Volume 3 Issue 16 March – April 2004

The Avondale Historical Journal
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Incorporated
Inside this issue: The Garden of Auckland From Dublin to Avondale Westies Avondale Builders 1–2 2–4 3–4 4

Tales of the Avondale Flat:

The Garden of Auckland
by Bob Hume
The Avondale Flat became the market garden for Auckland as the city expanded. Originally much was scrubland used by the Maori as a hunting ground for the native quail. Early settlers modified the windswept areas by planting shelter, often pines, and many milked cows. Much of the soil was light, free draining, but fairly infertile. However it was easily worked with horses and also within horse and cart distance of central Auckland. The fertility was built up with horse manure carted regularly from the many stables in town. The system was that a grower would contract to clear the manure twice a week to retain specific stables. Produce was carted into town and manure out. It was quite a challenge for smaller growers to find something to cart in at times. It was a point of honour to send something “even if only a case of ripe marrows”. The manure was piled in long rows down the gardens and spread as required. This was heaven for the fly population and they swarmed in their millions. To live with this, people had to fly-proof their houses. The old double hung up and down windows had a bar fitted to the window frame about 25 cm from the top and perforated zinc from the bar and ventilation without flies achieved. Another zinced frame was kept inside, and when in use placed in the bottom of the frame and the lower sash lowered onto it. Leaving an outer door open if the fly door was not shut was a crime! One of the stories related by the older generation was that as one came over the hill from Point Chevalier, and looked out over the Flat in summer, the area was under a black cloud of flies. Some horse manure was still being used on the flat in the 1930s. George Loretz, in his memoirs Moments of Life, recalls that when Lewis Silson took him and his wife to Avondale from the Auckland railway station, their luggage travelled on sacks on top of the load of horse manure. That was in September 1932. Lewis had cleared Buchanan’s Bakery stables in Eden Terrace that morning after unloading at the city markets. He had not had time to go back home and unload before meeting the train. The organic matter in the horse manure retained the moisture in the soil and as those days ended growers found that irrigation became more necessary. But the Avondale continued on page 2

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society: Saturday, 3 April 2004, 2.30 pm at the Lions Hall, corner Great North and Blockhouse Bay Roads, Avondale. Please contact the Society for details.

The gremlins crept in, folks
After the last issue of the Journal was printed, all 180 copies — I noticed that I had mucked things up with not proofreading properly. The correct name for our originator of the Hayward variety of kiwifruit is, of course, Hayward Wright, not Haywood. My apologies to you all, especially to Bob Hume. Next time, I’ll take more care. — Editor

The Avondale Historical Journal Official Publication of the

Volume 3 Issue 16 Page 2
nected. These installations were common in those days. The reasoning being the higher and longer the aerial, the stronger the radio signals received, and the better the reception. As a child growing up in the 1940’s I remember coal and wood being delivered to my Grandparents and our place next door. Open fireplace was the only form of heating. In the laundries were wood fired ‘Coppers’. As I got older it was one of my jobs to chop the ‘kindling’ wood and keep both houses supplied. There were no washing machines. Clothes were boiled in the ‘Copper’. Then lifted out into the twin wooden washtubs, with a hand operated ‘Wringer’ mounted between them. Here the clothes would be rinsed from one tub to the other via the ‘Wringer’. After a final Wringing they went into a ‘Wicker’ clothesbasket, and were taken out to be hung on the line. No rotary clothes line. Just one line stretched between two posts, and a ‘Prop’ to lift the line up in the middle. Also delivered door to door was bread, from the ‘Bakers’ van. Milk was delivered in the early hours of the morning. Everyone had to leave a ‘Billy’ can out in a special box by the letterbox the night before. The milkman filled the ‘Billies’ by ladling milk from his two-handled milk can. (Bottled milk came soon after this). I remember ‘going up the street’ with Gran, and Mum to the shops. Usually to the Butchers (Fearons), Post Office and Mr. Graham the Grocer. Gran and Mum would hand over food coupons (Wartime) and Mr. Graham would fill their shopping lists. Later that day Mr. Graham would home deliver the groceries in his van. Two newspapers were home delivered. There was a choice of ‘The New Zealand Herald’ in the morning, or ‘The Auckland Star’ in the evening. During the War Avondale Race Course was an Army Camp. Walking up Ash Street to the Primary School one morning, I had the ‘daylights’ scared out of me. Four to six ‘Bren Gun Carriers’ roared out of the racecourse gate at the end of Wairau (Wicklow) Avenue turning up Ash Street they speed by me on the grass verge. Reaching the main gate of the Racecourse, they slewed on their tracks in a right angle turn, accelerating across Ash Street back into the Racecourse. Sent out to collect the morning newspaper, when I heard this rhythmic crunch, crunch getting louder and closer. Coming along Wairau Avenue, marching at the double were some 40 soldiers, 4 abreast. They were stripped to the waist, and wearing gas masks. As they passed you could hear them struggling for air, cussing and cursing. In the cool morning, steam was rising off the mass of hu-

