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September—October 2012

Volume 12 Issue 67

The Avondale Historical Journal
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Incorporated

“Ailsa Piesse at work in the clothing class at the Avondale Intermediate School. At present she is particularly busy and stays behind after the classes are dismissed to sew for the school’s sports day.” From the Auckland Star, 27 October 1945.

More memories of Avondale Intermediate
Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society: Saturday, 6 October 2012, 2.30 pm St Ninian’s Church
St Georges Road, Avondale (opp. Hollywood Cinema)
There has been some interest in the article on the development of the Avondale Intermediate which appeared in the last issue. First, this response from Don Gwilliam, in Kamo. Bet there is a host of reminiscences springing from the piece on Avondale Intermediate. Here are some for the file. My sister Doris was one of those transferred from Avondale Primary as a foundation pupil. I started there in 1949 in Form 1A with Miss/Mrs Hogan. There are fond memories of the place as a fine school staffed by inspiring teachers and seemingly guided by forward thinking senior staff who to my

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Auckland Star, 2 February 1945. Workmen’s ladders are still in the picture as last-minute touches were added to what became the main entrance to Avondale College — but the Intermediate side can be seen on the right. The double doors in the centre opened to the lobby leading to the main hall. The hall was largely destroyed in the April 1990 fire.

experience, engendered a cohesive feeling of warmth and safety in the place. Intermediates were established to take advantage of the receptive state of a developing child's mind at the form one and two age levels and for me that certainly happened. Not that it would have been outwardly evident for I certainly wasn't the best of kids right then. Miss Hogan did her best to teach me poetry. Without success, or was more sticking than I admitted then? There has just been a telephone call reminder of a regular poetry meeting I am to attend this week. Perchance was Miss Hogan, Helen Hogan; the compiler of the book of NZ poetry Nowhere Far From The Sea? The lady was a hard worker. All kinds of lesson material rolled off punched Gestetner type stencils or Banda carbons direct into our books via a big inked hand pressed pad. That must have been state of the art then. No sign of the school being impoverished. Twenty five years later the school I taught at provided just that same equipment for my use. The manual classes were separate from the intermediate side of the school complex in nice rooms adjoining the

College along the western side of the flagpole and gardens fronting the assembly hall and main doors. Here we boys were introduced to Woodwork, Metalwork and even Technical Drawing. Little did I know then that I would end thirty years of teaching all of those subjects in 2002! The girls did cooking and I suppose sewing. I remember them complaining about having to drink the cabbage water because their teacher said it was good for them. We had art and craft in specialist rooms also on that side of the school. And is my mind playing tricks or was there really a swimming pool planned, if not started for the Intermediate, sited in the same area near the manual rooms? Then there was the superb assembly hall. James Turkington murals on the upper walls. American folding stacking chairs which had to be collected from the back of the hall, punched on the correct board to open them. There the old Bell and Howell clattered its way through the Tennessee Valley Authority Dust Bowl documentaries. Messages relevant even for today and for me an insight into the absorbing history of the Farm

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the envy of all other schools. In 1950 it was unmarked and pristine, all polished paneling and with a viewing balcony around three sides. No apparent shortage of equipment, although mostly we did not have access to the changing rooms and changed in the long corridor right at the Intermediate end. The said corridor was a show piece of the whole complex, always pointed out to visitors. Longer than The Queen Elizabeth and running straight as a die for more than 300 metres through the entire Intermediate; dividing the hall from the gymnasium; stretching right through the College; beyond the off-shoot to the cafeteria and ending at the far end of the commercial block. And where almost every one of the dozens of the extra wide and viewing paneled classroom doors proclaimed this place had been a hospital where beds had to be wheeled about. The seemingly always sunny library opened onto the small quadrangle. Cramped, but reasonably stocked. There I copied out the formula for gun-powder, but must have learned a few other things too. 1950 had me rewarded for not meeting expectations by being 'dropped' into Mr Boswells Form 2B. The public face of a First Assistant has to be sterner than his private one. Two B soon discovered they had a gem of a teacher. He had me figured out and quietly went about drawing a better response. Our farewell end of year trip to Rangitoto Island, just our class if I've got it right, crowned a great year. Avondale Intermediate had done just what the system had been planned to do. Never mind dry official documents, it is results which need recording. Don Gwilliam, July 2012

