Topic: Rennell Street (TDN 04/01/2020)

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Rennell Street

Rennell Street in Frankleigh Park was named after an accountant hailed as one of New Plymouth’s “most useful citizens”.

Clarence Rennell was born in England in 1832. His mother Sarah died when he was still a toddler and his father Thomas remarried twice. Clarence immigrated to Australia in 1852 and tried his luck on the goldfields of Victoria for 12 years.

He then moved to New Plymouth in 1866 with his young family, initially entering into business as a land and commission agent. He later became Government District Auditor but resigned in 1882 to take up the role of Secretary of the New Plymouth Harbour Board. One of his tasks was to collect rates, which he was said to have done with “the strictest integrity”.

Clarence was also involved in setting up the New Plymouth Gas Company and the New Plymouth Loan and Investment Society, of which he was also Secretary. He served on the Borough Council and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1886, as well as being a trustee of St Mary’s Church.

Clarence married the teenaged Mary Ann Elkin in Australia in 1859 and they had six daughters and three sons. Mary died in 1905 and on the day of her funeral all the flags flying at the port were lowered to half-mast. His wife’s death devastated Rennell and, despite taking two months off work from the Harbour Board to recover, he passed away in December the following year at the age of 75.

Clarence Rennell was described in the Taranaki Herald as “a man in whom the utmost trust could be placed” and is buried with his wife in Te Hēnui cemetery.

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