The Avondale Historical Journal
Volume 12 Issue 71
Avondale’s Maternity Homes
My recent bout of research into this topic was sparkedoff by a conversation with Lorna Gagen, whose parentsPaul and Margaret Richardson once lived at 6 RobertonRoad. Lorna told me that their house had once been thatused by Nurse Manning as a maternity home before theRichardsons bought it, and it was used by Nurse Ed-wards when the Richardsons swapped for Nurse Ed-wards’ place on Great North Road.
The first nurse in the district I’ve found so far was aNurse Mary Gibson, who started c.1885 probably in thePonsonby area. She practised only briefly in Waterviewfrom c.1901-c.1904. Somewhat itinerant, she travelledaround Parnell , Eden Terrace and even New Lynn for atime. She nursed down to the 1920s or so.
The newspapers give a reference a Nurse Chisholm,living somewhere in Avondale in 1907, but there islittle further on her.
At 71 Blockhouse Bay Road, William Salisbury built ahouse between 1904-1908. This villa was sold to theMorey family, who by 1915 rented it to Joseph andJane Newman. From c.1917, this became Avondale’sfirst established maternity home of any duration beyond just months, used by Nurse Newman, then NurseEdwards from the early 1920s (renting from the New-mans who by then owned the house). The villa has nowbeen replaced by flats.
Meanwhile, in 1914 Avondale’s first dentist/chemist,Robert Allely, purchased the property at 6 RobertonRoad. He may well have had the house built there him-self, a villa which still exists. He sold it, around thetime he left Avondale in 1920, to Nurse Mary Manning.Her husband W H Manning was a veteran of the BritishArmy from 1877. Nurse Manning operated “Erinville”,Avondale’s most equipped maternity nursing home,having a total of five bedrooms, nursery, and birthingtheatre, until her death in 1928. She lies buried at theGeorge Maxwell Memorial Cemetery. Mothers camefrom as far away as Kumeu to have their children bornthere, Avondale’s maternity homes being quite close tothe western railway line for ease of transport.
The Richardsons purchased “Erinville”, and lived thereuntil 1940, when Nurse Edwards moved in, and leased“Erinville” for 10 years from the Richardson family,renaming the house “Puriri Home”. Unfortunately,according to Lorna Gagen, Nurse Edwards died beforeher lease was up, c.1946.
Before Nurse Edwards moved to Roberton Road, herbase was at 1798 Great North Road, another housewhich still remains to this day. Alice Edwards wasAvondale’s longest-serving maternity nurse, workingmore than twenty years.
Of course there was the stop at Fearons butcher to pick up the weekend roast.
Must not forget Crawford’s ga-rage where we would stop to pump up our bicycle tires.
When we turned eight years old we could join the Wolf Cubs meeting at the Waterview Methodist Church Hallunder the leadership of Mrs Tatton and Miss Kerr. Thehighlight was the annual weekend camp out at MotuMoana, Green Bay. Then when we were old enough wecould move up into the Scouts. Again the highlight wasto be able to spend every Easter and Labour weekendcamping at the Scouting campsite Motu Moana.
We would fetch our 10x10 tents and settle n for theweekend. Sleeping was on a groundsheet on theground. No inflatable mattresses. Cooking over an openfire which was a challenge in wet weather. Then therewere the bottle drives and paper drives to help raisemoney to purchase tents and equipment. Mums andDads would help as the boys went house to house col-lecting the bottles and newspapers.
During the war years we also spent many hours makingcamouflage nets for the Army. Also scouring the coun-tryside gathering the seeds of the fescue grass to beused for medical work.Then came the day we could no longer use the Water-view Methodist Hall so the Scouts moved to the oldAvondale fire station on Blockhouse Bay Road by therailway line opposite Avondale railway station.I did not get to go to Avondale College as I was alreadyat Seddon Memorial Tech but as I delivered newspa-pers after school I saw the start of its construction as arest over recreation facility for the American forcesfighting in the Pacific. When the market gardeners hadto move off the land they had to leave their crops. Sobefore the bulldozers got started many of theneighbours helped themselves to the vegetables. I canremember going home with the store bag on my bikefull of carrots, parsnips etc.Many a time as I come back from my paper run, and asI passed the American Camp entrance on Victor Streetsome American servicemen would ask if I would go tothe shops in Avondale for some item he wanted. Wasalways rewarded with a generous tip for the effort.Avondale races was a profitable day for us kids aswhen the race meeting finished we would collect up theempty beer and drink bottles as we could sell them for apenny each. Every 24 bottles gave us two shillingswhich was a lot in those days.
Ice blocks were two a penny at Knight’s Dairy at thetop of Victor Street. All hand made on the premises.
Those were the days.