It would be tempting to think that the Luke of whom Luke’s Lane in Wellington was named after was either Sir John Luke or Sir Charles Luke, brothers who were both mayors of Wellington.
Sir John was also known for expanding the tram system.
But Lukes Lane is, in fact, named after their father.
Samuel Luke was looking for an opportunity. Born in Phillack, Cornwall on January 23, 1831, to William and Elizabeth Luke, he was a mining engineer when the tin mines of Cornwall began to fail.
Instead, he loaded up his whole family; wife Ann and children and headed for New Zealand.
He was heading for Feilding where he was told a foundry could be built.
But on arrival in 1874 he quickly discovered Feilding was at that time just a paper town - there was no industry or infrastructure.
Instead, in 1879 he bought the engineering business of Gilchrist and Waters and founded S Luke and Son, a foundry which was on the site where the Wellington Opera House is now.
The business was successful with the foundry making iron and brass founders, boiler makers, ships’ cooking ranges (for which they held a patent) gold dredges and was the builder of the lighthouses at Palliser Bay and Castlepoint.
The company erected a number of hydraulic cranes on the Wellington wharfs. The company and built the steamships Matai and Weka.
At its height the company employed up to 150 people.
Both Sir John and Sir Charles worked with the business, Sir John doing his apprenticeship before joining his father then going into politics while Sir Charles was a director of the company.
Samuel died on March 3, 1900 aged 69. Long retired, he had been living with a daughter in Christchurch but at the time of his death was visiting a son in Wellington. He had been walking home from a picnic in Kilbirnie and fallen. It was believed he had a heart attack.
Samuel and most of his family are buried in the Bolton Street Cemetery.
Fran and Deb's updates