Clay Blocks Provide Equivalent of Eight AndA Half Million Bricks To Fill In Albert Park Air Raid Tunnels
Back in the days of the Japanese invasion scare not a fewAucklanders derived considerable comfort from theknowledge that should bombs start falling there wereshelters below Albert Park where one could "sit it out."As it happened, the shelters were never used and, in fact,did not progress to the stage where seating was installed. Now, somewhere below the Auckland University Col-lege, workmen are placing in position the filling whichwill block up this reminder of stern days in the city's his-tory.The decision to fill in the tunnels at an approximate costof £54,000 was not free of the elements of controversy. Some citizens, recalling thatthe main tunnel was driven on the route of the proposed traffic outlet from the city,wanted to know why the outlet couldn't bedeveloped with the tunnel as the basis. Oth-ers wanted to know why an underground parking station couldn’t be constructed.Officially the explanation is that the expen-diture necessary for alternative schemes isout of the question at the present time. Ontop of the fact that the tunnels were con-structed as air raid shelters—there is notroom for two lines of cars in the main tunnel —maintenance costs began to rise, an un-foreseen factor in the form of fungi enteringthe picture. Dry rot occurred in the timber used for the supports and what appeared to be solid wood proved hollow when proddedwith a boot.Even after the tunnels have been filled in,however, it will not be impossible for themto be adapted at a later date for some such purpose as has been suggested. The fillingmethod used makes it
easy for the materi-als to be removed to any desired extent.As the first project of its kind in the Do-minion, the work of filling-in the tunnelssome problems for the contractors — Messrs McKenzie and Hughes, the CrumBrick and Tile Company, and F Her-ring and Son. Not only had a method to befound which would ensure the maximumcompression of filling but also it was nec-essary— once the use of clay blocks had been decided upon—to obtain an area of suitable clay.An 18-acre area bordering Oakley Creek, PointChevalier, was eventually located, the removal of sixfeet of soil over the whole area being estimated toyield 35,000 yards of good clay. The resultant level-ling will make available a very desirable subdivision property—from 50 to 60 sections. An interesting pointis that the proposed northern outlet will pass throughthe area and on across the mudflats.
Next step was the erection of the block-making ma-chinery on the site. By the adaptation of out-of-date or used machinery, plant capable of producing up to 200yards of blocks a day—or 50,000 blocks —was set up onthe lower level of the area. Housed in a shed, the plantrequires the attention of only five men, and those men,
Plan of the Albert Park tunnel shelters. Z Map 6508, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library