Volume 5

Henry Lowe

Annette Arundel

My Great Grandfather, Henry Lowe, was born in London on the 24th of April 1865. He came to New Zealand from England with his parents in 1875 at the age of 10.

Henry Lowe - Mayor of Thames.
Taken about 1910.

In 1887 he married Sarah Goodwin and their three children were Rosina (my grandmother), Hazel, and Louis Lowe who was killed in Palestine during World War I.

The Lowe Family of Thames.
Henry and Sarah Lowe seated, Hazel, Louis and Rosina standing.

Thames Star, 23 November 1917:

'When Cr Lucas, Deputy-Mayor took the chair at the Borough Council meeting last night, he referred in feeling terms to the loss the Mayor and Mrs Lowe had sustained in the death of their son, who died of wounds received in Palestine. Cr Lucas moved that a vote of condolence be passed by the council. The motion was carried by councillors rising.'

Thames Star 14 November 1918:

'We regret to learn that the Mayor, Mr H. Lowe, is at present down with influenza.'

Thames Star, 16 November 1918:

'Mr Lowe, Mayor, is making satisfactory progress.'

Henry Lowe had a butchery and small goods business in Thames. Thames Advertiser, 2 September 1893.

Extracts from The Thames Advertiser, 9 Feb 1894:

'POLLEN STREET FIRE: CORONER'S INQUEST. A Coronnial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the late Pollen street fire was held at the Court House yesterday afternoon. Henry Lowe deposed that he occupied one of the buildings destroyed by fire on the 5th inst. Had been in the building about six or seven months. His partner, Mr Goodwin, also occupied part of the premises. Was in the back yard about 11.30 am on Monday morning, when he heard Mrs Griffin call out fire, and thinking it was her place, he was in the act of jumping over the fence to go to her assistance, when she pointed up to the roof of witness' own building. Looking up witness saw smoke coming from the roof of the premises occupied by himself, and nearest to Mr Chilcott's. He would say that the smoke was issuing from the roof about one foot from the gutter, and rose up about 3 ft in width. Witness then gave the alarm to the others and ran upstairs. When he got into the room he could not see any appearance of fire....It then burst through the ceiling, and from the situation of the fire, he was quite sure that it originated outside on the roof. There was no fireplace in that room. Mrs Lowe and Mrs Goodwin followed witness into the room... The chimney belonging to witness' own premises was on the other side of the roof to where the fire took place. Had the chimney cleaned about three weeks ago. Had an ordinary small fire in the fire-place that morning and had been making jelly. The fireplace was open. The boiler, which was completely covered, was on the fire-place at the time the fire occurred. Witness was quite satisfied that there had been no fire in the chimney that day, as after the fire had been extinguished the lid of the boiler was perfectly clean. Had no insurance on the stock or furniture. He estimated his loss at about £25. This was for furniture, the stock having been saved. The damaged caused was confined to the upper rooms and contents.... Sarah Lowe, wife of the last witness, gave evidence that Mrs Goodwin and herself were in the front sitting room upstairs all the morning in question doing some sewing. They had no fire in the room that morning. There was no fire-place upstairs. She knew nothing about the fire until her husband came running up-stairs.... Isaac Goodwin, partner of Mr Lowe, was next to give evidence, but he simply corroborated the statement of Mr Lowe regarding the fire... VERDICT: The jury, after several minutes deliberation, returned the following verdict: That the fire originated on the outside of the shingle roof of the house occupied by Messrs Lowe and Goodwin, but the evidence before us is insufficient to show the cause thereof. The jury wishes to add as a rider their opinion that the Borough Council should bring into force such by-law as shall prohibit the erection of shingle roofs in the crowded portions of the Borough.'

Thames Star, 29 November 1897.

Thames Star, 2 November 1905.
Thames Star, 1 February 1906.

Thames Star, 27 February 1917.

Later, he became interested in farming, initially as a hobby. He acquired land at Matatoki in 1914 which members of his family farmed. He won distinction as the first farmer to apply superphosphate topdressing to hill country land.