Security Administration and the coming of age of American record photography and, in time, Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Add in another film, Salmon Run which still sticks regardless of everything Attenborough can dish up. All rooted in an American building which was oh so different from any other school hall of the times. There too we took part in Mr Gair's spelling competition; performed in the annual school concert; heard a recital by a girl from the High School who sang the Green Hills of Somerset and set me, and a few others I suspect, close to tears. And of course the afternoon when Senior Assistant Mr Boswell gave the boys only a special blasting for “Not standing up close and for pissing on the floor!” The girls, who had been carted off somewhere else, would not say what they were told. Other assemblies were held in the larger of the two quadrangles. Ah that word. We really were moving up in the educational world. Very Public School sounding and carrying the air of English boys’ school stories and those seats of higher learning, universities. It fell nicely off the tongue. The Quad. And the school held an annual flower show. The Headmaster might have had problems with space and room allocation within his school, but it wasn't too evident. Mind you, I can recall arithmetic in a passage cloakroom. No, there wasn't a dental clinic. We had to enroll with a local dentist. Trees were a few scrawny specimens which gave only limited shelter in our first few days at the school. Once friendships were made such things went un-noticed and by then stacks of quite lush grass seemed to flourish on the playing fields. For the small group of which I was a member a favourite play spot came to be near the boiler house on a long line of soil dumpings overgrown with tall wild grass. We wandered about there with eyes closed, loving the adventure of stepping off a ridge into space and all the falls and blunders that went with it. Bike racks? There were two long properly built bicycle sheds. Sited along the rough formed boundary road near the Holly Street back alleyway. Almost daily a mate and I would stroll past the serried rows eying and admiring what we someday soon hoped to get. Plenty of old grids and, rare now, a fixie or two, but the jewels in the crown were the Wisemans' specials, some no doubt with Sturmey-Archer three speed gears. Boys and girls were segregated
Avondale Intermediate for Phys Ed and sometimes we school badge—Patricia used the amazing gymnasium, a Norton. building which must have been

And from Patricia Norton ... I was there 1954-55 and so remember sharing the Avondale College Hall. No prefabs of what I remember in that time. I remember the Sewing-WoodworkCooking block as away from the main Intermediate school. The flat/unit at the end of the manual block was for learning to make a bed, wash clothes, ironing [this needs to be clarified]. Cookery was interesting we wore white hats and aprons with our names in red on them. My teacher for both the years was Mr Amos Ringer and when I went onto Auckland Girls I had his wife as my language teacher. Mrs Garner was sewing teacher. Peter Lester took physical education and used to use the hall/gym for this sometimes. Along with these, there are others that I remember clearly----

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section on lower Rosebank Road. Fortunately, it didn’t overturn (the conductor was all right after the impromptu off-rail excursion). After two breakdown vans were summoned, the tram was hauled back onto the tracks by 10.50 pm, and running under its own power once more, no damage done (except to the road, and some frayed nerves, one would expect.) The folks who relayed the runaway tram story said that after the incident they recalled (which happened in daylight, they said), the authorities put in special traps, covered by boards, to stop any repeat performance. Perhaps, this was done after the next incident. On Friday, 14 April 1944, an empty tram stationary at the terminus around 4 in the afternoon, obeyed gravity and began to move downhill. This time the tram’s motorman was near enough (he’d just left the tram for the changeover) to chase after the tram, board it again while it was moving, and put the brakes on – but still the tram ended about 30 yards past the end of the tram rails. Somehow, it was brought back into operation by the use of an extension of the overhead wire. Now, here’s a response from Don Gwilliam. Dear Lisa, Those infernal runaway trams! They were a bit more common than seems to be recorded. The family home when I was growing up was 42 Rosebank Road, just above the terminus. Several times in the late 1940s and early 1950s I scampered down the road to watch the retrieval of a tram across Great North Road back to its rightful place on the Rosebank Road tracks. Once I happened to be wandering past Alf Kirby's hair-cut shop when a tram rolled away of its own accord. Un-manned, whilst the crew were at the toilet, or perhaps buying smokes at Gernhoffer's dairy, the tram gently departed from its waiting spot, eased past the Chinaman's shop and Tait's land agency. It ambled to the end of the tracks near Leary's news agency and the Self Help, ignored the stopping spikes set in line with the track grooves and then with increasing confidence and with the trolley pole flailing clear of the wires, took to the tarseal. Cutting their own tracks the flanged wheels of both bogies rumbled across the concrete centre lanes of Great North Road then holding surprisingly straight continued on down Rosebank Road. Even off the rails an un-braked tram had lots of momentum and this one went right down as far as the little side road which led to the racecourse gates. Indeed it was by then veering into that street when friction contested gravity and the adventure stopped – and the running Motorman and Conductor caught up. That must have been the record breaking run, for most trams stopped soon after crossing the concrete. I have

