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September—October 2009 Volume 9 Issue 49

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

Archibald Brothers
of Avondale, 1913

This is a photocopy of the front page of The New Zealand Motor & Cycle Journal of 25 February 1913, sent to me by
Bruce & Wilma Madgwick of the Otahuhu Historical Society.

The caption beneath the photo: “30 h.p. two-ton Lacre lorry supplied to Messrs. Archibald Brothers, brick and pipe
manufacturers, Avondale, by Messrs. Holland and Gillett, North Island agents for the Lacre Motor Company. As proof of
the great saving in time effected through the employment of this vehicle, it may be mentioned that a two and a-half ton
load of pipes was conveyed from the works at Avondale into the city, a distance of seven miles, in ten minutes under the
hour, as compared to two and a-half hours occupied by the horse-drawn lorries."

The Archibald Brothers were: David, John, Ernest Alexander and Frank Herbert. Their father James Archibald took part in
the search for Rev. David Hamilton in July 1873 and was involved with Whau/Avondale affairs. Their pottery works was
one of the first businesses to have a telephone connection in 1913. They were to remain the owners there, running the yard
at the end of Avondale Road, until bought out by the Amalgamated Brick and Tile Company.

According to Jack Diamond in Once the Wilderness: "In 1909 his Next meeting of the
[James’] sons opened a pipe works on a promontory known as Dr.
Aitken's [sic] on the opposite side of the Whau and downstream
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
from their father's brickyard. Here, until it closed down in 1929, Saturday, 10 October 2009, 2.30 pm
all sizes of glazed pipes were produced. One of the first motor (second Saturday in the month)
vehicles in the district was that used by the Archibald Bros. to Lion’s Hall,
transport their products to Avondale Station."
corner Blockhouse Bay Road and Great
North Road
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 49
Page 2

