Wanganui Chronicle

Prince Edward in Wanganui for one day in 1920

Invitation to a supper party held at the Sarjeant Gallery in honour of the Prince of Wales. Notice the date is for 30 April, the date originally scheduled for HRH’s visit to Wanganui. (1968.89.10)

Invitation to a supper party held at the Sarjeant Gallery in honour of the Prince of Wales. Notice the date is for 30 April, the date originally scheduled for HRH’s visit to Wanganui.
(1968.89.10)

A recent article in the Wanganui Chronicle develops a most interesting discussion of the formidable succession of royal visitors to Wanganui in past years.

Mayor Charles Mackay receives HRH the Prince of Wales in a public ceremony in Cooks Gardens on 4 May 1920. (RO.V.74)

Mayor Charles Mackay receives HRH the Prince of Wales in a public ceremony in Cooks Gardens on 4 May 1920. (RO.V.74)

Yet most surprisingly, the article omits all mention of HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII. On 4 May 1920, the Chronicle was not to be misled and devotes an entire page to the Prince’s visit to Wanganui. Perhaps the most striking column discusses a Citizens’ Loyal Address to the Prince, edited by the distinguished historian, T W Downes, and illustrated by twelve watercolour sketches of scenes in and about Wanganui by artists of the calibre of Charles Duncan Hay-Campbell.

 

The souvenir programme from the Wanganui RSA Reception and Concert to HRH the Prince of Wales. (2011.94)

The souvenir programme from the Wanganui RSA Reception and Concert to HRH the Prince of Wales. (2011.94)

Since no trace of this brilliant illustrated address has been discovered to date, I have been writing to possible libraries and art galleries in the UK in order to discover its present whereabouts. The most likely reply was sent to me in 2009 by Brigadier John Smedley,  Private Secretary to the Earl and Countess of Wessex: “I am sorry to say that no trace of the Loyal Address has been found in the Royal Archives or elsewhere although extensive searches have been undertaken. I understand that the moves and disruption during the Second World War resulted in many losses, and it is sad that the Wanganui Address is among them.”

HRH inspecting troops at the official welcome held at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui. Afterwards the Prince presented medals to a number of returned servicemen. (1970.23.2)

HRH inspecting troops at the official welcome held at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui. Afterwards the Prince presented medals to a number of returned servicemen. (1970.23.2)

Yet there has been some compensation in the fact that a collection of the intensely revealing letters written by the Prince to his mistress at the time, Freda Dudley Ward, has been recently purchased by the Alexander Turnbull Library. These letters were usually dashed off late at night and with utter frankness by Prince Edward, and reveal his spontaneous and at times peevish responses to the carefully planned events of the royal tour.

Thus, on 4 May, the Prince writes from the Imperial Hotel, Wanganui (at 1.00 am): “such a pompous address beloved, but it’s really a miserable hole;  no electric light & the hotel boilers elected to burst before dinner so no baths & a vewy nasty dinner!!  But we are all pretty peeved tonight as we’ve really had a desperately twying day…”.

The Imperial Hotel, Victoria Avenue in Wanganui, of which the Prince of Wales complained bitterly. (B-H-059)

The Imperial Hotel, Victoria Avenue in Wanganui, of which the Prince of Wales complained bitterly. (B-H-059)

A useful image of the Imperial Hotel, Victoria Avenue, survives in this photo by Frank Denton, dated 1913. Two motor cars flank the hotel. (Could they be a pair of Willys-Overland Roadsters in the 1910 model?)  Whatever the case, the hotel was already showing signs of decay and the Prince would have been conscious of this when he addressed the assembled crowd from the first floor balcony.

Saucer from the Imperial Hotel, Wanganui, taken by a waitress who served the monarch. (2011.94)

Saucer from the Imperial Hotel, Wanganui, taken by a waitress who served HRH. (2011.94)

Next day the Prince and his entourage moved on by car to Palmerston North, where HRH presented his own message to the ”Children of New Zealand”. A finely coloured leaflet was circulated among the children gathered at Palmerston North, and this survives in a number of libraries. He wanted them all to bear in mind that they should “never do or say a dishonest thing” and “always remember other people’s interests when pursuing your own” and “play for the side and play the game.”

Precepts 2 and 3 may seem ironic in the light of Edward’s later life and abdication.

Perhaps a more apt and indeed lyrical summation in 1990 in Philip Zeigler’s official biography, King Edward VIII is “Edward’s character was evanescent, bewildering, rippling and swirling like a mountain stream which is whipped by the wind and broken by the boulders in its path”!

 

By Ian Laurenson

Ian Laurenson was formerly Senior Lecturer in English at Monash University, Australia. He is now living in retirement, writing about a collection of annotated postcards from World War I. He contributes to the Museum’s research programme.

