Charles Purkiss did a little bit of everything during his life in Blenheim, and must have been a well known name around town.
But was Purkiss St really named after him?
According to Blenheim historian Lloyd Kerr, a researcher at Marlborough Museum, Borough councillors were indeed named after in Blenheim’s new streets, but found there were references to Purkiss St in the Marlborough Express as early as 1890.
Mr Purkiss was a Blenheim Borough councillor, albeit for one term, but only from 1901 to 1903. He had previously contested as candidate for the West Ward in 1877 but was unsuccessful.
Mr Purkiss lived in High St in 1874, it was found, but in August 1885 an article about the Wairau Hospital Committee listed a number of tenders for sites to which the hospital could be moved. This including the land of Charles Purkiss “with frontages to Middle Road and Murphy’s Cross Road” which would appear to refer to today’s Purkiss Street’s Springlands location.
We do know Mr Purkiss had many roles. Lloyd Kerr found he had a tobacconist in Market St North in 1879, but his main role was as a lending commission agent, a partnership with R D Nosworthy.
He also advertised in the Express as a Marlborough agent for the South British Insurance Company, worked as a flaxmiller (a notice in the Marlborough Express of September 8, 1890, announced the dissolution of the partnership between Mr Purkiss and John T Mowat, flaxmillers, to be carried on by Mr Purkiss).
He was also an officer and collector, presumably of rates, for the Omaka Road Board.
Mr Purkiss died in Wanganui; his obituary published in The Press on 15 July, 1916, stated he was a “prominent and active figure in the business and civic circles of Blenheim”.