New Plymouth’s Saxton Road was named after Henry Waring Saxton (1848-1919), who at the time of his death owned much of the land between Carrington and Doralto Roads.
Henry was born in Shropshire, England. His father, Charles Waring Saxton, had emigrated to Nelson with his first wife and brother in 1842. However, he didn’t stay long as his wife died soon after they arrived, leaving him with a young son born on the journey out to New Zealand. He returned to Shropshire and married again, to Mary Meek, and had four more children, including Henry.
Henry followed in his father’s footsteps, arriving in New Zealand about 1876 to work as a civil engineer. On his way here he worked on the St Gothard Tunnel in the Swiss Alps (at the time the longest tunnel in the world) and then the Adrianople (now Edirne) Railway, which was to connect Constantinople (Istanbul) with Belgrade and Sofia.
After arriving in New Zealand he met Annie Matilda Shrempf - who had experienced an equally unusual journey to New Zealand. Annie was born in 1861 in Toledo, Ohio, the daughter of a German father Carl, described as a military officer and English mother, Anna Everiss. Her father died a year after she was born so her mother returned to the family home in Gloucestershire, with Annie and her elder sister Caroline. In 1871, 10-year-old Annie and her 15-year-old sister Caroline arrived in Canterbury to live with their Uncle Andrew, who was a school teacher. Annie excelled at school and went on to train as a teacher at several of her uncle’s schools in Wellington and Featherston.
Henry and Annie married in 1882 at the Mangorei Chapel in New Plymouth. By then Henry was employed by the Department of Lands and Survey as a draughtsman and was buying large tracts of land in the Carrington Road area.
After Henry died in 1919 his land, some of which had been known locally as Saxton Bush, was bought by the Government to provide properties for servicemen returning from World War One. However, after an outcry from local residents concerned an area of pristine virgin bush so close to New Plymouth was going to be destroyed, a section along the Huatoki River valley was secured as reserve and now makes up part of the Huatoki Domain.
An additional area of bush belonging to Henry was also saved and is known now as Cantlop Reserve, located between Carrington and Saxton Roads. Cantlop was the name of the Saxton family home and refers to a village near Henry’s family home in Newport, Shropshire.
This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.
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