The oddities and eccentricities of a bygone era kept a gathering of guests and residents entertained at Jane Winstone retirement village on Monday evening.

The occasion was the launch of Whanganui author and history buff Murray Crawford's new book, Whimsical Tales of Old Wanganui.

Crawford's latest book is a collection of newspaper reports ranging from the late 19th century and covering the trials and tribulations of early Whanganui-ites, often put into modern context by the tongue-in-cheek author.

How William Shakespeare may have discovered Whanganui; the night two gentlemen fell down the Harrison Street drain; the man who advertised for a wife but insisted "thick legs and large feet" were "a decided objection"; accusations of drunkenness among borough councillors; "a notorious woman of ill-fame" and a "well-known horsey character" charged with abusive language or "dropping the flowers of speech".


The book is full of such strange-but-true nuggets, and Crawford is donating the proceeds of sales to Alzheimers Whanganui who were also represented at Monday's launch party.