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Avondale Historical Journal No. 27

Avondale Historical Journal No. 27

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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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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Lisa Truttman on Jun 25, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The story of the railway through Avondale began with a series of plans alternatelymade, scrapped, then redesigned over the course of nearly 20 years. The Stafford-Gillies ministry of central government in the late 1860s initially struck out a Kai-para railway extension from the public works list. Hopes for the construction of arailway line through Avondale towards the Kaipara were raised again in 1871 withthe survey of the proposed line after the plans were revived for consideration. How-
The AvondaleHistorical Journal
January—February 2006 Volume
Avondale’sRailway Station1—4Inside this issue:
The Society and AHJeditorial staff thank 
AvondaleBusiness Association
for their continued supportand sponsorship of 
Next meeting of theAvondale-WaterviewHistorical Society:
Saturday,4 February 2006,2.30 pm
Lion’s Hall, cornerBlockhouse BayRoad and GreatNorth Road
Please contact theSociety for details.
continued on page 2
Once a Railway Station 
 Lisa J Truttman
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical  Society Incorporated 
 A very different Avondale Railway station, c.1890s. Double track, with a third passingthrough the freight loading shed. The station building itself seems to be a cross between aclass 4 and class 5 Vogel-era station, probably just having an office (note the telegraphwires), lobby, and ladies waiting room. Photo reference 7-A10056, reproduced by kind courtesy of Special Collections, Auckland City Libraries (NZ).
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 5 Issue 27
 Page 2
ever, by May 1874, the Provincial Council Superintendentadvised the Mt Albert and Whau Boards that the govern-ment had decided not to go ahead with the plan.
In his April 18 1874 report on the proposal to the Ministerfor Public Works, the Engineer-in-chief John Carrutherswrote that his opinion there were sufficient factors, includ-ing the gradient of the land through which the line wouldpass (including the later famous 'Scroggy Hill' in NewLynn), and that the area leading to the Kaipara Harbour was"...for the most part not suitable for agriculture, as it con-sisted of a barren white clay ...the line will therefore have todepend almost entirely upon through traffic from the westcoast, which must be small until the country becomes morethickly settled than it is at present."At the time, it was the responsibility of the Provincial gov-ernments to fund the cost of railways through their areas, asper various Railway Acts in that period. The Colonial Sec-retary informed the Superintendent, J. Williamson, of this ,and in in turn wrote in a May 22 letter to the Whau DistrictBoard chairman John Bollard: "I have reason to believe thatthe data upon which Mr. Carruthers' report is based are un-reliable, and I am therefore taking steps to ascertain ... amore accurate estimate of the traffic and commerce of theKaipara district, and also between Riverhead and Auck-land."About 50 people attended a public meeting on this issue atthe Whau Hall on Saturday 23 May 1874. Allen Kerr Tay-lor (Mt Albert), then a member of the Provincial Councilattended and chaired the meeting, while others there in-cluded John Bollard and John Buchanan (Whau District),John Lamb (Riverhead), John McLeod (Henderson's Mill),Phillip McLeod (Helensville) and Joseph McMullen Darga-ville (another Provincial Council member, and after whomthe Dargaville township was named). Joseph Dargaville hadstarted laying out his private town in 1872, and so was ex-tremely interested in seeing the proposed railway come topass. Dargaville, a timber merchant with connections inAuckland, was scathing of the Carruthers report and its au-thor, stating that he believed Carruthers had merely listenedto biased third-hand information provided by political inter-ests in Auckland keen to see the proposal not go ahead.The meeting resolved that it was imperative for the proposalto proceed, and that a petition from the residents of thevarious dis-tricts besigned andforwarded tothe House of Assembly,"praying forthe carryingout of thisimportantwork." Acommittee was formed, comprised of Kerr Taylor, Dar-gaville, Bollard, Buchanan, Lamb and others to carryout the resolutions.
By 1876, central government had apparently reversedthe 1874 decision not to proceed with the Kaipara Rail-way line. Jack Diamond, in
Once the Wilderness
, de-scribes a survey done on the line through Henderson,Swanson and Waitakere to Kumeu that year, and thegovernment started negotiations with the affected land-owners along the route from Newmarket regarding com-pensation. For a while, it seemed that the level of com-pensation asked for by the settlers, for either loss of land, frontage, or saleability, would be used as an ex-cuse by the government not to proceed. A meeting washeld in Morningside on August 10 1876, attended byJohn Bollard and John Buchanan from the Whau Dis-trict (both offering up land to the railway).
