Cyril Barclay Biography 1997


Cyril Valentine Barclay was born in Toko near Stratford in the family home, on 14 February 1907, the third son and fifth child of Elizabeth and George Barclay. His father was a farmer, unlike his grandfather who had been in the brewing business in Blenheim. Cyril’s grandfather was one of three brothers who emigrated from Kilmarnoch, Scotland to New Zealand. The other three brothers stayed in Scotland to help with the brewing business there. And so, Barclay’s Beer was sold on both sides of the world. Cyril’s grandmother was also from Scotland, and from Kilmarnoch, and they left  Scotland to live in New Zealand. The Marriage Certificate shows married in Blenheim (10 August 1866). His grandfather owned two hotels, one in Blenheim and one in Havelock, and bullock wagons passed through Blenheim loaded with flax. It was customary to load crates of beer on top of the flax, but on this particular occasion, as the last crate was loaded, the bullocks moved off and he fell and was run over by the wagon.

Cyril and his family moved from Toko when he was about three. George and Elizabeth moved with their family, Sydney, the eldest son, Daisy, the eldest daughter, Stanley, Dolly, Cyril, Elsie, Les and Jean, to Waverley. Twelve years later, in November 1918, they moved again, this time to a farm at Paki Paki.

Cyril achieved his Proficiency award in 1922, and then in 1924, after attending Hastings Boys’ High School, he set about looking for a job. Meanwhile, he was milking 12 cows before and after school, while his father was busy out on the farm. Even then, he did not wait for a job to happen, he went door knocking, and he was rewarded with a position as apprentice for Johnny Peach and travelled to and from work on his horse each day.

When he left this position, it was to start his own business, Barclay Motors with the capital of 150 pounds. He put the other 150 pounds he owned as a deposit on a new house in Riverslea Road in 1931. He and Vi lived in this house for seven years and then sold it and rented a house in Cornwall Road for a year, before building a new home in Burnett Street in 1939. The four thousand pounds they sold their Burnett Street home for was almost enough to purchase the property at Clive, where they lived until they moved to Tauroa Road, Havelock North in the 1970s. They subsequently had a town house built in Middle Road, Havelock North.

Cyril started his working life as an apprentice mechanic with J E Peach and Company in 1924. He became head mechanic (J E Peach employed 20 mechanics) then foreman and finally Service Manager. Cyril worked for Johnny Peach until he decided to start his own business, Barclay Motors in Karamu Road in 1937. This was a very successful venture, but then the war started and petrol was rationed, tyres were not available, and late model cars and trucks were taken for the Armed Forces. Although this sounded a bit grim, older vehicles still needed servicing and so, the business continued to progress, and staff included two or three mechanics and a couple of apprentices. Barclay Motors was also the agent for servicing Army cars. This meant long hours, 6.30 am to 11.00 pm seven day  week, to keep up with the paper work and jobs in hand.

After the war in 1946, the business was involved in making orchard sprayers. The next step was Ferguson Tractors, and although sales were slow for a start, by 1958, the business was celebrating the sale of the 1000th tractor, with a champagne staff dinner.

Meantime, Cyril had acquired the franchise for Volkswagen vehicles. The first car arrived in 1953. The business continues to grow and branches were opened in Napier and Waipukurau, and the staff totalled over seventy. The staff members still remember their annual Christmas parties at Barclay Motors.

In 1960 Cyril decided to retire and sold the private company of Barclay Motors Ltd and all its branches to Wright Stephenson.

After a successful gallstone operation, Cyril as determined as ever, made up his mind to give up smoking and did so there and then.

Cyril assisted his family to start another motor vehicle business at Stortford Lodge in January 1961, and Barclay Murphy remained in business for the next 27 years.

During the time Cyril was in business, he was involved in many community organisations.

In his younger days, Cyril was an avid member of the Hawke’s Bay Aero Club, and a pilot of Tiger Moth planes

Cyril was a loyal member of the Masonic Lodge for a number of years

Cyril was a member of the Hawkes’s [Hawke’s] Bay Motor Apprenticeship committee for just over 40 years

Cyril was an examiner for the ‘A’ Grade Trade Certification Board examination from 1939

Cyril was a Trade Certification Board practical examiner from 1948 to 1989 (he was 82 when he gave this up)

Cyril with the help of staff members, sponsored, designed and built a three quarter midget racing car which was very successful (powered with a Ferguson Tractor motor)

Cyril was a member of Greater Hastings as well as a sponsor

Cyril supported the Blossom Festivals and Blossom Queen Concerts and entered numerous floats in successive processions

Cyril sponsored the Barclay Motors Marching team and was also a life member

Cyril sponsored major events at the Highland Games

Cyril was involved in the 1968 Cherry Blossom Festival with his family’s business, Barclay Murphy Ltd, and he and Vi sponsored a Sukiyaki dinner party in their home for local dignitaries to dine with Masako Sato (our visiting Japanese representative) and Greater Hastings Executives

Cyril built the Fantasyland train (which is still performing well and presented this to the city. The train was built over a Ferguson tractor, and was constructed with the help of his family in their home property at Clive.


Cyril Valentine Barclay and Violet Irene Cooper were married on 30 April 1931 and four years later they were proud parents of a daughter, Valerie Joy. Another four years passed before their eldest son, Gary James was born. Their youngest son, Graham Ross, was born three and a half years later in 1943. The third child was the reason Cyril was not called up to serve in the Armed Forces during the war. Too expensive for the Government.

These three children all married and being prolific breeders continued to produce more Barclays – 13 in total. Many of these children are now married and doing their level best to ensure that the Barclay name is not forgotten. Cyril now has 8 great grandchildren from his marriage to Vi, who passed away on Mother’s Day in 1983. She was sadly missed by Cyril and her immediate and extended family and friends.

Cyril subsequently married Nancy Woodham and acquired a ready-made family, Myra, Judy and Nanette. There are nine grandchildren in Nancy’s family, and two great grandchildren.


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Format of the original

Computer document

Date published

14 February 1997


  • Cyril Valentine Barclay
  • Elizabeth Barclay
  • Gary James Barclay
  • George Barclay
  • Graham Ross Barclay
  • Sydney, Daisy, Stanley, Dolly, Elsie, Les, Jean Barclay
  • Valerie Joy Barclay
  • Johnny Peach
  • Myra, Judy, Nanette Woodham
  • Nancy Woodham

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