Rosebank’s Varnish Works:Sealy James Best and sons (1885-1937)
In March 1977, Universal Homes bought an area of land just over an acre in size
justto the south of today’s Maple Street, between Avondale and Riversdale Roads, on theRosebank Peninsula of Avondale. By August of the following year, they were able tosubdivide that land, plus the adjoining section, to form a fan-shaped developmentwhich is now known as Sceptre Place.
Anyone living there today might think thatthis was merely former market gardening land, surrounded as it is by ground withhistories of the plough and seed, and the closeness of the ribbon of water we call theWhau River. But, there is a difference. The northern part, the original 1.2.0 acres, hasa different story attached to it – that of a family travelling to New Zealand in the late19
century to start a business that, it seems, had never been known here in NewZealand before.
The Bests arrive in New Zealand
There’s a gravestone in the George Maxwell Cemetery for Sealy James Best (c.1829-1892), describing him as being “of Yeovil, Somerset”.
there is moredetail. In the 1881 English census, Sealy J Best is noted as having been born in EastChinnock, some 3 ½ miles southwest of Yeovil, a parish situated on the river Parret inSomerset.
The name Sealy Best appears as traces in birth records, marriage detailsand census returns from the 1850s to 1880s. There are records of a Sealy James Bestmarrying in Bristol in June 1853, a son(Sealy James) born in Bermondsey, Londonin the third quarter of 1861, another(Charles) born there c.1866, and another(Albert Thomas) c.1867.
Bermonsey in the middle of the 19
centurywas a densely packed industrial area, knownfor glass manufacturing, glue making,tanneries, warehousing, and colour and
Site of the Avondale Varnish Works (from CT 46/215)