The Garden of Auckland (cont)
Flat, “The Garden of Auckland” was built on horse manure. As one of the well-known characters of earlier times used to declare (she had better remain nameless but older residents probably know who she was): “Wonderful place the Flat, the soil will grow anything, all it needs is a shower of rain every day and shower of **** on Sundays!”

From Dublin to Avondale: Henry Clarke (1880-1947)
by Barry Thomas (continued from last issue)
REMEMBERING HOW THING WERE Going down the backyard with my Grandfather to feed the chooks and collect the eggs. All the paths around my Grandparents house were asphalt with brick edges. But all the paths in our place next door were concrete. The Grandparents never had a telephone. Nor did we until 1954. Even though my father worked for the Post and Telegraph Department, was manpowered there during wartime and on callout. All phone messages even Henry’s death came via a friend with a phone who lived in Canal Road. These people ran their own business from home. The Grandparents neither learnt to drive nor owned a car. Come to think of it, they never owned or rode a bicycle. My father started looking for our first car about 1943/45. Once he took me on the cross bar of his bike to look at a car for sale in Mount Albert. It was an Essex straight eight, with a fabric top. My father was very impressed with this car, the way it had been looked after. But said we couldn’t afford to run it. Many cars we looked at were up on blocks, or even had the wheels off. There were several reasons for this. Petrol was still rationed, tyres were hard to get, some sizes unavailable or the cars belonged to sons away at the war. Our first car was a ‘Standard 12’. Today houses are full of all sorts of electronic entertainment gadgets. It is hard to imagine that the only form in those days was radio. Grandparents had a radio, with the old style aerial. I remember some distance from the house was a large dressed timber post about 160 x 160 set in concrete in the ground. Attached to this was a long pole, like a flagpole all painted white. From the top of the pole to the house was a long aerial to which the radio was con-

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live West or more particularly south-west yonder of the Whau, we in Avondale have always been happy to consider ourselves as fair dinkum Westies. Our homestead in Tiverton Road, with elevation, looked tantalisingly out to the West, to the blue Waitakeres, creating the urge to travel and explore beyond the horizon to the mysterious regions of bush and coast. So from an early age we experienced the lure of the West and at the first practical opportunity when our skinny legs had mastered pedals and our skinny frames the art of staying upright on bicycles aptly described as dungers, we packed lunches and with a hopefully adequate puncture repair outfit, set forth. Our route down Wolverton Road and across the footbridge and Whau creek through New Lynn was easy enough but then the uphill grind to Titirangi without gears activated our store of energy and the rough metal road to Piha and Karekare took its toll. The road down to Karekare was so steep and our antiquated brakes so ineffectual that most of the downward and certainly the uphill grind resulted in us using legs to walk and push our cycles. There was little time to explore needless to say and a bull, which on later reflection was really a steer, standing in the middle of the road delayed us somewhat before ambling off into the bush. We were too timid to risk braving the mountainous seas but after a dip in the stream and suitably fortified with our lunches we faced the homeward journey with restored vigour. These first tentative explorations of the West were the Geneses of our lifelong love of the region. It was not just we children who had magnetic attraction to the West but the whole family and so far as public transport was concerned my first vague recollection of getting to Piha was by char-a-banc, those conveyances with transverse seats and side doors. My parents were attracted by the fact there was a boarding house at Piha run by a family by the name of Pople and with mother’s love of the surf this promised to be an ideal holiday. An added bonus was the doctor’s recommendation that the benefit of one week’s holiday out West was equivalent to two weeks East. The swimming in the surf, the bush walks, not to mention the ozone was enough to whet the appetite of any healthy and well set up man as was father, and the hotel vitals were rather on the meagre side. Knowing that large catches of fish were brought ashore by some of the locals of whom the renowned Tom Pearce and his cronies were the initiators, father asked the chef if he would cook an offering if he bought one. On obtaining agreement father elected to purchase the largest snapper on offer and precontinued next page

