Monday, August 6, 2012

William Grant–Builder

The last couple of days I’ve been researching my Great Great Grandfather William Grant.  He is the first of the Scottish side of my family that I have spent any time researching.

I still have lots of gaps in my research but what I know is that he was born in1852 in Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland to John Grant ( Limestone Miner) and Jean Love.

He was the 7th of 8 children that I’ve found so far, and it appears he emigrated to New Zealand between the ages of 20 and 24 when he married Louisa Abbot in Oamaru in the South Island .( I’m still hunting for some indication of what ship he arrived on and not having a lot of luck!!.

From what I’ve read he trained as a builder and was involved in building in Wellington before moving to Stoke Nelson.

I found his photo and an article about his building of the St Marys Orphanage in the 1906 Cyclopedia of New Zealand and decided this event warranted a layout.

Here is a transcript of the article which describes the Orphanage in great detail

St. Mary's Orphanage And Industrial School , Stoke, Nelson. This institution is charmingly situated amongst hills, with gigantic blue gums and fir trees in the background, and an unsurpassed view of the harbour and Mount Arthur in the distance. The building, which is one of the handsomest of its kind in New Zealand, is an admirable monament to the taste and talent of the architect, Mr. John S, Swan, of Wellington, and to the skill and workmanship of the Builder, Mr. William Grant, of Nelson. The style is slightly Romanesque; and the building, which is throughout of brick, on concrete foundations, has plaster facings, with five gables showing to the front, and is roofed with Marseilles tiles. The length of the building is 240 feet, depth 157 feet, and the average height of the rooms, of which there are thirty-five, is fifteen feet. Special attention has been paid to lighting, two wells having been placed in the centre for that purpose, and each room contains far more than the number of windows generally found in such institutions. To ensure perfect ventilation, Boyle's fan ventilators have been installed, and huge fireplaces have been built in the principal rooms to ensure the comfort of the inmates. There are three class rooms, each 22 feet 6 inches by 22 feet; a dining hall 43 feet 6 inches by 25 feet; two dormitories, 82 feet by 36 feet and 75 feet by 35 feet 9 inches, each containing 50 beds. Off these rooms there are dressing rooms, and a lavatory measuring 48 feet by 12 feet 6 inches, with a three-inch table running nearly the length of the room, with a pipe earrying running water, and a tap for each of the numerous bowls on either side of the table, A channel down the centre of the table carries away the water, and there are six large bath tubs with a supply of hot and cold water. The dressing room is fitted with lockers, wardrobes, and hanging presses. Over 257 feet of corridors with a width of 8 feet, run through the building, and in all the rooms and halls there is a five-feet dado. A little to the left of the centre of the building there is a chapel and sacristy, over which there is a bell tower, which rises to a height of about 60 feet from the ground. A beautiful memorial window has been placed in the chapel to perpetuate the name of the late Very Rev. Dean Mahoney. Thirteen concrete steps lead up to the main entrance, with a reception room on the right and an office on the left; and a beautiful arch spans the vestibule. To the rear and detached from the main building, there is further accommodation, which includes a hospital containing a ward 36 feet by 18 feet, the nurse's rooms, a Kitchen a bathroom, and a lavatory. All the bricks used in the creation of the Home were made in the kilns on the property, on which brickmaking has become an important industry. The hop fields connected with the Home have averaged as high as half-a-ton to the acre. The property is nearly 700 acres in extent, and has its own private reservoir. There are ninety-two boys at the school. The Rev. George Mahony is at the head of the institution, and is ably assisted by Mr. and Mrs. William Fitzgerald, and a staff of secular teachers.





William became Clerk of Works for Cooper and Co Construction Company and was tasked with building the new Post Office Tower for Nelson.

It was to be the cause of his demise. While trying to save a bricklayer from falling from scaffolding, William fell 15 feet hitting his head on the joists on the way down.

He survived the fall but died a few months later, the cause of death on the death certificate lists Verdict by Jury- Death by Pneumonia bought on through an accident at New Post Office Nelson.

That accident and his family life ( when he married his wife Louisa was just 16) certainly will be the focus of another layout very soon.

I’m hoping to discover a bit more about his arrival and his early days in New Zealand if I can first.

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