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Volume 8 Issue 47
The Avondale Historical Journal
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Incorporated
An Avondale stationmaster: Amos Eyes
The photograph above is of Amos Eyes — and apparently, although it came from the Papakura & Districts Museum run by the local historical society there, it shows him during his stint as Avondale’s stationmaster, 1889-1900 (although he was stationmaster at Papakura prior to this, c.1879-1889). The curve of the tracks behind him fit Avondale’s configuration. Compare this with the 1890s photo of the station published in Challenge of the Whau (1994). In 1884, John and James Gittos sold their family’s tannery site at Avondale, the Ingleton Estate. In 1898 Amos Eyes had title to Lots 8 and 9 of Block 1 of the estate (which included the old house Next meeting of the by Tait Street, lived in by James Gittos and possibly by A. H. Spicer even Avondale-Waterview earlier), but Eyes had purchased Lots 1-3, 4 & 5 of the same block in 1884. This was five years before Eyes became the fourth stationmaster/ Historical Society: postmaster of Avondale. Much of the following information on Amos Eyes Saturday, 6 June 2009, 2.30 pm comes from his descendants’ family historical research, plus some Lion’s Hall, additional digging I’ve done to fill in some of the gaps. Amos Eyes was born in Wolverhampton, England, c.1835. He married Sarah Ward in Stretton, County of Chester, on 30 June 1862, by which time he was already a railway inspector for goods trains, possibly for the London and Northwestern Railway Company. His eldest child, Charles (1863-1933), was born at Bushbury, one of the towns along the line, on 6 May 1863. (Charles in the 20th century was an early Waterview landowner,
corner Blockhouse Bay Road and Great North Road Please contact the Society for details.
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Papakura period – he loaned a mortgage to a Mr. Sykes for a Mt. Eden property in 1884, and he took out a title over part of the Gittos family’s Ingleton Estate at Avondale also in 1884 . At the opening of the Avondale Post Office in August 1938, H. G. R. Mason recited a brief history of the post offices in the district and their postmasters. Amos Eyes was named as combined stationmaster/postmaster at Avondale Railway Station from 1889-1900, succeeding J. Leach (1881-1884), H. F. Howard (1884-1885), and H Bell (1885-1889). Why, if Amos Eyes was still in Papakura up to 1889, did he invest in property at Mt Eden and Avondale? According to the report of his funeral in 1901, he did have a residence in Papakura. While he was here, though, he may have stayed at the house once lived in by James Gittos, which had occupied the site of today’s Islamic Centre. He was our stationmaster by October 1889, when the station was robbed. Little further is known about his time here in Avondale, except that as at 1895 he was on an annual salary of £140, which rose to £150 by the time he left the service. He probably retired in 1900, perhaps from illness (he had been ill for 10 weeks before he died on 12 January 1901.) From the Weekly News, 18 January 1901:
“The funeral of the late Mr. Amos Eyes, late railway stationmaster, of Avondale, who, after 10 weeks of severe illness, died at his residence here [in Papakura], on January 12, aged 66 years, took place on January 14, and was largely attended by relatives and sympathising friends, who, by their attendance, and by many floral tributes, showed their last tribute of respect to the memory of one well known and much esteemed here. The Rev. O. R. Hewlett was the officiating minister, and he conducted an impressive service in the Anglican Church, where two suitable hymns were sung (Mr. A. G. Fallwell presiding at the organ), and at the grave. The deceased leaves a widow, two sons (one married), and four daughters (two of whom are married) to mourn their loss.”
after being a farmer in Papakura, and in Waima in Northland). Amos, Sarah and young Charles arrived in Auckland for the first time on board the Golden City from London, 5 March 1864; two children were born in Freemans Bay — Amos John Thomas (16 March 1867, died 1935 in Te Atatu) and Minnie (born and died, 1869). Then, around 1870, the family left New Zealand, only to return 23 March 1871, on board the Caduceus. As was common in those days, young Amy who was born on board during the voyage (17 January 1871, one day before the ship crossed the equator. She died in Ponsonby 1946) was christened with “Caduceus” as her middle name. For a time, the family lived in Epsom where, in October 1872, another child was born (and sadly died that year). On 7 June 1873, Amos Eyes wrote to the Railways Department asking for employment on the Auckland and Waikato railway. He was eventually successful. Judging by the period of service, 25 years 1 month, noted beside his name on the first published list of railway employees in 1895 (AJHR), Amos Eyes began working for the department in May 1874. By January 1875 he was a ticket collector on the southern Auckland suburban line.
