Edwards enquiry

From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Jan

I have been researching my family history and my great grandmother was born and educated in Waipawa.  Her name was Kathleen Elizabeth “Kitty” Edwards born supposedly on 22 Aug 1899 but still to be confirmed. 

She left Waipawa and was living in Wanganui for many years and it is said she owned a few grocers stores there. 

She returned to Waipawa with her husband, Gordon Boldt, shortly after World War II as they bought the Empire Hotel in Waipawa. 

I am not sure how long they ran the hotel for or when they next left but am trying to dig up any further information for her and the rest of the Edwards clan that lived there. 

Her parents were Charlie Farr Edwards and Rachel Jane (Rebecca) Edwards nee McEwen. 
I have been given siblings names of Rachel born 1892, Unknown name born 1894, Ivy born June 1899 but these are yet to be confirmed and there is also Charles Henry Farr born 1900 who I have had confirmed and been told a little history about. 

There is a mystery as to what my grandmothers actual date of birth is as there are conflicting documents and NZBMD couldn’t find anything for her when they did a search 2 years either side of the date given above. 

When I have time I am going to come down and catch up with Rosheen at the Museum and do some searching myself….am hoping there may be school records for the children and perhaps work records for my great great grandfather as he worked for a grocer there or owned a grocers store….perhaps my great grandmother also worked at the grocers prior to moving to Wanganui and this is where she got the experience to buy her own stores. 

Also wondering if there is a photo archive that may have photo’s of the Empire Hotel and the dates that Kitty and Gordon Boldt owned it.  Any help you may be able to give would be gratefully received.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Tracy James
Havelock North

From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Jan

I knew I would forget to tell you something in the email I just sent :-).

My great grandmother’s brother Charles Henry Farr (Henry) married Charlotte Cooper in 1928 and they adopted a son Charles Harold Farr (Harry)…have been told a little info on Harry and as far as I know he was their only child. 

Harry married Lyn Morris who I met recently (drove up and introduced myself about a month ago after getting directions to where she still lives in the Edwards homestead) ….am wondering if there are photo’s of the original homestead before it burnt down many years ago. 

She gave me all her details but have misplaced the piece of paper as we were going to email each other. 

I know Lyn and Harry had children and she is going to give me all their details.  I believe Harry left town and now lives in Gisborne….my endeavour with my family research is not to dig up dirt on my family but to find out about my roots.  Perhaps some of Charlotte Cooper’s family are from the same area?……

I never thought about this avenue until now. 

Anyway before I waft on even further I’ll leave this with you.  If you think I may get some positive feedback through your website I am happy for you to edit this info (or I am happy to do so) and put it on your website.



From: Jan
To: Tracy
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Tracy,

Well, I don’t know anything about the Edwards at this point that can help you. But when I mentioned the Edwards name to my husband he immediately said ‘I think there is an old photo of an “Edwards” grocery store down at the Museum. (he used to do a fair bit of research down there when I was painting murals etc so he’s fairly familiar with a lot of the photos) – so your guess about them owning a shop here in Waipawa may be right.

I’ll go down to the Museum tomorrow and see if I can find it.

There are quite a few photos of the Empire Hotel. It was a very majestic building before it burnt down 1961- so I am sure between Rosheen and  myself that we should be able to track something down for you.

And we will do our best to find out any family records too. The Museum has a data base of births, deaths and Marriages made up from old historic Waipawa Mail  issues so that might shed some light on possible dates.

I will put your request on line – although this may take a little while as Brian (website administrator) is out working with computers all days and sometimes feels like having a break from staring at computers all day.

I’ll see what we can find.

Jan : )

From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Jan

Whatever you can find will be most appreciated and even if you can point me in the right direction as to where to source things would be very helpful also….just got back from a genealogy class where I am learning all this through a guru of genealogy here in Hawkes Bay, Lily Baker. 

Please thank your husband also for recalling the photo of the Edwards grocers store.

From usually having a passing interest in most hobbies I take up this has become a huge “gene allergy”. 

I called in and introduced myself to Rosheen a couple of weeks ago on my way to Wellington so she may recall me…was going to call in on the way home but had major car trouble so had to postpone my visit. 

Miriam Squires at the Council has also been very helpful with local burials/cremations but there are still a few Edwards I have yet to confirm are part of my Edwards clan…will go down that path sometime in the future also. 

