November—December 2008

Volume 8 Issue 44

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

The School Hall (former manual training block), from the reunion booklet, 1970

“I’m delighted,” says AHJ Editor
Well, the Manual Training Blocks have certainly stirred up memories among you dear readers! Here’s two more letters received: Dear Lisa, In past issues of the Avondale Historical Journal I read with interest articles relating to the old Avondale Manual Training Block. I attended this manual training school 1940-41. My school was (in those days) the two-room two-teacher Waitakere Next meeting of the Primary School. Because of the restricted train service we standard 5 Avondale-Waterview and 6 pupils attended all day but only attended once a fortnight, not Historical Society: every week for half a day as some schools did. I cannot remember which day of the week we went. We caught the fast Helensville to Saturday, 6 December 2008, 2.30 pm Lion’s Hall, Auckland train at Waitakere Station at twenty minutes to eight arriving at Avondale Station at about a quarter past eight. The school must have corner Blockhouse Bay Road and Great North Road opened for us at half past eight because I cannot remember having to wait until nine o'clock. Perhaps this was because we had to leave about half past two in order to catch a train that left Avondale before three o'clock. (to page 2)

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Volume 8 Issue 44 Page 2
or each. He gave the boy at the end bench the wood, nail and hammer and told him to drive the nail in about ½ way. It was then passed to his bench mate who had to pull the nail out. Now the block and the nail were passed to the next bench and so on around the whole class. Boys learnt to use another block to assist pulling the nail out. Everything was doled out carefully. If you needed a few nails or screws you were told to wait at his office door which was never closed. After three or four were waiting Bergy would come charging up, look at the queue and dash into the office and emerge with his strap because you must be there to be strapped. He didn't actually do it and after mumbled denials you got your nails etc. But it did keep us guessing. His other method of discipline was far more dramatic. All would be reasonably quiet and suddenly a lump of timber would hurtle through the air and land on someone's bench accompanied by the cry "You sawny yob. What are you doing?" The offender was probably making chips or worse still improving the finish of the bench with a chisel. Bergy must have been a good shot as I don't remember him hitting anyone. He used to make wooden toys and one day the lesson was how to use the big dividers to make circles. This he demonstrated on two sets of 2" blocks which had been nailed together. Two of us were then given these doubled blocks and sent with half-a-crown (25c) to the joinery factory by Victor Street to have them cut out with the bandsaw. They were going to be the wooden wheels of Bergy's latest construction. It must have happened many times before because the foreman took the money and remarked, "The old sod flogging timber again!" He then looked at the nice round circles and said, "They aren't round" and proceeded to freehand them with his pencil. We didn't tell Bergy when we returned with his wheels.

This train, consisting of many freight wagons, two passenger cars and a guards van was known locally as the "Cocky's Express", possibly because it travelled at about the same pace (or so it seemed) that herd of milking cows walked to the shed. I remember Mr. Burgess well. I got on well with him but a few unfortunate boys were occasionally called, "A sawney ape,” or something like that. Murray Becroft in his letter asked, "Is sawney a word?” My 1994 Collins dictionary states: Sawney 1. a derogatory word for Scotsman. 2. a fool. Cl8. a Scots variant of Sandy, short for Alexander. But perhaps more importantly my great-grandfather's Websters 1856 dictionary states: Sawney A nickname for a Scotchman; corrupted from Sandy, Alexander. (Vulgar) (Noah Webster lists both Scot and Scotch as 'a native of Scotland'.) I also remember the lady teacher in the attached girls room which was nearer the Great North Road than our room. I seem to remember that her name was Miss Potts (appropriate for a cooking class teacher we thought) and I seem to recall that she did get married to a Mr. White. Ben Copedo

At the northern end of the playing fields was the Manual Block. This catered for woodwork for boys and cooking for girls from several West Auckland schools. Mr Burgess was the woodwork teacher. By the time you were in Standard 4 you would look through the high windows and see the many aeroplanes etc. dangling from the roof and want to see inside. When at last you met 'Old Bergy' and had your first lesson some doubt probably arose as to whether you really did want to stay inside. Very economical on materials was Mr Burgess. The first lesson was a piece of 4x2 about 12" long, a 3" nail and a hammer — per class, not per bench of two boys

In front of the Manual Block, between it and the road, was a small plantation of native trees always known as 'Bergy's Jungle'. He had labelled many of the trees. It was just large enough to snuck in for a highly illegal smoke if you could get a cigarette. We probably learned quite a few practical skills from Bergy and no one that passed through his classes will ever forget his war cry "You sawny yob" preceded by the crash of a block of timber landing. Bob Hume

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Peter and Beverley Dawson, members of the St Jude’s Church parish, gave such wonderful speeches on Saturday 27 September that I invited them to include the text in this issue of the Journal. Thank you, once again, Peter and Beverley, for sharing these with us. — Editor

