Writers' Trail ~ Marlborough
Renwick Museum & Watson Memorial Library
RARE ARCHIVE IN RENWICK
The Olga Watson Memorial Library, opened in 1931, provides a wealth of social history. It was created as a memorial to Herbert Watson’s first wife. The library holds fiction read by earlier generations of children, a comprehensive collection of New Zealand School Journals from 1907-1960s, early readers dating from the 1800s and early school textbooks.
Herbert Watson, a teacher, kept textbooks from his teaching days and also copies of books used by early settlers. This collection of rare self-help books gives advice on skills from earlier times such as candle making, and farming hints. The collection has been added to over the years and is recognised for its archival value. An ‘old library’ atmosphere adds to the enjoyment of the visit.
The Renwick Museum is open for viewing daily from 9 am to 5 pm and the Watson Memorial Library is open on Mondays from 10 am to 3 pm. Volunteers are present to help with information on Renwick's history, copy historical photographs and show visitors the old library. Family histories and records are also available for genealogists. The library can be viewed by appointment. Gold coin donation. Usual research rules apply.
A literary connection in the museum is the display about the Sheepskin Tavern, Renwick's first tavern, which was owned by John Godfrey, Janet Frame’s great grandfather. Known as ‘The Duke’ for his forceful views on local politics, he hosted meetings that led to the separation of Marlborough from Nelson in 1859. Godfrey is also credited with starting Marlborough’s first newspaper, The Press, the forerunner of today’s Marlborough Express. He later moved to Picton and became friends with Arthur Beauchamp, Katherine Mansfield’s grandfather. Both these early settlers, with some family members, are buried in the Picton Cemetery.
To find out more about Renwick Museum and Watson Memorial Library and to make an appointment, go to www.renwickmuseum.nz (click on the three lines in the top left hand corner
to view the site).
Read more about the School Journal collection here
Written by: Julie Kennedy and Chrissie Ward
Renwick is on State Highway 6 between Nelson and Blenheim. The Museum and Watson Memorial Library are at 58 High Street, next to the Postshop.