Friday, April 29, 2011

Boer War Memorial, Thames New Zealand

With ANZAC day recently past it is timely to remember the often 'lost memorial' of Thames, that of the BOER WAR MEMORIAL.  In 1954 many Thames residents were already in the dark about what this memorial stood for; which resulted in an article in the Thames Star newspaper 12 May 1954 (Copy held at the Thames Library) The article page 5 reads:

"How many people in Thames know what the memorial in Victoria Park is for, when it was erected and for whom? Today, old-timers who were present at the Central (Waiokaraka) School jubilee asked the "Star" about the fate of an old war memorial along Pollen Street. This is what they found out.

The memorial was erected in 1902 soon after the conclusion of the South African Boer War. in December of that same year it was unveiled by the Mayor Mr G Trembath, before a crowd of approximately 3000 people.  It was erected by the residents of Thames Goldfields in memory of Fred W D Forbes, a gunner of the Fifth Contingent, Robert Farquhar, trooper of the H Squadron and William Donkin, trooper of the Seventh Contingent.

Central Spot.  The first resting place of the memorial was on the corner of Mary and Pollen Streets and an old resident explained this morning that it was by public request that it had been placed on that corner.  The idea, he stated, was that for all those passing the street, which was when the centre of the town, to look at it and think of those who gave their lives in the "war at the turn of the century."

It is evident, however that there are few records kept of when the memorial was transferred from the centre of the town to Victoria Park where it now stands and in an interview with Mr Stan Danby this morning, he said that as far as he knew it was transferred between 1919 and 1920 as it was becoming a menace to traffic.

A place was then needed to put this memorial and the only worthwhile spot was Victoria Park, well used at that period for band concerts.  During the two years 1919-20 the transferring of the memorial took place and since then considerable care has been taken, by the bodies concerned with its upkeep, to keep it in a good state of preservation"

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