man bodies. VE Day. Victory in Europe was announced at Avondale Primary School and we were given the rest of the day off. Never heard so much cheering, yelling as we all streamed out of school that day. When the war ended race meetings resumed at the Avondale Racecourse. Horses were back in training and a common sight along Wairau (Wicklow) Avenue. After track work they would be all covered in sweat, snorting and shying as they went past. Another regular occurrence were men scything the grass on the roadside, bagging it up to feed the horses in stables at the corner of Wairau Road and Ash Street. In the late 1940’s the Government embarked on a major housing development in the area of land bounded by Ash Street, Wairau Road, Riversdale and Rosebank Roads. Orchards, empty paddocks where horses grazed, and we played use to play as kids soon disappeared under suburbia. JOURNEYS END When Henry died, his widow Kate lived on in the house they built. In 1953 her daughter Clara died suddenly. Kate then 72 sold her house and moved next door with her son in law and grandchildren. The family lived there until 1959 when the property was sold and we moved away from the district. The Clarke/Thomas families association with the area finished after 46 years, and three generations. My Grandparents never returned to Ireland, not even for a holiday. I don’t think the reason was economic. Like all their generation they lived through two world wars, a worldwide depression and family commitments. The opportunity to go back never occurred. We can say then that this is where the “Journey from Dublin Ireland to Wicklow Avenue Avondale” ended.

by Mr. Rich Afford
In days past all Auckland localities made reference to direction and distance from the G.P.O. (General Post Office) now the up-market Britomart complex. In other words we lived 5 miles more or less south-west of the G.P.O. And whilst we think of Westies as those who

Volume 3 Issue 16 Page 4
sented it to the cook in great expectation of a large succulent fillet on his plate come dinner time. First came the entrée, a two inch square of fish, and with the set menu, presented as such to all the guests. With his hunger unassuaged there was no alternative but to repeat their usual practice of walking over to Mrs Ketterer’s tea-rooms on the other side of the valley to top up so to speak. At least she had the nous to know how to satisfy the inner man and her tea-rooms as a consequence were very popular. Over the years we have had many a chuckle over this and many other experiences of which more anon, but one thing is sure and that is that our love for the West has never abated. was found to be very suitable for interior and exterior use in home building. The Depression years inevitably brought about the closure of many small building firms. Fortunately Avondale attracted sufficient new residents to keep our firm in business, only to disintegrate under the demands of war.

The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank

Avondale Business Association
for their continued support and sponsorship of this publication.

Avondale Builders
by Mr Eric Waterfield
The best-known builders in the Avondale-New Lynn area in the twenties and thirties were Mr. McLusky, Mr. Copsey, Mr. A Bright and Mr. E. Croft. The homes they built were mainly timber frame and weatherboard sheathing, concrete block foundations, and occasionally the all-brick home with of necessity continuous concrete footings. With the decline in family size most homes were two or three bedroom with separate dining room. Kitchens and bathrooms hadn’t attracted the attention of designers yet and were regarded as of less importance than the living areas. In fact they were often regarded as “add ons” accommodated under a lean-to roof. At least they were far in advance of English homes which didn’t boast a bathroom, the occupiers having to use public utilities. I was apprenticed to Herds & Brights builders. There were five in the team and given reasonable weather we could build a house in around six weeks comprised of two weeks framing etc., two weeks inside finishing, and two weeks for the decorators and sub-contractors. The price was based on square footage, around 7/6 to 12/6 at the outbreak of the war. In common with other small building businesses, power tools were unknown in prewar days; in fact we thought we were made when the firm hired a hand-turned concrete mixer! When I entered the trade in 1935, kauri was being phased out in the interests of preservation. It was allowed to be used for making wash tubs and sink tops only, which were made on the job. At this time lavatories were incorporated in house design, likewise wash houses, but kitchens and bathrooms had yet to receive the attention of modern designers. The versatile rimu tree took over from the kauri and

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. Editor: Lisa J. Truttman, 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804 Fax: (09) 828-8497, email: historian@avondale.org.nz

Website for the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
http://www.geocities.com/avondalehistory/index Avondale history websites: Rimtark: http://www.geocities.com/rimtark/index.html Earth Settler: http://earthsettler.tripod.com/esindex/earthsettlerhome.htm Auckland history: The Archive Room: http://www.geocities.com/archiveroom/

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