“Breach of the Railway Act. — John Adeane was charged with a bleach of the 10th bye-law of the Auckland and Onehunga Railway, by refusing to deliver up his ticket on demand of the porter authorised to collect the same on the 26th instant. — Mr. Thome prosecuted on behalf of the railway authorities. — Amos Eyes deposed that on Saturday the 26th inst, he was acting as ticket collector. After leaving the racecourse platform at Ellerslie, witness asked the defendant for his ticket. Defendant said he had lost his ticket, and he refused to pay the fare. - John Kernley was called by defendant, and stated that he was in the train, and heard the defendant say that if he did not find the ticket between there and Auckland, he would pay on arrival at the Auckland station. — The defendant was further charged with making use of obscene and insulting language on the 26th instant to James Stewart, a railway officer .— His Worship considered each charge proved on the evidence of the Railway Manager, ticket collector, and Constable Naughton. For refusing to give up his ticket, it being the first case of the kind brought before the Court, the defendant was ordered to pay 1s. and costs. For the second offence a fine of 40s. was imposed.” (Southern Cross, 1 January 1875)
Amos Eyes was one of the stationmasters at Papakura south of Auckland from around 1879 (the station opened there in March 1875 and was for a time the last station on Auckland's suburban Southern line). He certainly owned blocks of land in the district: 2 blocks at Kirikiri, Opaheke Parish from 2 October 1879, and another smaller block at Opaheke Parish from 20 June 1881. This is according to his will, made out on 26 September 1879, when he was stationmaster there. Three of his children were born at Papakura: Lily Antigone (1877-1960), Lois Mable (b. 1878) and Daisy Effie (b. 1882). So, he may have been at Papakura from c.1877 until 1889. He had interests in Auckland, however, during the
The Avondale and Papakura properties were in Sarah Eyes’ name until she died in 1924. Her daughter Amy and son Charles inherited the estate as trustees, and in 1926 subdivided the Avondale property for sale. Tait Street was named by the Eyes family, after William J. Tait, the thenMayor of Avondale Borough, and dedicated. Robert Earnest Steele and his wife Beatrice Adelaide purchased most of the present-day Islamic Centre site in 1929 – NA601/38 (the Seventh Day Adventist Church purchased part in 1937 where they built a hall – NA693/189). The church purchased the remainder, up to the corner of Tait Street and Blockhouse Bay Road, in 1955. The present buildings date from between 1960 and 1987. The old wooden house from Amos Eyes’ time and possibly decades before, if it still existed then, was demolished. My thanks to Charles M. Eyes, his cousin Stan Eyes, staff at Archives New Zealand and Auckland City Libraries, and the Papakura and Districts Historical Society. — Lisa J Truttman
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Drawing the line: the establishment of the Whau Highway District
In terms of Avondale’s history, the establishment of the Whau Highway District in October 1868 seems to have come about almost as a result not so much from the settlers’ will as it was that of the Superintendent of the Provincial Council. While there were landowners from the Whau who had put their names to the February 1866 petition to the Superintendent for the Mt Albert district board to come into being, by the time the new Highway District was gazetted in October of that year, only a sliver of Avondale had been included. All of Blockhouse Bay and virtually all of New Windsor (placed under Mt Roskill Highway Board control by the beginning of 1868), plus all of Rosebank and Waterview lay outside the Mt Albert Highway District boundaries. The new highway district included Josiah Buttress’ Stoneleigh farm, Buchanan and Palmer’s lands leading down to the Whau River, half of today’s Avondale Racecourse, the present area from upper Rosebank Road to Wolverton Street east of Great North Road, then land bounding Oakley Creek until the line headed east again. The Whau Presbyterian Church, for example, was now in Mt Albert; the Whau Hotel, just down the road, and the local store, was not. In June 1867, and the Superintendent announced intentions to extend the already factional Mt Albert district even further – this time, including Rosebank and Waterview, as well as the Sandringham, Newton and Arch Hill areas. The Mt Albert ratepayers gathered at the Whau Road schoolroom, and heard Dr. Thomas Aickin, chairman of the meeting (whose property had been outside the 1866 district boundary). A deputation had already called on the Superintendent, who “was of opinion that the districts should be as well defined as possible, as well as in many instances much more extended in area than at present.” (Southern Cross, 29 June 1867) John Bollard (whose property had also been outside the 1866 district boundary) attended the next public meeting on 3 July. He proposed, “That the whole of the district shown on the plan be divided as follows, vis., that portion of land south-east of the present Mount Albert district be amalgamated with the Mount Albert district; the district between Cox's Creek and the Whau to be a separate district; and the southern portion, near the town, as shown on the plan, to be constituted into a suburban district." He thought that under the present circumstances it would not be advisable to have the Mount Albert district enlarged.” Thomas John Sansom from Waterview seconded the proposition. Mr. Galbraith from Mt Albert proposed instead that the Mt Albert district remain the size it already was. (SC 4 July 1867) Of course, wishing for everything to remain the way it was in 1866 was a bit like the metaphorical ostrich with its head in the sand. The Provincial Government’s gears continued to grind slowly toward establishing Mt Albert as a dominant territorial authority, with both suburban and rural ratepayers and all the arguments that entailed, whether the settlers liked it or not. The Mt Roskill Highway District was in the process of being formed by September 1867. What we now know as Blockhouse Bay was drawn into the boundaries of this new district, and parts of the south-eastern corner of Mt Albert wanted to join in. Nevertheless, in December 1867, Mt Albert’s new boundaries were gazetted, taking in all of Avondale and Waterview north of Wolverton Street, but placing New Windsor and