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Annie Jane Grantham (“Gran”)

1922-1946 / NZBTI Housekeeper, Matron (Hopetoun Street, Queen Street)

One of the unheralded people in this College’s history is a woman from Yorkshire, Miss Annie Grantham, simply known as “Gran”. While other staff and lecturers headed home at the end of the day, Gran lived at her place of work – Matron for a quarter of a century to hundreds of NZ Bible Training Institute students. She was there at the very beginning of the Institute’s opening in a house in Hopetoun Street, Ponsonby, in 1922; first as housekeeper and then as Matron (1924-1946). [1] When the newly built Queen Street campus opened in 1927, “Gran” oversaw the settling in.

She was in charge of the domestic affairs of the Institute, economising, guiding, and managing the household staff, and students. She had an uncanny ability to turn up whenever some practical joke was being hatched! Outwardly austere, but inwardly warm and sympathetic, she was often on her knees in prayer for those in her charge and wrote to many after they graduated. Each year she held a party for the children of staff, with “Gran’s parties” being remembered fondly decades later by those who attended.

By 1941, Miss Grantham’s health was beginning to fail and the Board minutes record that a bathroom was installed in the staff corridor exclusively for her use.[2] When she finally came to retire on 31 December 1946, the Board Directors made provision for her remaining years in a resthome in Remuera – where Mrs Joseph Kemp also resided. After sustaining a broken leg in 1959, Miss Grantham was admitted to a private nursing home. She passed away on 16 May 1960, aged 83 [3].

In The Reaper (July 1960) it was noted that her funeral was conducted by NZBTI Secretary-Treasurer, Les Rushbrook, at Miss Grantham’s home church, the Baptist Tabernacle on 18 May. The Institute’s Dean, Henry Yolland, paid tribute to her memory, likening her to Dorcas, full of good works and kindly deeds. He noted that in her heyday she was “a fount of information concerning the wives and husbands, and numbers and names of children, of her large BTI family. She worked for her students, prayed for them, wrote to them as she was able and shared with them in their lives and experiences.” [4]

By the time of Miss Grantham’s death in 1960, Miss Jean Jaggers had been serving as Matron at the NZBTI for 10 years and fulfilled that role for a total of 22 years. These are but two examples of faithful, servant-hearted people whose ‘behind-the-scenes’ roles have served the College across 100 years.

[1] The first Matron of NZBTI was Mrs Alex Mill. She was an experienced social and religious worker, helping her husband, the YMCA Secretary in the Featherston Military Camp. Mrs Mill and her husband lived in a single room in the Hopetoun Street campus (1922-1923).

[2] Board Minutes, 9 October 1941. Another Board minute on 2 June 1960 records the Board’s agreement to the family’s request that the undertaker be requested to dispose of Miss Grantham’s ashes on the Lincoln Road property of the Institute. However, there is no record of this occurring, and Waikumete Cemetery records show Miss A. J. Grantham’s ashes buried at that cemetery.

[3] in the article, “The Late Annie Grantham”, The Reaper Vol 39/5 (1 July 1960), 189, it is noted that Miss Grantham fell and broke her other leg. She died a few days after returning to the nursing home from Middlemore Hospital.

[4] ibid, 189-190

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Another important Foundation stone in Laidlaw Colleges amazing history.

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