Brass hub comes back home – finally

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By Mick Jensen

A 140-year-old brass carriage hub with the name of Ashburton coach builder Baker & Brown on it has been returned to the family whose forefathers commissioned it.

Retired farmer Kelly Kingsbury found the shiny hub at The Shearer’s Quarters in Seadown, just north of Timaru, and was attracted to it because it had “Ashburton” engraved on it and was a well crafted piece.

He believed it more likely originated from Ashburton, England rather than Ashburton, Mid Canterbury and used it as a paperweight.

Mr Kingsbury thought no more of the piece until a story appeared in The Courier in June about retiring Ashburton carpet business owners, Ken, Maurice and Graeme Baker. The story referenced the name Baker & Brown and provided Mr Kingsbury with an answer to his carriage hub conundrum.

He later contacted Ken Baker and handed over the historic item.

Mr Baker said it was fantastic to have something that had a direct connection with his great grandfather James Were Baker and was around 140 years old.

“My great grandfather was a cabinet maker by trade and emigrated from England. He shifted to Ashburton in 1874 to join his brothers who were builders.

“He started a furniture shop in 1876 in Havelock Street and was also engaged as a coachbuilder under the name of Baker & Brown.”

Mr Baker said the solid brass carriage hub was now the oldest family memento in his possession.

It was still in very good condition for its age and had been well engineered, although the name of the maker remained a mystery. Mr Baker intends using the returned piece of family history as a paperweight in his den.