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Origin stories on the streets

Project manager Sam Rossiter-Stead and Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson, with one of the first 70 heritage signs which will eventually be found in all 300 of Masterton’s streets. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

The story of Masterton’s streets is being taken to the streets with the production of a series of heritage signs telling their names.

The first 70 of the signs have been readied for streets in and near Masterton’s central business district.

Project manager Sam Rossiter-Stead said the signs provide “some fascinating stories about this aspect of Masterton’s heritage”.

Mr Rossiter-Stead said he had been surprised to learn there were as many as 300 streets in the town, which will eventually all have their own signs.

“Some of them are tiny lanes that you didn’t know had names.”

Archivist Gareth Winter of Wairarapa has produced the text for the signs, some of which include portraits.

“I know from giving talks about this that people are interested,” Mr Winter said.

“Kids thrive on knowing the stories of the names.”

Mr Winter has researched the topic in his book Street Stories, how Masterton Streets got their Names, first published in 1998 and most recently re-published in 2007.

Streets in some parts of Masterton re grouped thematically, with the “bird area” of western Masterton incorporating names of native birds, and Lansdowne having a mixture of “American-style” streets named first to fourth, and the names of native trees.

What Mr Winter finds more interesting, however, are the streets named after people and places.

Mr Winter said a lot of names are “organic” and reflect conditions at the time they were named.

For instance, Worksop Road was literally the road to Worksop farm to the west – the farm itself being named after a village in England, “where the Dixon family came from”.

“It’s unusual to have a ‘road’ in the middle of town,” Mr Winter noted.

In researching street names in the same area, Mr Winter stumbled across the unusual scenario of several streets named after two women – “a couple of ladies who subdivided their farm”.

“Men are much better at having streets named after them.”

These women were Miss Emma Jeans and her sister Elizabeth Hacker, who lived in Keaton house.

Between them they accounted for the names of neighbouring Elizabeth St, Hacker St, Jeans St and Keaton St.

There were also two Kirton sisters, one of whom married a Dixon and another a Hessey. Between them these three families accounted for three more names in the same block of streets to the west of Masterton’s CBD.

Mr Winter said a new library website currently being built will include the information uncovered in the street names project.


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