H.F. Lees (1894 - 1918) Devoted Parishioner St Jude's
by Peter Dawson
As you came into church today you may have noticed a marble monument on the wall of the porch that reads “To the Glory of God. This font and tablet were erected to the memory of those who gave their lives for us during the Great War 1914 - 1918. Their name liveth for evermore.” One of the eight names listed on the tablet is that of my uncle H. F. Lees whom I had never met. He was killed in France on the 1st September 1918. I was born on the 29 June 1933. Henry Frederick Lees ( Uncle Harry) was born on 25th October l894 in Avondale, and lived in Brown St (now Rosebank Rd) at the end of Layard St). He attended the Avondale Primary School 5 Feb 1900 to 16 Dec 1908. He was active in The Church of St Jude and enjoyed the Worship, Sunday school and Bible Class. Confirmed 10 Sunday after Trinity 1909. Harry worked as a packer for Whittome & Stevenson's Tomato Sauce manufactures Carleton Gore Rd Newmarket. He enlisted in the Army April 4th 1916 at Trentham Army Camp Number 25371. He was killed in action in France Sept 1st 1918, and buried in the Barncourt British Cemetery two miles east of Bapaume in France. The Cemetery Records State “LEES Pte Henry Frederick 25371 2nd Bn.Auckland Regt N.Z.E.F. Killed In action 1st Sept., 1918 age 23, son of John and Edith Lees, Auckland New Zealand. LB. Headstone 22. " It always difficult to recall dates but about 13 years ago we went to the Church of St Jude in Avondale for the 10am morning service as we had done for the past 50 years and found that the marble monument to the servicemen who were killed in the first world war (1914-1918) had been taken down from the wall, as the interior of the church was being painted. We looked for the name of H. F. Lees and found it had been misspelled as H.T. Lees. We were very fortunate in having as a parish priest the Rev. Bob Mortimore who was keen on detail. We informed him of the error and proved it with Harry's war record, the entry in his confirmation prayer book, and the engraved list in marble wall at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. As we always want things correct we arranged to have a Monumental Mason at our expense correct the mistake. Fortunately he was an old friend and never charged us. We have been to France several times but we never had the chance to visit Harry's grave, which we were keen to do. Fortunately our youngest daughter Deborah and her husband Garth (Pennington) took an extended holiday in France in 2003,they had a car and were able to visit the grave, signed the visitors book, and took photos.

My recollection of St Jude's Parish Hall
by Beverley Dawson
The parish hall was built in 1907 at a cost of £295 with ante rooms added later by Mr Spargo. The first time I was involved with the hall was in 1940. As a young child I was living with my Aunt on the New North Road a few houses along from Pak ‘N Save going towards Avondale. I used to love riding along our concrete drive on my scooter, and then to sit on the gate and watch conveys of trucks carrying soldiers towards the military camp at the Avondale Racecourse. One day when I was in my usual place at the gate a gentleman stopped and said “Little girl would you like to come to Sunday school at St Jude's?” I ran inside and asked my Aunt if I could go to Sunday school. My Aunt contacted the Vicar, the Rev John Henry Cable (the man who had spoken to me) and it was arranged that I could go to Sunday school. I found myself in a class with a small group of girls in St Jude's hall every Sunday. On looking round the Hall I found that there were several groups of children present. My class was by the stage on the left hand side where the serving hatch is now located. I liked going to Sunday school and loved the pretty little cards with a picture and verse on them. I remember looking round the hall and telling the Sunday school class that I was going to be a flower girl at my cousin’s wedding who was being married at St Jude's but I said in a loud voice that she was not having the wedding breakfast in this scoungy old hall. However Winifred my husband’s cousin was married at St Jude's on the 1st December 1945 and did have her wedding breakfast in St Jude's hall. I recall that there were huge wooden doors folded against the wall that were used to divide the hall in to schoolrooms and legend has it that it was used by Avondale School during the war as an overflow. These were later removed and were replaced by long wooden boxes mounted on the wall, containing curtains, which could be drawn across the hall. Over the years the Hall has seen constant improvement, the stage was removed, to enable a badminton court to be installed for the use of the Youth and Ladies group in the parish, and the toilets refurbished. The kitchen was renovated and a serving hatch installed which has made the serving of refreshments much easier.

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come information on the other 7. An interesting aside: the 8 lads who never returned were about 20% of the bachelor congregation. This created a scarcity in men available for marriage and the same figures or worse would apply to the general population. Editor’s note: Some information is available on the Auckland Museum’s Cenotaph database, but we’d appreciate any info on the following names: George Belcher John Henry Allen Bollard Roy Buchanan Leslie Rotorua Darrow J. Dixon Frederick Myers Sidney Joseph Sadler It is with deep regret that I advise of the death of Nola Ross Brehmer, a member and supporter of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society since we started in 2002. Nola was born in 1927, and died on 24th September 2008. Our thoughts and condolences are extended to Nola’s husband Kurt, the Brehmer family, and Nola’s many friends. Thank you, Nola, for sharing part of your life with us.

Their description of the cemetery follows "The cemetery is not as big as we expected, a few hundred graves in the middle of a flat field. A lot of the graves were of unknown soldiers, so it was great his name was on the headstone that he shares with another soldier. It seems a lot of them died on the same day, September 1st 1918. The war ended on November 11th 1918. The cemetery is very well maintained there are lots of flowers planted around the graves, which is nice. We wondered how long he was in the war, and how long he had to traipse around in the muddy fields, it is very flat land and would be hard place to hide in. There are lots of other cemeteries in the same area for Australian and British Troops. “It was bitterly cold when we visited on Sunday but not raining so that was good. We placed a yellow bunch of flowers on the grave with a card that read: “To dear Uncle Harry, your Bravery will always be remembered. With our Love Forever. Debbie and Garth Pennington, Your Nephew Peter, Beverley, and all the Dawson family. xxxxx” As far as we know Deborah and Garth would be the only members of the family who have visited the grave in the 85 years since Harry was buried.

There are 8 names on the marble Memorial I would wel-

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by: the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. Editor: Lisa J. Truttman Society contact: 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804 Fax: (09) 828-8497, email: Society information: Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate Website: index Copies of Avondale Historical Journal and AWHS Newsletter produced for us by Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road, Blockhouse Bay. The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank

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

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