HAMILTON METHODIST CHURCH TRUST
The origins of this Trust go back to the year 1868, when a member of the 4th Waikato Militia, who was also a keen Methodist, gave to the church a block of land fronting onto Collingwood Street. His name was Asst Surgeon William Rayner. The area was half an acre. Later he sold a further half acre to the Trust for the sum of 20 pounds. Unfortunately the Trust did not have the resources to pay this sum. However, the minister at the time, (Rev J H Simmonds) came to the rescue, and loaned the Trust 20 pounds to enable the Trust to secure this second block of land. The Trust was able to repay this loan over an extended period of time by several small instalments.
It was on this land that the first Wesleyan Trinity Methodist Church was built. It was opened on 1 November 1868. A second larger church was built in 1882 along side the first, which was then used for Sunday school rooms for the next 22 years. It was sold for removal in 1904 and became a private residence in Hamilton East.
The early history of the Trust is obscured by the fact of a fire which destroyed the parsonage in 1899, and all the Trust minute books and records up to that time. However, it is known that Mr J E Tidd was the Secretary from at least 1900 to 1930. He guided the Trust through a period during which the union between the Wesleyan strand of Methodism and the Primitive Methodists plus a couple of other Methodist strands took effect in 1913.
As a result of this union, the congregation of Trinity Wesleyan combined with the Primitive Methodist congregation on the St Pauls site at 62 London Street Hamilton. The Primitive Methodist congregation became established in 1904, and St Pauls was built in 1906. The two Trusts also combined, and had responsibility not only for the development of the Collingwood Street site for commercial purposes, but also for the development and maintenance of the St Pauls church site. This latter activity continued to be a Trust responsibility until 1996.
The first major commercial development on the Collingwood Street site was the construction of a three storied building on the corner of Collingwood Street and Victoria Street in 1925. This was known as Wesley Chambers. There were some earlier shops built on the Victoria Street frontage some dating back to 1880, and Wesley Chambers was built over and around these shops, while they were still occupied.