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March—April 2014

Volume 13 Issue 76

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

Ploughing the Rosebank Fields

Mark McVeigh showed me this image at a recent meeting, which I thought as perfect for the cover of the Journal. From Mark’s email: “This photo was taken about 1908 at the Fransham farm on Orchard St., with my Grandfather Reginald McVeigh aged about 21 and his future brothers-in-laws: Herbert born c.1903 beside him, Stanley born 1897 who was killed June 1917 in World War I, and Raymond born 1895, who went to war with Stanley and was wounded the next day.” Benjamin Harding Fransham by the turn of the 20th century owned most of the land today bounded by Orchard and Oregon Streets, and Avondale and Rosebank Roads. Thanks, Mark!

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society: At St Ninians, St Georges Road (opp. Hollywood Cinema) SATURDAY, 5 April 2014, 2.00 pm

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lathe, something actually achievable, but not in such a large class in the constraint of forty minute periods even allowing for doubles. Yet I did learn elementary lathework and screwcutting too, a smattering about welding, making castings and plenty about filing with blunt files or hack-sawing with gap toothed blades, all done with Curly breathing down one’s neck ready to grumble disapproval. Perhaps we almost learned as much from Ray Haddon, a classmate whom Curly had allowed and helped build an engine. Sadly Ray's project wasn't finished either. And here is something about Curly which most missed or failed to find: He seemed aware of his short comings. He recognised there were better ways of teaching and that the visual was the key. Bit by bit he wrote a book. Regularly he reminded us how his book would revolutionise the teaching of engineering. Sadly he never showed us in practice the methods he extolled in his book and continued on in his uninspiring way, enlivened only by his overwhelming personality. Years later Curly's book was published. Of course I bought one. Everything he promised of it was fulfilled. Hundreds of pages of large hand-drawn diagrams with brief accompanying explanations, a classic of its kind. Not all of it was Curly's work. Any trainee unlucky enough to do a teaching section in the Avondale Engineering Department or beginning teachers posted there seem to have contributed. The book didn't scoop the market. Sad that. My copy of A Pictorial Textbook of Engineering, Unity Press, Auckland, is a respected title on my shelves. I've only seen one other copy. When I became an Engineering teacher at Whangarei Boys' High there was one copy in the department library. Had the school had class sets I would have used them. The book got Curly out of schools though and eventually into MacMillan Publishing in the U.K. And a totally different life. If the Northern Advocate is to be believed- and it's fairly accurate— Curly visited Whangarei many years later as part of a world or Pacific cruise on his yacht. He was retired from publishing and accompanied by his secretary (?) or girlfriend (?) who sang for a week or two at a local restaurant. I nearly went to see him and didn't. That news cutting is lost, but others are glued into my copy of his book. Curly often left the class to its own devices during Tech Drawing. Once he had to go to a meeting, so plugged in his brand new Phillishave and whilst telling us how wonderful these new gadgets were, buzzed his face over and wandered off. Some wag was quick to chalk a remarkable caricature of him on the blackboard, complete with the words, "See see, performing flea. Shaved