A keen sportsman with wide interests, he was a keen racing man, and at one time trained trotters. In 1892 Henry won the third Auckland Trotting Cup with Little Ben, who was bred, owned and trained by him. Little Ben won the three mile saddle race by 50 lengths in 8.36 minutes with a handicap of 53 seconds, and Henry received 250 pounds of the 300 pounds stake.

He was a foundation member of the Thames Bowling Club, and derived much enjoyment from this sport.

Another of his keenest interests was collecting mineral specimens and prospecting, a subject on which he was quite an authority due to his association with the School of Mines, and an education which had prepared him for a career in chemistry.

Henry devoted his whole life to public service. In 1908 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and held that office up until his death. His impressive record included a term as president of the Thames School of Mines, where he took up office in 1927. He was chairman of the Thames High School Board of Governors from 1910 until 1919, and chairman of the Thames Harbour Board from 1928 to 1936 after its amalgamation with the Borough Council, and 14 years on the Thames Borough Council.

Henry Lowe was elected Mayor of Thames in 1910 and held this office until his retirement in 1919.

Henry Lowe, Mayor of Thames and his wife Sarah nee Goodwin.

Henry was a member of the Corinthian Lodge, and attained the highest office within the organisation. He was President of the Thames Co-operative Terminating Society when it was established in 1907, and was for many years director of the Society. In yet another position of service, he was president of the Thames Patriotic Society in World War 1.

In the civic sphere, Henry is well remembered as a man of iron will and quick decision, which won the admiration of those who worked with him. One anecdote concerns an episode which took place when the town was submerged in the worst flood ever in 1917 during his time as Mayor of Thames.

The borough was locked in by flood waters, and the only possible solution lay in cutting through the railway embankment along the foreshore to let the waters away. While others dithered and waited for authority to proceed with the work, Henry wielding a shovel himself, sent workmen into action with the classic phrase, 'Damn the authority, get on with the job' – a policy which provided him with so much success in local body life.

In 1920, following his retirement as the Mayor of Thames, Henry was elected to the Thames County Council representing the Totara Riding, and in 1921 became County chairman, an office he held for 19 years. During this time he was also the county’s representative on the No.2 District Roads Council.

Lowe’s Avenue, off Parawai Road, bears the former Mayor’s name in tribute and memory to his outstanding service to the Thames Borough. Tributes were passed at a Borough Council meeting, saying that he had had an enviable and outstanding record of public service in many spheres. It was moved that Henry Lowe’s service to the town should be placed on Council record.

Henry's beloved wife Sarah died in 1928. Later, he remarried his housekeeper, Jessie in 1945. Henry Lowe died at his home in Mary Street Thames on the 15th July 1961 at the age of 96.

Henry Lowe circa 1950s.

Extracts from the newspapers

Thames Star, 7 May 1913

MR HENRY LOWE'S FOURTH TERM: CONGRATULATIONS FROM COUNCILLORS: After the Mayor had been installed, Cr Claxton tendered his congratulations to Mr Lowe for being returned for the fourth time. Personally with a full knowledge of the position, its work and its responsibilities he wondered at the courage of Mr Lowe in taking office for another period. In addition to his civic business he had received more calls upon his time than usually fell to the lot of a Mayor, for a large number of public functions had been held of late in connection with the visits of distinguished people and this had entailed the arranging and attendance at various social gatherings etc. He recognised the substantial sacrifices so far as business and home life were concerned that the Mayor had been called upon to make, and knew that he had always placed the interests of the district before any other consideration, personal or otherwise...

