Odds & Ends – The Truth in a Name

Some further research on WTMC’s name

I read Ian Harrison’s interesting article in the 2014 WTMC Journal, “What’s in a Name?”  Good work Ian!

I was aware that there were two stories as to the origin of the name “Tongue & Meats”, but like everyone else, wasn’t sure which one was true.

So I did some research.  I went to the Wellington Central Library and began to search for “The Wellington Tongue and Meat Company”, in order to rule it out or in as a possibility.  This is in reference to the story that out club’s acronym “WTMC” is the same as that of the supposed meat company.

I eventually attracted the help of two senior librarians who helped me search or searched for me.  Firstly we looked for The New Zealand Business Who’s Who for 1947 (the year our tramping club was founded).  It turned out that the central library didn’t hold it though it was available at the National Library.

So instead, we looked at the Stones Wellington Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki Directory 1945 but found no mention of “Wellington Tongue and Meat…” or “Tongue and Meat…”.  We next looked at The New Zealand Post Office Directory 1947, which supersedes Wises Wellington Directory, with same results.

The senior librarian who was helping me at that point looked up a database called “Wellington City Archives”.  Apparently any and all companies that ever existed in Wellington will have entries in this database because WCC would have had correspondence with all companies at some stage of their lives, especially a meat products company.  Not a single entry was found in this database for “The Wellington Tongue and Meat Company’ and similar names.  So this alone rules out the possibility of such a company.

We took the existence of The Wellington Meat Export Company for granted as its name popped up while were searching.

The librarian also looked up the Papers Past database. The database had a mention of The New Zealand Meat Preserving Company in Invercargill.  When searching on the phrase “tongue and meats”, it became evident that in the early 1900s the phrase was in use when referring to meat products. 1914 advertisements had the mention of “Ham and tongue” and “Tongue and turkey” and “Chicken and tongue” as potted meat products.  Papers Past also had a 1911 advertisement for “New Patent Crown Tongue and Meat Presses”.  It seems that sometimes tongue was pressed together with other meats.

A friend of mine suggested “tongue and meat” could be Cockney Rhyming Slang, but I looked this up and found it not to be so.

So Ian Harrison’s other account seems the one that’s on the money, given that by 1948, the phrase “tongue & meat” would have still been in the vocabulary of the older trampers of the time, and thus some of them came up with a pithy phrase “tongue & meat” as a lampooning of our name “WTMC”.

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