The Feilding Club has value for its aesthetic qualities. Described on opening as a 'credit and ornament to the town' the building was designed by architect Thomas Harvey James, with additions by Charles Tilleard Natusch, and presents the appearance of a Victorian villa. It is the interior that provokes a strong emotional response. The building is consciously designed to convey a sense of exclusivity, masculinity and quiet consequence. The layout of the building helps to create the sense of exclusivity. Immediately adjacent to the entrance is a separate space designed to contain non-members and prevent them from entering the heart of the Club building. The layout ensures that only members and their invited guests are able to enter the Club proper. The function of the main rooms is strongly linked to traditional male activities, namely reading, cards, drinking and billiards, and have remained unchanged over the Club's entire history. The striking skylight in the billiard room emphasises the importance of this room to the Club. The décor is rich but understated, and its age recalls the long history of the building as a gentlemen's club. It is also important for the insight it provides into late nineteenth century decorating styles and techniques. The hallway, for instance, is decorated with dark wood panelling and a leather mache dado, all original and traditionally associated with masculine tastes. In other rooms, features such as the French wallpaper friezes located above the picture-rail provide insight into a decorating style fashionable when the Club was constructed in the 1890s into the early twentieth century. The age and integrity of the furnishings add to the overall impression. For example, the 'comfortable morocco leather seats' mentioned in the 1897 newspaper article, remain extant.
The Feilding Club has social significance. It makes a statement about social elitism and the homogeneity of the culture transplanted to New Zealand from Britain in the nineteenth century. Gentlemen's clubs were a nineteenth century English tradition. They were patronised by the upper classes and membership of a club both reflected and conferred social status. The large-scale nature of the emigration in the nineteenth century enabled the British to transfer social traditions and aspirations intact to New Zealand, and the development of gentlemen's clubs in both urban and rural centres throughout the country is a reflection of this.
The Feilding Club was established by township's 'upper classes' in 1888. Its first chairman was one of the most prominent men in the district at the time, Douglas Hastings Macarthur (1839-1892). Macarthur had served as the chief agent of the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation, which was responsible for the settlement of Feilding and other towns around the Manawatu district. He served as the first Mayor of Feilding and, at the time the Club was established, Macarthur was the local Member of Parliament. Macarthur died before the completion of the Club building but his place was taken by other prominent men of the district, including former Mayor Hugh Lind Sherwill and successful businessmen, such as Edmund Goodbehere and W. A. Sandilands. The Club maintained its reputation for exclusivity, to the extent that a more encompassing club was established in 1897.
All the features of the traditional gentlemen's club were recreated for the Feilding Club membership, including the reading room, card room, bar and the billiard room. Membership conferred a sense of social status as well as a place to socialise, conduct business and establish essential networks. The purpose-built club building has served the Feilding Club for almost 110 years and, over that period, the Club's image and its members' activities and aspirations have remained largely unchanged. This is reflected by the constancy of the functions of the original rooms in the Club building. As in many Clubs, emphasis on the connection of individual members to the building, and a sense of personal belonging is fostered and reflected through aspects of the décor, such as the caricature portraits of members.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The Feilding Club is representative of an important aspect of New Zealand's social history, namely the transplant of social and cultural aspirations and practices from Britain by settlers in the nineteenth century. While the concept of an 'egalitarian' society was a powerful one in nineteenth century New Zealand, British class boundaries were blurred, not extinguished, in the new society that was emerging. Gentlemen's clubs such as the Feilding Club were developed to cater to a 'social elite' and are therefore a reflection of the resilience of these class distinctions. The presence of these clubs throughout New Zealand, in both urban and rural centres, emphasises the homogeneity of these social standards.
(e)The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:
The Feilding Club has been an integral part of Feilding's social structure and identity for almost 110 years. Its existence demonstrates a continuation of the historical attachment to the place and to the past members of the Club who have made significant contributions to the township. A connection with the past is maintained and celebrated by members through the historical elements of the building itself, such as the original décor and detailing, and through furnishings such as the caricatures of members.
