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Avondale Historical Journal No. 51

Avondale Historical Journal No. 51

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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 Dec 21, 2009
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01/11/2013

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The AvondaleHistorical Journal
 
January - February 2010
Volume 9 Issue 51
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical  Society Incorporated 
 
From a letter to Auckland City Council, by DonCurrey. Published with permission.
 
My father Arthur Currey purchased this prop-erty in 1919 when he returned from WW1, anddeveloped the area into the largest glasshousetomato growing property in the Southern Hemi-sphere during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. On theaccompanying photo which was taken in 1950you can see the 2- 1/2 acres of glasshouses andsurrounding land of 6 acres which was sold tothe Auckland City Council in the 1970s andwas developed by the Council as an 'old agepensioner village'. That has subsequently beenremoved and now has Housing NZ single unitrental buildings on it. The Currey family home is still in use and is the one surrounded by palm trees on the left.
 
My father emigrated to NZ as a young 23 year old man and arrived in Wellington in 1908. He was a trained horticulturistas was indeed his father in the UK. In 1911 he enlisted with the National Military Reserve and became a bombardier. Atthe outbreak of the first world war he enlisted at Wellington – # 2/494 -and left NZ for Egypt with the NZEF, and contin-ued on to fight at Gallipoli, particularly at the Battle of Lone Pine. After the ending of this misadventure he then fought inEurope particularly at the Battle of Messines Ridge, Somme, and
Passchendaele
finally being wounded one month beforethe ceasefire in early October 1918. He was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in 1917. He returned to NZ in 1919and after recovery from his injuries he purchased # 53 New Windsor Rd, and proceeded to develop it as described above.He lived on the property all his adult life until he died in 1981 at the age of 96.
 
The military, after the first world war became his 'hobby', and he was on the national military reserve until 1944 when heretired as a Major in the army. During WW2 he trained young men in trench mortars and machine guns at Motuihe, andWhangaparaoa peninsula for many weekends over a 5 year period. During the 1920,and 30's he was commander of theCollege Rifles and was commanding officer of D Company. From 1939-44 he Commanded the 4
th
Field Artillery based inAuckland. During the depression of the 1930s he was a large employer of local people who were unable to get a job else-where.
 
He was a strong advocate of both local and national grower or-ganisations, serving for many years finally being awarded LifeMembership of NZ Vegetable and Produce Growers Assoc, aswell as the Auckland division of the NZVPG Ass. He was a Di-rector of Turners and Growers for over 25 years and was veryinvolved in the development of the market buildings in that timeframe.
 
I believe that some recognition needs to be made of a strong local
Next meeting of theAvondale-Waterview Historical Society:Saturday, 6 February 2010, 2.30 pmLion’s Hall,corner Blockhouse Bay Road and GreatNorth Road
 
Arthur AthelstanCurreyof New Windsor
 
 Page 2
Volume 9 Issue 51
The Avondale Historical Journal 
identity who was a major force within his chosen profes-sion, who led the industry for over 50 years with innova-tive ideas that are still used today. He was very much apioneer both in his industry, as well as the local district,ably assisted by Gwen Currey his wife who was born inNew Windsor Rd
 
Another 'old family' who lived further up New WindsorRd the Dickey family have had recognition by both astreet name and the Dickey Reserve named after them onland that they formerly owned.
 
I would really appreciate it if Council could allow my sug-gestion to go forward and that a name change be imple-mented on property formerly owned by the Currey family,so that there is recognition for our family name to honourall that my Father strove for in the past.
Editor’s notes:
The reserve is part of what was once a larger site whichstretched between New Windsor and Tiverton Road, be-longing to American-born Robert David James and hiswife Sophia from 1881. The
 NZ Herald 
in 1882 publisheda detailed description of Captain James’ property:
 
“Adjoining Mr. Matthews’ section is the homestead and nursery grounds, near some 20 acres in extent, of Captain James
 ,
 formerly of Mount Albert. No better illustration of what industry, practical skill, and capital can accomplishcan be found in the district than at this gentleman’s nurs-ery. He came to the place, a wilderness of fern, over a year ago. Commenced planting last August several thou-sand trees – peaches, apples, lemons, quinces, &c. Twoacres are laid out as a peach orchard, and another largebreadth planted out in strawberries. One of his specialtiesis lemons, the Lisbon variety principally, and we have not seen any trees so thriving as these for a long time. Of grapes, he is cultivating all the early and late varieties,and has a number of vines of the black Hamburg variety. He has erected three greenhouses, each 50X24, teen feet stud, with span roof, and 14 feet rafters. Another specialtyis the gooseberry, and he has set out 800 plants, as well as prepared a bed of several hundred apple trees, all budded and grafted. … Everything is turned to advantage by Cap-tain James. The boundary fence is lined with passion fruit,the prospective produce of which has already been se-cured by a speculator. Inside the fence, some 10 feet or so, flax plants are being set out to provide materials for put-ting up fruit and for binding operations, instead of twine. Adjoining the residence is a commodious stable, with ve-hicles for transporting to and fro everything required, sothat from first to last everything is done within the re-sources of the establishment. We left the place with awholesome respect for the energy and pluck of the manwho, past the meridian of life, had, for the fifth time in abusy life, hewn out a fresh home for himself from the wil-derness.”
 
The James family was therefore Avondale’s earliestknown orchardists, particularly on such a large scale, andalso the earliest known users of a glasshouse system of viticulture in the district. He had also used glasshouses togrow grapes at his previous orchard and garden, in MtAlbert.
 
