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Avondale Historical Journal No. 55

Avondale Historical Journal No. 55

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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 Aug 11, 2010
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10/25/2012

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The AvondaleHistorical Journal
 
September—October 2010
Volume 10 Issue 55
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical  Society Incorporated 
 
 In the early 1990s, the Avondale History Group formed with the purpose of production of a history of Avondale:
Challenge of theWhau
(1994). In the course of gathering information for the book, anumber of recollections were submitted, parts of which were later included. This memoir, written by Sylvia Thomas during that period,came from the Avondale History Group collection, via Ron Oates,and was donated to the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society in2010. Mrs. Thomas has made some amendments to the original type-script, and gave permission for this to be published.
In 1933 our family bought a grocery business where New WindsorRoad meets Bollard Avenue.
 
If you stood on the front step of the shop, you looked down BollardAvenue, across the houses of Mt Albert to the Waitemata Harbour and the Chelsea Sugar Works. If the weather wasdoubtful, you looked down New Windsor Road to the Waitakere Ranges in the distance and judged whether it wasgoing to rain or not. Looking up the road, you couldn’t see past the bend in the road; the tar seal ended at BatkinRoad and the metal and scoria began and continued all theway to Blockhouse Bay or Mt Roskill.
 
It was one of those small shops with living quarters, twobedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and kitchenette. Therewas a garden at the back, the same size as the neighbour’s,and a corrugated iron fowl house across the top of thesection.
 
House and shop were leased at first, but after a few yearsbecame our own. We were there for ten years, eventually
Next meeting of theAvondale-Waterview Historical Society:
Saturday, 2 October 2010, 2.30 pm
Lion’s Hall,corner Blockhouse Bay Road andGreat North Road
 
A New Windsor neighbourhoodin the 1930s
 by Sylvia Thomas née Judd 
(Above) the dairy/convenience store opposite Bollard Ave-nenue, as it is today, and (top) as it appeared in the late 1930s,as one of the district’s first Four Square stores. Top photo from Sylvia Thomas, via the Ron Oates collection.
 
 Page 2
Volume 10 Issue 55
The Avondale Historical Journal 
moving in turn to two other houses across the roadwhere the family lived until the 1980s.
 
In 1933 we were a young family. Mother and Fatherstill in their twenties, and two little girls; Wilma whowas still a baby, and me, Sylvia, two and a half yearsold.
 
For the most part, Mum looked after the shop and Dadmade deliveries on his days off from his job as an at-tendant at the mental hospital – the Avondale MentalAsylum. Until late at night he weighed up flour andsugar, dried fruit, rice and potatoes while Mum caughtup with the washing or sewing.
 
Just as it seems today, that part of New Windsor Roadwas quiet, almost sedate. Although there were severalfamilies, the pace of the neighbourhood was set by thenumber of retired people.
 
At the Blockhouse Bay end of the street was Exlers’brickworks where the publisher A H Reed was to beapprenticed when he came from England as a boy(something that didn’t eventuate), and two villahouses.
 
On the other side of the road most of the houses hadbeen built in the 1920s, but there were several older.The house opposite the shop on the corner of NewWindsor and Bollard Avenue was said to be theoriginal farm house of the area. In the 1930s Reidslived there. The third house along (in those days)down a long flower edged driveway was where Hoyleslived, and next door to them Ash’s, a beautiful littlehouse a step above the lawn with a verandah acrossthe front and surrounded by large trees.
 
Opposite Hoyle’s was Vibert’s with a large oak treeon the lawn and a mass of daffodils underneath it inspring. In the paddocks behind the house were acouple of wells covered with sheets of iron, relics of other days. On the highestpoint in Bentleigh Avenue but with thefrontage on New Windsor Road was aonce elegant, then unpainted house whereMrs B lived. In those days of the Depres-sion, houses with paint so worn as to bealmost non-existent were common.
 
It also had a verandah across the front.Rampant chokos climbed the uprightsand possibly a bottle fed lamb or a litterof puppies would be found sheltering in acorner. The puppies were the family of Barney, an old ginger and white spanieland Phyllis a Pomeranian who were alsothe parent of our own dog, Jerry.
 
These old houses were probably built about the turn of the century. In style Bs’ was similar to the one boughtby the Social Welfare home in Bollard Avenue, andanother adjacent to the Seventh Day AdventistChurch, the oldest house in Avondale, built with wideweather boards and slate roofs.
 
