01 December 2008

Unknown Child by Partington

This photo is completely bare of any details about the subject but the photographer is a well known name in Auckland. William Henry Thomas Partington was the son of early Auckland settlers whose windmill, Partington's Windmill, was a well-known landmark. When his Auckland studio burnt down, he moved to Wanganui and established a studio there.


  • Subject: Unknown
  • Date: Late 19th/Early 20th Century
  • Photographer: William Henry Thomas Partington, 24 Grey St, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Reverse: Blank

Partington's Windmill

Charles Frederick Partington was an immigrant from Oxfordshire, UK. In May 1850, for £200, Charles Partington purchased land in Symonds St, now occupied by the Langham Hotel, and constructed the Partington's Windmill at a cost of £2,000. The height, distinctive shape and prominent position made it a landmark and throughout its life it was used as a navigation device by shipping. During the Maori Wars which raged from 1861 to 1866, Charles Partington served with the British cavalry and the mill landed a lucrative contract to supply the Army troops with food, chiefly biscuits, but also flour and crushed corn. The Windmill stood for 100 years until May 1950 when, amongst controversy, it was demolished.
In addition to a son, Joseph, Charles Partington had a daughter Maria, a budding artist who married David Goldie a prominent timber merchant and politician and one-time Mayor of Auckland. They had a son born in Auckland on 20 October 1870 and named him Charles Frederick Goldie after his maternal grandfather. Charles Goldie went on to become the well known New Zealand artist C F Goldie, best known for his portrayal of Maori dignitaries. Charles Partington and his son Joseph’s name live on at the Langham Hotel Auckland at Partingtons Restaurant.

Charles F Partington also had other children one of them being William Henry Thomas Partington. WHT Partington was an excellent photographer but he was an unknown in the art world until in 2001 a Bay of Plenty man found a suitcase in his garage filled with 235 glass plate negatives and 500 vintage prints.  The suitcase had belonged to his wife's great-grandfather, photographer WHT Partington. The collection featured mostly Maori, and people and scenery along the Whanganui River in the late 1800s.

William Henry Thomas was most probably named after his three brothers who all died within one month of each other in 1854 - William 23-9-54 aged 4 yrs; Thomas 15-10-54 aged 1 yr 8mths; Henry 22-10-54 aged 3 yrs. WHT Partington was born less than 2 months later on 8 Dec 1854, he married Mary Jane Goldie in 1879, and although I don't know for sure she was probably the sister of David Goldie who married WHT's sister Maria. WHT died on 22 Jul 1940.

WHTP's photographs are currently being exhibited (until 18 Sep 2009) at the Whanganui Regional Museum, Wanganui. The exhibit is called - Te Pihi Mata - The Sacred Eye: Partington's Photographs of Whanganui.

1 comment:

Tony Partington said...

I do not know if I, and my family, are distant relatives of the photographer of this wonderful, haunting photograph but it is most interesting to ponder. Thank you so very much for posting the photo and the fascinating background information. ~ Tony Partington