Mr John Pepperell was tragically killed in a freak accident, when the horse-drawn trap he was in flipped while turning a sharp corner by the Bell Block Pound. The cart’s wheel ran over his chest, breaking several ribs and causing internal injuries, Dr Leatham was sent for, but little could be done except to comfort John, and he died some days later. John was born in Marlborough, Devonshire,England and came out with his father and stepmother Agnes on the pioneer ship William Bryan, which arrived in New Plymouth on March 31st, 1841. His father took up land at Waiwhakaiho, but due to the tension from local Maori neighbors, and for safety reasons, the family left for Melbourne in 1848. They remained there until around 1953, when they returned to New Plymouth. John took up farmland at Bell Block. He had earlier met and married Elizabeth Scandlyn, and the couple had 14 children. During the Land Wars, John was in the Taranaki Militia and was involved in many skirmishes with local Maori. During the 1860’s he is recorded as being a carpenter. John died in 1890, aged 67. Amazingly after 14 children his wife Elizabeth died in 1916, aged 92. Both are buried in the small Bell Block cemetery on the corner of Devon and Mangati Roads here in Bell Block.
Waitara based Historian Graeme Duckett tours cemeteries, looking at the people who settled our region. Article first printed in the Taranaki Daily News, Tuesday, October 29th 2013.
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It’s been sixty years since Taranaki and New Zealand’s worst alpine accident. It became known as the Nurses’ Accident and six decades on, July 26, 1953 still marks Mt Egmont/Taranaki at its deadliest. Eighteen members of the New Plymouth Nurses’ Tramping Club had their hearts set on climbing to Mt Egmont/Taranaki’s summit. The mountaineering club’s top guide, 25-year-old schoolteacher Keith Russell, had agreed to lead them. He was joined by eight other Taranaki Alpine Club members, including Dick Williams, a 20-year-old New Plymouth clerk. All up, the party was 31 strong. 6 Died, 4 of them nurses. May they rest in peace.
Mr Siddall, 90, of Bell Block, said that when his Arctic Star arrived in the mail it brought back stark memories of a time in his life that he found difficult to forget. The father of four has also received four medals from Russia recognising his service in the Arctic. The first was presented to him by the Russian ambassador to New Zealand at a ceremony at the New Plymouth Returned Services Association in 1989. The British have also awarded him the Africa Star and the Atlantic Star medals.He said he wore his medals when attending Anzac Day commemorations but rules dictated that he could not wear his Russian and British medals at the same time. The end of World War II marked the beginning of a new chapter in the Siddalls’ lives. They married in 1949 and emigrated to New Zealand six years later. They started out in Dunedin where Mr Siddall worked as a builder, but the winters there put them off so they made the move to Taranaki. The New Zealand Defence Force doesn’t hold figures on the British-awarded Arctic Star holders who reside here, but it has received 15 applications to date from New Zealand citizens who believe they are eligible for the award.