The London Mayors of Petone, New Zealand

George Thomas London and his son George London were both Mayors of Petone.

The London family of Henry, his wife Martha and children emigrated to NZ on the Clifton, arriving in Port Nicholson in 1842. They were from Greenwich in Kent, England.

London family in the 1841 UK census living in the parish of St. Alphonse, Greenwich, Kent, before leaving for NZ.
Available on in Hutt City Libraries

Henry had a section on The Terrace, Wellington, but by 1853 was living in the Porirua area. There he ran ‘London’s Hotel’ and store on Porirua Road, overlooking Porirua Harbour. The hotel and adjacent house burnt down accidentally in 1863 and Henry lost 3000 pounds worth of real estate and a worker, Jem, lost his life. Henry died the following year, 1864.

Among their children was George Thomas London (senior), born in Greenwich in 1829, who married Mary Anne Kennedy in Wellington in 1859. George Thomas London (junior) was born to this couple in 1860 in Wellington. They lived on the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee Streets and George Thomas (senior) worked as a carrier.

NZETC Victoria University

George Thomas London, senior, died in 1866 aged only 38 and possibly consequently George T. London (junior) started work aged 12 in 1872 as an office worker for John Brogden and Sons, the contractors building the Wellington-Hutt railway.

When the railway was finished and the Petone railway workshops built he worked as a clerk in the workshops. He later became a businessman and bought the Hutt-Petone Chronicle that he briefly managed and edited. He also started an evening newspaper, The Sun, but it only lasted a short time.

George Thomas London, Mayor of Petone Borough Council 1903-1907. Council Archives Ref: Arch 78063

George Thomas London was Mayor of Petone from 1903-1907 and twice stood unsuccessfully for the Hutt Parliamentary seat. He was on School, Education and Hospital Boards and was also a Justice of the Peace for 27 years. Aside from being Mayor he worked as a land agent. George T. London lived with his wife Christina (nee King) on Hutt Rd, Petone.

The London family in front of their house in Hutt Road, Lower Hutt. Seated third from left, Mrs. London; Mr London … and seated front right is Mr. F. London. Knowles family album, c1900s. “Past days in Lower Hutt and Petone” J.M. & B.M. Kenneally

Their eldest child was a daughter, Christina, who died in 1921 aged 16 years.

Evening Post 6 September 1921. Papers past nz.

George Thomas London died in January 1931.

George Thomas London’s obituary. Hawera Star 19 January 1931
Gravestone of George Thomas and daughter Christina at Taita Cemetery, Lower Hutt.

Widow Christina and the two sons George and Frank lived together in Hector’s Lane, Petone, in the 1930s. George went to Hutt Valley High School (then Petone High School). In 1932 and 1935 he was elected to Petone Borough Council and in 1938 he was elected Mayor – in the footsteps of his father. He was also elected to the Hutt Valley Electric Power and Wellington Hospital Boards.

1939 Petone Council and staff with George London as Mayor, centre front. Second left in the back row is Joe Huggan, a later Mayor of Petone. Photo: S.P. Andrew. Hutt City Libraries collection.,2

When World War Two broke out George was called up in the draft of 1940-1941 to join a Wellington Unit as part of the second NZ Expeditionary Force. He was by then a landowner on the Western Hills, Petone.

At the end of May, 1941 Lance-Corporal George London was reported missing but the following week he was reported safe.

But in August 1942 he was again reported missing, and this time he was captured while fighting in the Middle-East and taken as a prisoner of war in Italy.

In November 1943 the Evening Post reported that Sergeant George London had escaped to Switzerland where he was interned. As Switzerland was neutral the escapees were not put in camps but were supervised.

Letter from George London, interned in Switzerland Evening Post 9 March 1944

George London was repatriated in late 1944, taking about 3 months to journey home from Switzerland. The men were taken by train and ship via France, Naples, the Allied Repatriation Unit, Egypt and then on by ship home to NZ.

In December 1944 he spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Italy.

Petone Borough Council welcomed him and two councillors back from war.

George London was the National Party candidate for the new electorate of Petone in the 1946 general election. He stood against Labour candidate Michael Moohan in the Labour stronghold.

Despite George London’s vigorous campaigning and advertisements Mike Moohan won the seat by a large majority. The Labour Government under Peter Fraser stayed in power by a narrow majority in 1946.

George London remained single; according to anecdotes by the time he came back from the war the girl he intended to marry had married someone else. George lived with his mother until her death in 1958.

In October 1976 George London presented the Mayor of Petone Mr. George Gee with an ornamental cradle. The cradle was a gift to the first London Mayor, George Thomas London, 70 years ago to mark the birth of his son George in 1906.

New Zealand Mail 7 February 1906

Going full-circle the cradle was presented in the same council chambers. Mr London had decided it was best to give it to the present Mayor for safe-keeping.

The Mayor of Petone, Mr George Gee, holds the ornamental silver cradle presented to him by former Mayor, Mr, George London, at a ceremony in the Petone Borough Council chambers on 5 October, 1976.
Hutt News 12 October 1976.

George London was a company director and lived in Normandale until he died in February 1977. He is buried along with his London family in the Presbyterian part of Taita Old Cemetery.

London Road in Korokoro, Lower Hutt, was named for George Thomas London and was built by relief workers during the Depression, in about 1934.

London Road, Korokoro in about 1950. Hutt City Libraries collection

Hutt City Council historic aerial maps


Papers past nz

NZ Electronic Text Centre Victoria University

Hutt City Libraries: photo collection;; files

Hutt News

Hutt City Council Archives

Hutt City Cemeteries

Petone (Pito-one) first 100 years 1840-1940 – Nicolson, W. B.

Early Wellington – Ward, Louis E.

Valleys & Bays – Carey, Alison

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