(g)The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The Feilding Club building is of interest as an example of a New Zealand villa in which a number of the original features, notably decorative features, have been retained. Of particular interest is the early French wallpaper above the picture rail, the panelled ceilings, the leather mache panels and the original bathroom tiles, as well as fixtures such as the joinery and original toilet bowl. Also of interest is the remaining hitching post outside the Club building, which is a well-preserved reminder of the bygone era of horse transport.
Summary: The Feilding Club has heritage significance. As a rural 'gentlemen's club' the Feilding Club reflects the transfer of class distinctions and social aspirations to New Zealand from Britain in the nineteenth century. The Club was considered exclusive and is linked to Feilding's elite, including former mayors and prominent businessmen. The Feilding Club has aesthetic value; its layout and décor combine to convey a sense of exclusivity, masculinity and tradition. The retention of original elements of the décor means that the building is also important for the insight it provides into late nineteenth century decorating styles and techniques. The building's continued use exemplifies the constancy of the Club's image and its members' activities and aspirations for almost 110 years, as well as demonstrating a sense of attachment to the Club over this period.
Part of New Zealand's allure for many nineteenth century British emigrants was the freedom from the distinctions of rank. New Zealand was, famously, egalitarian. Yet the large-scale nature of the emigration in the nineteenth century enabled the British to transfer social traditions and aspirations intact to New Zealand. Although emigration blurred traditional class boundaries, James Belich has noted that:
"Jack considered himself in many respects as good as his master. But there were still boundaries to blur and elements to mix. Master was still Master, and Jack was still Jack."
The development of 'gentlemen's clubs' in both urban and rural centres throughout the country is a reflection of the persistence of these class boundaries in the new New Zealand society. Exclusive 'gentlemen's clubs' were developed in nineteenth-century Britain. They were patronised by the upper classes and membership of a club both reflected and conferred social status. In New Zealand, the earliest clubs were established from the 1850s onwards, as 'voluntary associations of persons combined for promoting the common objective of private social intercourse, convenience, and comfort, providing their own liquors and not for the purposes of gain'. They enabled social and business networks to be maintained and, for those residing outside town centres, served as a venue where members could stay, conduct business and socialise.
The Feilding Club, the town's first gentlemen's club, was established on 31 December 1888. The local newspaper noted that 'a meeting of gentlemen was held in Hastie's Hotel on Monday night, at which Mr Macarthur, MHR, presided, for the purpose of forming a club in Feilding'. A committee was appointed to 'draw up the necessary prospectus, rules, etc., and to report at an early date'.
At the time of the Club's inauguration, Feilding was a significant rural service centre. The sale yards drew people in from outlying districts and the town was the hub of a wide and assorted network of employment opportunities. The town had a population of approximately fourteen hundred people, and by June 1890 one hundred of these people and their rural neighbours belonged to the Feilding Club. The Club recruited its members from the upper echelons of society and its membership lists included the prominent and well-known men in the district. At the original meeting, fifty-two subscribed their names as members then, and four joined subsequently. The framed list of founding members in the Club's entrance Hall includes seventy-four men. The first mayor of Feilding and Member of Parliament for Manawatu, Douglas Hastings Macarthur, was appointed as the Club's first chairman. The town's second mayor, Hugh Lind Sherwill, was appointed as the Club's first secretary. Indicative of the Club's exclusivity, in 1897 the Rangitikei Club was formed as a second men's club for Feilding. Davies & Clevely in Pioneering to Prosperity, record that the Rangitikei Club was 'rather more broadly based' than its predecessor. The two clubs may have competed for members thereafter, but they also came together for various tournaments, including two in August and September of 1899, where the games concerned included chess, billiards and euchre.
