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William George Haybittle was Mayor of Feilding in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was born in London in 1850, and came to New Zealand with his father in 1853. After completing his education at Finnimore's School, Haybittle went into the the drapery trade with Mr. Owen of Wellington. In 1872, he went to Bulls to work in a general store, and two years after that, was sent to open a branch of this business in Feilding. He managed that store for four years, and then entered into partnership with Mr. R. London, as London, Haybittle & Co., General Storekeepers. Their first premises were on the site which the Manchester Hotel later occupied.

During the Parihaka invasion, which Haybittle attended as part of the Manchester Rifles, the shop was burnt to the ground, and the partnership was dissolved upon his return. Haybittle then opened his own account in a new shop, which was also burned two years later by a fire originating in the adjoining business. Haybittle rebuilt in concrete, and continued business until 1892, when he sold out to Messrs. Bramwell Bros. For four years he worked in partnership with the Bartholomew Bros before retiring.

Haybittle was a prominent member of the community, being a councillor, a member of the Palmerston North Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, secretary of the Feilding School Committee, a member of the local bowling club, and a Forester and Past Master of the Masonic Order.


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