Volume 3 Issue 17 May – June 2004

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

Tales of the Avondale Flat:
Inside this issue: Horsepower Avondale in the 1950s Leisure Times Harry Turnbull 1–2 2–3 3 4
Horses ploughed the ground, scarified and moulded crops, pulled the early potato diggers and moved the produce to town. They also pulled the wagon loads of horse manure back from town. This meant that all the growers had at least one horse, even on small blocks. So even a 4 acre garden had to have a horse paddock. Vacant land was often leased by horse owners to grow green feed oats. Three crops a year could be cut but this was very debilitating for the soil. By the time the owner got his land back it was played out. One old grower I talked to said that if the last crop grew only 9 inches high you knew you had your money’s worth out of the rent paid, or manure put on. The organic material applied meant there were lots of worms in the soil and flocks of gulls followed the ploughs. They could get too close at times. One day one bird was turned under the next furrow. The ploughman stopped and rescued it. The bird squawked and the whole flock flew over the rescuer and gave him a liberal dressing of bird droppings for his pains. As well as the physical effort of working horses, a lot of maintenance was required. Wagons and cultivating gear needed repair, harness had to be oiled to extend its life and keep it supple. Plough chains and reins and worn links on swingle trees and other gear replaced. Horses had to be shod and wagon tyres and other gear replaced. Occasionally a wagon tyre would come lose and involve a careful trip to the blacksmith before it came right off and wrecked the wheel. Tom Myers was one of the smiths serving Avondale. He would take the wheel and lay it flat over a hole, to take the hub, and remove the tyre. The tyre was cut, a small section removed, and rewelded. Then old rope was wound around it. This was ignited to evenly heat it to expand it. When the tyre was hot enough it was banged onto the wheel and quickly doused with a bucket of water before the wheel could char. It was all done quite quickly and mostly by eye. The blacksmith also reshaped worn ploughshares, made new ones, and other cultivator tips and tines. The rolling skeiths on ploughs had to be replaced as they wore down, as did the large knife skeith on the Oliver plough. Growers with one horse needed a horse that would do all the different jobs on and off the garden. If a job needed two horses a neighbour’s horse was borrowed and the favour returned when needed. Heavy material, like metal from the quarry at Mt Alcontinued on page 2

By Bob Hume

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society: Saturday, 5 June 2004, 2.30 pm at the Lions Hall, corner Great North and Blockhouse Bay Roads, Avondale. Please contact the Society for details.

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oops along comes some government department/school and they made the "informed" decision that the school was an earthquake risk so down it came and up went UGLY. How historic and character-filled that school would be today if the trees and original buildings were still there. It would give a foundation and history to Avondale to physically reflect on. I remember running home at lunch time for lunch and then returning an hour later. I'd run home after school and often all my Great Aunts would be there talking as only they could. As they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and when I talk “too” much I realise it's not my fault - it's genetic. They all had a great sense of spirit and I am pleased that was passed down to me through the genes - a true gift that serves me well today. The plunket rooms were across the road from where we lived in Brown/Rosebank Road and I have visions of my mother taking my baby brother there. I see those green weighing scales and Plunket Nurses with their air of knowledge and somewhat superiority over everyone. It was all about perception because the reality probably was that the nurse was operating from the knowledge she was taught and not any true life skills of having children of her own. When my great grandmother and great grandfather built the house in Brown Street/Rosebank Road there was a tea tree path to get to Avondale - it was truly way out of Auckland. My great grandparents had a huge property (it is now a medical centre and huge parking lot) with stables and a huge villa. It was right in Avondale or as my mother's relatives referred to it as "the village". My great Aunt moved to New North Road when she married and always would telephone (l950's) and say she was coming down into the village. I'd run to the gate to wait for her and watch her coming down the hill. She would be pushing or pulling her cane trolley and would always have chewing gum for me - that is such a fond memory. Avondale was a nice place to live when I was young as it was for my mother growing up - people were born and died there. I was born in a house where both my mother and grandmother were born and my great grandmother died. Of course the early 60's saw an end of that era and Avondale changed – and people left the district - but with time comes change and cycles returning. I see Avondale slowly returning to a "village". This will take time and of course some progressive thinking - it has the foundation - it has just got somewhat distorted over the past 40 years. As they say life is a journey. My parents have both died but they had full and rich lives - they emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1960 and created the American dream. They