Mr Belsham; Mr Pickens; Mr Pat Sheehan; Mr Irwin; Mr Redshaw; Mr Ball (Metalwork), Mr Kemp (Woodwork), Mr Rex Head (Art). His daughter Janice was in my class. Notice all had Mr for their name; a high percentage of male teachers in the school. Then there was Miss Murray who was in charge of the sick bay and if us girls had any problems she would take us off there. At this time I always remember her as older. Can remember pupils in my class coming from New Lynn---Blockhouse Bay---Waterview areas. I used to ride up from the bottom of Rosebank Road and in case my bike got stolen used to leave it at the groundsman's house near the bottom of Victor/Rosebank Road corner [Mr Dick Cunningham] friends of my parents. [Something’s don't change!!] The memories just keep coming back. Great 2 years.

Trams, again!
Sometimes in the newsletter which accompanies the Journal for our members, I pop in a filler. Last issue, I put in the following regarding Avondale trams, and my continuing hunt for the runaways. Here is my piece again, for those of you who don’t receive our newsletter: Ever since 2001, I’ve been (metaphorically) chasing a runaway tram. Interviews with people for the book Heart of the Whau brought to the surface memories of a tram, at some point during the period when they served Avondale (1932-1956), which kept right on going past the terminus, over the main intersection at Rosebank and Great North Roads, and ended up around where the Korean Baptist Church is today. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t pin down exactly when this happened. Since the National Library, in conjunction with our Auckland Library in the city, have been so good as to digitise the Auckland Star up to 1945 – some of the chasing may now be over. On a Wednesday evening, March 18 1942, the brakes of the tramcar at the Avondale tram terminus gave way. The tram had been left standing on the incline, near today’s Avondale Union Parish church and Nafanua Hall, with only airbrakes on. The motorman had hopped out and the conductor was in the process of lowering the rear trolley pole which connected the tram to the overhead power supply (uphill). Suddenly – the tram began to trundle downhill. The conductor quickly moved, boarded the tram, but couldn’t halt its progress off the tracks, onto the road, down and across Great North Road to finally stop 25 yards beyond the inter-

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no knowledge of an escaping tram colliding with traffic on Great North Road. True these days we find it hard to believe how little road traffic there was in those times, so a tangle between one of the old Auckland Bus Company green and cream painted Stewarts and an unexpected red tram was pretty remote. Once the tram was off the lines nothing much happened for a while. Eventually the breakdown crew arrived with the power line truck which had a telescoping platform the workers used to string a temporary line to where the tram was stranded. And the more I think of that the harder the task must have been, for where ever did they find supporting wires across the road to hang their new one on? And steering the tram too. I seem to recall long bars or lengths of timber to heave the bogies into line. As your notes say, the trams were slowly driven up the road on their own motors and re-railed. Almost next up the road from the Nafanua Hall site lived Mrs Semmonds who provided a billy of tea to every tram crew as they passed. Going down to the terminus the tram slowed for the conductor to leap off and collect the full billy which he would then carry down to the tram at the stop. On the way up the hill the conductor again left the tram at Semmonds' place, returning the billy. Eventually the Tram Traps were put in. Concrete troughs about a foot deep covered with timber about an inch thick then tar sealed over. Now and then a tram would crunch in with things halting almost immedi-

A line-up of trams at the Avondale terminus. Photo by kind courtesy of Graham C Stewart.

ately. A similar trap was put in at Pt Chevalier where there was a spur line on Great North Road for services travelling only to the 'Hall Corner'. ( The Pt Chev shopping area used to be known as 'The Hall' and I suppose older residents still do call it that.) Oodles more to tell of the trams. Perhaps I should get on with it? Don Gwilliam, July 2012 Yes, the hunt for more of the Avondale “runaway trams” continues. The old Auckland Transport Board archives aren’t much use at present, until Auckland Council Archives have a bit more chance to get into them and catalogue the contents as they have done with other areas of the combined municipal record. If anyone has any information (dates of incidents would be marvelous) from 1 January 1946, let me know, please. And Don: yes, please. Your articles are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us. — Editor.

