Be part of Frankton's history book

GEOFF LEWIS
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2013

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Frankton played an important part in Hamilton's growth, prompting historian Barry Lafferty to record the suburb's stories ready for next year.

To get the full picture Mr Lafferty is asking for the public's help. The history of Frankton can be traced back to Thomas Jolly, who in 1867 bought 400 acres from Major Jackson Keddell, a member of the Waikato Militia.

Mr Lafferty has a map of Jolly's domain which then stretched from Dinsdale to Lake Rotoroa and over to Forest Lake Rd. The name came about when Thomas' son Frank was asked by the railways department to name the railway station.

He called it Frankton.

The settlement had almost all the components of a small town - its own school, dairy factory, stock yards, abattoir, police station, bakery, hall, hotel, picture theatre and library.

The settlement reached the population of 1000 and qualified as a borough in 1913.

The Frankton Borough Council undertook an ambitious scheme to build its own coal-fired power station, which it achieved, but went broke doing it, and the borough was amalgamated with Hamilton in 1917.

Frankton was home to the largest railway marshalling yards in the country, reaching its peak in 1940 when it handled 80 trains a day.

It also suffered one of New Zealand's most destructive tornadoes which inflicted millions of pounds of damage in 1948.

Mr Lafferty, who launched the now-closed Riversider publication in 1988, said the impetus to take on a history of Frankton came from his late mother Mary, and he has been assisted in the task by his sister Colleen.

His grandfather Charles Lafferty, a borough councillor, bought the private Grand Hotel in Colombo St in 1913. It burned down in 1946.

The book will make strong use of photographs but Mr Lafferty needs to fill in some gaps.

"I need photographs for things like the great flood of 1954 which saw boats in Bandon St when the lake overflowed, the Christmas Eve pipers who would walk in and out of the shops, social activities in the Frankton Town Hall, the railway crossing keeper in action, Guy Fawkes parades and baby pageants in the 1940s and 50s."

His aim is to have the book ready for Hamilton's 150th anniversary - in September next year. Contact Mr Lafferty on 853 8611 or bazzlaff@ bigpond.com.

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- Waikato Times

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