Blockhouse Bay with the new Mt Roskill district. The Mt Albert ratepayers were not pleased. At a public meeting in March 1868, they instructed that the Superintendent be advised that they wanted the boundaries back to the way they were in 1866, with the exception of the Sandringham area. (SC, 18 March 1868) This, however, did nothing to change the situation. What probably did more to settle the boundaries down to those with which we are more familiar was the establishment from 1868 of local educational districts. The one for the Whau was massive then, taking in the Henderson area, and included Blockhouse Bay. There were contrasts between the Whau district and that of Mt Albert – Whau settlers voted to have a special rate for educational purposes, while the Mt Albert ratepayers, despite the urgings from John Buchanan, voted against such a move. (SC 7 May 1868) In September, the Whau settlers met at the Public Hall, and decided they wanted a separate district. A deputation from Mt Albert approached the Superintendent that month, recommending that the Whau district be separated, and he said he’d think about it. (SC 17 September 1868). Five days later, the Whau settlers held another meeting at the Whau Hotel, this time to vote on establishing their own highway district, (SC 23 September 1868) and sent their own deputation to the Superintendent, made up of John Holloway, John Bollard, George Thomas and William Motion. They asked for the Oakley Creek to be the new boundary, and to have New Windsor, Stoneleigh and Blockhouse Bay included. William Motion, from the Low & Motion Mill at Western Springs wanted to be included in the new district – which would have meant that the Whau district would have taken in the asylum grounds and possibly even Pt Chevalier as well. Mainly, this was because he didn’t want to be included in with the Newton district. (SC 25 September, 1868) Another meeting, this one of the Mt Albert settlers, was held on 29 September. There were long discussions about the new Whau district, mainly concerning the New North Road (which, with the adjusted boundaries, would have its extreme western end under Whau control beyond Oakley Creek). Mr. Phillips proposed “That, in the
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John Buchanan agreed with Bollard. Fortunately for them, so did Joseph May, the chairman of the Mt Roskill Board, who apparently recognised that it would be better for the Whau to have New Windsor and Blockhouse Bay than it would for these two areas of hilly scrub and wilderness to remain under his control. Their remoteness caused John Holloway to express his doubts, but he was reassured by Bollard that they wouldn’t become a road-cost burden to the Whau district. (SC 7 September 1869) The new boundaries were soon gazetted. Much of Blockhouse Bay was Crown land at that stage, the main land sales still two decades away. Bollard gambled that (a) a canal would go through to the Manukau coastline close to Blockhouse Bay, and (b) that settlement there would mean a rates intake to pay for roading. He succeeded in having Blockhouse Bay Road formed in the 1880s-1890s, the backbone of the by-then Avondale Road Board district, but his predictions as to the canal and rate of settlement were way off. The state of Blockhouse Bay’s roads were to be a point of contention well into the 20th century, and contributed to the causes of the amalgamation of Avondale with Auckland City in 1927. The boundaries that were agreed on in 1869, though, still form the basis for the Avondale Ward boundaries within Auckland City today.
— Lisa J Truttman
opinion of the ratepayers convened at this meeting, it is undesirable that the boundaries of the Mount Albert district should be so altered as to divide the control and supervision of any portion of the New North Road. In moving this resolution the speaker said it was not likely that the people living at one end of the road would care about having their money spent on the other end.” Bollard retorted, “… the ratepayers of the Mount Albert district took a very narrow-minded view of affairs. It was not likely that the end of the road in question would be neglected by the Whau settlers, as it was to their interest to keep it in good repair. He did not think it right that the Mount Albert people should thrust their district right into the heart of the Whau. It had no right to go so far as it did and in all probability it never would have done so if certain parties in the Whau District had not wished to be tacked to the Mount Albert District, but every one of the people who had then wished to go into that district had now petitioned to be cut off again. It was most unreasonable for them to wish to cut the Whau into halves. He, as a ratepayer of the Whau, would be prepared to spend a fair proportion of the rates on the end of the New North Road.” The meeting voted to approach the Superintendent and state agreement as to the establishment of the separate Whau district. (SC 30 September 1868) In October, the Whau Highway District came into being, but didn’t include Blockhouse Bay and New Windsor. In September 1869, the Whau ratepayers met to consider the notion of amalgamating those parts of Mt Roskill’s district with their own. In Bollard’s opinion, “The Whau Highway District was far too small, and it would be for them that evening to consider the propriety of enlarging it by a union with part of the Mount Roskill district The interests of the two districts were identical, and they would be in a better position to form the roads most urgently required were the district extended, so as to include a larger area of ground and a proportionately increased number of ratepayers.” In particular, even then, Bollard had a plan to form a long road to the Manukau Harbour, which we now know as Blockhouse Bay Road.
I was advised in February of the death of AWHS member Fay Riley of Mangawhai Heads. Our thoughts and condolences to her family. Another AWHS member, Tresna Miller, née Fearon, died in March. Tresna was a lifelong supporter of the Avondale Baptist Church, and was involved with a number of community activities during her life, including Girls Life Brigade and the Avondale Merry Makers. Our thoughts and condolences to her family.
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: email@example.com Society information: Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate Website: www.geocities.com/avondalehistory/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.