January – February 2002

Volume 1,Issue 3

The Avondale Historical Journal
Publication of the Heart of the Whau Project Just Some Notes
Well, the New Year’s upon us all. I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season, and are ready to take on what 2002 has to offer..

Otahuhu Historical Society visit

Inside this issue: Otahuhu Historical Society Going Down to the Hotel Diary Dates

In December last year I had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Otahuhu Historical Society 12 – 16 High Street, Otahuhu. This Society has been in existence just over a quarter of a century, gathering together and collating files, news clippings, photographs and old Borough Council records in rooms just in behind the community library there. They also have a mini-museum of memorabilia — a great chance to see those tins and other odds and ends from the days gone by. I can thoroughly recommend to anyone reading this that a visit to their offices/ museum is well worth the time you can spend there. I nearly didn’t want to leave myself! My thanks go out to the Otahuhu Historical Society for allowing the opportunity to have a look around on that day. Some news items regarding Auckland history has already been installed on the Archive Room site (www.geocities.com/ArchiveRoom/index.html). Contact: Wilma Madgwick, Ph/Fax: 276-6756 — Lisa Truttman

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Interested in having a get together, to initiate a local historical society for Avondale? Even if you’d like a chance to get together with other people full of memories such as yourself — I’d love to hear from you. Forming a fully incorporated Society would allow that Society to fundraise, have its own accounts, and in turn sponsor the study of history, preservation of records and photographs, and encourage the continuation of a heritage theme in Avondale. Please do let me know by January 31. I’ll contact everyone towards the end of February with a meeting date (hopefully the weather settles down by then!)

The Avondale Historical Journal

Volume 1,Issue 3 Page 2

Going Down to the Hotel (Part two)
Continuing from last issue. In 1879, Robert Da Vause was the keeper of the Whau Hotel, appearing as a signatory to the application for the then Whau Library to be incorporated. At some point from 1882 until 1889, the Avondale Hotel (as it was now called) had major alterations done, changing it from a wooden building, to the brick and plaster building remembered by many today. to the Avondale Hotel from the widow Mrs Emma Stych to William Baker. Mr O Nicholson (a lawyer and later Mayor of Mt Eden Borough) appeared in support. The police report stated that the house was in good order and well-conducted. The necessary papers being in order, the transfer was granted, and also renewal of William Baker’s licence. (He may have been last licensee).

Those who had imbibed too much at the Avondale Hotel in those latter days The last licensees of the licence ran the risk of being thrown bodily Michael Foley, licensee of the into the trough to sober up, Avondale Hotel from around and then left under the 1888, helped form the Avondale shop verandahs. Jockey Club in 1889. He had “As kids we used to sit on previously started a racing club the old horse trough, at Taranaki, the Opunake Racing where the traffic island Club. now stands, and look after the horses of anyone going in [to the Avondale Hotel] The next licensee of the Avonto drink. If we were lucky dale Hotel, John R Stych, (1845Avondale Hotel, at the turn of the 20th century we would get a bob for 1898) committed suicide on 20 it.” [Remembrance of Mr. J McCrae, aged 77, WestDecember 1898, shooting himself in the head with a ern Leader, 11/8/67] shot-gun in the cellar of the Avondale Hotel. He was apparently in financial difficulties, and after being Local Option (regarding liquor licence provision in approached that afternoon by a Mr. Boylan and Mr districts) was first held in conjunction with General Abbott, he went to get a revolver and shot-gun, and Elections on 17 November 1908. Avondale was then ended his life. The suicide, and resulting inquest part of Eden district, which had 4 hotels at the time: presided over by John Bollard as district coroner, Junction Hotel (Epsom), Epsom Hotel, Avondale was quite a sensation in Avondale at the time, so Hotel and Henderson Hotel. The total Eden vote in much so that it went into “Avondale lore” as the sui1908 was: No Licence, 4010, Reduction 4015, cide of the last publican after losing the hotel licence Continuance, 2192. in 1909. Only after I interviewed Mrs Vera CrawThe narrow vote for reduction was probably overford, and she mentioned the name “Mr Stych”, was I turned by later overseas votes. able to put Mr Stych’s death together with the suicide story – a part of Avondale lore which turned out to Closure for 107 hotels up and down the country, inhave more than a grain of truth to it. His widow cluding the four in Eden district, was set for 10 pm, Emma took over the licence for 5 years. June 30 1909. The NZ Herald of the time advised John Stych was buried in the Rosebank Cemetery, his headstone giving no indication of the cause of his demise. In 1903 an application was made (to Eden Licensing Committee) for the transfer of the licence in respect that both Avondale and St Heliers bars were to be put up for sale. I had an interesting conversation with Mr Keith Grubb, who has lived in and around Avondale much of his life. He told me of some of the ways the prohibition of liquor in the district was circumvented. In the Cracroft Street billiard saloon, for instance, imbibers would fill Coke bottles with spirits, so as to

