William Alexander MUNRO 
- Born: 23 Aug 1903, Palmerston Nth NZ
- Marriage (1): Marjorie Gladys WOOD  on 21 Dec 1932 in Lower Hutt
- Marriage (2): Lois Barclay RIDDICK  in 1961 in Wellington NZ
- Died: 13 Sep 1980, Equatorial Hotel Singapore aged 77
- Buried: Ashes. St Agnes Churchyard Kiwitea.
Cause of his death was coronary failure.
Another name for William was Bill.
William was a school teacher, he died returning from a trip to Britain
A Memoir by William Alexander Munro.
Usually during the Christmas holidays, we went to Wellington [from Palmerston North], where we shared a beach house with Aunt Ann Johnson and family at one of the seaside resorts, frequently at Worser Bay, where I learned to swim, and a couple of times at Lyall Bay.
Of course we went by train, which, in my earlier days, would have been one of the Wellington-Manawatu Company ones. I have a vivid memory of having a meal in a dining car on one of these trips when we went to Wellington in company with Aunt Ann's father, Herbert Hill.
The dining car, of an American pattern, was panelled with walnut and had silvered hanging oil lamps. My only other recollection of the meal was the container of toothpicks on the table - the first time I had ever seen them, and a lettuce salad decorated with radishes, cut into fancy shapes.
I recall too, arriving at the old Thorndon Station in the evening with Mother and Aunt Emma and being met by Uncle Charlie (Sharkey). The horse was young and frisky, Uncle Charlie wasn't much of a driver, and a tram chose that moment to clang its bell. Off went the horse at a wild gallop with Mother screaming and Aunt Emma shouting "My God! My God!" However, we must have arrived safely.
Mother and Aunt Emma could remember when Lower Cuba Street ran down to the beach, and a stream, crossed by a bridge, flowed across the street, just below the present site of James Smiths.
The site was then occupied by Winder's, a large hardware shop, and James Smiths, Te Aro House, was further up Cuba Street, on the other side.
Right at the top of Cuba Street was a 'doss-house' - Mrs Heavey's - very popular with sailors and drunks. An old stable hand, Shep Hill, who worked for Uncle Arthur, told us about it once. Mrs Heavey's soup had big lumps of meat in it he said, and it was very nourishing, apparently. There were three grades of accommodation - beds, mattresses on the floor, and standing up and draping yourself over a rope stretched across the room. This last, I understand, cost twopence a night. The building is still there and now houses a private hotel, but Mrs Heavey and her soup are long gone.
Shep, the stable hand used to plait leather whips for us, I remember. He was a brother to Herbert Hill, but was an alcoholic, which had reduced him to the job in the stables.
In those days the lower part of Rolleston Street was occupied by two brick and pipe works - Hutson's nearest to Wallace Street, and the other was Herbert Hill's, which Uncle Arthur managed. On the Hargreave Street side of the yard were the large stables - a popular spot on a Saturday morning when we were allowed to ride the dray horses to the paddock where they spent the weekend.
The works buildings and kilns were a perfect playground for kids. Apart from watching the bricks and pipes being made, and the kilns being packed and unpacked, there were also fancy moulds, money-boxes, flower pots and the like which we were allowed to use.
The yards and the buildings were great places for kids' gang fights. I was an honorary member of the Hargreaves Street gang and I recall galloping into action on one occasion with a bloke, now a prominent Wellington barrister, who was then mounted on a stick, and armed with an old table leg attached to his belt with a piece of string.
Mother's parents lived in Wellington. Grandfather Johnson was Swedish and had been a ship's bosun. He was injured while unloading cargo in Wellington sometime in the 1860's and, after a spell in hospital, he became a Customs Officer, his ship the 'Wild Duck' having sailed without him. [He was discharged from 'Wild Duck' 'by mutual consent' 14 March 1866 and was running a stevedoring business Hinge & Johnson when he was injured 4 November 1874] His accident had left him with a permanently stiff leg. He also had a spare-time occupation as a watchman in the Fire Brigade Watch Tower in the middle of the city. [Worked as a watchman following his injury]
Grandmother (nee Alice Britton) and one child came out to join him here, in a later sailing of the 'Wild Duck' which landed its passengers at York Bay. [She has to have come on the same sailing as Peter for the timing to be right for Aunt Emma to be conceived, and born in Wellington.]