I am currently on an invalids benefit but if you require reimbursement for photocopying, etc please let me know..where there’s a will there’s a way.

Thanks again for your help and enjoy your weekend 🙂


PS:  What an amazing website you have…I’ve had a lot of fun checking it out and there’s no hurry about putting my query on your site, just when Brian has time is fine with me.

From: Jan
To: Tracy
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Tracy,

I just remembered I had an old photo of the Empire Hotel in my filing cabinet here at home- not from the era of when Kitty and Gordon Boldt were owners – but it certainly would have been like this when she was growing up in Waipawa.

This photo which I’ve attached is Waipawa’s Main Street circa 1910 – the Empire Hotel is the big building on the right. I think it’s a very impressive building.

It also makes you aware of the lack of road rules at that time as anyone seems to be able to ride their horse and carts anywhere – and the mess that horses can leave behind.

Hope you enjoy the photo. I’ll go down to the museum after work today and see what else I can find.


From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Jan

Thanks for the photo.  The Empire Hotel certainly is a very impressive building, what a shame it burnt down.  Where abouts was it located in the street or what is built there now?

I know how busy everyone is these days so there is no hurry with helping me with my research…enjoy your weekend.



From: Rosheen – CHB Settlers Museum
To: Tracy
Subject: Edwards family of Waipawa

Hi Tracy

I have searched carefully thru databases and photo collection but can’t find anything to help you with this latest information.
I have a lot of Empire Hotel photos and quite a bit of info – but no Boldt among the known proprietors. Charlotte Cooper is not among the early birth records nor on the database.

Edwards Grocery – also cannot locate anything – but from my street file index I do have –
Harold Edwards used clothing at 63 High St [pre 1954]
Harold Edwards at the Waipawa Fish shop sometime between the mid 1930’s & 1951.

Look forward to seeing you on your next trip down



From: Jan
To: Tracy
Subject: Edwards Store

I’ve just read what Rosheen found out before I went over next door for a cup of tea at mum’s place.
Mum was born in Waipawa, and although she was mostly raised out on the family farm out of OngaOnga, she spent her teenage years here, boarding with her grandfather and Aunt so she was able to attend Waipawa District High School.

Anyway when I went over and said to her that I had had an enquiry about the Edwards family she said that there was a men’s clothing store back in the 40’s when she went to High School.

She also said that she remembers it because there was a rather nice looking young shop assistant there who (it was reputed to say) had some rather ‘naughty’ magazines (of course naughty magazines back then were pretty tame compared to nowadays)…

Anyway apparently a couple of ‘bad’ girls in Mum’s class were said to have sneaked into the back room to see these magazines with this young man… (Mr Edwards certainly wouldn’t have known anything about this ‘naughty’ behaviour going on in his shop).

She said it was just a rumour that this happened and that she couldn’t say for certain whether it was true or not…  .But it makes a good story. 🙂

I also remembered why ‘Edwards’ was so familiar to me as a shop.

I painted the front of the shop a few years back. It was one of the shops that have an Art Deco facade and it is clearly printed out in the concrete and I had the job of painting the fiddly bits – so I painted around the letters to make it stand out..

Not a very good photo I’m afraid  but it shows you that Edwards store did in fact exist and evidence is still here in Waipawa today.
It is located directly opposite the museum.

It’s funny how things slip your mind when they’re staring you right in the face.

Anyway don’t know if this helps any…


From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Edwards store

I just had a look at the photo and I seem to recall someone telling me of this DH Edwards but so far haven’t been able to link him to my clan unfortunately….ahh well I am very patient and no doubt something will turn up in the future.  Had a good chuckle about the story your Mum told you though 🙂

From: Jan
To: Tracy
Subject: Empire Hotel research

Hi Tracy,

I’ve done a little research on the Empire Hotel. I couldn’t find very much as records of the hotel were not well recorded… But here’s what I found out….

I forgot to say in reply to one of your earlier emails that the Empire Hotel was sited on the main street. If you look in the photo I sent you last week – you can see the BNZ Bank building (which is now the CHB Settlers Museum) situated on the Northern side of the Empire Hotel.

Nowadays, where the Empire used to stand, there is a Super Liquor outlet there and the BP service station.

In Rosheen’s email she says that the Museum has no record of you great Grandparents ownership of the Empire Hotel after the Second World War. This is not necessarily because they did not own it – but because the records of proprietors/owners/managers is incomplete.

