Bombay centennial a hard act to follow


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Linton Pukekohe

Linton Stuart was organising chairman of the big event 50 years ago. At Bombay’s 150th anniversary in March, he will be a contributor to the book and assisting with the bus tour of the district.

The Bombay community has always celebrated its existence, from the arrival of the sailing ship, ‘Bombay’ at the Auckland Harbour on the 18th day of March 1865 – in a battered condition after surviving a mighty storm while rounding the tip of Northland.

Bombay has now reached a special milestone, 150 years, and this will be commemorated on the weekend of March 13, 14 and 15, beginning with a Friday night get-together; a Family Festival and Dinner on Saturday, finishing off on Sunday with a church service and bus tour of the district.

Register now for the 150th anniversary

Currently, the organising committee is inviting residents to register for the weekend celebrations which, if the Bombay Centennial celebrations 50 years ago is anything to go by, should be a huge success.

For people wanting to register, please contact Murray Sutton on or Michelle Knight on Email

Linton Stuart is now ’84 going on 21′

The organising chairman for the centennial in March,1965, was Linton Stuart who is now almost 85 years of age, “going on 21”.

Linton has written an account of that weekend’s celebration for the new book to be launched at the coming 150th anniversary.

“It was an amazing weekend and it was estimated that about 5,000 people attended the celebrations, including the then Governor General, Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE, and Lady Fergusson ,” says Linton.

“A group of us, namely myself, my wife Merlene, Bob and Cis Evans, and Leo Donovan, met their excellencies and accompanied them to the dais where Miss Molly Proude presented Her Excellency with a bouquet of flowers and Bob Evans presented His Excellency with a copy of the centennial book, ‘They Came by Ship’.

“His Excellency gave a speech congratulating the local people on their celebrations and then he and lady Fergusson mingled with the local children and their teachers before returning to the dais for the singing of ‘God Save the Queen.”

The Governor General left an indelible impression on Linton Stuart for his extremely friendly manner, and his genuine interest in the people of the Bombay community.

“Sir Bernard chatted with almost everyone at an afternoon tea for invited members of the public and was amazed by, and commented on, the family and community atmosphere where everybody seemed to know everybody.”

The Centennial Parade

Earlier in the day, there was a huge turnout to witness the 40 floats representing the school, churches and sporting groups of Bombay and the business community of Pukekohe.

Loud cheering broke out as the first float – a model of the ship ‘Bombay’ – entered the Memorial Gates.

The model was de-masted, as was the original ship when it landed in Auckland.

The parade, which was filmed by TVNZ, included old-time horse-drwn transport, vintage cars, marching girls, pipe band, persons in pioneer costumes, brass band and the St Stephen’s School Haka Party.

A huge kauri log from Aitkenhead’s mill in Pokeno and a Winstone float depicting the Ship Bombay book, were hauled up the hill.

“It was reported that the clutches on the Model T Ford and other old cars were smoking after making it up the hills,” says Linton with a smile, adding that it was a huge weekend with an athletics events being held, that included the traditional 100 yards sprint for the Bombay Centennial Cup.

“This was won by Michael Otto from Pokeno with Dave Lofroth second and Ian Lowry third.”

Throughout the day there were demonstrations that included camp oven cooking, panning for gold by Mr David Bower, an old fossicker; and horse shoeing by Mr George Moyle who was assisted by practicing blacksmith, Mr Jim Cliffe.

“There was a lot going on but the traditional activities which proved popular were a treasure hunt in the sand pit and guessing the weight of the sheep. Woodchopping and sawing also took place and there was loud applause when a pit saw decisively beat a chainsaw in a time trial.”

Centennial Dinner seated 600

On the Saturday evening, a Centennial Dinner was held in a marquee and attended by 600 people. Guest speaker was M JH Kempthorne, gradson of the man who laid the foundation stone for St Peter’s in the Forest Church.

The reply toast was given by Mr J Martyn whose grandfather went to England to assist with the immigration of the ship ‘Bombay’ passengers.

“At a similar time in the Bombay Rugby Club, a Young People’s Dance was taking place, so a great night’s dancing and fun was had by all,” says Linton.

“It is to be hoped that the response to this year’s 150th Anniversary celebrations will be every bit as good as those held 50 years ago,” Linton concludes.

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About the Author
Rex Warwood is a well-known local with a passion for Franklin and its people. He has been spreading the news in our area since 1979 and has held various journalism and Editor positions. Contact Rex at

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