THE MAYOR'S REPLY: The Mayor, who was received with loud applause, thanked the councillors, old and new, for their congratulatory remarks. He referred to the fact that most of the progressive works had yet to be completed, and though the finances of the Borough, owing to decreased gold revenue, were not in a buoyant condition, he hoped that they would be pressed forward to speedy completion. The financial position of the Council was good. Their liabilities compared with their assets, were as nothing. It should be remembered that the Council with decreased revenue, had spent £1100 on fire prevention and though this had been an urgent necessity it had never been tackled by the Council when gold revenue was tumbling in, but had been carried into effect by a Council with a decreased revenue...The water question would, he hoped be solved before next summer. The electric lighting undertaking would be in full swing by the end of the year. The Karaka Creek canal was now being undertaken, and generally the requirements of the district were receiving close attention. He was confident and proud to be assured of the support of the Council. They had honestly done their best in the interests of the burgesses and his relations with the Council had been of the happiest nature. He testified to the assistance rendered to him by Mrs Lowe and said that if it had not been for her self-sacrifice he, a businessman, could not have spared the time necessary to attend properly to his Mayoral duties. He thanked them most sincerely for their kind remarks and hearty congratulations and trusted they would do all they could to further the interests of good old Thames. (Loud applause).'

Northern Advocate, 28 Apr 1915:

St George's Anglican Church, Thames, was the scene on Easter Monday of a very pretty and interesting wedding, the parties being Mr William Arundel of Kamo, Whangarei and Miss Rosina Frances Lowe, elder daughter of Mr and Mrs Lowe, Mr Lowe being Mayor of Thames. ...The first bridesmaid, (was) Miss Hazel Lowe, sister of the bride.... Mr Harden acted in the capacity of bestman, and Mr Louis Lowe attended as groomsman. After the ceremony, the bridal party adjourned to the residence of the bride's parents, where the wedding repast was set out in a marquee on the lawn at the back of the house. Later Mr and Mrs Arundel left for their home at Kamo.'

Thames Star, 26 April 1919:

As was made plain in the official farewells spoken at the final meeting of the present Borough Council, one of the chief features of Mr Lowe's administration as Mayor has been the harmony he has been able to command around the Council table. The spirit that has animated him has undoubtedly been the welfare of the town and district, and, recognising this, his colleagues were united with him for this purpose. The time must come for every man to lay his burdens on other shoulders and when it comes there can only be respect and admiration for those who have performed their duties faithfully. No one in Thames will deny that Mr Lowe's ten years as Mayor of this town have been years of faithful service, and all citizens will be animated by gratitude for the years given to the service of the public. Much has been accomplished in the town, and though the past four years have been as difficult as any in history, for New Zealand as for older lands, schemes have been prepared for the renewed march of progress that will come with the dawning of peace. ... While Mr Lowe must undoubtedly feel regret at relinquishing his office and severing connections of one-fourth of his lifetime, he can certainly take pride in that matters are in train for a big forward movement, while the people will part with the retiring Mayor with regret and respect.'

Thames Star, 9 June 1919:

'MAYOR AND EMPLOYEES: Tribute to Mr H. Lowe:
A spontaneous tribute of esteem was paid by the Borough employees on Saturday morning to their late chief, Mt H. Lowe. Every employee of the Borough was present in the Chambers, Mr Lowe being also present by invitation. The town clerk, Mr Chapman, speaking for the employees, said that the men felt they could not let Mr Lowe retire without some recognition of the just and considerate way he had treated them at all times. The best spirit had always existed between Mr Lowe, their chief, and themselves and work had always been carried on amicably without the least unpleasantness or friction, notwithstanding the many strenuous times experienced during Mr Lowe's occupancy of the Mayoral chair. It was a pleasure to find such a united and solid desire among the employees to meet Mr Lowe and express their high appreciation of his thoughtful, straightforward treatment of them. He referred to the extraordinary occurrences of Mr Lowe's term, which he hoped would bot be recurring, particularly instancing the flood. Mr Chapman, on behalf of the employees, then handed Mr Lowe a solid silver cigar case, as a small mark of appreciation and esteem of the employees. The cigar case bears the inscription:
Presented to Mr H. Lowe on his retirement as Mayor of Thames, 1910 - 1919, by the Borough employees. As the presentation was made, the men have three hearty cheers for Mr and Mrs Lowe.

Mr Lowe, who had evidently been taken by surprise, spoke with great feeling. He referred to the good relations that had always existed between the employees and himself, adding that notwithstanding wide labour unrest, there had never been the least friction or trouble. In their work, the men had always shown more than ordinary interest of men to their employer. Mr Lowe went on to say that no greater honour had been conferred on him during his term than the one the men had done him that morning...'


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