Topic: Queen Street, Waitara (TDN 27/07/2019)

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Queen Street, Waitara 

Queen Street in Waitara was named after Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch at the time the town was founded.

There are more than sixty other Queen Streets around New Zealand but this one is unusual in having two parts, separated by the site of what was once the Waitara freezing works. Queen Street runs along the western bank of the Waitara River and used to be the main thoroughfare of the town, home to its first hotel, bank and a post office which stood where the New World supermarket is now until 1922.

Called Raleigh when it was established in 1867, later renamed after the river in 1904, the little township was originally located at the beach end of Queen Street. Shopkeepers began moving towards the southern end of the street after the first Waitara Bridge opened in 1872 and the pioneer settlement, nicknamed “Kiwitown”, was abandoned. Queen Street was the first in Waitara to be metalled, in 1883 using stone gathered from local beaches, and the first to get footpaths. Gas street lighting was installed in 1899, followed by electric lights in 1907.

Queen Victoria’s first name was actually Alexandrina but she always preferred to go by her middle name. Tuesday 22 June 1897 was her Diamond Jubilee and extravagant celebrations were held across the country. Waitara residents were given the day off as a holiday and festooned all their streets with flags and bunting. An enormous bonfire was lit at 7pm and an impressive fireworks display put on.

Fully 10% of children born in New Zealand that year were given the names Victoria or Victor in honour of the sovereign. Festivities around the British Empire provided an opportunity to reflect on the amazing progress made during the Queen’s long reign – including the invention of photography, electricity, bicycles, x-rays, typewriters, sewing machines, telephones, the gramophone and ice cream.

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Queen Street, Waitara (TDN 27/07/2019)


City:Waitara