Less than two weeks after the Club's birth, the Secretary published a notice reminding the new members that their subscriptions must be paid by the first of February, or they would be liable for a fine of five shillings under the newly minted club rules. The Club took formal possession of rooms in the Feilding Hotel on 1 February 1889. The Feilding Star noted that the Club 'started with a list of nearly a hundred members, representing every part of the settlement, and we are confident under the present able system of management it will not only retain its existing strength, but will become more vigorous each succeeding year'.
Soon after its inception, the Club sought to obtain its own, purpose-built clubrooms. On 11 August 1891, the Feilding Star reported that a section in Manchester Street had been purchased with a view to establishing clubrooms there. Construction never commenced and, in 1898, the property was sold to Charles Adnam Mountfort, one of the founding members of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, for a 'satisfactory price'.
In place of the Manchester Street section the Club purchased parts of Sections 52 and 53 on the corner of Kimbolton Road and Warwick Street. The land, which consisted of approximately one acre, had the advantage of being closer to the centre of town. The sections were purchased from two founding members of the Club, auctioneer Charles Carr and settler Walter Frederick Elkington. Carr and Elkington had purchased the two sections from William Sisson Bailey, a Feilding saw miller (and another foundation member), in early 1894. They had then subdivided these sections in half to create two sections facing Kimbolton Road, instead of facing Warwick Street as they had previously done. The transfer to the Feilding Club took place on 14 July 1896.
Prior to the transfer, the Club commissioned architect Thomas Harvey James to design a building to accommodate the Club's ninety-six members and accepted the tender of Ralph Heald for its construction. The Club building was to be established on the corner section, with its pedestrian entrance off Kimbolton Road, and the vehicle entrance off Warwick Street. The nine-roomed building cost £900 to build and was completed in early 1897.
The Club was described in the Feilding Star on 3 February 1897:
"A building which is a credit and ornament to the town is that just completed for the Feilding Club at the corner of Kimbolton road and Warwick Street, and opposite 'The Pines'. The outside presents an imposing aspect, while no cost or trouble has been spared to make the inside comfortable, the appearance having also received careful attention."
The Feilding Star noted that the main entrance off Kimbolton Road featured 'a prettily designed porch' which led to a vestibule from which the visitors' room was entered. The visitors' room was built to accommodate female visitors and non-members, who were not permitted to enter the inner sanctum of the building. A bell allowed people waiting in the room to alert the men in the bar to their presence. Beyond the visitors' room was the entrance hall, which 'presented a very rich appearance' and featured a dado of leather mache intended to imitate carved English oak. On the left, the hall opened onto the large reading room, which had two large bay windows. To the right was the card room and the end of the hall opened out onto the billiard room and the bar. The billiard room was comparatively large and 'presented a very striking appearance'. The room had no windows but featured a panelled and cone shaped ceiling with 'lantern lights and Wade's patent sky light'. A first class billiard table imported from England, and morocco leather seats completed the room. The adjacent bar was slightly smaller. Passages off the hall led to the utility areas, including the lavatory, the kitchen, lunchroom and caretaker's room.
Several weeks after the completion of the clubrooms, the Secretary called for tenders to build shelter sheds at the rear of the section. The result of the tenders was not recorded in the Feilding Star index. However, it is possible the sheds included the former stables in the car park behind the Club and another shed that was demolished in 1961.
The new Club building proved satisfactory until 1906, when increased membership prompted a decision to add a second billiard table. The addition required an extension to the existing billiard room. The first mention of a proposal to extend the room appears in the Minutes of 28 September 1906, which record that club member Charles Bull had been considering these additions and gave advice to the committee on his proposals. He was thanked for his 'valuable help' and a special committee meeting was called for 13 October 1906 to continue the discussions.
