'Hamilton' book proving to be a page-turner

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 12:58 16/11/2012
 Tim Brooker
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
GOOD SELLER: Tim Brooker with his book Hamiltons of the World.

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Rotarian Tim Brooker really knows his home town, writes Chris Gardner.

Hamiltons of the World, a book celebrating all 127 places in the world named Hamilton - and one asteroid - has sold nearly 4000 copies internationally since its launch last month.

The coffee table book, by retired St Paul's Collegiate teacher and Hamilton East Rotary Club member Tim Brooker, is being sold for $45 in city stores and is also being sold by Rotary clubs in Australia, America, Canada and Britain.

It all began shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066, Mr Brooker says in the 236 page hardback book, in the southern English village of Hambledon, of which Hamilton is a derivative, in Hampshire. Brooker leaves no stone unturned and delivers a well researched book on every Hamilton that has been settled since.

It's no surprise to find Hambledon, also known as "the cradle of cricket" because Hambledon Cricket Club is thought to date back to 1750, as the first place to get a double page spread. There are photos of The Bat and Ball public house, the first headquarters of English cricket, and a monument to the club.

The Scottish town of Hamilton, 20 miles east of Glasgow, is the earliest place to use the Hamilton name proper in 1445 and gets four pages in Brooker's book. Under the rule of Scottish King Robert the Bruce it was given to Walter Fitz-Gilbert. Hamilton Palace was the largest non-royal residence in the Western World.

Then it's on to James, the first Duke of Hamilton, who lived 1606-1649, turning the focus from places to people.

Hamilton, in the Waikato, took the name in 1864 from Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton and gets a six page treatment including a double page spread on Hamilton Gardens.

"The earliest recorded settlers in this area were Maori from the Tainui waka who called an area of the west bank of the Waikato River Kirikiriroa, meaning long stretch of gravel."

Captain Hamilton commanded the corvette Esk, which was sent to New Zealand to help in the New Zealand Wars.

"At the Battle of Gate Pa he had under his direct command a detachment of the 43rd Regiment and a party of sailors," Brooker notes. "In the words of a nineteenth century historian: ‘The gallant Hamilton sprung upon the embankment, waved his sword in the air, and shouted, "Follow me men!" Scarcely had the words passed his lips when a bullet struck him in the head, his sword dropped from his hand, and he fell to rise no more'."

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Hamiltons of the World is available from Hamilton City Council, Hamilton Gardens, Heaphy Tce Pharmacy, Paper Plus in Downtown Plaza, Penny's bookshop in Chartwell, Poppies bookshop in Cassabella Lane and Waikato Museum.

- Waikato

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