I knew Susan and Jim Wakefield. They were generous benefactors to the city and active in business, accounting, art, and horse activities.
I first met Susan when she led an exercise to have cast in bronze several leaders in this city. These were installed outside the Art Centre. I’m not sure where they are now.
Susan had a PhD in Russian literature. She was a university lecturer for several years. She then studied accounting and left the university to become an accountant in public practice. She became the first woman president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Jim Wakefield was an accountant all his life. He was a partner in an accounting firm in this City.
They had an amazing house at the top of Scarborough Hill. Every part of it was interesting from the front door onwards. Susan had a great eye for detail and that reflected itself in the house. The bit I liked the best was the library. There was a button on a bookshelf in the hall which when pressed moved the shelf sideways and you entered what could be best described as “Aladdin’s cave”. They had an amazing library of books and on the walls hung 3 Goldie paintings. Here’s a picture of the library in the original house:
After the earthquakes the house was severely damaged. One day I received a call from Peter Davey of Ambrose Heal in Edgeware Road saying we should go down to Musgroves as they had some special fittings there which we might like to incorporate into the new house we were building post-earthquake.
When you visit our home parts of the old library are now our library and the doors throughout the house are from the Wakefield’s home. They really are beautiful.
The museum is now open, and it is another testimony to Jim and Susan Wakefield’s generosity of spirit and commitment to this city. I am not sure about the level of charges which the Museum has decided on. I guess the market will decide that.