Curly
by Don Gwilliam
With a minimal understanding of slang it was ages before I twigged that Avondale College's 1950s Engineering teacher was called Curly because of his total lack of hair. He, Mr L W D Ball, had as his first name Leicester because, so the rumour went, all of his siblings were named for English cities. That might have been true since another Mr Ball, a metalwork teacher, again by rumour said to be Curly's brother, had the first name of Warwick. The story went further in that Curly's own sons followed the same tradition. Sixty five years on though, none of all that actually matters. What does is that Mr LWD Ball was a fellow hard to ignore or forget and quite by chance on one day this week two people happened to mention him to me in conversation and prompted this recollection. Curly was hard to ignore. I nearly said overlook, but taller students might have at least been able to physically do that. But fail to be impressed? Never! Leicester had a vital personality that made him seem a giant, yet in reality his stature was short, solid and nuggety. His pugnacious bullish expression made one think ex-boxer and in that you would be almost right. Fighter, yes. Wrestler actually. Other sports too. Someone correct me please, but I think he was in charge of the school swimming sports, which must have been hard to do because there wasn't a swimming pool at the time. Not that that would have daunted the indomitable Mr Ball. Curly was my metalwork, engineering and technical drawing teacher for a couple of years and form teacher (Five A Tech ) for one, which gave plenty of time to put a 1951/ 1953 schoolboy slant on my memories of him. Oddly, although the man was unforgettable, his classroom teaching was. Curly did better in the practical. Tech drawing stuck well enough for a fair School Cert. Pass. Engineering Theory was another matter, for Curly set his approach at a senior trades level. The text was Chapman, Engineering Technology, Books One and Two. Superb for more advanced students and beyond our fourteen year old grasp for real understanding. Books inadequately illustrated and with tiny drawings difficult to reproduce as sketches. And pages of fine print text, well written, yet far too deep for kids. It is the workshop practical experiences which served me best and even then it was pitched too high so I hated the class. In two years I don't think I actually ever completed a project. Not as bad as it seems. From memory, nor did anyone else. The task was to build a small wood

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daily at half past three." Word must have got around for a number of other teachers appeared at the corridor windows to have a smiling glimpse at our board. Curly duly drifted back, simply cleaned the board and went on with the lesson. We had to admire him for that. I've mentioned a boat. Curly had one moored or hauled out at Westhaven. I wasn't one of the favoured ones, but now and then a boy was selected to get his hands dirty helping to service the engine or more likely scraping down for painting. Whoever that boy may have been, he had the exalted joy— or terror— (opinions varied) of travelling in Curly's car which might have been a Model A. Descriptions of such journeys all seemed to mention having to hold two wires together when the horn was required and doing the same with other wires and holding the choke whilst Curly cranked the thing. Legends abound about the house Curly built (himself I understand) in Pleasant Road. A landmark branded as an oddity in it's day, I believe the place now is pretty ordinary. The designer and builder no doubt being well in advance of the style of the times. LWD Ball actually had a clue or two and wasn't always wrong. Often Curly told tales of his exploits and experiences in various ships (he was a marine engineer) and engineering shops in Auckland. A boy made enquiries and reported no-one knew Curly at all. One day Curly was laying it on a bit thick and David Cunningham, I think, got the workshop shovel and proceeded to hurl the 'bull' out the window. "Ungrateful whelp," said Curly. "Just ask about me around town.” Eventually our time ended and the class pondered what to buy the teacher as a present. Enough was collected to buy a cigarette lighter. Interesting that because I don't think Curly smoked. Earlier that morning some smart fellow swapped the Mr Ball sign with the one saying Senior Lavatory. Curly wasn't amused and ranted and roared until some poor blighter was pushed forward to make the presentation. Poor Curly had to eat his words and we really were a decent group. Minutes later we rushed off. I never saw him again. L W D Ball really was someone special. In close to fifty years of later close association with schools I never met anyone else who could quell a hall of 1100 youngsters by ordering, "Quiet. And none of that silly need to cough," and they were and no-one did. In the resulting silence one could hear a pin drop for as long as Curly needed to talk. Fantastic!

The Five Roads
by Don Gwilliam
The recent edition with pictures of the old Passenger Transport Bus and the Five Roads roundabout was interesting. I remember the big roundabout being built and thought, “Here is England transported. My, we are right up to date.” Such traffic smoothers, complete with their black and white lanterns turned up in English magazines. Perhaps the Avondale one was the first in this country? No traffic lights in the mid 1940s. Drivers simply had to know the right hand rule and before the island the 'five roads' must have been tricky. Some cars had trafficators which were next to useless, trucks and buses had no indicators, and most drivers were past masters of hand signaling. I still do it at times. Flashing indicators eventually turned up in the 1950s. In time I drove Bedfords, trucks and buses, similar to the illustrated one. There's a little to tell of the experience. One of these days.

