Topic: Lismore Street (TDN 04/06/2011)

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Lismore Street 

Writing in the Taranaki Herald in 1944, Fred Butler attributed this street name to the late Mrs E Griffiths who chose it in memory of her great grandfather, Lord Lismore.

Both Mrs Griffiths and Lord Lismore are in danger of disappearing in the mists of time. The title Lord Lismore was presented in 1650 to a Devon landowner, whose only son died without fathering children. A portrait of a Lord Lismore, dated 1809 and much reproduced in cheap editions, depicts him with his bay hunter and hound.  A Lord Lismore was also the largest landowner in County Tipperary. We do not know which Lord Lismore was the ancestor of Mrs Griffiths.

Sybil Griffiths was the wife of Mr Eustatius Griffiths, married when women gave up their own names entirely and became chattels of their husbands. The entrepreneurial Griffiths partnered Walter Bewley in business as Auctioneers and Produce Merchants, Devon Street, New Plymouth.

Eustatius explored for oil through the grandly named Taranaki Oil-lands Acquisition and Development Company. His company drilled the Blenheim well on Bayly Road in 1914. Despite the well's apparent success, F P Corkill of the competing Taranaki Oil & Freehold Co Ltd complained, in a letter to the Marlborough Express, that he had visited the well and "found the men bailing out a frothy mixture of oil, water and papa silt."

Griffiths was happy to ignore the significant water content in the oil initially produced. Having spent heavily on equipment, the company struggled and its assets were taken over by the Blenheim Oilwells Reclamation Company. The problems were apparently solved, and the well subsequently provided a supply of oil for seventeen years.

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