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William Ings (1836-1926)

St. Clair's market garden pioneer.

William IngsIn 1891 Baptists made up 6.9% of the South Dunedin population, 10.2 of St. Kilda and 12.2% of Caversham. Yet nationally this religious group were only 2.4% of the population. Methodists were similarly over-represented. This preponderance of evangelical Protestants, many of English origin, was a distinctive feature of the southern Dunedin communities. William Ings was the pioneer identity of the Baptist church on the Flat. He had come to Otago from Melbourne in 1861, with his father and brothers, and headed for Gabriels Gully in search of gold. Failing there, he settled in Dunedin and began leasing land in Caversham. Brought up on a Somerset farm, Ings was a hard worker and a green-fingered gardener. In 1868 he bought 33 acres along Forbury Road and quickly transformed it from boggy wasteland to a thriving market garden. The year before, following the death of one of their children, he and his wife Elizabeth had become Baptists. For the rest of his long life Ings devoted much of his time to the work of the church. He preached the sermon at the first church service of any kind held in South Dunedin, when the Baptists established a congregation there in 1873. He became Superintendent of its Sunday School in 1875, a post he held for 40 years. The church also benefited from his profitable land speculations, and he provided sites for Baptist churches all over Otago. Ings died in 1926. He is commemorated by Ings Ave, which runs through his old market garden.

(Photograph, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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