By Hayley Gastmeier
Pouring rain was not enough to dampen the spirits of Lansdowne residents and shop owners at the First St grand opening on Saturday.
The $400,000 redevelopment of the Lansdowne Shopping Village was celebrated in Victorian style, with Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson arriving in a horse-drawn carriage along with one of the area’s oldest residents, Kitty Muir, who owned The Quality Grocers with late husband Jim.
Leader of the Lansdowne Working Party and MC at the opening, Rod Garden said about 70 people turned out, and about a third of them in 19th Century dress.
“Despite the rain and wind and hail we got everything done that we said we would do for the opening.”
Gareth Winter, of Wairarapa Archive, gave the history of the Lansdowne area, of which its name originated from Sydney, and the site was blessed by Mike Kawana of Rangitane o Wairarapa.
Mr Garden said Lansdowne street names spawned from three concepts.
“There were the American style ones: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth.
“Then there were streets named after English army officers, and the others were mostly named after trees, like Totara, Rimu, Titoki and Manuka.”
He said the developed area – “which has come screaming and crying out of the 1970s and into the 21st Century” – would be an asset to Masterton.
“It’s going to benefit hugely the people who trade there, who live there, and whose children and children’s children will benefit from a lovely village atmosphere for years to come.”
The upgraded shopping precinct features newly laid-out car parks, paved footpaths, a green space and street furniture, with power cabling taken underground.