MR. SMITH'S LIFE'S HISTORY. A REMARKABLE CAREER.
Edward Metcalf Smith was bdrn at Cradloy, in South. Staffordshire, England, in 1839. After working as a- Jad and young man for eleven years in the steel and iron trade of his native county, he was apprenticed to the gun trade in Birmingham. He passed his degrees as an armourer in the Royal Small Arms Factory, Pimlico, London, at th i Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield, London, and at the Royal Woolwich Arsonal, obtaining first-class certificates. He then received an appointment as staff garrison afmourer to the field forces in New Zealand, and came out in the ship African in 1861 to Auckland,, where he remained till 1864, when ho returned to England in the ship Himalaya on the cessation of the Maori War. In the same year he came out to the colony again in the ship Ironsides, and was offered an appointment as armourer to the colonial forces by Colonel Pitt. This offer Mr Smith declined, preferring to settle in Taranaki, where his wife and her relatives had settled. He came to Taranaki, and shortly after arrival received an. appointment from the late Colonel Lepper as armourer to the Colonial Forces in Taranaki. He occupied this position for several years, and was then called to Wellington; by the Defence Department with a view of starting a small arsenal there for repcirs and other work connected with defonce. Being impressed with the value of ironsand deposits in the beach at Now Plymouth, and having made some satisfactory tests, Mr Smith, in 1872 resigned this appointment and commenced to work up a company to work the deposits. He lectured on *the subject in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and New Plymouth, and succeeded in inducing capital representing £30,000 to embark in the industry. This company was called The Titanic Iron and Steel Company, who built works at Te Henui, near the mouth of the river, about the year 1873. Mr Smith was the manager of the works and Mr T. K. Macdonald, of Wellington, was secretary. After a while Mr Smith severed hi 3 couuection with the company, but in 1876, the company having failed to accompuish success, some of Mr Smith's friends joined in a guarantee for the purpose of enabling him to conduct operations. He took charge at the beginning of September, and after clearing out the furnace he succeeded before the end of the month in smelting about two tons of metal. For this he was entertained at a banquet at the old Oddfollows' Hall on October 2nd, 1876. No permanent success, however, -was achieved, and Mr Smith next tur,ned Ins energies to opening the Mokau country, which had been closed for ten years, in order to develop the coal and limestone deposits with which it abounds, and he was largely instrumental in steps being taken to open up the deposits. For a time he was employed as a smelter at Mr Vivian's foundry, and subsequently was engaged at = the harbour works at Moturoa. When Messrs Henderson, Fergus, and Mackie
obtained the contract for constructing water-works for New Plymouth Mr Smith joined their staff, and on the completion of the works he received the appointment of Borough turncock, which he held until two or three years ago, when his son was appointed in _ms place. His spare time was devoted to experimenting with the ironsa&d and other minerals, and' also to preparing a model ot a harbour at Moturoa,,his idea being to connect Mikotahi ai*d Moturoa and build a breakwater eastwards from the latter island. His active mind was employed also in devising schemes for railways and other works]) including a line from Waitara, through the Mokau country, to connect with the Auckland system, and another to carry road metal from the slopes of Mount Egmont to the roads round its base. In 1884 Mr Smith contested the New Plymouth seat for Parliamentary honours, giving his first political address on July 11th. Has opponents were Messrs O. Samuel, 1. Kelly, and Major Brown, the firstnamed being elected with 243 votes, while Mr Smith was second on the list with 172 votes. In 1887 he was again a candidate, receiving 275 votes as against Mr Samuel's 639, Mr Dockrill receiving 126. In 1890 he was elected for Taranaki, receiving 539 votes, while the late Mr John Elliot received 516 and Mr R. C. Hughes 297. Three years later he received the renewed confidence of the electors, defeating the late Colonel Trimble .by a substantial majority. At the 1896 election Mr Henry Brown defeated him, owing to the Liberal vote being split, but' in 1^99/he. recovered the seat and twice- since' then the electors have re-elected him, Mr H. Okey being liis leading opponent* on both occasions. While giving full attention to his political duties Mr Smith never lost sight of the ironsahd. It was, in fact, the dream of his life to establish a great industry at Now Plymouth. In 1892 he again demonstrated the feasibility of his project at Onehunga by successfully smelting a quantity of sand. In 1896 a few supporters in New Plymouth raised funds to send Mr Smith to England for the purppse of endeavouring to enlist the interest of English capitalists and ironmasters. He addressed a meeting of the Iron and Steel Institute and succeeded in interesting a number of scientists and ironmasters, but no tangible results followed. In tfOl he accompanied the late Sir Alfred Cadman to England to make another attempt to float a company to work the ironsand deposits, and negotiations wore set on foot which have unfortunately never come to fruition, though Sir Alfred Cadman's partners afterwards sent Mr. J. Witheford Home to carry thorn on, and efforts are still being 'made to bring a scheme to a successful issue. Mr Smith, however, the inspirer of all the efforts, has not been spared to see his hopes and vision^ fulfilled. Failures and disappointments had a very depressing effect upon a naturally buoyant and hopeful nature, but an accident which he met with yearly three years ago had a more serious effect upon his health. A break had occurred in the water main at the new Henui bridge works, and Mr- Smith, with characteristic energy, took off his coat to help his son, who had succeeded him as Borough turncock, in the work of effecting repairs. While thus engaged a platform on which he. was standing gave way, and a large ladle of molten lead was upset over him, causing very severe burns. From these injuries he never really recovered his former strength, though he continued to carry on his legislative duties, and to interest himself in local matters- For months past, however, it has been evident that he had seen his best days. For some time he has been more or less confined to his -house, though during the last week or two he has occasionally managed to gejb about. He was on his way to town on Friday when the distressing accident occurred which ended fatally about balf-past seven the same evening. Mr Smith married in 1863 Miss Mary Gokling, daughter of Mr N. Golding, who is still a resident of New Plymouth, and such success 1 as he achieved in life wa3 largely due to her inspiration and oncouragement. She survives her husband, who also leaves a family of ten children, and twenty-three grandchildren. The children are: — Messrs W. J. Smith, J. C. Smith (Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at New Plymouth), Sam Smith (of the Permanent Force, Auckland), T. P. Smith (borough water Service supervisor), S. G. Smith (Rail., ay Department), Leonard L. Smith (Lands and Survey Office), and H. Smith (Railway Department); and his daughters, Mrs R. F. Waite, of Wanganui ; Mrs W. Blair, of Midliirst; and Miss Daisy Smith, of New Plymouth.
Mi*s E. M. Smith has received the following message of condolence from Mr W F. Massey, leader of the Opposition: — "Please' accept my sincerest sympathy in your bereavement. Though on the opposite side of politics to your late husband, I recognised and appreciated his many good qualities, and regret his death accordingly.' '
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