James Thomas Davis: Board Member 1875 – 1891

Davis was a Trustee of the Recreation Ground from its inception until his unfortunate death in 1891. He owned an ironmongers business on Devon Street. He was an active member of society. He served on the Town Board, the Borough Council, prominent member of the Ancient Order of Foresters, Fire Inspector, member of the Horticultural Society, steward of the Jockey Club and various other committees.

His death was unfortunate. He had been to visit his sister one evening and on his return home around 10.30 pm he decided to go for a skinny dip, something went wrong and Dais drowned. The coroner found no evidence of suicide. 

He is well known as the person who donated the money to build the famous The Poet’s Bridge named after a racehorse that won him the money. Until recently it was thought that winning the money was a chance happening and when he got the money he came up with the idea of building a bridge. However, in an article published in the Taranaki Herald on February 19, 1936 Richard Cock shared the story of how the win came about.  Back then there was a national sweepstakes called “Tattersalls” which was nationwide and cost £1 to enter. He and Davis put £5 each into a pool and entered sweepstakes weekly with the intention of paying for a bridhge to be built if they won enough.  They had some small wins but eventually the money ran out. At that  point Cock pulled out but Davis carried on gambling and two weeks later hit the jackpot winning £500 which was a lot in 1883. He donated about £155 to pay for the brige’s construction.