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Diagram in margin of Deed 15423, dated 20 April 1859 but registered 3 December of that year.

The Deed would have been recorded in the Deeds Books from that date — so the mill dam may have only come into existence between April and December 1859 (or from mid 1855, when Rooney purchased the eastern farm on the other side of the creek). John Thomas senior’s original Star Mills may also date from this period. DI 9D.389, LINZ records

Diagram in margin of Deed 52802, dated 29 September 1879. Thos was the extent of Andrew Rooney’s Pt Chevalier/ Mt Albert farm, spanning Allotments 31, 32 and 33 on the eastern side of Oakley Creek. Comparing the 1859 Thomas Deed with this, the mill dam would have been placed at the top left corner of Allotment 31, and across the creek. DI A2.129, LINZ records (also A2.130 & A2.131)

Diagram in margin of Deed 111029, dated 29 April 1889, being details of the probate of Robert Garrett. LINZ records

“Showing the old mill on the banks of the Oakley Creek at Waterview. The original mill was built by John Thomas around 1859, but burned down in 1873. This is the second mill, built by Thomas Barraclough and John Thomas Junior. Known as Star Mills, it was converted to a tannery by the Garrett brothers before 1878, but had ceased to operate as such by 1893. It was finally demolished about 1910.” Ref 7-A1730, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library.

Altered version of 1909 NZ Graphic photograph, adding possible part of drying shed extreme right.

Detail of survey plan, DP 8447, 13 February 1913, for Mrs. Jane Todd. Possible bridge or ford still in existence at that date between tannery site (south side) and tan-pits area (north side). LINZ records

1920 DP 14590

1930 DP 23806

Whatever the feature is between the north and south coasts of the Oakley Creek beside the mill site, it appeared for over 40 years in plans and subdivision maps produced by different surveyors. Here are three examples.

1955 SO 39987

Gr eat No rth Ro ad
Str eet

15 Cowley Birkenhead Council Quarry Track curving around to main road

Site of bridge/ford

Detail from 1940 aerial. Clearest view available of the remains of the Birkenhead Borough Council quarry (1912-c.1924). It may still have been worked by others up to c.1945, when Auckland City Council described it as “worked out” and a lake. There was no direct access from the quarry to Great North Road, unlike the larger one operated by Waitemata County Council to the west. While barges were used by Birkenhead Council, some road access would have been required. The most direct route was over Allotment 18A, coming out beside the cottages on Great North Road. It is possible, therefore, that the stone work still visible at the creekside of 15 Cowley Street was part of this unofficial access between the quarry and Great North Road. Other items, such as the boiler and boiler plates, and concrete blocks with bolts, may also have originated from the quarrying operations on the other side of the estuary.

Co wle y

Unofficial road across Allotment 18A (arrows). Above, from 1940-1945 maps, Lands and Survey Dept., NZMS 2A #2248, Special Collections. Below, from plan for widening Oakley Creek culvert, 1956, ACC 015 9642/89, City Archives

Yellow oval indicating possible site of Star Mill and Garrett tannery. Aerial from ARC website.


Yellow oval indicating possible site of Star Mill and Garrett tannery. Aerial from ARC website.