Charles Harrington Broad 1872-1959


Charles Harrington Broad, was the third of the ten children of Judge Lowther Broad and Isabella Mary (Bunny).1 He was born on 5 Oct 1872 in Nelson and baptised on 2 Nov 1872 at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Nelson.2   He was educated at Nelson College, becoming a gifted and versatile cricketer and tennis player during his school years, going on to teach at Otago Boy’s High School and then at Nelson College, becoming Headmaster of Nelson College from 1922-1933.

CH Broad Nelsonian Dec 1921

CH Broad Nelsonian Dec 1921

The entry in "Who's Who in New Zealand" (1951)3 provides the following ‘thumbnail’ outline of him:  

"BROAD, Charles Harrington, retired. Born Nelson 1872 s(on) of Judge Broad; married 1905 daughter of WG Murray, Nelson.  Educated Nelson Coll, Auck. Univ Coll, BA. Carisbrook Cricket Club Dunedin Otago XI; Otago Tennis Champ 1901; assistant master Nelson College 1893, Otago BHS (Boys High School) 1897, Nelson College 1902, Principal 1922-33. Trustee Suter Art Gallery. Private address; 31 Richardson St, Nelson."

To put a little more flesh on these bare bones, his time at Nelson College extended for “eight years (1884-1892), and having taken his B.A. degree at the College as an extra-mural student, was appointed Junior master in 1893”.4  He was at one time (1887-1889) a classmate of Ernest Rutherford who later visited the College when C.H. was Headmaster.5 The College magazine “The Nelsonian” which began in 1881, is replete with reports of the sporting achievements of C.H. and his four brothers.  These were to be halcyon years for him, fixing his future with the College.

So, when Mr. H.L. Fowler retired in 1921, after building “enormous respect for scholarship and moral training” which ranked him as one of the great headmasters of Nelson College, the appointment of C.H. as his successor “gave continuity to the work of the College”.6  C.H. was: “the only Old Boy to become Head of his old school, in its first 100 years. Already, as pupil, master and first assistant he had been intimately associated with all the major phases of its activities for twenty-one years. He knew the school, inside and out. Not a little of its emerging pattern he had helped to mould, for Mr. Broad was another of those assistant masters who quietly wielded much influence. In sport his name was a household word. Throughout his career as a master - except for about two years after the fire (1904) – he had lived in the boarding establishment and had held high responsibility there. As a classroom teacher his capacity was well known ….“7 

CH Broad 1922 33

CH Broad, Headmaster of Nelson College 1922-1933

As a fine sportsman, Broad represented both Nelson and Otago at Cricket,between 1888 and 1903, was the Otago provincial tennis champion in 1901 and for several years, the captain of the Nelson College cricket club.8

Palmer comments that after C.H. became head of the College, “its life continued much as before"on the upwards curve:

  • with C.H. continuing as President of the Old Boy’s Association until 1927;
  • C.H. “having much to do with the purchase of the Vanguard Street grounds of five acres for additional playing fields so much required by the expanding roll numbers at the school. Later the ground was well named Broad’s in his memory";
  • the first scriptorium in memory of the 120 old boys who had been killed on war service being opened in 1924 by the then Governor-General Viscount Jellicoe;
  • in 1928 the “house” system was put in place after a visit by Mr. and Mrs. Broad to Britain;
  • C.H. oversaw the recovery from the Murchison Earthquake on 17 June 1929;
  • marked the celebrated the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the College;
  • ushered into the College the widespread changes in post-primary education in New Zealand, merging the Nelson Day Technical School in the College under the dictum “post-primary education for all.”10 

At his retirement at the end of the second school-term in 1933, C.H. had “a longer active association with the College than any other man – just on fifty years – if a break of five years while he was on the staff of the Otago Boys’ High School be excepted”.11  He was, finally, to play a role in the opening of a sports pavilion on the “Broad’s” later in 1952:”12

A sports pavilion was built at a cost of about £5,200 pounds, but not completely finished inside. It was opened on June 20, 1952, by Mr C.H. Broad himself in the presence of the School, Governors and Old Boys.
…. Said Mr Broad. "I would like to thank the Old Boys' Association for suggesting to the Governors that my name be put to the pavilion. Looking back to 1884 there were about 80 boys in the school, 25 of whom were boarders; there were four or five masters. The College was built on a hill which used to slope down to Hampden Street. The terraces were made, still with a good slope, except for a piece in the middle which was levelled for a cricket pitch. That sort of ground led to all sorts of peculiar difficulties in connection with sport. At the annual sports the hundred yards race was run alongside a hedge at the bottom of the field, starting at Ngatiawa Street and ending just short of Waimea Road, with the result that fast boys used to end up in the hedge. The old ground had always been a pleasure to myself and other Old Boys of that time and I hope that these grounds will mean as much to present boys."
Mr Broad then officially opened the pavilion, and the College Band played the National Anthem”. 

He was succeeded as Principal of the College by H.V. Searle.13

 For readers who know the area, a word of explanation of C.H.’s reminiscences above are in order.  The Broad‘s fields are still on the site of their original purchase, bounded by Vanguard, Franklyn and Tipahi Streets. But when he recalls “the hundred yards race was run alongside a hedge at the bottom of the field, starting at Ngatiawa Street and ending just short of Waimea Road, with the result that fast boys used to end up in the hedge” he is referring to the ‘Old ground’ sloping down to Hampden Street, in front of the College, and expressing the wish that he hopes the enjoyment of the ‘Old ground’ by the old boys would be matched by a similarly high level of enjoyment in the New Ground (i.e., the Broad’s field) by the present boys.

Charles Harrington Broad died aged 87 at Ngawhatu Hospital on 7 Sep 1959,14 leaving his widow Annie Maria Broad (nee Murray) whom he had married at Hokitika on 8 May 1905. They had no children.


Sources used in this story

  1. Berry. H.W. (1982) The Broad Outline, Malvern, Victoria:  Australia; pp.36-38
  2. St Mary’s Parish (Catholic) Archives; p.123(10), Charles Harrington Broad
  3. Scholefield, G.H. ed (1951) Who's Who in New Zealand, 5th edn, AH & AW Reed: Wellington
  4. Palmer, L.R. A short history of Nelson College; in The Nelson College Old Boy's Register, 1856-2006,  pp.610—611, Old Boys’ Association Formed
  5. ibid, p.630, Rutherford Visits His Alma Mater;
  6. ibid, pp.626-627, Mr Fowler retires
  7. ibid, pp.626-627
  8. Charles Harrington Broad, Retrieved from Wikipedia May 2022:
  9. Palmer, L.R. A short history of Nelson College; in The Nelson College Old Boy's Register, 1856-2006, pp.626-627
  10. ibid, p.637, Retirement of Mr Broad
  11. ibid, p.637
  12. ibid, pp.549-651, Better Sports Facilities
  13. ibid, p.637
  14. NZ BMD online, historical, deaths; Broad, Charles Harrington, Registration No 1959/36432.  

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