Home' Rangitikei Mail : December 29th 2011 Contents 15
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2011
THE COACH HOUSE
FEILDING & DISTRICTS HORSE-DRAWN ERA MUSEUM
The Coach House recently had a visit
from a couple who reported back to a
great-great granddaughter of Thomas Ray
of Clareville, Carterton, who had owned
the Ray Sulky -- Coach House vehicle
The Museum have had very little
information of the origin of this vehicle
other than it was originally owned by the
we concluded it was more of an American
design. Its unusual suspension and single
seat for the driver gave it a uniqueness
amongst the other two wheeled vehicles.
Its very light and frail construction also
gave it a special place within the display.
There was considerable discussion
around the level of restoration that could
or should be applied to this rare vehicle
and it was finally decided to do a fairly
extensive restoration of the construction,
but not bring it back to an 'as new'
condition. It gave us the opportunity to
appreciate the fragile state without hiding
its methods of construction.
Robyn Ray-McGregor a Great-Great
granddaughter of Thomas Ray writes of
his exploits as a mailman driving from
Wellington to the Wairarapa. The Ray
vehicle we have within our collection does
not equate to the freight and passenger
trap that she writes of, but it is surely a
vehicle from his stable. A horseman of
his day with the related qualities he was
reputed to possess would have relished
the opportunity to drive a smart vehicle
THOMAS RAY 1837 - 1915
Thomas Ray sailed with his parents to
Wellington, New Zealand from Ballymena
in Northern Ireland in 1840, aboard the
When Thomas Ray was a youth his
parents settled at Clareville, north of
Carterton and built the Taratahi Hotel.
Thomas became an early Wairarapa
mailman and carrier. With his trap, he
operated a ser vice from Wellington to
Masterton as early as 1867.
Two exciting experiences are related by
C Carle in his book 'Wairarapa'. During
the Maori troubles Thomas was sent
with a cartload of food for soldiers in the
Hutt. On his trip he saw a party of raiding
Maoris hack off the arm of a bugler who
was sounding the alarm.
On another trip he brought Mr
St.Hill S.M. o
r the Rim
magistrate wished to visit
the eastern Wairarapa, which
necessitated crossing the
flooded Ruamahunga River.
foundered and rolled over,
throwing its rider clear. He
could make no headway in the
flooded river and was sinking
when Thomas grabbed him by
the hair and hauled him to shore.
Mr St.Hill then found he had
lost his top hat, in which he had
put his legal papers for safety.
Thomas galloped downstream,
swam his horse out to the hat and
An old resident once recalled his first
the year before the Cobbe's Coach era.
'Its limited space was filled with mail bags,
topped by parcels, on which passengers
could select a soft seat before departure.
The trap left in the early hours of
the morning from Victoria Hotel at
the Terrace end of Vivian Street.
Thomas was remembered as a swift and
steady driver who got his passengers to
Greytown in time for dinner'.
On the death of his father, in 1869,
Thomas took over the proprietorship of
the Taratahi Hotel. There he received
a commendation for being an obliging
landlord with good accommodation. In
fact Carterton was so named at a banquet
held at his hotel in 1859. Thomas was
one of the first stewards of the Carterton
Racing Club and there were few followers
of this sport in the Wairarapa/Wellington
area who did not know him.
It is always a thrill to get a story such as this,
Robyn continues to own some of the
land originally owned by Thomas Ray at
Clareville, north of Carterton, Wairarapa.
"The Coach House"
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The Ray Sulky
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