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Sir William Chronology



Charles William Fielden (Bill) Hamilton is born on July 26 at Ashwick Station, South Canterbury, New Zealand. Son of William Fielden Hamilton and Cora Blakeney (nee Cannon), half-brother to Cyril Blackeney, brother to Leila and Catherine (Kitty) Hamilton.

1906 -1916

Bill Hamilton attends Waihi School, then Christ's College in Christchurch


Ashwick Station is subdivided and sold off. 820 acres were retained around the original homestead.


Cyril Blackeney, who had been managing Ashwick Station, was killed in action in August. Bill left his schooling at Christ's College tomanage Ashwick.


Bill Hamilton buys Irishman Creek Station in Central Otago for 16,000 pounds.


Bill and his parents travel to England. Here he buys an Isle of Man Sunbeam motorcar, and meets Peggy Wills, who he marries in October 1923. They return together to New Zealand.


Builds his first workshop at Irishman Creek, and buys his first lathe.


Bill enters the Sunbeam at the New Zealand Motor Cup races in Auckland. Wins this 50-mile race at an average speed of 81.5 mph. Also claimed the Australasian Speed record as the first time that 100 mph was officially attained in Australasia. Over the next several years Bill competed in many more races and again broke the Australasian speed record, with 109.09 mph for the flying mile in 1928.


Builds a generating plant complete with dam to provide electricity to the Irishman Creekhomestead and workshop. However, this was damaged by severe frosts the following winter, so Bill begins constructing a larger dam using a new earth-scooping machine he had designed and built.

1928 - 1935

During the Depression Bill takes on contracting work to help pay off his debts. Through this work he designs a number of machines, including a shingle loader, a water sprinkler, a hay lift, an air compressor and an air conditioning plant.


Bill Hamilton enters a Bentley in three races at the Brooklands Easter Meeting in England, and creates a stir by winning them all.

1939 - 1943

Irishman Creek workshop expanded to produce munitions for the War effort while continuing to manufacture some earthmoving equipment.


Designs and builds a loader-dozer, hydraulic pumps and an excavator.


Opens an engineering business in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Helped design and build the first rope ski tow in New Zealand.


Bill rekindles his idea of a boat to navigate the shallow rivers near Irishman Creek Station. Initial designs use an air screw and retractable marine propeller, but these prove unsuccessful.


Constructs his first jet using a centrifugal pump driven by a bevel gear. This he fits to a 3.5 metre plywood boat powered by a Ford 10 engine.
Bill hires engineer George Davison to work with him to produce a more efficient jet unit design. With this added expertise Bill's team makes rapid advances in waterjet propulsion systems.


Bill and Peggy travel to the US, there to make the first upstream passage of a 160km stretch of the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon.


Bill suffers a broken arm while jetboating in New Zealand and is unable to make a return trip to the Colorado River for a 740km expedition down and up. Bill's son Jon is the only driver in the team able to tame the Colorado's worst rapid, Vulcan Rapid (also known as Lava Falls), and leads the group to the first ever up run of the river.


William Hamilton is named on the Queen's Honours list with an Order of the British Empire (OBE). Its citation read: "For very valuable service in the field of engineering and especially in the design and construction of the jet-propelled motorboat."


Bill retires from the company.


William Hamilton is knighted for his "valuable services to manufacturing".


On March 30, 1978, Sir Charles William Fielden (Bill) Hamilton dies at the age of 78.


Sir William Hamilton is inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.


Sir William Hamilton is inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.