Pressing Business

Proofing press

Some of the items we feature in From the Vaults are stored somewhere in the giant labyrinth beneath the museum, catalogued and carefully kept in temperature-controlled conditions until needed for display or research. Others are presented proudly behind glass, under lights or on models as part of a current or ongoing museum exhibition. Seldom do we find something that is in use, still doing the same job it was designed to do more than a century ago.
The museum is in possession of an ancient proofing press, once part of the Wanganui Chronicle plant and equipment, and now a working exhibit in the Whanganui Regional Museum tactile collection. When it was in daily use as a newspaper tool, printing staff would use it to print each page for proofing purposes, enabling a practised eye to be cast over the newsprint before going to press.
Museum educator, Margie Beautrais uses the machine as an educational tool at the museum. “We have the wooden poster type,” she says, “which is very old and very precious, and we feel really lucky to be allowed to use these with kids.”
The wooden type comes in many sizes and is stored in their original type drawers, also sourced from the Chronicle. Unfortunately, the museum does not possess a full complement of any particular font.
Included among the carved wooden letters is an array of logos and graphic art, once used in newspaper advertising. Margie has arranged all the letters in sizes so posters can be created with differing font styles of the same size. It works well and the posters look great.
“It’s all good learning for kids,” she says. “They find out that this stuff is called ‘furniture’ (wooden blocks used for line spacing) and these things are called ‘quoins’ (metal wedges) and they have to learn the writing goes backwards.”
Margie showed me some of the old Chronicle art she has used to create themed posters. There are ads and logos for long gone Wanganui companies, pictures of riverboats, Christmas art, the Wanganui District Council crest – all stamped in metal and glued to wooden blocks.
“Every child gets a tray, they get to choose a picture and they have to think of a word to go with it. It’s really good for supporting literacy,” she says. “I do a demo for them and they help me find the letters, working in pairs or by themselves.”
Margie holds up a mirror for the children to check their work before they move over to the press to ink it up and print a copy. The posters are then hung to dry and given to the school the following day.
When the proof press was given to the museum it went straight to the education programme, where it has been retained. “The value of it as an educational tool is high,” says Margie. “It’s not getting damaged. It’s fairly robust.”
To see it used as it was intended in a museum context is refreshing. “It’s old and it’s cool and it’s still being used,” she says. “I would love more schools to come and do this programme. It doesn’t get used as often as I would like. I’d like to run this programme every week.”
Teachers interested in any of the educational programmes on offer are urged to contact the Whanganui Regional Museum.

Original article appeared in the Wanganui Midweek on 2nd May 2 2012. Reproduced with permission from the publishers.

A Who’s Who of Who Mattered

Liz Hamblyn looks through the museum's copy of Wanganui New Zealand Who's Who.

Liz Hamblyn looks through the museum’s copy of Wanganui New Zealand Who’s Who.

The Whanganui Regional Museum is a seemingly never-ending source of local treasures, one of which was unearthed by front-of-house staff member Liz Hamblyn. It’s a book, printed and published in 1915 by the Wanganui Chronicle, entitled Wanganui New Zealand Who’s Who.
Published just four years after Wanganui Coronation Souvenir 1911, and following a similar format, Who’s Who is a rich depository of Wanganui pictorial and textual biography and snippets of contemporary information and interesting historical trivia.
It’s a fascinating historical document that is almost impossible to obtain. For an overview of the important male population of the time there is nothing superior.
“It’s got everybody,” says Liz. “It’s got Mr Sigley, master plumber, borough councillor, director of public museum … vice-president of the Wanganui branch of the Political Reform League. These chaps were busy!” And there, in glorious monochrome, is a photographic portrait of the illustrious gentleman; splendid, hirsute and unsmiling, as studio poses were then.
The names read like a street index of modern Wanganui, so many of these chaps gave their name to a piece of bitumen or some feature when the town was still establishing itself. “There’s Mr Spriggens,” noted Liz, referring to the chap who gave us the Grand Hotel and the name for a prominent sporting park.
There are photographs of the newly-built Wanganui Collegiate School in Liverpool St and a portrait of AA Willis nearby. We looked at ‘Photographs of Merit: portraits by FJ Denton’, who was a photographer of note at the time.
Being 1915, with the Great War in full swing, there’s a strong military presence and photographs of men in uniform fill many a glossy page.
I noted there seemed to be no women included in the publication but Liz searched and found a few, including CM Cruickshank, MA, MSc, principal of Wanganui Girl’s College; and Miss Elizabeth Dunn, Divisional Surgeon of St John’s Ambulance Brigade.
“It reflects an era, a time,” says Liz, when asked why she chose this book as her ‘Vaults’ subject. “And you know these people; you read about them.” Not only that, but many of us are descended from them. That makes this book a valuable family album of sorts. Liz reeled off name after famous name – Polson, Porritt, Poynter, Purnell … The book also features photographs of landmark buildings, many of which remain.

The book begins with a long, glowing, wordy introduction that reads a lot like an advertisement, enticing the traveller to visit, the citizen to stay and anyone else to set up shop and house here: “Wanganui, already one of the most important towns in New Zealand, is destined to rank outside the four cities as the foremost port in the Dominion. It has been most favourably endowed by nature and the people of the town and district being alive to the magnitude of its potential so nothing can stop its progress.”
The introduction then goes on to give the depth of water at the port, suggesting that even ocean liners could berth at Castlecliff. The text lists the industries and businesses that made the town prosper and makes much of Wanganui’s natural beauty and the existence of a beautifying society to enhance what nature provided. The population at the time, as noted in the book, was more than 13,000.
This reporter would like to know what happened to the 45,000 volumes which comprised the Cosmopolitan Club library, as mentioned in the book.
Just before publication, the publishers, the Wanganui Chronicle, sent a letter to the Borough Council asking if arrangements could be made, similar to those made for the Wanganui Souvenir, when the council purchased 2000 copies for distribution on ocean liners “trading between the Mother Country and New Zealand” and for the principal libraries of the world. There is no newspaper record of that having taken place for the Who’s Who.
One thing Liz did point out was the appearance of the odd “rare, interior shot”. The outside of buildings is a common photographic subject, but seldom do we see the inside.
Mostly, the book consists of miniature portraits of people with their name and occupation listed beneath. “If you read the old newspapers,” says Liz, “you’ll see these names on committees.”

A reader could spend hours poring over the portraits and pictures, making discoveries on every page. If it ever makes its way on to the book stands in facsimile form, I’m sure it would be guaranteed a substantial market.

Article originally appeared in the Wanganui Midweek on 30th January 2013, and reproduced with publishers permission.