Further controversy dogged the proposed Kaipara Rail-way when it was suggested that the line from Newmar-ket follow a route via Ponsonby and Richmond, throughto the Whau, rather than via Mt Albert. Yet another con-tentious meeting was held at the Whau Public Hall on 4January, 1874, where it was resolved that the line via MtAlbert was supported and "the best one to adopt".
John Buchanan of the Whau had offered the suggestionof following the Ponsonby line to the meeting, as he feltthat would have meant the railway station would bemore conveniently situated for the Whau district settlers(I'm unsure exactly which location Buchanan had inmind for the station. He may have meant for the line tocut along the western coast of the Rosebank Peninsula,thereby instantly increasing the value of the 'Rosebank Estate' at that time being drawn up by the landownerthere, Robert Chisholm. There was a comment from thefloor during the meeting, in response to the question putto Buchanan as to where he wanted the station put up,"On his own property, of course!")Work was well underway in November 1878 on the linefrom Newmarket to the Whau, with construction reach-
Steam train photos courtesy G. Beesley.
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 5 Issue 27
 Page 3
ing Mt Albert, and a bridge built over the OakleyCreek at the Gittos tannery. There were some ques-tions raised as to the suitability of the proposed site forthe Whau railway station, however.
"Another deputa-tion will wait onthe Minister of Public Works onthe subject of theproposed railwaystation at theWhau. It is af-firmed that the siteof the proposedstation is incon-veniently situatedfor goods and pas-senger traffic, be-cause it is distantfrom the centre of population, that noproper road hasyet been made tothe place [note:Browne St, or EastRosebank Road,only came into existence as more than a track up thehill in 1880, in time for the railway station], and that inother respects it is inconvenient of access."The settlers urge that the site of the proposed stationshould be two or three hundred yards further on theline, where it would front the New North Road, wouldbe more accessible for the bulk of the people, andwould be contiguous to a well-metalled road. The pro-prietor of the land at the spot indicated has, we under-stand, expressed his willingness to give sufficient landfor a Railway Station free of charge."Needless to say, the siting of the station proceeded asoriginally planned.The Auckland-Helensville railway came through to theWhau on March 29, 1880. In its first year of businessthe new Whau station issued 1485 passenger tickets,handled 5190 tons of goods and earned a revenue of £355.Within eighteen months of the station’s opening theprice of land rose considerably and a piece of twelveacres bought for £350 a few years before was sold for£1,200. This was partly because the railway line toHelensville had ended at Riverhead from where pas-sengers were taken to Auckland by boat. After severalyears it was decided to build a line to Kaipara, throughAvondale; and there was great rejoicing when the firsttrain passed through.In 1880, following the completion of the railway toAvondale, the post office was combined with the railwaystation, and the dual duties were undertaken by Mr.Leach. From that date onwards the mails were transportedby rail.By 1882, threemixed trains(passengers &goods) ran each waydaily between Auck-land and Kumeu,leaving the city at7.15am, 11 and 4.30pm.To aid the comfort of passengers and othermembers of the pub-lic, Mr B. Gittos (of Gittos tannery famealready in trouble forpollution then) of-fered to place seatsat the top of the hillopposite the railwaystation .
It was pro-posed by Mr Garrett,seconded by Mr F.Gittos that the Chairman of the Road Board communicatewith the Government on behalf of the Inhabitants of theDistrict to have a wicket gate and path made from Crac-roft St to Avondale Railway Station.
A special racecourse platform had been installed by theRailways on their land between Cracroft Street and BlakeStreet [this by the way is the first record found of the re-version of name back to Blake Street]. The Road Boardcomplained as they wanted to open up Layard Street.Trains in 1905 would stop across the Blake Street railwaycrossing, blocking traffic while waiting for the signal toproceed further down the track. The Road Board com-plained to the Railways Department about this, and thesignals were moved.By 1908, the service was proving popular. According tothe Herald: “The motor train now running between Auck-land and Henderson has proved so great a success that asecond large carriage has had to be added in order to copewith the traffic. Credit is due to Mr John Bollard, MP, forhis action in introducing the railway authorities to run amotor train on this suburban line.”The Railway Statement of 1910 showed that the numberof tickets issued from the Avondale Station exceeded thatof any station in the Dominion, outside the largest towns.This did not include the race traffic. Nearly all were sec-ond-class tickets, showing that the district was essentiallya residential quarter for working men.From 1912 to 1915, shops were built opposite the station
 Avondale Railway Station in the 1960s, as seen from the west. Photo courtesy IanCrum.

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