Hampden set to mark 130 years as township

Ken Bridge
Ken Bridge
Ken Bridge was pruning roses when he heard he had been made chairman of the organising committee for Hampden's celebrations this weekend.

He had discovered it would be 130 years this year since Hampden was declared a borough in September 1879. He then bumped into Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and said something should be done to mark it.

So Mr Bridge called a meeting of some of the older identities in Hampden - and promptly forgot to go. It was Mr Familton who found him in the roses and delivered the news of his appointment.

That meeting was in September last year and committee meetings have been held every month since.

The event will start tomorrow with registration and a "meet and greet" in the Hampden Hall from 7pm.

On Saturday, there will be a community market and displays and demonstrations in and around the hall. At 3pm, there will be a re-enactment of the proclamation of Hampden as a borough.

A social evening and dance will be held in the hall at night.

On Sunday, there will be a combined ecumenical church service in the Hampden Presbyterian Church. In the afternoon, there will be skateboard, gum-boot-throwing and sandcastle competitions, a pet parade and Burt Munro beach motorbike time trials, with talent quests at night.

A mini cavalcade, possum and rabbit shoot, and ecogaining (described as part Amazing Race, part rogaine, part orienteering) will be held on Monday.

There had already been 100 registrations, with some people coming from the North Island.

Hampden was named after John Hampden (1595-1643), a 17th-century English parliamentarian, opponent of King Charles 1 and civil war leader.

The town was surveyed and planned by John W. Thompson and the streets were drawn up on a grid map in England.

Hampden was proclaimed a borough on September 8, 1879, and a mayor and councillors governed until the 1960s.

It had been envisaged Hampden would become a large settlement, with the port at Moeraki, but that did not occur and many of the planned roads were never built, Mr Bridge said.

However, three churches were built, a botanical garden was planted and, in true English village style, there was a common and a town square.

In years gone by, basket-makers, bakers, butchers and milliners plied their trade in the township and it once had a bank. At its peak, the population was about 561 but it was now about 230, Mr Bridge said.

A booklet has been printed for the celebrations and a more detailed book of the district's history will be printed next year.

Taking part in the proclamation re-enactment will be particularly special for Mr Familton. His great-uncle, William Familton, served on the Hampden Borough Council.

When a Familton family reunion was held, 21 posies were placed on the graves of family members in the Hampden Cemetery, including that of his great-great-grandfather, also Alex Familton.


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