The area to the east of Colombo Road between Johnstone Street and the Waipoua River formed part of the original holdings of the Masterton identity George Woodroofe. Woodroofe, who was a lapidarian in his native Ireland, was a successful cabinetmaker and farmer in his adopted country. He was active in public affairs in Masterton and achieved a degree of local fame for his fountain.
A keen prohibitionist, he conceived a plan to stop the town’s citizens from drinking in the public houses. He thought that if the local men were provided with a free supply of drinking water they would be more easily able to resist the temptation of alcohol. His vision slowly took shape in concrete, but Woodroofe’s plan to have the fountain paid for by public subscription was not successful as there was a marked reluctance to participate.
As Woodroofe’s fountain was taking shape on the site next to the Post Office the publicans built their own, simpler fountain, directly across the road, complete with iron cups, a small trough for dogs, and a larger trough for horses. Woodroofe’s fountain was finally paid off with hard fought for donations, and a subsidy from the Masterton Trust Lands Trust. The great day arrived when Mayor Pownall arrived to christen the fountain, and to prime the pump to make the water flow forth. Unfortunately the water stayed obstinately in the ground, the well not having been dug deeply enough. Woodroofe’s enthusiasm for the project seemed to die with the disappointment, and the old fountain was left, useless, until the concrete weathered so much the structure was removed.
George Woodroofe was obviously a shy man. When the Masterton Borough Council street-naming meeting was held in 1878 he moved that the street to be named in his honour should be re-named Columba Road. His suggestion was acceded to and the street was named after the Scottish saint. It is ironical then that a large subdivision, land once owned by Woodroofe, should end up being named after his son-in-law.
Pic: George Woodroofe did not want a street named after him.