By JANINE BAALBERGEN
The 5.8 earthquake that shook Foxton on Monday, May 25 left a seismic record in the same way as did the June 26, 1881 earthquake which severely rattled the town, said Jim Harper.
"The 1881 earthquake moved the solid 'imposing' table steel top in the old Manawatu Herald building. Monday's earthquake did the same thing ... to the same table and in the same building, but this time to a lesser extent," he said.
He said the imposing table is the one where lead type was set up by a letterpress printer. The flat heavy top ensures the type is perfectly level before being locked up ready to print.
The rest of the building appears in good nick.
"Nothing else has moved or fallen and across the road at the Old Court House and MAVTech all is well. I think it is the inertia that caused the table to move."
The Herald's June 28, 1881 issue published a long and detailed story about earthquake damage done in Foxton.
About the table the editor wrote, "As showing the force of the shock, it may be mentioned that a heavy structure used in this office and called the 'imposing table' weighing about a quarter of a ton, was pushed bodily from east to west about 1 and 1/2 inches (35mm) and about 3 inches (70mm) at the north-west end, thus proving that the shock struck it diagonally".
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The imposing table top was shifted from east to west by about 15mm on Monday, said Harper, who owns the former Manawatu Herald building and its contents.
He said the Herald's story about the earthquake and its effect on Foxton in 1881 also had some editorial fun.
"The former Prime Minister and Rangitikei resident – Sir William Fox, – was known to be fiercely opposed all alcohol production and consumption.
"So when detailing the chaos in Foxton's bars resulting from the 1881 earthquake, and all the broken bottles and decanters, this was described as a "state as would have rejoiced the heart of Sir William Fox", Harper said.
Foxton's 1881 earthquake must have been very localised, according to Harper, and a close event since it was hardly noticed 40 kilometres away, but the damage was estimated at up to 1500 pounds (possibly as much as $200,000 in today's money).
"The imposing table top is now back in its original place ready to record the next big one."