The resulting meeting considered the specifications for the addition to the billiard room and an extension to the card room, and a sub-committee was formed to arrange with local architect Alexander James to call for tenders. The committee considered four tenders on 26 October 1906. The tenders ranged from £214 up to £240. The lowest tender, that of prominent local building contractor William Wilkinson, was accepted. The committee also approved a mortgage on the property of £1,500. The additions took place immediately and by 21 December 1906 the committee was seeking a replacement part for their newly installed second billiard table, suggesting that construction work had been completed. The extension to the card room was a separate room that became the secretary's office.
Wilkinson's work on the extension was to cause problems for the Club. By 1909 the billiard room roof had started to sag and was pushing out the room's exterior walls. In early 1910, the Club engaged architect Cecil Leigh Daniel to assess the damage and to prepare plans for strengthening the roof. Daniel presented two options to the committee on 22 April 1910. They could either strengthen the room by installing four tie rods for £12, or alter the skylight and install tie rods for £65. The committee chose the £12 option. When Daniel started work he found that the walls were 'considerably out of plum' and, at a Special General Meeting on 21 May 1910, urged the committee to carry out the repair work. However, it appears that the proposed repairs and alterations caused a considerable clash of views between committee members. On 20 June 1910 the committee resolved to get Daniel to prepare specifications to strengthen the walls, enlarge the skylight, and provide for ventilation. However, this decision was abruptly rescinded at the meeting of 23 September 1910. The Minutes of 11 November 1910 indicate that some members wanted the existing skylight retained, while others wanted an enlarged skylight and that Charles Bull had asked a new architect, Charles Tilleard Natusch, to send in plans for an enlarged skylight. A comment the following month suggests that one committee member may even have resigned as a result of this meeting.
At a Special General Meeting on 23 December 1910, the committee considered Natusch's plan. However, the original architect, Daniel was also present and was upset at losing the work. The Club resolved to get plans from other architects and referred the existing plans back to the committee. A member also stated that he felt the committee owed an explanation to Mr Daniel, which the Chairman agreed to provide after the meeting. The next committee meeting, where the decision was made to proceed with Natusch's plan and to forgo seeking other plans, must have been highly contentious. The page in the Minute book where its record should have been has been neatly cut out of the book. A building permit for the work was granted on 16 January 1911. The specifications indicate that the work consisted of straightening up the existing roof and wall, inserting three decorative timber supports for the roof, providing more light by means of extra sashes between the existing lantern lights, and providing extra ventilation. The completed skylight became a notable feature of the building.
After the alterations to the billiard room, alterations to Club property were confined to the section for a number of years. In 1916, for instance, a permit was issued to building a five-bay 'motor shed' on the property. The shed was 47½ feet by 18 feet and 9 feet high (14.4 metres by 5.5 metres by 2.7 metres). It was built for £100 by William Wilkinson, who completed the 1906 work on the Club. Despite this addition, the Club retained facilities for horses, including hitching posts in front of the Club on Kimbolton Road. Two years later, a cottage for the steward was also built behind the Club building. The cottage was designed by a Mr. Baker and was built by the Palmerston North firm Oliver & Son for £767. Changes to the interior of the Club were largely restricted to the furnishings. For instance, in 1920 the Club commissioned several framed and original caricatures of club members by eminent English artist Walter Armiger Bowring (1874-1931). Caricatures by Bowring hang in a number of gentlemen's clubs throughout New Zealand. In 1922 a wooden World War One honours board, which listed members who had served during the war, was installed above the reading room fireplace. A similar board was added after the Second World War.
It was 1962 before the major changes were made to the Club. That year the visitors' room ceiling was lowered to ease heating problems. The fireplace was boarded over and replaced with an electric heater. The walls were lined with Gibraltar board and papered and a new carpet was installed. The card room was also lined with Gibraltar board around this period.
In 1979, increased membership prompted further changes. In the bar area, members had traditionally had their own lockers for private supplies of alcohol. An increase in membership meant more lockers were required and so the room was expanded at the expense of the adjacent dining room. The fireplaces and chimney between these two rooms was also removed. Only minor changes have taken place since and the Club remains a popular social venue for the men of Feilding.