Horsepower continued
bert, was delivered by carriers with heavy horses and drays. The drays could tip their loads off. Eventually bread was delivered down the flat by a horsedrawn baker’s cart. Alby Mason was one of the early roundsmen. He came to the back door with his basket and fascinated the children as he had a cleft palate. His standard reply to complaints about the freshness of his bread was “we don’t bake stale bread.” Milk wasn’t delivered until fairly late on. If you didn’t have a house cow you took a billy to whoever was selling milk at the time. O’Ryans sold milk at the end of the Avenue and later from Avondale Road. Also Grices from Avondale Road East, down behind where the college is today. Robinsons also sold milk at one time. Jim Pats was one of the first milkmen to deliver milk to the flat, from their farm in Hepburn Road, with his Rugby truck. Tractors replaced farm horses and trucks replaced wagons, but for two generations horses were indispensable on the flat.

Avondale in the early 50’s by Kathy White
My family lived for four generations in Avondale, which by any standards is a long time. Probably more then any other family in Avondale and yet my own life extended far beyond Avondale. Those very young and formative years were shaped by not only the values of the early 50's but the strength I would have experienced from an extended family that had its roots strongly embedded in Avondale. The trams finished just outside our house in Rosebank Road; it was the last tram stop. We would often catch the train from the Avondale Station into Newmarket to do shopping during the school holidays. My Great Grandfather William Collins lived with us at what was referred to as Brown Street. In the 50's we had no keys to the house, it was always unlocked, and my Great Grandfather used to catch the train to Kumeu (or the last station) and then walk home. He would go out and walk for the whole day as unbelievable as that seems. I remember the long high steps up to the dental nurse's. I don't know what was worse, the steps or the dental nurse. No wonder I have a fear of heights, I knew what was going to greet me at the end of that scary climb. Avondale School had HUGE oak trees and we used to make pipes from the acorns. It was a school that was built to last and

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trived to hire a seaside cottage at one or other of Auckland’s little seaside resorts which without transport involved much planning. Just imagine getting on and off trams, boats and buses with clothing and provisions for two weeks holiday at Mairangi Bay, Browns Bay or Palm Beach on Waiheke Island. Thinking back I can only hope we showed our appreciation for her Herculean efforts. Mother, before marriage, had also purchased an 8 acre block at Riverhead, so another of our expeditions was to get into the city to catch Bradney and Binns upper harbour service, calling at such places as Birkenhead, Pine Island (now Herald Island) and Paremoremo where my uncle had an ex-serviceman’s farm which extended to the water’s edge, another of our destinations, and eventually Riverhead and the pub before our walk of two miles to our orchard holding, not to relax but to pick fruit. We may have been surrounded by fields of tobacco which produced an execrable product popular with rollyour-owners with the hopeful nomenclature “Riverhead Gold”, but our reward to spend at the local store seemed only to be coins made mainly of copper. Organisation was the key to all travel and the studying of timetables not to mention the tides. Riverhead was on a tidal estuary so of course the boat service had to coincide with high tide. One holiday took us camping to National Park. My eldest brother Jim was sent by bicycle on an errand into the village and I elected to sit on the bar. The inevitable happened and my heel caught in the spokes and sliced off a goodly sample of flesh. There was nothing to be done but to strike camp and catch the next train home. In true Railway fashion it was behind schedule by about an hour and my father exhorted the driver to put on speed as he was hoping to connect in Auckland with the Whangarei overnight train to take us to Avondale. He wired through from Frankton to request the Whangarei train be delayed on account of an injured tourist who needed to make the connection. Oh dear, were we popular! The Auckland stationmaster and staff were on hand to take care of the expected VIPs, and when they recognised my father as the culprit … well, the episode has now become part of railway history. (Just as my other childhood memories of getting off the train in downtown Auckland in the days when the romance of train travel was tempered by soot and smoke from the engines, which left you decidedly grubby at the end of the journey.) All station staff from Auckland to Whangarei were kept out of bed another hour, and we got off at Avondale to the air thick with expletives. And we were all travelling on 1st class free passes. The Railways were never likely to make a profit employing someone like father.

traveled extensively all over the world and had exposure to people and places that so many only dream of but they so often talked about Avondale. My mother said the highlight of Saturday night was drying the nappies by the fire and then they would dash across the road to Daryl's (which must have been the dairy in 1950) and get chocolate. I remember the ice man coming around and my mother going out to put pennies in the gas meter. Then of course there were the "characters" of Avondale: Sybil and her mother; apparently she used to squat in the grocery store and wee. My parents had much delight in talking about the "characters" of Avondale and my mother and father would weave a rich tapestry of words to describe them I had created images of them in my mind - it was almost like we knew them. I am so proud to say I am from Avondale.

