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Village History


The two Oddfellows Halls were situated beside the Painton’s two storied house and opposite the hotel.

The first Oddfellows Hall was built about 1871 but was accidently burnt down on 17th July 1898. A tender to rebuild it was won by Henry Baigent and the new hall was opened on 25 May 1899. In 1936 it was purchased by George Robertson and it was used as a picture theatre and indoor rifle range as well as a venue for meetings, wedding receptions and other social occasions. During the Second World War the Patriotic Society used it as a base for fund raising and to hold farewell functions for soldiers leaving for war service.

When it was again up for sale the Oddfellows Lodge members bought it back to prevent it becoming a bulk store for a stock and station agency and they were required to erect a firewall between the hall and Painton’s second shop and house. In 1966 the Wakefield Hall Society Inc purchased the Hall. The fire wall remains standing today and it prevented the Painton’s premises from burning down when on 3 July 1968 the second Oddfellows Hall met the same fate as the first by burning down almost exactly 70 years later. A roaring fire had been warming the premises the previous night when the Young Farmers Branch of the Federated Farmers were holding a meeting. It is thought that a spark escaped through a gap in the faulty chimney and that is what started the fire. As it was the coldest night of the year (about minus 8-10 degrees celsius) the water, pumped from the Wai iti River by way of a portable pump, froze on the road making conditions very slippery and dangerous. The Chief Fire Officer, Vic Lawrence, was drenched with freezing water when a hose burst and when his wife provided him with a dry set of clothing, he stripped naked and donned his dry clothes on the spot! Next morning the Council sent a truck load of sand to spread on the icy road before it could be re-opened.

The new Wakefield Community Hall was built in Whitby Way after this incident.

This information was shared on a historical walk (in October 2022) along Edwards Street, presented by Roger Batt, from the Waimea South Historical Society (Inc 2022).

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