At the Five Roads
The “Old Pot” hangs its traceable jewels Skied above The Five Roads. The Southern Cross and Achenar too if The Herald Boys had listened When Lionel Warner had drifted Off the timetabled Chemistry lesson Back to his pet Astronomy. But here comes the five am. Goods Headlight lancing the mile from Mt Albert To bright burnish Wheaton's shop fronts Suddenly catching the boys heavens-gazing And not counting and bagging their papers. The man-trap pit deep dug by the P.and T. Beside The Five Roads butchery All dank clay smelling, spaghetti wire mazed Became the Herald Boys' Priest's Hole To hide where the boss couldn't find them Not even their bikes. Only papers still wrapped, untouched. Surely not all the deliverers Would over-sleep on the same morning? Searched the bikes from behind a hedge Heard a game breaking sneeze And laughter to wake nearby dreamers. A rotten Easterly blasts horizontal rain Sluicing clean The Five Roads. Sponging through the wrappers of the papers Awaiting The Herald Boys, On the streaming pavement Regressing inky newsprint back to pulp.

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Bay Road. The shops survive, a shadow of their original upright correctness. Could I still find the cast iron covered P and T telephone connection pit, I wonder? Trams used to stop right at the shops. Older people will know that a stopped tram near the middle of the road also halted the cars so passengers could cross to the pavement. Imagine it now sixty years on. The Five Roads has traffic lights on a complicated sequence and is generally clogged in all lanes regardless. There is another Five Roads nearby too. The mentioned roundabout site at the bottom of St Jude's where Great North comes and goes, and St Georges and Wingate all come together. My Herald run -- over 100 papers — took in bits of Blockhouse Bay Road, New North Road, Hendon Ave, Bollard Ave and Methuen Road. Out of bed by 4.45am, I mostly collected my papers by 5.00am and poked them all in mostly the right letter boxes to be home and back in bed for a while by 6.00 am. Never the brightest kid at school, it eventually came to me that the early starts might connect with my failing results and I stopped Heralds. Sure missed the 14 shillings a week though. Lionel Warner was Head of Science at Avondale College. A distinctive voice, and I can understand how he came to front a radio or TV programme about astronomy. He gave us some lessons on the subject at times. No doubt not part of the curriculum, but probably of more value. Been there, done that. The first boss was a man from Green Bay. The one in the Model A escapade was Ron Cavney. Memory is tricky so that might be a bit tangled. The spelling will be. He was a younger fellow connected with a green grocery in New Lynn. Most of the above yarn is true. Hope no one is offended. D.G. 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

Bicycle bag covers will rule the day. Coarse stitched, unyielding canvas Bulged wide to chafe bare legs Pedaling straddle knee'ed beneath a useless coat For an auto-pilot round of dark streets Seen fluid through rain blurred eyes. Tired firemen out late quelling Guy Fawkes Sleep on at The Five Roads station, Dreamed explosions becoming real. Those cursed Herald Boys! Slamming match bombs on any inviting surface To quick-echo, Bang, bang, bang, bang Off any wall in sound wave reach Bringing pyjama clad firemen And angry dressing-gowned residents To rant, admonish and threaten a police visit Effectively raising fears of authoritative retribution Which ensures twelve months of quiet. On a morning of forgetfulness The Boss reached The Five Roads Having to return home, Taking The Herald Boys for the ride All arm wrapped into an exhilarated mass On the hand-hold-less tray Of his ragged old Model A truck. Airborne over St Jude's rail crossing, Slewing and sliding on the Whau bridge Risky kings of the road to New Lynn and back. Wrong-siding the Great North roundabout To spill all off at Wheaton's shops As dawn fades the “Old Pot” from the sky

In fact we didn't use the name Five Roads till years later. The intersection. Blockhouse Bay south. Blockhouse Bay north. Upper St Jude's, Crayford and New North Road was universally called Wheaton's Comer, named for the family whom I suppose, owned the land. The Fire Station, much modernised, is still nearby on Blockhouse

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: historian@avondale.org.nz Society information: Website: http://sites.google.com/site/avondalehistory/ Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate

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