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Mayor's Chair Bonds Present With Past

16285.jpgA chair, a cradle and a photo are the latest treasures Waikato Times city editor Mary Anne Gill finds in Waikato Museum's basement.

His name was Bond, James Shiner Bond, and an impressive kauri chair he used as mayor of Hamilton is in good condition at Waikato Museum. Mr Bond was mayor from 1905 to 1909.

The wooden chair with padded leather seat, arms and back was gifted to the Hamilton Borough Council in 1908 by Mr Bond's wife Ellen Octavia Graham Bond. Her family were members of the peerage and had Edmond Castle near Carlisle. The front legs are carved in three flutes and scroll while the back two have three flutes on uprights. The chair was transferred to the museum in 1965 by the city council on behalf of the Waikato Winter Show Association.

A silver cradle presented to Mrs Bond after the birth on January 15, 1908, of the couple's daughter Ellen (Nellie) Sarah Hamilton Bond, is also in the museum. Nellie, who married Clive Charles Tidmarsh, died on March 24, 1960. Her estate donated the cradle to the museum. It was apparently customary in New Zealand towns for councillors' wives to present a silver cradle to the mayoress if she gave birth to a child during her husband's term in office.

Mr Bond was born on December 12, 1858, in Beaminster, Dorset, and arrived in New Zealand in 1878. He settled in Cambridge in 1880 and worked in the printing department of the Waikato Mail newspaper. He started a printing company which also sold books and stationery. His May 1, 1881, marriage to Sarah Annie O'Connor, who died in 1902, produced nine children. From 1887 to 1896 he served on the Cambridge Borough Council and was mayor from 1892-1894. In 1895 he started a newspaper, the Waikato Advocate. In July 1896 he became proprietor of the Waikato Times and merged the two papers making the Times a daily. After Mr Bond moved to Hamilton, he was elected on to the Hamilton Borough Council. In May 1905, the same month he married Ellen, he was elected mayor without opposition. The couple went on to have three children.

According to museum records, Mr Bond was considered one of the city's most effective leaders. He supported a merger with the Frankton council and got the saleyards and horse bazaar established in Ward St. In his second term he presided over the first Winter Show, saw the opening of the Carnegie Library opposite Garden Place, the completion of the new hospital blocks and the new traffic bridge. He retired full of honour, according to author P J Gibbons in Astride the River.

"J S Bond was one of Hamilton's most effective municipal leaders; one is tempted to say he was the `best ever' except that comparisons between one era and another are so difficult as to be pointless," said Gibbons. Mr Bond had a tendency to "flout the opinion of others" which made him less democratic.

He died on November 26, 1922.

Carol Bond, his great-granddaughter, works at the Council's Hamilton library.