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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


List of Well-known Names.

Mr. Joseph Percy.

Mr. Joseph Percy had a flour mill behind the site of the Woollen Mills. The mill was run by water-power from a huge water-wheel, which existed to quite recent times, and was ultimately used by the Woollen Company for the generation of the first electric light in the Hutt Valley. Mr. Percy named his mill "Britannia," which was, of course, the name given to Petone by the early arrivals. The site of the mill and the water rights of the stream were leased by Mr. Percy from the Provincial Government at £30 a year, payable quarterly. Mr. Percy was extremely methodical, and files of his accounts are in existence to-day, giving the names of early Wellington and Hutt Valley persons and firms with whom he did business. Among a few of the Wellington names mentioned are Mr. W. Dorset, for whom Mr. A. de B. Brandon acted, Mr. J. Woodward, Provincial Treasurer, Mr. Hugh Sinclair, Mr. W. Tonks, Mr. George Crawford, G. H. Luxford & Co., Mr. T. McKenzie, W. and G. Turnbull & Co., E. W. Mills, Jacob Joseph & Co., W. M. Bannatyne & Co., Mr. E. Catchpool, Mr. William Barrett, Mr. T. W. Pilcher, Mr. W. Waring-Taylor, Johnston & Co., Mr. G. H. Vennell, Mr. A. Follett Halcombe (Provincial Treasurer).
Hutt Valley names were W. R. Welch, Taita, who dealt in horses and did a carrying business, Edwin Jackson, Petone, Thomas Frethey, John Liverton, Joseph Fry, William Knight, who supplied the mill with wheat, Thomas Burt, Lower Hutt, William Whitewood, Lower Hutt, H. Collett, Petone (wheelwright), William Robinson, Nelson Street, Petone, and Edward Downes, apparently dealing in timber, Jas. McEwen, Petone, carrier.
This mill was later used by Mr. Wolland, Mr. Percy transferring operations to the land now known as the Percy Estate, opposite the Hutt Road ramp, where the mill building still stands.

William Riddler.

William Riddler came to New Zealand in 1841, having been born in Cheltenham, England. He was engaged by the Hon. Henry Petre to bring out a consignment of stock to New Zealand, and he, his wife and assistants sailed on the Thomas Sparks. When nearing Cape Town, the Thomas Sparks met with a mishap, and all the stock had to be taken ashore, and it was not until six months later that they continued their journey. On the way out a daughter was born, who afterwards became the wife of Samuel Death, who took up 100 acres in the Taita and farmed there for many years.
When they arrived at the Petone beach, the stock was sent to the Petre farm which was along the banks of the Hutt River, from the Petone beach up to the present Wakefield Street, a few years ago known as White's Line. After about two years, the Hon. Petre went back to England, having come into the title of Lord Petre. William Riddler took up a block along where the Hutt Road runs—this being high and not subject to the heavy floods. Petre's block was afterwards taken up by the Buick family. One son, David Buick was member for Palmerston North for many years.
It was on the Hutt Road that Thomas Riddler and Elizabethwere born. Elizabeth was afterwards Mrs. S. R. Johnson. William Riddler gave the land on the Hutt Road to Elizabeth, on which was built the first store in Petone. While managing the Petre farm, he saved the life of Henry Petre, on one occasion, from drowning in the Hutt River, and twice when he was attacked by hostile Maoris. When William Riddler died, the place was taken over by his son Thomas, and part of the original property is still held by the Riddler family.
In the year 1845, the home of William Riddler was raided by Maoris, and many valuable records and relics relating to their past and early arrival were stolen.
In 1875 Thomas Riddler married Mary Hirst. Maiy Hirst's father, Sydney Hirst, built the first houses in Sydney Street, Wellington, the street being named after him. He also built the old Taita Church, which was the first church in the Hutt Valley.
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Percy's Mill, off Hutt Road, Petone. Old oak tree shown on left.

(Photo, by C. L. Jackson)
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Views of and from the home of G. London, Esq.
Mayor of Petone.

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