The Feilding Club is located in Feilding, the largest town in the farming and agricultural district of Manawatu. The building is just outside of the commercial centre of Feilding on the corner of Kimbolton Road (the main thoroughfare) and Warwick Street. This location has traditionally been associated with social gatherings and there are a number of clubs, halls and lodge buildings in the immediate vicinity.
The corner section fronts Kimbolton Road and consists of a rectangular plot of flat land approximately 0.2295 hectares in size. The section is surrounded by a timber fence. The original gateposts, although still extant, have been replaced and the original gate, located immediately opposite the front door, has been removed for repair purposes. Immediately outside the section, on Kimbolton Road, is a hitching post, originally one of two used by club members. Made from timber, the vertical post features two deep cuts in the form of a cross at the top. The Club building is set back from Kimbolton Road and shielded by a front lawn and a series of mature trees along the fence line. The Club is the primary building on the section, although associated buildings are located immediately behind the Club.
The Club building is constructed from timber and is based on a design for a single bay villa with a plain flush window. The exterior is in close to its original condition. Like many villas, the Feilding Club borrows freely from a range of styles. It features elements of the Italianate style, which had been introduced to England in the early nineteenth century and, by the 1850s, had become an accepted style for middle class housing. The style was a popular choice for gentlemen's clubs in New Zealand, and was seen as comparatively informal yet elegant. The Club building has a low-pitched, hipped roof of corrugated iron and the decorative elements, such as the regularly placed, timber modillion brackets under the eaves, emphasise the horizontal. However, the twin stick-work boards at each corner that suggest framing and bracing, and the sun screen hoods over the windows, are reminiscent of the American Eastern Stick or Eastlake style, while the porch is decorated with elaborate fretwork.The entrance to the Feilding Club is via a porch immediately adjacent to the bay. Approached by a flight of steps, the porch leads to the original entrance doors with spangled glass panels. Behind the door is a vestibule of 10 feet by 6 feet (3 metres by 1.8 metres). The visitors' room and powder room is immediately to the right in the bay. It is 18 feet by 14 feet and 6 inches (5.5 metres by 4.5 metres). This room was designed to accommodate female visitors to the Club, who were not permitted to enter into the main portion of the building. The visitors' room was altered in 1962. The original 15 foot high (4.6 metres) ceiling was lowered to improve heating, the walls were lined with Gibraltar board and papered over and the fireplace was boarded up. Other than the ornate timber doors, few original features remain extant.
Beyond the vestibule, a hallway leads to the heart of the Club building. The hall, which is in close to its original condition, is 16 feet and 6 inches by 10 feet (5 metres by 3 metres) and 15 foot high (4.6 metres). Designed to present a 'rich' appearance the hall features wood panelling and its original dado of leather mache that is intended to create the impression of carved English oak. Leading off the hall on the right is the reading room. It is relatively large at 30 feet by 20 feet (9 metres by 6 metres), and retains its original 15 feet high (4.6 metre) ceiling. The reading room has retained its original features and has two large bay windows on two sides. Of particular note is the panelled ceiling and the original fireplace with the honours boards mounted above it. Further along the hall, on the right, is the card room. This room was originally 8 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches (2.5 metres by 5 metres) but was extended in 1906 to create what is now the Secretary's office. In the card room and office the panelled ceiling remains extant and the original French wallpaper has been retained above the dado. The ornate, adjustable smoke vents, light fittings and vent grills are also a feature. The original fireplace has been filled in. At the end of the hall is the billiard room. This room was originally 30 feet by 24 feet (9.1 metres by 7.3 metres). The room had no windows but was lit by two glass lantern lights and a 'Wade's patent skylight'. Alterations in the early twentieth century joined the two lantern lights to create a single, large skylight with decorative timber trusses that dominates the room. Wood panelling on the walls and ceiling is also a feature of this room.