The Avondale Historical Journal

Volume 1,Issue 3 Page 3

Going Down to the Hotel (part two)
fool the police who regularly monitored that “den of iniquity”. Later, when restrictive licensing came into force, some joined sports clubs simply so they could enjoy their pint legally. According to Mr Grubb, the racecourse jockeys had their own secret bar under the grandstands at one time. By 1912, the old building had “Those who had been sold to the Post Office. “By imbibed too much 1912 the postal business had at the Avondale grown to sufficient proportions to Hotel in those lat- justify a separate building, and on ter days of the li- February 13 of that year the cence ran the risk premises which had served for the of being thrown past 26 years were occupied. They bodily into the had been acquired by the P. and trough to sober T. Department and converted up.” from a hotel, “no license” having been carried in the district, which was, at this time, part of the Eden electorate.” [Speech by H. G. R. Mason, Minister of Justice, 19 August 1938.] “The Hotel was made into the Post Office (1912). It was a beautiful looking place inside. All the counter was polished and done with brass – that must have been where the bar used to be. The Post Office was also the manual exchange.” [Section of Avondale Oral Histories, 1990/1991] Come general election day, a sheet would be hung from the hotel verandah facing the Page’s Building, and the results as they came in to the post office would be posted up on the sheet for the crowds to see under the shop verandahs. [Conversation with Mrs V. Crawford, 28 June 2001] In 1938, the Post Office moved from the Hotel building to a purpose-built Post Office on the corner of Rosebank Road and Great North Road. Once more, the Hotel was up for sale. It was bought in 1940 bought by Mr Albert E. Bailey, and renamed Avoncourt. “Avoncourt is listed in the AA Hotel guide as “2027 Great North Road, Avondale, 30 Beds, B.B.” as Mr Bailey gave up the full board service in 1957. Up until it’s demolition in 1967, Avoncourt only hotel between Symonds Street and Henderson.” [Western Leader, 18/8/65] For 25 years Avoncourt was as an Avondale landmark. But in 1965 it was again put on the market for sale. In September 1967 the Avoncourt Hotel was demolished. Avondale’s first supermarket, Coopers, built on the site. The site of revelry and suicide, of fire and Post Office, was a supermarket and small mall until 1976, then the Inner Circle Development until 1991, and now the site of the ASB Bank, Spiders Bar, Top Cat Liquor Store, Bakehouse Café, Avondale Pet Centre and Jungle Instinct. Another old landmark of Avondale, however, has been lost.

Heart of the Whau Project Publications
While compiling Heart of the Whau I’ve also put together a few mini-projects in the last year: • Towards a Bright Future: The History of the Avondale Business Association 1937 to 2001. 14 pages. Bookmarks: A history of Avondale’s public libraries 1868 to 1973. 8 pages. The Story of Victoria Hall, 1897 to 1887. 14 pages.

Anyone wishing to have copies of any of these, please let me know. $4 each should cover post and copying.

The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 4 Volume 1,Issue 3

Diary Dates
Two upcoming events for Avondale history coming up this year which you might like to mark in your diaries.

Rosebank Reunion
First, on March 2 and 3 (Saturday/Sunday), the Reunion of Former Residents of Lower Rosebank Road will take place. If you know of anyone who lived in the area from Mead Street (formerly Astrolabe) down to the old Rosebank Domain, contact Terry on phone (09) 828-3769. I’ve been invited (thank you, Terry!) and will be there with pen and paper poised for the memories.

Urban Safari
Later in March, come along to an Urban Safari along the new Kurt Brehmer Walkway, between Charann Place and Timothy Place on Saturday March 23, at 10 am and 1 pm. Auckland City have asked me to provide some historical background on the Whau River, while information on the environment will be provided by local group Friends of the Whau. The walks are free. Bookings essential — contact Auckland City at (09) 3791341.

Some overdue thanks
I’ve thanked past sponsors in previous issues, but there are who deserve to have a special spot to helping this Journal exist into its third issue. Copies are now sent to the Otahuhu Historical Society, Avondale Community Library, Auckland Public Library, and Auckland branch of Historic Places Trust. Mr Jan Grefstad Mr and Mrs Browne Mrs G Wilson Duncan Macdonald Jennifer Battersby, Battersby Funeral Services (Jennifer — thanks again for the listing of graves in Rosebank Cemetery. I’m indexing the list at the moment) Avondale Variety, Great North Rd, Avondale And thanks to everyone else who has let me know you like this little publication. Your support and feedback are really appreciated!

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by Lisa J Truttman 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland Phone: (09) 828-8494, Fax: (09) 828-8497 Email: historian@avondale.org.nz
Printed by Avondale Photo Centre
1962 Great North Road, Avondale

I thank Ramilla Magan and the Magan Family for their support and sponsorship of this publication.

Phone/Fax: 09-820 6030

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