The Johnson's had a house in Garrett Street, off Cuba Street. There were three rooms downstairs - sitting room, bedroom, and kitchen - and upstairs, in a kind of a loft were two bedrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls.
The house was still in existence into the 1960's and I remember taking Mother to have a look at it during the 1950's. Now there is an office block and warehouse on the site.
Grandma Johnson I can remember as dressed in black, usually satin, with a white lace cap, or for outdoors, a black bonnet ornamented with jet spangles. Grandfather, as I remember him, had a bushy white beard, a large, rather flattish nose, a velvet smoking jacket and a pill-box velvet smoking cap, ornamented with gold lace and a gold tassle. Mother who had been trained as a milliner, used to make him a new cap as a Christmas present each year.
Although there had been an almost annual increase in their family over many years, the only ones living in my time were Aunt Lal (Alice) Barker who had been born in England, Uncle Charlie (Sharkey) probably also English born. [b.1873 Wellington] He was a sea cook. Aunt Emma Pedder, Aunt Edith Laurenson, Uncle Bill, a teacher and later an English professor in Chile, Mother (Elizabeth Jane), Uncle Arthur, an accountant, and later manager of Herbert Hill's Brick and Pipe Works, and the youngest Aunt Maybelle, with whom Grandfather and Grandma lived in their old age. Aunt Maybelle married Rob Rivett, a Customs Officer, who later announced that his real name was Tidey and the family reverted to that surname. [26 July 1913] He had taken a false name when he ran away to sea as a boy.
During much of my childhood our cousins, the Pedder's, lived nearby. They then moved to Feilding, only 12 miles away so we saw a great deal of them.
Christmas dinner was a joint festival - one year at our place, next year at Pedder's. uncle Cyril Pedder was an Englishman of whom my childhood memories have always been very happy. He insisted on holding Christmas in very English fashion, so the Xmas ducks or geese would be 'hung' until they had become very flavoursome and were heavily peppered, probably to disguise the very strong taste that suited only Uncle Cyril's palate. I remember too, the Christmas pudding aflame with brandy and 'snapdragon' - raisins in flaming brandy which you attempted to pull out and eat without being burnt. Dad, and ardent teetotaller, didn't approve of these goings-on.
On one occasion, Mother made a sort of cider from apple peelings and cores. This was all right for a start, till Dad discovered it had fermented. After delivering a lecture, and forbidding Mother from making any more, he solemnly poured the rest down the drain.
Courtesy of Christine McLennan nee Munro
Living at Opapa, HB 1932
A family headstone at St Agnes Kiwitea reads:
ILMO Lindsay Elizabeth Munro dearly loved daughter of M & W.A.Munro born 15.9.1943 died 26.2.1947 and her father William Alexander Munro born 23.8.1903 died 13.9.1980. William was cremated on 14 Sep 1980 in Mount Vernon Crematoria, Singapore.
William married Marjorie Gladys WOOD  [MRIN: 749], daughter of John Burt WOOD  and Gladys HENRY , on 21 Dec 1932 in Lower Hutt. (Marjorie Gladys WOOD  was born on 3 Feb 1908 in Lower Hutt, died on 6 Jun 1958 and was cremated on 9 Jun 1958 in Karori Cemetery Wellington.)
William next married Lois Barclay RIDDICK  [MRIN: 371017173] in 1961 in Wellington NZ. (Lois Barclay RIDDICK  was born on 12 Feb 1907 and died on 14 Apr 2005 in Tawa NZ.)