BEESTON New Zealand Fire Service 1902
My great grandfather Victor Robert BEESTON born circ 1875 or Vic as he was know to most, was part of the group that started the first fire brigade proper in Whangarei New Zealand in 1902. After two very bad fires in the then town of Whangarei in 1899 and then again in 1900, a group of concerned citizens banded together and formed the Whangarei Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1902. Vic BEESTON was elected as the first Deputy Superintendant (now refered to as Deputy fire Chief). The Superintendant was a Mr CHISELL. In 1928 Vic was killed in a car accident on Whananaki Hill (North of Whangarei). The "FORD" car he was driving with several passengers lost control and rolled down a very steep bank killing him instantly but without any harm to any of the passengers including a small child. His wife Ellen was also in the car. I know that Vic was a butcher in Whangarei for many years but in his obituary in the local paper of the time, he was said to have "gone to sea as a young man with Captain Scott on the Inchcape Rock". His living siblings at the time were listed as a step sister Mrs Bowden in Australia and a brother (Thomas or Arthur?) in Devonport Auckland. I have been unable to find any information online about this captain Scott or his ship the Inchcape Rock (also the name of a famous lighthouse). I do not think there is a connection with the Captain Scott who sailed to Antarctic, and have been unable to find any reference to BEESTON in the crew lists of those trips. So another line of research needed in this direction. At the time of his death a brand new Halley Simonis (English built) fire appliance was awaiting unloading at the Whangarei town wharf. This appliance saw many years service to the Whangarei Volunteer Fire Brigade, but its first official duty was the funeral of Vic Beeston deputy superintendant. His casket was drawn on the Halley Simonis from the undertakers down Bank Street and from there out to Maunu cemetery where he now lies with his wife Ellen who died in 1953.
It is worthy of note that two of Vic Beeston's sons Arthur William (Bill) Beeston and Ellis Vernon (Tudy) Beeston both served as volunteers in the fire service. Both also served over 25 years each which entitled Bill to a gold star, however because Tudy's service was broken and not continuous he did not recieve a gold star which annoys me to this day. He did the time and good on him. One of Bills sons Wayne Beeston also served a couple of years with the Whangarei Fire Brigade in the 1960's. My time with the NZ fire service amounts to six years unofficially with the Eltham Volunteer Fire Brigade, and then five years with the Ruakaka Volunteer Fire Brigade. I have roughly calculated that the Beeston family has given over 125 years service to the NZ Fire Service, and four generations of volunteers.
My son is now very keen to join and do his service, he will be the fifth generation. We should be so proud of this effort.
Victor Robert BEESTON married Ellen Rebecca BEAVIS on Christmas day 1896 Reverend LL CUBITT (well known in Whangarei) performed the ceremony. My wife Marilyn and I were married on Christmas day 2001.
The only information I have about Ellen was taken from the original marriage certificate. It states that her parents were;
Henry BEAVIS b 1837 from Opuawhanga and a wheelright.
Sarah FAIRBROTHER b 1851.
Henry died in 1907 and Sarah in 1916.
With this information I was also able to find where they were buried and have their graves surveyed and marked out at the old Kioreroa cemetery in South Whangarei. As yet I have been unable to find any further info on these two great great grandparents of mine.
I have found many references to BEESTON in cemetery searches around the Auckland region and (without document verification) have been able to establish that several of Vic's family lived in Auckland from around 1900. I now have to try and follow these ancestors to the present day to try and locate as yet unknown family connections so we may compare our ancestry details.
Another journal for the children of Vic and Ellen BEESTON to follow.