Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Man's Life: Richard Arthur Haydon

"The immigrants ... are a healthy, intelligent class of persons, and are likely in every respect to form good colonists." The Star, 22 October 1883.

This judgement of the Star's reporter on the character and disposition of the passengers recently arrived on the SS Taranaki held particulary true for one of them, Richard Haydon, through the rest of his life in New Zealand.

Disembarking at Lyttelton, it appears he spent some time in Christchurch before heading north. Perhaps it was in Christchurch, that as a government-assisted immigrant, he signed up with the New Zealand Railways.

In an addendum to his shipboard diary, Richard records: "started at East Town [Wanganui] Oct. 7th 1884". At East Town Haydon found employment in the New Zealand Railways' workshops.

Living at Aramoho he became engaged in his work as a railways carpenter and in social life. Within a few years he was chair of the Railways Benefit Club for employees and played regularly for the local Railways rugby and cricket teams.

In December 1887 he married Eleanor Grace Salome Ellis who came from the same area in Devon as he did. Together they would have seven children, their two sons dying in young adulthood.

From Wanganui, the Haydons moved to Dunedin where Richard worked at the Hillside railway workshops. By 1909, Richard had put in 24 and a half years of service in the Railways, attaining the rank of Lead Carpenter earning 11 shillings & sixpence per day.

The family remained in Dunedin at least until sometime during World War I because the family lore suggests that he was a member of a pipe band that farewelled troops departing for overseas service. At least one of their children, daughter Amy, married in Dunedin during the war years.

The Haydons moved back to Christchurch where Richard and Eleanor would see out the remainder of their lives.

Richard finished out his working career at the Addington workshops, the family home being located on Clarence Road that formed the western perimeter of the workshops.

Reflecting their deep attachment to their early life in Devon, the Haydons named their house "Chudleigh" after Richard's home town. Sadly, the house burned to the ground a few years later, necessitating relocation to a new home in Mathesons Road.

Richard Haydon died in Christchurch on 18 July 1927 at the aged of 62, Eleanor surviving him by eleven years. Richard had had little time to enjoy his retirement but he had made his own modest contribution, as many thousands of others had, to the emerging New Zealand way of life.

Richard Arthur Haydon was my great-grandfather.

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