Battle of Featherston Street, Wellington, 1913

Battle of Featherston Street, Wellington, 1913

The ‘Battle of Featherston Street’, Wellington, 5 November 1913.

Strike supporters clashed with more than 800 mounted special constables who were riding from their base at Buckle St to the wharves. The specials’ mission was to escort racehorses from Lambton station (near today’s Wellington railway station) to the wharves, from where they were to be shipped to Christchurch to compete in the New Zealand Cup meeting.

On Willis, Ghuznee and Dixon streets, stones were thrown at the specials, who in turn charged the crowds. The battle began in earnest on Featherston Street, where specials charged strikers. Pro-strike tram drivers tried to ram specials on horseback, and metal spikes and detonators were thrown at their horses’ feet. Eventually the specials broke through the strikers and regained control of the wharves. This was a decisive moment in the strike. From now on ‘scabs’ or ‘free labourers’ belonging to a new arbitrationist union could be brought on to the wharves to load and unload ships.

See more images of the 1913 strike in Wellington here (Flickr)

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