Wrantage_Street.jpg Wrantage Street sign (2010). Mike Gooch. Word on the Street image collection.

Wrantage Street was named in 1948 to recognise the contribution of James Bellringer to New Plymouth as mayor from 1889-1893. He arrived here at the end of the Taranaki Wars as part of the Imperial Regiment to "suppress the Māori rebellion". Apart from his mayoral duties, James had seven sons and four daughters, several of whom were destined for public service.

The eldest C.E. (Charlie Emanuel) was town clerk from 1897 until 1902, when another son, F.T. (Felix Templeman, apparently called "Fin") Bellringer, took on the role until 1952. He is credited with acquiring many reserves for the city such as East End, Paritutu Centennial Park, Ngāmotu and Brooklands. Later Peringa Park was named after him, Peringa being a Māori transliteration of Bellringer. He also acquired land for New Plymouth's first airport and was given the "freedom of the airport" in 1938, an honour only previously bestowed on the great aviators Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm.

Two sons, C.E. and F.C.J. (Fred Cornelius James), took over their father's painting and paper-hanging business upon his death in 1902, while also running their own hardware store. In 1907 they amalgamated both businesses to become known as Bellringer Bros. Ltd.

The name Bellringer turns up in public service endlessly. The second son, F.C.J, was captain of the fire brigade. The governing boards of the Taranaki Hospital Board, Taranaki Harbours Board and the High School Board have all had Bellringers serve on them. Many may also know the Bellringer pavilion in Pukekura Park which celebrates their contribution to cricket in this province.

So how does a street called Wrantage celebrate James Bellringer and his descendants? Well James was born in a small village called Wrantage in Somerset, England around 1839. He died in 1901 and is buried at Te Hēnui.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

Related plan:

Taranaki DP7037 Sheet 1 Wrantage Street,  ICS Cadastral Index (Imaged by LINZ)

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