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Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)


Century of Post Office Service

Oh people! What toil do we undergo to serve you! —Carlyle.

Lower Hutt Post Office.

The fact that the original Hutt settlement was made under the auspices of the New Zealand Company greatly influenced its early postal history. Exact details are not available, as the records of this period were lost in the fire which destroyed the Post Office in Wellington in 1887. The New Zealand Company, operating independently of the official Hobson Administration at Auckland, was obliged to make its own postal arrangements for both the Wellington district and the Hutt Valley. The "New Zealand Gazette"—a newspaper published at Britannia (Petone) in July, 1840—reports that a mail between Hutt and Thorndon was carried by boat when the weather was favourable, and on foot when it was not. Mr. Hunter was the postmaster at Petone and mails left Thorndon at 8 a.m. and Petone at 1 p.m. The rates were 2d. for letters and 1d. for newspapers.
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The Hutt Post Office and Staff, Taken About 1904.

This occupied the site of the present Post Office.
—From a photograph by A Aldersley.
By March, 1841, the Hutt Road was completed and the boat mails were discontinued. Postal matter was carried by any chance traveller, and sometimes by bullock waggon.
In 1843 Mr. C. W. Keys, who had a house and store on the western side of the Hutt bridge—(the postal address of the locality was "River Hutt")— received the mails and distributed them gratuitously.
During 1845 and 1846 mail communication was interrupted for periods owing to native troubles, but with the defeat of Rangihaeata and the capture of Te Rauparaha, a regular mail service, of now unknown frequency, was established.
On the 10th December, 1851, Mrs. Keys was appointed Deputy Postmistress at the Hutt, and was paid £40 a year for her services. The office was conducted in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Keys, which was opposite Queen's Road in High Street, until 1870.
About this time also a daily mail service from Wellington at an annual subsidy was instituted. The service, it is believed, was carried out by coach or dray, and a van ran to and from Taita daily. By 1864 the service was maintained by coach, and this existed until railway communication was established in 1874. Arrangements were made with the local coach proprietors, Messrs. Cudby, Peters and others, for the service between the Hutt railway and the Post Office.
In March, 1870, the first Departmental Hutt Post Office, which included a money order office and savings bank was opened. Mr. R Teesdale was the first permanent postmaster and telegraphist. Mr. B. H. Keys, who had been an unofficial letter-carrier for the previous six years, was appointed message boy on 1st April, 1870.
A postman's delivery was established on the 1st November, 1891, replacing the letter delivery by telegraph messenger, which had been in practice since about 1884. About 1895 the Post Office was kept open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The foundation stone of the present post office, which occupies the site of the old one, was laid on 22nd March, 1906, and the office was opened in the same year. The name of the post office was changed from Hutt to Lower Hutt on 1st December, 1910. Other post offices in the Hutt district were opened as follows:—Taita, 1st July, 1901; Moera, 6th June, 1928; Waterloo, 6th May, 1935; Belmont, 4th June, 1935; Blackbridge, 9th December, 1936.

Telegraph and Telephone

Telegraphic communication was established between Wellington and Featherston in 1868, and Hutt became an intermediate station on 1st April, 1870.
On the 15th October, 1891, a sub-exchange for telephones was installed, but it was closed in 1897, there being only one subscriber. A telephone exchange was not again opened until 1908. Mr. C. Trevethick was one of the first and is still a subscriber to the telephone exchange. The automatic telephone exchange in Laing's Road commenced operation on the 1st October, 1932.
The telephone exchange equipment is already fully taken up and extensions would have been made but for the war.
After serving for 36 years, the present Post Office is nearing its end; a new one, on a site further north and on the opposite side of High Street, being under construction.
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Proposed new Post Office Lower Hutt

Now being erected at the corner of Andrews Avenue and High Street.
—Reproduced by kind permission of Postmaster-General from a newspaper stereo supplied by "The Dominion."

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