Most politicians have to wait until their political career has ended before they have their name attached to a street. In this case, Ron Barclay had not even been elected as the MP for New Plymouth before the Taranaki County Council decided to name this street, in Ferndale, in his honour.

The name was not the choice of the developer, Philip Heap. He suggested the names Kathryn Place (his daughter) and Eva Place (his wife), both of which the council rejected in favour of the name of the well-known businessman and aspiring Labour politician.

Given that the choice might have seemed a bit premature at the time, there is little doubt about the subsequent contribution Mr Barclay made to New Plymouth.

Ronald Morrison Barclay was born in Little River, Banks Peninsula, and shifted to Taranaki in 1955 with his wife, Joy, and their two children. A member of the Labour Party since the age of 17, he first stood unsuccessfully for the New Plymouth seat in 1957. He fought two more unsuccessful campaigns before winning the seat in 1966. He was a Member of Parliament for nine years, during which time he served one year as deputy speaker.

Ron Barclay entered local body politics after leaving Parliament. He was elected to the New Plymouth City Council in 1977, serving 12 years, including three as deputy mayor.

Perhaps his greatest legacy was his 36-year association with Taranaki banking. He was appointed a trustee of the New Plymouth Savings Bank in 1958 and finally retired as chair of the TSB Community Trust in 1994.

He was awarded an MBE in 1977 and a Queen's Service Order in 1985 in recognition of his support for numerous community organisations and sporting clubs. Ron Barclay died in 2003, aged 88.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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Ron Barclay Drive


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