Adjacent to the billiard room and to the left is the bar or locker room. This room is accessed via a passage off the hall. This passage leads to a rear door, the entrance, which has been adapted to allow for wheelchair access. The bar was enlarged from its original 13 feet by 12 feet (4 metres by 3.7 metres) in 1979 to create room for more lockers. The walls feature solid timber panelling to the dado and painted Gibraltar board above. The panelled ceiling has been painted. The room contains a bar and an operational signal panel, and the members' lockers for private alcohol stores. Caricatures of the members by artist W. A. Bowring, line the walls. The original fireplace, which shared a flue with the dining room, was removed during the enlargement. The dining room or 'lunch room' was originally 16 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches (4.8 metres by 3.8 metres) was reduced in size in 1979 to make way for the extensions to the bar. The dining room features painted panelled walls and ceiling and bi-fold panelled doors. This room also has caricatures lining the walls. To the rear of the dining room and bar is the kitchen and caretaker's room. The kitchen was the same size as the dining room before it was enlarged, measuring 16 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. It can be accessed from the dining room and has a door to the outside of the building. New appliances have been added over the years. The adjacent caretaker's room is slightly smaller at 16 feet by 10 feet (4.7 metres by 3 metres). At the end of the passage is the lavatory (16 feet by 5 feet 6 inches or 4.9 metres by 1.7 metres). The floor is tiled and one of the original toilets has been retained.
Hitching post on the footpath in Kimbolton Road immediately outside its front gate.
Interior décor such as the reading room fireplace, wood paneling on the walls and ceilings, the entrance hall dado of leather mache panels, the original toilet bowl and tiles, and the original wallpaper and ceilings.
Shelter sheds completed.
Billiard room enlarged and secretary's room added.
Drainage connection into Warwick Street replaces septic tank.
Damage to roof repaired.
Clerestory roof created and decorative trusses installed.
Bar installed in bar room.
Alteration to bar in bar room.
Motor shed completed.
Locker room painted (walls white, ceiling cream).
Locker room walls lined with gib-board and painted.
Steward's cottage completed.
Minor repairs to the roof.
Steward's cottage renovated: kitchen walls lined and painted, corrugated iron fence erected around the cottage.
Former Feilding Jockey Club shed moved onto the property and converted into a laundry.
Outbuildling demolished. Salvaged timber used to convert part of the motor shed into a storeroom and wood shed.
Alterations to visitor's room: ceiling lowered, walls lined with gib-board and repapered, floor carpeted, open fireplace filled in.
Alterations to card room: walls lined with gib-board
Wooden steps at back of Club replaced with concrete steps and a handrail added.
Car park area levelled and sealed.
Handrail installed on steps to kitchen.
Alterations to locker and dining room: wall between locker room and dining room moved to create larger locker room, fireplaces from both rooms and their associated double chimney removed, safe relocated to secretary's office.
Alterations to the toilet and powder room.
Demolished - Other
Motor shed demolished.
Original design completed.
Timber frame, concrete piles, timber weatherboards and joinery, and corrugated iron roof.
15th February 2006
Report Written By
Val Burr/ NZHPT
James Belich, 'Making Peoples. A History of the New Zealanders from Polynesian Settlement to the End of the Nineteenth Century', Auckland, 1996
Bowman, 1996 (2)
Ian Bowman, Manawatu District Council: Heritage Building Inventory, 1996
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.1, Wellington, 1897
D. A. Davies & R.E. Clevely, Pioneering to Prosperity 1874-1974: A Centennial History of the Manchester Block (Feilding & Oroua Borough Councils, Feilding 1981)
J. King., A History of the Feilding Clus (Inc.), Private publication, Feilding, 1991.
D. Mingins, & D. Pilkington, Swamps, Sandflies & Settlers: Feilding and the Manchester Block the European Families, Feilding & District Historical Society, Feilding, 2000
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.