At the back of our fowl houses were paddocks thatextended except for two small houses, the length of Bentleigh Avenue to the two houses at the bottom of the road. We called these paddocks the “pear pad-dock” because of the pear trees there, perhaps the re-mains of an orchard. Mrs B used to graze her fourcows there. I once brought home a clump of snow-drops from the paddocks, and I like to think the clumpI have today is a descendant
.
Exlers who had a tennis court and wisteria coveredsummerhouse between the house and the brickworksalso kept cows in the paddocks at the back. I remem-ber Dad as a favour trying to sell their homemadebutter in the shop but it wasn’t saleable, even in thosedays.
 
From the bend in the road where the pines on eachside seemed to touch, there were fewer houses, andsmall farmlets, dairy or poultry, began. On the cornerof Batkin and New Windsor Roads there was a smallgroup of houses with Mr Brightwell’s glasshouses be-hind his, and on the rise Dickie’s two-storied house,its paint long gone, not to be repainted for another 50years.
 
In 1933 our immediate neighbours were the Scotts onone side and on the other, another young couple theDonaldsons with small daughter Maureen. Next toDonaldsons were the Curreys.
 
Scotts were assisted immigrants from Scotland aswere several other families in the street. Mrs
 
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 10 Issue 55
 Page 3
Donaldson was Florence Greep from Blockhouse Bay(the Mission Sunday School and Girls’ Life Brigade).Donaldson senior lived a few houses away in BollardAvenue. Mr. Currey had been a captain in the Englisharmy and had already established on his large propertyseveral tomato glass houses which later became a verysizeable business.
 
On the other corner of Bollard Avenue, oppositeReid’s, were the Dowthwaites. Their pretty littlestucco house, white with green shutters, had been builtby Mr Dowthwaite. Like the Hoyles further along theroad, they were English. I remember many of ourneighbours as retired folk, mostly English withdistinctive regional accents, living a country style withgardens and fruit trees, gentle and kindly. A littlenotice on Mr Dowthwaite’s side gate said he sold lem-ons and other fruit, but not on Sunday.
 
When I was four or five Mr Dowthwaite’s elderlybrother died. I remember the coffin and the flowersbeing carried through the front gate, as I watched withMum. Sadly, I realised for the first time that peopledid not live forever. Our front room blinds werelowered, as were the blinds of the nearby neighbours,a custom of sympathy and respect that seems to havevanished now.
 
There were still adult children living with their retiredparents, several of them teachers. The Misses Hoyle,Millie and Madge; the Misses Jarvie, one of whomtaught at Avondale Primary for many years; theMisses Spargo; and Christobel Ash who walked dailyto the tram with her father a professor.
 
Mrs Scott who had made munitions during the WorldWar, told us her family had arrived by ship in winterweather, freezing in their summer clothes. Havingbeen told they were going to a warm country, they hadleft their winter clothes at home in Scotland. Therewere several related families all living close by.Scotts, Campbells, Gordons, Haverns. Scottish Reidsand Weirs were also related.
 
Mrs Scott would stand on her front porch and call toher sister across the road, “Will ye send our Jimmyhome?” If Jimmy wasn’t there, Mrs. Campbell wouldgo to the back of her house and call from her back porch across the paddocks to her mother’s in MethuenRoad, “Will ye tell Lizzie’s Jimmy his mither wantshim?”
 
In that extended family there was “our Jim (or JimScott, Jimmy Campbell or Jimpy Reid), “our Dave”,“our Rose”, “our Tom”, because each family had one.As a six-year-old I spent a lot of time with Mr Scottwho was a returned soldier from the 1914-1918 war. Iused to watch him making dressing table mats withsilky thread and a board of nails. While I almost diedin hospital from pneumonia, Mr Scott died at homefrom being gassed during the war. He would not havebeen 50.
 
My illness along with that of classmate BarbaraHowie, who also had pneumonia at the same time,was put down to our class being taught in the draughtycloakroom in the primer block at Avondale Primary.The shocked committee ruled it out as a classroomfrom that time on. Many years later I heard it was be-ing used again. I felt angry but did nothing.
 
Dad used to keep an eye on another man returnedfrom the war. A gentle, almost timid man, he wasalways immaculate in suit, gabardine overcoat andhat. He went to war as a young medical student, histraining interrupted. He returned badly shell shocked,unable to work.
 
Once when he hadn’t seen Mr M for some time Dadfound him starving and terrified, hiding in his smallbach. I remember Dad taking with some urgency half a wholemeal loaf and other wholesome food that wasMr M’s usual choice, and calling the nearest doctor,Dr. Paterson of Mt Albert.
(Both photos): Exler Potteries, New Windsor Road. From Ron Oates collection.

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