Many historical documents relating to Ashhurst can be found at sources like the Palmerston North City Council, the Palmerston North Library Archives, and by visiting and viewing the documents on the walls at County Fayre in Pohangina. There are also old photographs at the Ashhurst Library and some on the walls at the Cafe Domain.
Right from its earliest days considerable development had been proceeding in Ashhurst and in November 1889 Mr. S. Ingram and other residents of the township petitioned the Board for Ashhurst to be proclaimed a Town District. At the same time they cautiously inquired what liabilities would have to be taken over from the Manchester Road Board. This proposal was not proceeded with at the time, but Ashhurst continued to expand, and a few years later even loftier aspirations were entertained for the area. In 1892 another petition bearing more than 100 signatures was presented to the Board, requesting that the town be declared a borough.
In 1896 Messrs G. S. Rumble and Freeman waited on the board at its September meeting to request on behalf of the Ashhurst Progressive Association that a road be opened from Pohangina Road, through Mr. Warne's property, to the Pohangina River. The association offered to contribute generously towards the cost, but the board declined the request because the work had not been asked for by rate payers adjoining the proposed road. In October, the association made requests for the metalling of Winchester Street; the establishment of a pound and improvements to the Ferry Reserve. On this occasion, the board replied that it could not recognise any communications or suggestions from the association and that all matters relating to the welfare of the various wards must be sent through the wardens. The association's letter was returned to it. But Ashhurst settlers did not let the rest there. In December Mr. G. S. Rumble and Mr. J. H. Vincent, both later to become members of the board, forwarded resolutions passed at a meeting of ratepayers in Nos. 5 and 6 Wards, urging greater representation on the board, as a result of which Wardens W. G. Pearce and D. Thomas were appointed a committee to define boundaries for making three wards in the area of the existing two. In February of 1897, the clerk, Mr. Bray, reported that the whole of Ashhurst township and suburban sections gave a total value of £43,085, exclusive of Crown Lands. At the same meeting, Ashhurst was proclaimed Ward 7 of the Road District, and in July Mr. Rumble took his seat on the board as the ward's representative. The board did not own any land in Ashhurst, and when residents there required a pound for straying stock, they were asked to subscribe towards the cost.
Steam Train in Manawatu Gorge in 1910 ›
The first use of tar occurred when the board bought four casks of it to line the water-tables through the main street of Ashhurst, a modest employment of the product destined to transform the surface of the miles of roads through the county. At the prompting of the Ashhurst Domain Board, set up to control an area on the west bank of the river by the ferry, the board decided to close the gorge metal pit. Slaughterhouse inspection and licensing which, up till this time had been the prerogative of the board, passed to the Department of Agriculture and the board became interested in a proposal by the Feilding Borough Council to set up a municipal abattoir. At the same time the Health Department tightened up on the administration of the Health Act, and the board agreed to share the cost of the services of a health inspector.
Queen Victoria died in January 1901. The coronation of her eldest son as King Edward VII stirred the hearts of the people of Ashhurst. An Ashhurst Coronation Improvement Committee was set up and a request was made for assistance in laying footpaths and planting trees at the Ashhurst Reserve. The Board consented to vote £25 toward forming the pathway round the reserve in front of the Ashhurst Post Office and sought a Government subsidy for the work. The Ashhurst School Committee asked for a donation towards entertaining the school children on Coronation Day but a motion to vote £3 was lost. The Palmerston North Hospital and Charitable Aid Board authorised the issue of double rations for one week to those on relief, to mark the royal occasion. The death occurred of Mr. Jens Petersen, warden for No. 6 ward, and in a by-election, Mr. T. Rowling was elected to fill the vacancy. Mechanisation moved into administration with the board approving the purchase of a typewriter at a cost of £25. Under a roading loan of £5,220 in August, provision was made for the following Ashhurst Roads: Church Street, Winchester Street, Guilford Street, Lincoln Street, Worcester street, Wyndham Street and Mulgrave Street. The general rate in 1902 was reduced from 5/8ths of a penny to a half-penny in the £..
Holidays were not allowed to stand in the wav of the board's work and a special meeting was held on Boxing Day, Friday, December 26, 1902 for the purpose of passing a resolution to raise a roading loan of £3,660 to be spent over the whole of Ward 5. Under this loan, the roads of Mugby Junction (Bunnythorpe) received a face lift. They were: Baring Street, Redmayne Street, Raymond Road, Dutton Street, Andrew's road Clive Street and a then unnamed street between Redmayne Street and Andrew's Road.
A proposal to institute a motor car service between Feilding and Kimbolton came before the board in February of 1903 an the chairman, Mr. Wheeler, and Mr. Pearce were appointed delegates to a meeting with interested parties. This idea was advanced by the Feilding branch of the New Zealand Farmers' Union and was tied up with the ultimate aim of getting a branch railway through to Apiti, but it came to nougt.
In April, 1957, steps were taken to declare Ashhurst a county Town with effect from April 1, 1958. The first Ashhurst County Town Board elected in April 1958 consisted of M. H. Edhouse, S. Edwards, J. King, B. Guildford, C. King, C. Turner, and J. G. Bleakly (appointed by the County Council).
Section entitled "ASHHURST" - Extracted from the book:
Pioneering to Prosperity 1874-1974
A Centennial History of the Manchester Block
DA Davies and RE Clevely