Quote from “Abbott’s Ford – a History of Waipawa” about Hotels in Waipawa.
‘For various reasons, the hotels have been particularly difficult to document, mainly because the turn-over in licensees was in some cases rapid, leaving no tangible records.”

A brief history of the Empire Hotel.

The first Empire Hotel was built in the mid 1860’s by Thomas Cowper.

Cowper sold the hotel to H.J. Baker about 1870 – who went on to build a substantial two storeyed building and large park-like gardens over an area that covered 16 acres (up to and around the current tennis courts).

In 1884 Henry Baker sold the Hotel to A. Scrimgeour.

Then in 1886 a fire started in a roll or two of cloth in a tailor’s shop, and it soon spread destroying seven shops, the Empire Hotel, The Post Office and the Bank of New Zealand. At that stage there was no Fire Brigade in Waipawa so the Napier Fire Brigade was called to help by telegram and a special train was put on to transport them down to Waipawa (so no wonder so many buildings burnt down)

The devastation left after the fire 1886

In 1888 Mr Scrimgeour announced that he “…had the pleasure in announcing that this fine new hotel is rebuilt and fitted up in the manner not equaled in any country place between Waipawa and Wellington.”

The Empire was described as ‘well appointed’ as it had nearly sixty rooms.

On the ground floor were two dining rooms, capable of catering for 150 guests, extensive clubrooms, four comfortable sitting rooms and a double bar.

A large stairway led to the first floor which contained thirty airy, well lit comfortable bedrooms with hot and cold water and several lavatories served the rooms.

At the rear of the building were three large sample rooms, several storage sheds and an up-to-date stable.

The grounds contained a bowling green and tennis court as well as vegetable and flower gardens.

In 1898 Mr Scrimgeour sold the hotel to Mr Limbrick and for a short time it was known as “Limbrick’s Hotel’ – at a later date Limbrick sold to A.E. Jull

In 1926 Tommy and Dora Wills took over the license of the Hotel, and they along with their cook, Joe, were reputed to be ‘the greatest pub keepers in the land’!

It was ‘the place’ to stop and stay if you were traveling to or from Wellington, and it was the site of many pre-ball parties – in fact it was said to be the ‘hub of Waipawa’s social life’.

After Tommy and Dora left the empire in 1940 a succession of licensees ran the hotel

On Easter Sunday, 1961, the beautiful old Empire was destroyed by a spectacular fire.

The licensees Mr J. Short and his family were away when the 20,000 square foot building caught alight. It was one of the largest wooden buildings in Hawkes Bay. The only part of the hotel to be saved was the bar.

The morning after the fire 1961.

In 1962 the Jull Estate (who were at that time the owners of the hotel) chose not to rebuild and so the Empire Hotel faded back into the pages of Waipawa’s history.


List compiled from Bryant’s File (CHB Settlers Museum) and Abbott’s Ford book

H.J. Baker, – about 1870
A.C Scrimgeour 1884 – 1895
W.I. Limbrick 1895- ?
A.E . Jull
A.C. Scrimgeour
George Oakenfull
Tommy and Dora Wills 1926- 1940

?Gordon Boldt just after WW2.

Phil Louisson              )
–          Chote                   ) Dates uncertain? Managers/Owners uncertain?
–          Rabone                 )
Jim Short  (manager at time of fire – owned by Julls)

* If you have any information about owners/managers of the Empire Hotel could you please email relevant information to me so that we can build a more complete file of this history  🙂

PS…  I don’t know if you’ve already seen it or not – But Brian has posted your request this weekend on the website. – We’ll update it as information comes to hand – Hopefully someone out there will have information they can share which will help your research

From: Tracy
To: Jan
Subject: Empire Hotel research

Hi Jan

Wow!!! You have been busy.

Thanks heaps.  I love reading old history and especially since this relates to my great grandmother Kathleen (Kitty) Boldt nee Edwards and her 2nd husband Gordon Boldt.

Will keep you posted with what I dig up as far as dates that they were licensees.  Am also going to go to the library in Hastings and go through birth indexes for Kathleen and other siblings in the hope of confirming, at the very least, the years for each of them.,,,think it might be a matter of keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed :-). 

Just going to have a look at my posting on your website…another thank you for doing this so quickly.