Friday, 12 April 2019

Frederick Newnham Christian

Frederick Newnham Christian in his 70s
Collection of Julie Green
Fred was born in 1884 in Christchurch, he was the youngest of seven children. Apprenticed to machinery suppliers Andrews and Beaven for 5 years, he also studied electrical and mechanical engineering at Canterbury University and worked at his trade in England. Once qualified as a Marine Engineer he worked for the Northern Steamship Company on coastal boats including ‘Wave’ and ‘Victory.’ In 1911 he purchased Davies Bros business in Devonport Rd and renamed it Tauranga Plumbing and Engineering Works. He resided at ‘Dilston,’ a boarding establishment run by the Norris Family (near present day Elizabeth Heights.)

The garage in 1955 on western side of Devonport rd, Tauranga
Collection of Julie Green
In December 1913 he married Mary Parkinson whom he had met in the UK. They later purchased ‘Fairlight' overlooking the Waikareo Estuary, and raised their family there. During the first war he began to sell cars and became Tauranga’s Ford agent, continuing in business until the mid 1950s. By then he employed 30 staff including painters, panel beaters and upholsterers but due to failing heath he sold to Tappenden’s.

Advertising Souvenir
Collection of Julie Green
Many of the mechanics trained at the Devonport Rd garage went on to have successful businesses in other parts of the district. Some of these were:
  • Phil Prime — agent for Humber, Commer and De Soto in Grey Street,
  • Erle Prier — garage at Warner Rd for many years,
  • Wally Brockway — Bethlehem Motors for 30+ years ,
  • Johnny Phillips — Fraser Street and his daughter is still in business,
  • Charlie Dinsdale — Birch Ave
  • Doug Hayward — Omokoroa
  • Frank Olsen — Eleventh Ave
and several others in other districts.

Some of F.N. Christian’s achievements in the Tauranga District:
  • Lay preacher and member of the Guild of Wesley Methodist Church,
  • School and Liquor licensing committee,
  • Debating and Literary Society,  a prominent Rotarian,
  • Commissioner of Scouts for 7 years,
  • Chamber of Commerce for 6 years,
  • Deputy Mayor and at his death in November 1957
  • Member of the Harbour Board and a Borough Councillor

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