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Avondale Historical Journal 71

Avondale Historical Journal 71

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Published by Lisa Truttman
Journal of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, Auckland, New Zealand
Journal of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, Auckland, New Zealand

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Published by: Lisa Truttman on May 09, 2013
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The AvondaleHistorical Journal
May—June 2013
Volume 12 Issue 71
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical  Society Incorporated 
Next meeting of theAvondale-Waterview Historical Society:At St Ninians, St Georges Road (opp. HollywoodCinema)SATURDAY , 1 June 2013, 2.00 pm
Night of theExploding Tote
Avondale residents and those in surroundingdistricts for several miles around were enjoy-ing a peaceful evening on September 221924, when at around 8.45 pm a thunderousroaring boom filled the air, coming from theAvondale Jockey Club. It was immediatelyfeared that the grandstand was on fire.Houses shook, neighbours and volunteer firebrigade members came running, as sheets of flame tore through the centre of the roof of the totalisator building on the course. Piecesof galvanised roofing iron were parted fromtheir fittings, strewn about the paddocksaround, one was even found a hundred me-tres away on the racetrack itself. An oldroller-type of totalisator machine owned bya Mr S Yates and used by the Jockey Clubwas completely wrecked. All but one of thewindows were blown out, purlins measuring3 x 2 lifted from the cross beams throughoutthe structure, inside toilets wrecked with“lumps of porcelain … scattered about theroom”. Part of the front wall of the buildingwas “shattered to fragments, leaving anaperture several square yards in extent,”according to an
 Auckland Star 
reporter.Almost immediately, rumours that the ex-plosion was deliberate, rather than anaccident, began to circulate around thevillage.
“There is not the slightest evidencewhich would suggest that the explosion wasan accidental occurrence,“
 Images from Auckland Weekly News, 2 October 1924, AWNS-19241002-44-1, by kind permis-sion of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 12 Issue 71
 Page 2
declared, giving as a reason for this deduction thatonly the gas and water mains could have caused an ex-plosion, and both were found intact (part of the gasmain, however, was badly twisted on the edges of thedamaged area.) The reporter pointed to the fact that thedoor to the commission room was found open, sayingthat it suggested that a forced entry had been made asthe door opened inwards.
“The bracket of the lock was forced away and the tongue was still as it had beenturned in locking.”
However, the
did add that theexplosion could have accounted for the door beingopen.Reports were made of “adverse comments” having beenmade of the totalisator system at Avondale up to thenight of the explosion. Unlike the automatic systems tobe found at the time at Ellerslie, Avondale still used oldhand-controlled roller types, such as had been intro-duced by the first secretary of the club, Harry Hayr,back in the early days of the racecourse.According to Graham Reddaway, a former president of the club, Avondale had been at the forefront of totalisa-tor technology in the early years, thanks to Hayr and hiscompany (continued on by Yates). Up until 1903, therewere only bookmakers on the course, but these werereplaced by the totalisator. There were advances in thetotalisators from Hayr’s time until 1924, but it still took up to seven minutes after the tote had closed to adjustand ring up the bets for each horse, in order to deter-mine each bet’s share of the total pool.
The Star 
notedthat the delay was found “tedious” by the betting publicattending the meetings at Avondale.
The Star 
also reported an opinion about the town thatthere was a “difference of opinion” over the verdict on“two very close and exciting finishes” on the day of theexplosion.Six of the eight tote machines in the building wereseverely damaged, and belonged to Yates, while twoothers belonging to the club remained undamaged.Despite all the rumours and speculation rife inAvondale, the official insurance investigation foundthat the cause was due to the escape of “coal gas”.Mr. Reddaway, who had done some study into theincident, said that the building was lit by gaslight, and itwas highly likely that someone had forgotten to turn thegas supply off to at least one of the lights before closingthe building at the end of the day’s racing, and a spark ignited the gas.
 Lisa J Truttman
 by Ray Hollier, Matamata
Remember when you could buy your bread and milk atthe front gate? Yes, Buchanan’s Bakery would comearound with their horse and cart loaded with freshbread. Then the milkman with his wagon load of milk-cans would do his rounds. You took your billy to thegate and he ladled out the pint or two you wanted.
Of course if the horse left its droppings on the roadthere was always someone that would rush out withbucket and shovel to collect it for free manure for thegarden. Then there was the rag and bone man and hiswagon who bought up bottles, rags and junk.Time to start school. This means for us children wholived in Beatrix Street and Plane Street a walk alongGreat North Road past Hoyes’ coal and firewood yardand the opposite side of the road the joinery furnituremanufactory shop. No mother taking us to school bycar in those days …
Once at school besides classes there was always the funof cricket and football down on the playing field orclimbing the trees on the front boundary. No OSH tosay it was dangerous and to keep off. Then there wasthe woodwork and cooking classes for the older chil-dren.
Not to forget the Dr Barnadoes’ group supporting thatwork. Also the bottle of milk warmed by the sun. If itwas banking day at school we would have our bank books and 3d or 6d to bank. If we were lucky motherwould give us 6d to go over the road from the school toget fish and chips for lunch.
If we went shopping with mother there was a stop at thePost Office to mail letters or collect the child allowancethen cross Rosebank Road to Self Help for groceries.Maybe go up Rosebank Road to Leary’s bookshop forschool supplies or Alf Kirby’s for a haircut, maybeTomlinson’s for haberdashery needs A little furtheralong Great North Road was the bootmaker who re-soled your shoes.
Sometimes we would go to the next block of shops pastthe school to Mr Amos’ store. A real old country store.Was like a huge barn with high polished wooden count-ers from so much use. Sacks of flour, sugar, grain, pota-toes from which Mr Amos scooped out what youwanted. Large hams and sides of bacon from which hesliced off your order. Then the large cheeses and thewire cutter he used to slice off the size you wanted. Thebest part of going to this store was that Mr Amos gaveus children lollies.
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 12 Issue 71
 Page 3
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.

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