The Local Bugs
By Don Gwilliam

(From the Editor) Don writes in his covering letter to I race off to the bug house. Mrs. Hayward is in the
me: “You probably never had the doubtful pleasure of ticket box. She surveys us with a superior air and takes
attending a Saturday matinee at the Avondale Town our sixpence in exchange for two admit ones. The lame
Hall as the pictures were advertised, long before the doorman is there as usual. He takes the tickets and
place had a name. Mrs. Hayward was a force to be allows us to enter bedlam. Somewhere Victor Sylvester
reckoned with. It deserves to be recorded. Movie shows is playing. It’s always the same record — well, the bits
are no longer like I remember them. Whether that’s for that rise above the other noise in the hall always sound
better or worse I’m not sure. that way. Mum calls all Victor Sylvester stuff bug
house music. We’ve found seats with a good view of
Picture theatres were commonly called bug houses. the screen, but safe from the richer kids upstairs who
They often smelled of Lysol or strong disinfectant. throw things or spit on the poor beneath.
Mum sort of disapproved of such places.
Her aunt had been bitten by some nasty As usual we are only just in time. Victor
insect at one. Later, the story goes, she Sylvester isn’t on anymore and Mrs.
was silly enough to go back to the same Hayward has decided her theatre patrons
place, only because there was no other need a dose of discipline and is now
place she could see a certain film. Of standing on the stage. She sucks her
course, she was nipped again and the teeth, stands erect — and waits. And
infection went wild. We were forbidden waits. Now it is quiet enough to be
to ever go to that theatre — ever. heard. Mrs. Hayward issues her weekly
plea, “Please children, don’t stand on the
seats. They may collapse and trap your
I suppose all families have their pet
legs.” The kids aren’t impressed and are
names for things. One of ours is The
getting noisy again. Gradually they
Local Bugs. Short for local bug house,
realise Mrs. Hayward is going to
another name for the flea pit or picture
continue. She waits. Quiet again. Now
theatre. The local bugs isn’t really a
she gives us a choice of the film to be
theatre anyway and it hasn’t got a fancy
name either. The building was made as
the Avondale Town Hall way back in
“I have two films here. There is a love
1915 and reflects the style of the times, heavy classical
story, The Blue Gardenia, a beautiful picture, lovely
façade, columns and all, fronting a large almost win-
story, very romantic and it has singing and dancing …”
dowless, barn like, concrete structure. But it is the pic-
She can no longer be heard. The lady stops. Quietness
tures now and that makes it important in our 1940s sub-
is returning. “The other film is Rustlers Range.” She
says it with obvious distaste. “Gene Autry is in it —”
Saturday mornings are always much the same these Her words are lost, this time in clapping and cheering.
days, gloriously sunny and not much to do. I wander up Resigned that she can’t guide us in the right cultural
the road to George’s and we sit lethargic in the sun and direction, Mrs. Hayward stalks off the stage. The drums
yarn. George is sure to ask, “Goinflicksarvo?” Goin- are rolling. We stand and it’s God Save The King, only
flicksarvo would have made a good title for this little the first few bars to a blank screen. The lights go out
essay. It means “Are you going to the Local Bugs this and the shorts are on.
Saturday afternoon?” It's always a difficult question.
George knows he is allowed to go, but my fate always Soon it’s the serial, the climax of the shorts, always
seems to be in the balance till the last minute. I always with an untouchable hero, Tom Mix or Kit Carson or
want to go to the bugs though so I say, “Yes, I’m going some other bloke that always scrapes through an
and what’s on anyway?” unbelievable catastrophe at the end of every episode.
There it is again. The hero has survived. There he goes,
Dad works till midday. Most fathers do on Saturdays. jumping clear just as the train plunges off the blown up
By the time we have got through the big roast dinner, bridge. Last week he got out of an exploding barn, the
George has arrived and is fretting because it’s almost time before he escaped sure death under the wheels of
two o’clock. Finally the deliberations are made, the law the stage coach by hanging onto the frame. George is
is laid down, my ninepence is doled out and George and asking me, “Do you remember The Iron Claw?” We
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 49
Page 3
shiver with involuntary dread. That serial was so there’s a love bit on is the noise. Sometimes we all
frightening the kids had nightmares and it had to be stamp and yell out and Mrs. Hayward gets mad and
taken off. Now today’s episode is ending. Tom Mix puts on the lights to simmer us down.
can’t survive this one. Not this time because he
actually did fall right into the rock crusher. I watched Anyway this film isn’t too bad. The Indians have
very carefully and he didn’t jump aside. And the lights attacked the pioneer’s wagon twice so far and a baddie
are on again, but I will have to come next week just to has just been sliced off his horse by a wire strung
be sure. For now it’s interval. across the trail. There will be a shoot out soon and I’m
going to watch really closely cause Dad says six-
Well the Local Bugs isn’t flash like the pictures in shooters in cowboy pictures never need reloading. Oh
town or even the Ambassador at Point Chev which no! It’s not going into a range war. The cowboys are
have curtains. Here the big screen stares blankly out going to ride slowly along in the dusk singing love
into the auditorium, defaced by a big sewn-in patch songs. Here goes, someone’s rocking the seats again
that isn’t visible when a film is on. Rumour has it that and Mrs. Hayward is roaming the aisles spotting with
when they showed The Phantom of the Opera the film her torch. The projector here must be a bit sick. After
burst into flames, the heat was projected on to the a while the picture gets all dark and hard to see, then it
screen and burned it up too. I’m glad I wasn’t here. gets very bright again. It just did it a moment ago so
Anyway that was at night and I’ve only been a few now the fight in the bar room looks much better.
times at night. Once was with cousin Ronny and good- Something to do with the carbons in the lamp house
ness knows why I was allowed because the picture according to Uncle Hec who knows all about showing
was The Uninvited, all very scary with curtains pictures.
blowing and windows slamming in the dark. Ugh.
Actually the bug house does have a few curtains. Long You can tell a picture is finishing. George is standing
blue ones that stretch down from covering the small up. The lights aren’t on yet, but it’s all over all right.
high up windows at the top of the walls. Teacher says Gene Autry is kissing this girl and the music is all
they are there to stop the sound echoing when not sloppy. Yep, it’s over. The kids are pushing into the
many people are there. Mum reckons it’s because the aisles. That lame joker that collects the tickets must
paint is peeling and the walls are dirty. Perhaps that’s stay at the door right through. Still there.
why the lights are so dull too.
Cor, it’s bright out here. The low sun hits straight in
Downstairs where the floor is flat, the seats — and your eyes as you go down the steps into St Georges
they are pretty rough ones — are screwed to long Street to join in crushing through into Whales dairy
boards so they are easy to move around. The kids for our preferred milk block and a twist of boiled lol-
often rock them about and here we go, they’re doing it lies. Threepence total. We elbow a path through the
now. Getting noisy. The bug house music is incomers, stumble to the street and can breathe once
completely submerged in the racket. Mrs. Hayward more.
will be out in a minute to put down the uprising. Here
In these petrol rationed and near carless days the air is
she is. The noise is subsiding. I bet she cuts interval
fresh, the sun warm and bright. Together George and I
short to settle the kids down. Whales, who run the
cowboy off on the trail of some Avondale villain. The
dairy next door won’t like that.
Local Bugs fade in the dust of our dreams as tireless
No warning, no soft dimming of lights, no build up to legs speed us on and on until, breathing as if it had
start the main feature here. It’s all pretty direct really. been an easy stroll we fetch up on the railway bridge.
Bug house music stops, lights go out, up comes the
censor’s certificate for a moment and the show is on. “Gointuhtheflicks next week?’ asks George.
Predictable stuff mostly, cowboys and Indians, Indians
and settlers, cowboys and settlers, cowboys and
bandits, settlers and bandits, and Indians, and even the
U.S. cavalry. Unusual to get Abbott and Costello, With deep regret, we record the death of David
Harold Lloyd, George Formby or best of all the Marx Francis Gardner, the first and only honorary member
Brothers, but we live in hope. Anyway today it’s Gene of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society. Dave
Autry and sadly he’s getting mixed up in some of that died on 23 June 2009, aged 63. The Society gave
sloppy singing, love time-wasting which film studios him honorary membership in recognition for the
stick into an otherwise good tale. That’s when we look considerable information he sought for us regarding
around the theatre watching the projector beam flick- the archaeological sites along Oakley Creek and the
ing and changing as it strikes through the dusty air. Do Rosebank Peninsula. Dave was a lovely person, and
you know, George used to think those rays were from he will be sadly missed.
the usher’s torch upstairs? Another way of telling
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 49
Page 4
There has been response to my request in the last issue for any
memories or information related to the ATTA cab company.
I’ve been told that ATTA stands for Any Time To Anywhere,
and Keith Rusden from Blockhouse Bay Historical Society has
helped out with the photo at left (here’s his caption):
“With Chub MEPHAN’s Taxi (ATTA) as a background, in
Exeter Rd, Barry and Keith RUSDEN with their cousin Joy
Beverley MEPHAN.”

Thanks, Keith!

Of early taxis,
and fun on the beach ...


“Photo of Mr. & Mrs. Sinclair GRACE and Dog
'RUSTY' at Blockhouse Bay Beach early 1950s
(probably 1949 -1951)”

Courtesy Ian Grace, who very kindly emailed
this image to me and gave me permission to
publish it here. Thanks, Ian!

The Avondale Historical Journal
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Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804
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