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Images from the Auckland Star

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Grinstead was elected the first President. The subscriptions were raised to $1 per year. Of the original 12 members only Beryl Murton and Lois Clark are still with us. As membership was growing they again moved in June 1980 this time to the Avondale Baptist Church Youth lounge and then to the Hall where we now meet. By February 1983 the membership had grown to 107 members. The Club kept growing until March 1996 when the membership was 120 and they had a waiting list. The average attendance was then 100. By 2004 the membership stood at 100 with an average meeting attendance of 70. During the Club's existence there has only been 7 Presidents. Kath Grinstead the first one followed by Helen Larson, Jean James, Ailsa Stanley, George Hinton, Ron Hammond, Erina Andrewarthur and our present President Betty Stevens. The first Treasurer was Edna Fiddas and then our present Treasurer Val Mains took over and has held the position for 24 years. Beryl Murton was the first Secretary followed by Margaret Bew, Bobby Price, Ailsa Stanley, Althea Furniss and our present one Noeline Read. Monthly trips started early in the piece, visiting local gardens with members supplying their own cars and then moved on to using a bus. The Annual trips were started and visited places far and wide. Paihia, Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Taupo, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Kerikeri, Warkworth; these being among the places the Club has visited.

Thanks to Papers Past expanding coverage of the Auckland Star down to 1945, I noticed that doing an “Illustration caption” search for things like “Avondale” and “Waterview” threw up entire lists of possibilities. Most of the images in this issue are results of scanning the microfilm at Auckland Library’s central research centre with their software, and adjusting for contrast and brightness. I’ve submitted a collection of these images to St Judes’ Anglican Church for use in their photo exhibition this coming Heritage Festival. (Top left) Looking up New North Road [19 June 1931] during work to widen the road for the tram line. The Baptist Church is on the horizon. (Top right) Looking along New North Road [26 November 1931] during the same project. (Centre) [19 February 1934] Start of the first race on the Rosebank Park motorcycle track, tip of the peninsula. (Bottom) Annual provincial championship rowing regatta on the Whau estuary [23 March 1936], with eleven clubs taking part. I recently attended a meeting of the Avondale Garden Clunb at the Baptist Church Hall, and heard that a history of the club had been prepared and presented at a previous meeting. I asked if it could be published here, and Jane Hammond very kindly sent the text by email — thanks, Jane! - Editor

Avondale Garden Club
How and when did the Club come about. In July 1979 Kath Grinstead approached Beryl Murton and said she wanted to start up a Garden Club in the Avondale area as there was not one there. They looked for a meeting place and found the Rosebank Community House a suitable place to hold their first meeting. 10 of their friends attended and they formed the Avondale Garden Club. They decided to meet on the 4th Monday of the month charging 20 cents per person to pay for the use of the hall. Once started there was no going back and to attract members they placed advertisements in the Western Leader and on the Community notice boards. There was an immediate response and at the second meeting 30 people arrived. Having grown out of the little room at the Community House they looked for something larger and moved into the old room behind the Wesleyan Church in Rosebank Road in October 1979. They moved again in February 1980 to the Avondale Primary School Hall and started their meetings at 1pm. The first Committee was then formed and Kath

Image: from Auckland Star 26 February 1941. “Asters make a fine display in an Avondale Garden.”

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There have been many notable achievements by some members. June McCulloch received the QSM for services to Plunket, Kowhai Intermediate and Mt Albert Primary School. Jean James received an award from Rotary for services to the Red Cross and Plunket. Six Members have received awards from the Avondale Community Board for services to the Community Kath Grinstead, Kath Murray, Ailsa Stanley, Joyce and Gwen Gorbey and Trish Miller. In the sporting arena we have had a World Champion. In 1994 Kath Grinstead took part in the World Veteran Table Tennis Championships winning gold in the pairs and silver in the singles. Also worth mentioning was

Lineup of trams waiting for racegoers at Avondale, Rosebank Road. Courtesy Graham C Stewart.

Dot Rainbird who ran Marathons in Rotorua, London and Paris. 26 miles is roughly from Auckland to the top of the Bombays. Other community activities by some members have been by planting trees on land adjacent to the Avondale Railway Station in August 1982. 21 native trees were planted alongside the motor way adjacent to Western Springs. Members have also helped at the West Lynn Gardens in New Lynn. Club members have also held their own garden competitions over the years and three of them received awards from the Waitakere Garden Competition.

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by: the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. Editor: Lisa J. Truttman Society contact: 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600 Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804 email: Society information: Website: Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate

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