In May 1898, fruitgrower Frederick Bluck purchased theNew Windsor property for £1200 from Sophia, now awidow. Bluck subdivided the property in 1911.Frederick Bluck (d. 1941) arrived with his family in Auck-land in 1866. Along with his brothers, he enrolled as avolunteer militiaman in Drury, serving in the Pukekoheand Tuakau Rifle Volunteers. Later he encouraged recruit-ment in the Waitara district. Bluck took up a teaching po-sition at West Tamaki, and served as secretary of theRoads Board there. After leaving Cleveden, he moved tothe Thames goldfields, then to Waitara where he becamestationmaster for the opening of the New Plymouth line,and later operated a general store. In 1898, he traveledback to the north, settling in Avondale, where he was tobecome secretary to the Avondale Road Board and later aland agent in partnership with his son Frederick. Together,they arranged for the construction of the Bluck Buildingon upper Rosebank Road. He left Avondale to retire in1926.
 
Before 1911, Bluck sold a 5 acre portion of James’ origi-nal 20 acres including the reserve site to a Mr Oldham.Eventually, from c.1919, this became the property of Ar-thur Athelstan Currey (1885-1981).
 
Currey grew tomatoes and other crops. Between 1927 and1949, he added sev-eral single and doubleglasshouses as heextended his land-holdings, many quitemassive (valued at£1500), and remainedas owner of the siteuntil 1975, when itwas transferred toAuckland City Coun-cil.
 Arthur Currey’soriginal land hold-ings, Oldham’s old glasshouses and Currey’s additions, from DP 19654,1926 (LINZ records)
 
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 9 Issue 51
 Page 3
Ken Button lived at 18 Henry Street, Avondale wherehis father Arthur was a popular local postman andtomato grower. Ken, Connie, and Marjorie werefoundation scholars of the Avondale Baptist SundaySchool which had opened in May 1926. Connie was afoundation teacher and the late Iris Fearon rememberedher with affection, and how she received a penny from“Miss Button” for being a good girl. A scroll with thenames of all the foundation pupils and staff hung on thewall for many years but has now gone.
 
Ken was born on 22
nd
August 1918 at Auckland. Hewent to Avondale primary school and later attendedSeddon Memorial Technical College, Wellesley Street,now a part of AUT. He was a sports loving boy andplayed rugby for Suburbs. Following his schooling hebecame an electrical worker with the firm of Turnbulland Jones who were prominent contractors at the time.He was proud of his little Austin seven car which costhim the princely sum of twenty pounds.
 
In February 1938 he joined the “Royal Naval VolunteerReserve [New Zealand Division] Official NumberA1778 and in December that year qualified as OrdinarySignalman [visual, referred to as a ‘bunting tosser” dueto the fact they used semaphore flags].
 
With the outbreak of hostilities against Germany, Ken,along with all
 Ngapona
Reservists, was mobilised andprior to going overseas he served at the shore bases atPhilomel and the examination battery at Narrow Neck.
 
On the 2
nd
May 1940 in pouring rain, he sailed fromWellington along with the RNVR detachment on theTroopship
 Aquitania.
They formed part of the convoyof the second Echelon, which included the first of the28 Maori Battalion men to serve overseas.
 
For the next twelve months he served as a signalman onVictory shore station and was then drafted to Chathamprior to joining one hundred and fifty other New Zea-landers aboard the “Orion” class cruiser HMS
 Neptune
The New Zealanders were ecstatic at joining Neptuneas she was destined to join the New Zealand station, buton 31
st
May 1941 she sailed from the Clyde, not boundfor New Zealand but for the Mediterranean whereAllied forces were being pummelled by the Germansby land, sea, and air.
 
British Naval forces had catastrophic losses in theMediterranean, the battleship
 Barham
being torpedoedand blowing up with no survivors. The remaining bat-tleships were disabled at Alexandria by Italian frog-men.
 
Now it was
 Neptune’s
turn. On 19
th
December 1941 at0106 hours while searching for an Italian convoy off the coast of Tripoli,
 Neptune
and the accompanyingdestroyer force blundered into an Italian minefield.
 Neptune
was badly damaged on the bow but two furthermines destroyed her stern. The Cruiser
 Aurora
and thedestroyers
Penelope
and
Kandahar 
were also hit bymines,
Kandahar 
being so badly damaged she had tobe scuttled. A fourth explosion ripped open the side of 
 Neptune
and she lay on her side and sank at 0400hours. Those who survived the sinking quicklysuccumbed to the heavy sea that was running and theintense cold. At sunrise on Christmas Eve 1941 ABJohn Walton was picked out of the sea by an Italiandestroyer, the only survivor from
 Neptune
. One hun-dred and fifty New Zealand sailors had gone down withtheir ship, Ken Button amongst them.
 
Avondale Boy in World War Two Tragedy
by Tony Goodwin
Photo: the cake shop on upper Rosebank Road built by the Collins family. One of those in the doorway is DollWebb neé Collins. Courtesy Cazna Lowen, Doll’s niece.
 
News came over the past two months of the deaths of twoof our Society’s members. Winifred Jessie “Doll” Webbdied 1 December 2009 in Auckland. Doll Webb, from theCollins family who owned a large chunk of upper Rosebank Road including the sites of the Post Office and ASB Bank buildings, was a special lady who enthusiastically supportedthe Society from afar. I’ll miss her bright and breezy voiceon the ‘phone.
 
Dorothy Chadwick Bagnall died on 4th September at RossHome, Dunedin. She was our southern-most member, and atalented family historian, among many other skills.Our sincere condolences to families and friends of bothDoll and Dorothy.

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