Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
Mr J. B. Beeche has had a long association with the district, his family having settled in Paeroa in 1896. On completing his education he went into the office of Mr Porritt, Barrister and Solicitor, and in 1914 was transferred to the Waihi branch of Porritt and Mueller, taking over the practice himself in 1924. It is now conducted by his one-time partner, Mr H. L. Boughton, and Mr K. Grant.
Mr Beeche has been a tower of strength to education, serving on school committees for many years and all his life he has been deeply interested in the work of the Methodist Church. Of late he has devoted much time and research to the writing of its history. We would venture to say that he is a natural Historian, his retentive and analytic mind delighting in sifting and recording facts. We are indeed indebted to him.
Since his retirement, Mr Beeche still spends part of his time in Waihi with his son Lloyd, and part in Tauranga with his daughter, Mrs M. Kepple
MR H. J. BEECHE
Mr H. J. Beeche, now 86, and living in Hamilton, has vivid recollections of Waihi as he knew it when he first came in 1895 to take charge of the Wages Department for the Waihi Goldmining Company (afterwards the Martha). For some time the company had 950 wages men (Waihi and Waikino), and about 150 with the Union Company [Union-Waihi Company – E], a subsidiary, as well as a large number of contractors in the mine and outside.
Mr Beeche married Miss Eva Gregory, who was an early teacher at the school, and in 1910 he was transferred to Hora Hora to supervise the construction of the Power Plant there. From 1920-1946 he was secretary-treasurer for the Central Waikato Electric-Power Board, Hamilton. In 1950 he published a comprehensive book entitled, "Electrical Development in New Zealand."
RECOLLECTIONS BY H. J. BEECHE
The early Borough Councillors were, by and large, a fine lot of men, and I've just been thinking about George Moyes, who, until he died at the age of 84 years, was the last surviving member of the first council. He was unique in that he was totally blind, having been the victim of a mining explosion near Reefton about 1894, after which he was conveyed 32 miles in a spring-cart to hospital.
George, then a young married man with a family had been a good athlete and musician, and on his recovery after the accident, he entered the Blind Institute, learned Braille, typing, etc., and started a fresh life. For some years he toured New Zealand on a tandem bicycle, canvassing for the Institute, with a youth in front of him to steer, and the roads in those days were not built for cycles. He was game for anything if he thought the object worth-while.
Settling in Waihi he opened a store at the East End, near the battery, attended most of the sports gatherings, and took a keen interest in civic affairs. George had a great deal of plain common sense, and it was not surprising that he should be asked to stand for election at a time when a councillor's life was not exactly a happy one.
On one occasion when a public meeting was held in Tanner's Hall (on site of present bus station), a noisy element caused a commotion until George Moyes tapped his way to the front of the stage. Standing for a minute, he held up both hands. When the turmoil ceased, he said: "Thank you boys. Now I want to talk to you." He spoke without interruption, after which the meeting proceeded quietly, substantial progress being made.
Later Mr Moyes lived in Auckland where he passed away only a few years ago.
How did one achieve a haircut in Waihi's early days. Certainly not by entering the nearest barber's shop (because there wasn't one to enter). So it wasn’t a case of taking a seat and picking up an aged and forlorn magazine while awaiting one's turn. Oh no! One lined up in front of Walter Brown's house (just about opposite the Miner's Union Hall) and waited until he came off shift as a mine-carpenter, had a wash, a cup of tea and a cigarette, and was ready for business. He was the only barber for quite a long time. Sometimes he worked overtime, and then there might be several waiting to be shorn — waiting like patient sheep — and what fleeces some of them had. But the charge was never more than a shilling. Good old Walter!