Leisure Times by Rich Afford
It was one thing to lie snug in bed and in the still of the night when the wind was in the right direction hear the lions roaring at the zoo providing little imaginative thrills down the spine thinking they may perhaps have escaped and be looking for little boys to assuage their hunger, but it was quite another matter to actually get to the zoo from halfway to Blockhouse Bay. Mostly legs or bus. And after the day’s excitement, riding Jamuna and teasing Rajah the other elephant into a fury and satisfying ourselves that the lions were simply large pussycats secure behind bars, there was the walk home with stop at the “Old Stone Jug” the quaint old shop by the stream at the end of Motions Road to purchase a few boiled sweets and always a small bottle of eucalyptus oil to keep the antrums clear. Why oh why did it have to be demolished to supply blocks for the golf course? Most outings required boundless energy which in any event was not in short supply. Perhaps cross country to the top of Mount Albert or a bus to Blockhouse Bay either for swimming or a long walk through Craigavon Park and along Golf Road halfway to Titirangi, an area of wilderness scrub to picnic, play and return. When we graduated to Raleigh bicycles from the Farmers Trading Company of course our range of activity increased considerably. Swimming at the Bay or Point Chevalier was a breeze and to bone-shake out to Piha or Karekare or visit a sister in Papatoetoe were bold adventures. During the halcyon days of summer mother often con-

Volume 3 Issue 17 Page 4

Harry Turnbull: a “Sly Grogger” in Avondale (1915)
by Lisa Truttman
It was during World War One, in Avondale, October 1915. The NZ Corps of engineers (known as the “Avondale” Tunnelling Company) were stationed at the Avondale Racecourse for training in the ways of Army discipline for their stint later on out on the battlefields of France. An entrepreneurial sort named Harry Turnbull saw a golden opportunity and a market waiting to be capitalised on. Which was the reason police raided his shop. In August that year Turnbull came to Avondale township, and opened a “fish and soft drinks shop”, somewhere in the present-day Mainstreet area. He had once been a hotelkeeper. Within two months of his arrival on the scene in the growing shopping centre, the Defence Department chose Avondale Racecourse as the site for the Tunneller’s training, and nearly 400 members of the Expeditionary Force swelled the township’s population from October to December. Men who found themselves camped in a “dry” district, six miles by train from the pubs in the central city, and with wartime regulations which banned the selling of liquor to members of the “Defence Forces” or Expeditionary Force for consumption off-premises. The Turnbull case was to become the first tried before the courts in Auckland under these regulations. Turnbull claimed in court that he had a “friend in camp” who could not keep whiskey and beer for his own consumption there, so Turnbull took it upon himself to supply the necessary liquid refreshment from his shop. He claimed that he didn’t wish to take any money for the alcohol from the soldiers who came to his shop (on hearing the news of a liquor supplier in “dry” Avondale, so close to the camp), but took it anyway after they insisted. He claimed before the magistrate that he had “very little liquor out at his shop” (a jar of whisky and six bottles of beer, it was said). The constables who raided the premises with a search warrant after a complaint from camp officers and a trip in disguise to buy alcohol there along with a real soldier, stated that, in fact, “his shop was fitted up like a miniature bar, with glasses on the counter and in the back room.” The police found “a number of empty beer and whisky bottles strewn about.” The undercover policeman and the soldier “were supplied with drink without the slightest trouble, getting three rounds of whisky, while the soldier was given a little in a bottle to take away, the price being a shilling.” Turnbull also took money for the alcohol, and gave change, “without demur.” His legal counsel, who did not stay for the rest of the court proceedings after making one argument (leaving

Turnbull to plead his own case), asked the magistrate to consider that “the intention of the legislature was that the regulation should apply to licensees of hotels” only. This, however, was dismissed. “Outside of licensees,” Mr. F. V. Frazier, S.M. said, “there are barmen and all sorts of people, to say nothing of barmaids, that might sell liquor to the soldiers, and the intention was to put down a particularly harmful practice.” Turnbull then challenged the charges, stating that he had not admitted to selling alcohol to a soldier in uniform, claiming that the charges couldn’t stand as it had been the undercover policeman who had paid for the liquor. This was denied by the corporal there, who stated he paid the shilling, not the policeman. Turnbull was convicted and sentenced to one month’s hard labour for selling liquor to uniformed members of the Expeditionary Force.

The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank

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

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Avondale Photo Centre, 1962 Great North Road, Avondale, Phone/Fax: 09-820 6030

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