Passing time with Eris Parker

Category Archives: Changes

“Mum, I’m going to the beach, can you mind Duke?”

“Ahh but he stinks,” I answer, “Why can’t you take him?”

“Because he stinks!”

Billy T James’ House

We rise early and I check my emails. The Duke sits and just stares at me. After a while he starts sighing, so we head to the Agility Park and off he bounds.

In the next door paddock, now an empty space, was the house where Billy T James spent some of his youth. It was a small square cottage, on the corner of Bracken and Shelley Streets, Leamington, New Zealand, outside the green belt, towards the Council Depot.

Originally this house belonged to the Cambridge Borough Council and was used by the worker of the old Municipal Boiling Down Works. More recently it was rented out until Waipa District Council re-evaluated its rental obligations and burnt the house down.

A walk down the west end of Alpha Street in Cambridge New Zealand, brings you to the Gaslight Theatre. The old municipal gasworks from 1907 – 1954.

The Cambridge borough kept the buildings as a depot and the expanse of land was leased to Courtney’s Sawmill.  Jack, Charlie and George Courtney owned and ran their mill from 1959 – 1976.

Prior to that they had worked at, and then bought Newmack Ltd’s sawmill in King Street. They changed the machines from petrol to diesel and for ten years they milled timber exclusively for the local building firm Speight Pearce Nicoll Davys.

After the move to Alpha Street they changed to electricity and concentrated mainly on native timbers. Their main outlet then was to Auckland as well as the local market.

At one stage sawdust was heaped nearby but it was later used by farmers to cover ensilage stacks and commercial gardeners used it for weed control.
There was always plenty of firewood for locals.

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