result of the efforts and enthusiasm of Messrs D. B. Howden and William Pride. It was formally instituted on the 4th June 1892, with Mr. A. K. Newman as secretary. At the Spring Meeting, which was held at the Hutt Park in October 1892, several players competed for a gold cross given by Mr. Howden. This became known as the St. Andrew's Cross, and is the Club's most treasured possession. Since the days when this Club played at the Hutt Park for "nothing a year paid in advance," numerous other Golf Clubs have been established at various parts of the Valley, where the royal and ancient game is enthusiastically followed.

Association Football

The first team was organised by Mr. Heseltine, the principal of the Anglican Boys' Home in 1918. Shortly afterwards other teams were formed, and today the Lower Hutt Club is represented by several teams, which usually give a good account of themselves.

Bowling, Etc

The Hutt Bowling, Tennis and Croquet Club (Inc), was originated in the Gentlemen's Club in Aglionby Street in August 1903, with Mr. W. G. Foster as the first President. In the same year this Club purchased 1 1/2 acres of land adjoining Riddiford Park, where greens and courts were opened towards the end of 1904. For many years a feature of the Club's activities was the annual concert, at which considerable sums of money were raised for charitable and patriotic purposes.
The Woburn Croquet and Bowling Club was formed early in 1928 as a result of the Borough Council's offer to lease the newly formed reserve at Woburn. Mr. E. Johnson was the first President, and due largely to the enthusiasm and assistance of the members, who supplied a considerable amount of equipment, the ground was opened on the 24th October 1928. Since then a pavilion has been built and additional lawns and greens laid out, largely by voluntary labour.
The Waimarie Croquet Club was formed in the year 1922, with headquarters and playing greens in Riddiford Park. It has taken a prominent part in competitions and social and patriotic work in the borough, and its rooms are the local headquarters of The Lady Galway Guild. The president is Mrs. G. H. Savage, and the secretary Mrs. J. A. Kelly.


The Hutt Valley Hockey Club was formed in 1910 by the Rev. T. A. Williams as the Petone Hockey Club, but assumed its present name in 1912. Games were then played at the Hutt Park, but the players frequently found it necessary to replace the goal posts which had been removed to permit the ground being used as an aerodrome. During the Great War games were suspended on account of several members serving overseas. In 1924, 1925, and 1926 teams which included many "Diggers" won the Senior Championship.


The Hutt Valley Lawn Tennis Sub-Association was formed by several clubs in 1923 with a view to promoting inter-club tennis matches. Two years later, on account of its growth and activities, the Association was called The Hutt Valley Junior Lawn Tennis Association, and included clubs from as far as Eastbourne and Upper Hutt. In 1929 the Association had 16 clubs, and 663 members. In the following year this Association affiliated with the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association and was incorporated under its present name. The present strength of 18 clubs, 50 teams and 915 members shows a reduction on the last year's figures on account of war activities.


The Hutt Valley Swimming Club held its first meeting in 1924 but it was not until the 23rd February, 1926, that the club was established with Mr. W. T. Strand as president. The club now has its own rooms at the rear of Riddiford Baths and Mr. A. T. Duncan holds the office of president.
Numerous sporting and kindred clubs and societies have been established within the last twenty years. These include Gun, Rifle, Harriers, Amateur Athletics, Cycling, Whippet Racing, Basketball, Badminton, Table Tennis, Baseball, and Kennel Clubs, Poultry, Pigeon and Cage Bird Societies.

Pictures, Etc.

About 1910 Mr. John Babington commenced screening the first regular programmes of moving pictures in St. James's Hall where he continued to operate for twelve years.
Pictures have been shown in the King George Theatre since 1912, when they were known as Hawthorn's Pictures. These pictures were of the silent type until 1929, when sound equipment was installed, and in the following year the Prince Edward Theatre at Woburn and the De Luxe Theatre in High Street were opened.

Various Societies

Social, educational and recreational societies which have been formed in recent years include the Women's National Reserve, League of Mothers, Women's Institutes, Play Reading Circle, St. John Ambulance Corps, Lower Hutt Nursing Division, Red Cross Society, Plunket Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Y.M.C.A., Toc H., Patriotic Committee, Mayor's Relief Committee, Free Kindergarten, National Military Reserve, Home Guard. Besides church guilds and auxiliaries and school committees there are various Parents' Associations, Progressive and Ratepayers' Associations, sundry Dance Clubs, a Debating Society, and the Liedertafel.

Boy Scouts.

The first troop of Boy Scouts at Lower Hutt was formed by the Rev. B. F. Rothwell, a Methodist minister, about 1910, but owing to lack of leadership it was disbanded when Mr. Rothwell left Lower Hutt in the following year.
The Richmond Troop, called after Fort Richmond, was formed on the 22nd January, 1914, under Scoutmaster W. Mason. The troop used the Methodist Sunday School as a Scout Hall until after the war, when two military huts were purchased and erected just below the bridge on the eastern bank of the river. This was the first registered troop in Lower Hutt.
Group Scoutmaster F. L. McKenzie, at present on active service, joined this troop at its inception, and has been associated with it ever since.
Several other district and church troops were subsequently established, and to-day there are 236 Scouts, 173 Cubs, and 28 Rover Scouts in the district. The Rovers were formed in 1929, and several of these are now on active service, including Cr. J. E. F. Vogel, their leader, who is also Commissioner for the Hutt Valley and Bays Scout District.
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The Hutt Mechanics' Institute.

Built on the Main Road in 1858. The porch in front was added later.
In the Municipal Library there is a brass plate which has the following inscription: —
"The Hutt Mechanics' Institute was founded on the 17th August, 1858, by Richard Barton, Esquire, and vested in the Lower Hutt Borough Council on the 20th November, 1903."
This investiture required a special Act of Parliament. The building housed the local library until November, 1903, when it was transferred to the old Council Office opposite the Town Hall. The library was again moved to the present Town Hall building in 1908, and was transferred to its present position at the corner of High Street and Woburn Road in 1927. Several of the books originally housed in the Mechanics' Institute may still be seen in the present library.

Lower Hutt Municipal Fire Brigade, 1940.

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Back: L. Pettigrew, J. W. Piper, A. J. Doran, C. J. Herion, T. H. Piper.
Middle Row: E. S. G. Hutton (Perm. Staff), H. D. Heney, W. Mullany, C. C. Bartley, N. S. Francis, R. W. Bartley, H. Wilson (Perm. Staff).
Front: W. P. McGinity (Perm. Staff), T. J. Fleet, T. S. Slinn (Asst. Foreman), H. G. Hume (Deputy Supt., Perm. Staff), T. W. Slinn (Supt.), W. J. Drieberg (3rd Officer), L. V. Doran (Foreman), T. J. Jarvis (Perm. Staff).
The Fire Brigade has a strength of 22, of whom five are permanent. In October 1940, Mr. T. W. Slinn retired after 35 years' service, 34 of which he served as superintendent, and Mr. H. G. Hume, A.M.I. Fire E., was appointed superintendent. In recognition of his outstanding service Mr. Slinn was tendered a valedictory evening and was presented with a wireless set.

Returned Soldiers' Association

The Hutt Valley Sub-branch of the Wellington Returned Soldiers' Association (Inc), was formed on the 27th May, 1926, with Mr. G. Findlay as president. The membership of this association rose from 122 in 1932 to 655 in 1940. At the present time Councillor C. J. Ashton is president of the Association which hopes to erect permanent club rooms near Andrews Avenue and also a Memorial Lych Gate at the entrance to the soldiers' plot which was recently donated by the Taita Cemetery Board.

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