Newspaper Article – Relics of Old Days Unearthed at Nelson Park


The playing field at Nelson Park has been ploughed preparatory to redesigning the layout to conform with the proposed stadium type of field and resowing to grass. The actual ploughing operation was not easy despite the level surface, the ground being packed hard. In the words of the borough reserves superintendent, Mr. J. G. C. MacKenzie, “it was like chopping up a roadway.”

This is not surprising seeing that thousands of boots of footballers for more than a quarter of a century have trampled over its service, [surface] and cricketers, athletes and others have made full use of its open space.

Actually Nelson Park affords an interesting link with the scholastic and sporting life of the town from the early part of the present century. It was acquired by Mr. William Nelson in 1879 and used as the site of the Heretaunga Private School, the forerunner of Hereworth School, Havelock North. The school occupied the southern side of the block, and the northern side was used as the playground.

With the establishment of Hereworth School, the ground was taken over by a trust and became known as the Nelson Cricket Ground, being the headquarters of the Heretaunga Cricket Club, one of whose most illustrious members was Mr. Tom Lowry, later captain and manager of New Zealand teams in England.

The ground reverted to Mr. Nelson in 1920, and the following year he sold the 6 ¼ acres to the Hastings Borough Council for £5800 for development as a sports area, and the name was then changed to Nelson Park and became the headquarters of football in Hastings.

In 1938 an additional 2 ¼ acres were purchased by the council across Caroline Road, fronting the park, and under the 1946 loan proposals it is proposed to develop the combined areas as a sportsground of the stadium type.

This week’s operations in ploughing the ground paves the way for the construction of terraced seating accommodation on the western side and where it is proposed to erect a massive grandstand.

Among the interesting things unearthed to recall the old days were an inkpot, probably a left-over from Heretaunga School, and a number of horse shoes, possibly the cast-offs of pupils’ ponies and horses. Parts of old footpaths leading to the school buildings, as well as some of the old water-supply piping were also found.

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