Edward Newbigin : 1850 – 1934
Extracts from interview with Edward James Dudley Newbigin
Knowledge Bank – Hawkes Bay Digital Archives
10th September 2014
Edward Newbigin, was born in 1850 at Ryton in Northumberland, UK. Edward, along with his father John, brothers William, Andrew and sisters, Elizabeth and Clara set sail on the ship ‘Ardberg’, 1864 from London to Auckland. The trip took 120 days arriving in Auckland 16th December 1864. William was granted 140 acres by the Government before he left England. He did not come out as an immigrant but paid the passage money of all his family and was entitled to this grant of land. He sold it for 3/6d an acre but never saw it.
Unfortunately in 1865 a typhoid fever epidemic came about and William, Elizabeth and Andrew all died in July 1865. They were buried in the Graﬁon cemetery in Auckland. Edward moved around the Auckland area for some months, eventually moving to Napier as he wanted to be a sheep farmer. On arrival he rolled up his blankets and walked some 40 miles inland to the Taihape area where he worked and on the property of T H Lowry.
After 8 weeks experiencing shepherding he decided to return to Auckland, but while staying in a hotel in Napier waiting for a steamer, Mr Swan who was the mayor of Napier at the time, heard him conversing with another person and asked him if he came from the north of England. He replied “Yes”. Mr Swan then said “If you go to the brewery I will give you a job”.
At the Napier brewery he rose from bottle washer to brewer and he stayed for 20 years. The brewery had a big ﬁre in 1869 and was very badly damaged, and the shareholders sold their shares to Mr Swan. On rebuild it was called Swan Brewery and then changed again to White Swan Brewery. By this time Edward was the manager.
During this time he built a house and brought his sister Clara to Napier and they lived together until she married Mr Frederick George Smith, a successful business man in Napier.
In 1882 at the Presbyterian Manse in Napier, Edward married Margaret Willis aged 17 in the presence of F G and Clara Smith. Margaret was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Margaret’s parents’ names were Henry Willis, Miner of South Shields in England, born 26th March 1855, and Mary, of Blythe, Northumberland, England.
In December 1892 shortly after returning to Napier from a visit to England with his wife and ﬁrst child, Edward Newbigin purchased the St Aubyn Brewery at Hastings from George Ellis who was the Mayor of Hastings. On January 31st 1893 he took possession of the brewery. In February 1893 Edward was overheard to say in St Aubyn Street, Hastings :-
“Well, my man, I bought the brewery. Yes, it is a “Newbiginning for Hastings”.
The Hastings brewery known as Burton Brewery, was later changed to Leopard Brewery. Edward took his wife and child to England again in 1912 -l3. Edward suffered considerable loss during the 1931 Napier earthquake and during the depression he [was] offered land in Market Street for a ‘good cheer depot’ the site of where a building of his was demolished during the earthquake. A report states the meals were plentiful, nourishing and piping hot. Boiling hot vegetable broth with more or less unlimited bread was followed by a great plate full of Irish stew with carrots and turnips added to the stew. The hours were 12-2 and 3.30-5. School children before the adults.