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September—October 2006 Prepared by Lisa Truttman, President and Editor No. 23
Searching for info on a patch of salt marsh — Traherne Island
Thanks very much to those who wrote in after that last newsletter with information and your memories of Mr Tasker and his Rosebank lime kiln. I really have appreciated it. I’ve even in my travels through Land Information NZ records found an old plan for Pollen Island, dating from sometime in the 19th century (sadly, it had no date, but still listed Pollen as landowner. He died in the 1890s.) The hunt continues.
Next meeting, 7 October 2006, 2.30 pm, Lions Hall.
Heritage Week Festival
Has anyone got a spare “J J Craig” brick they can lend? Auckland City’s Heritage Week festival runs from September 16 to September 23. I’ve been helping Avondale Community Library with setting up a display there on the history of the old Glenburn Brickyard, that used to be along St Georges Road (now the Lansford Crescent industrial area). Five pages of summarised history later, a photo hunt, pictures of old kiln types, and the very kind assistance of the Waitakere City Libraries local history department in Henderson, with their J. T. Diamond collection (a must see! Go look, there is wonderful info in there!) — it looks as if we’ll have the display that week. So — a spare J J Craig brick would be welcome for the display. I’m crossing fingers that we will also be able to have a launch at the Avondale Library, 10.30 am on Thursday 21 September, for the Avondale Historical Walks brochure. This is in preparation as I write this, organised by Matthews & Matthews Architects (who have done others in the series in Auckland). This is a AWHS/Community Board/Avondale Business Association project, funded by the Avondale Community Board through their SLIPs project budget. As well, here are details on the activities Blockhouse Bay Historical Society will be undertaking that week: Armanasco House will be open for viewing, with a display of historic photographs, and with Society Members present to answer any questions. Saturday 16th, Sunday 17th, Thursday 21st, Friday 22nd, Saturday, 23rd, Sunday 24th, 10.30am to 4.00pm. On these days, the Historical Society will also give free guided walks around our village pointing out sites of interest, the tours will leave Armanasco House at 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. There are no admission charges for any of these activities.
The old Star Mills of Waterview
The hunt also goes on for information as to the old Star Mills at the Oakley Creek. The more that comes to light these days, the more questions are raised. As you’ll see by this issue of the Journal, featuring the sad story of John Thomas’ brick making enterprise, research is continuing, now with an emphasis on how the site was used post 1878. It is certainly dredging up stuff on the early history of the district which is useful to know.
Waterview and SH20
The Avondale Community Board have generously granted the Society up to $1000 towards printing costs (pending two quotes) for Jack Dragicevich’s work on Waterview — thank you, Avondale Community Board members. We really do appreciate your help. No more focus groups or drop-in centre run by Transit NZ for a while, as they reconsider options for the Waterview route, including deep bore tunnelling. At a September 14 meeting organised by the Community Board at Waterview Community Hall, I introduced myself as President of the Society and stood up to express my concerns that the northernmost area of Oakley Creek’s shoreline must be specifically investigated by professionals, such as archaeologists, as part of this process. Also, I asked where later reports were. We have one from c.2003 in our records, but much more has been done in the way of research and investigation since then. I’ll keep you all posted.
Our August guest speaker, Eric Kearney, gave us an enthralling talk on the history of Auckland cinemas, and especially the Civic Theatre. Thank you again, Eric! Our October meeting guest speaker will be our very own George Baird, telling us about his travels to Italy from earlier this year.
The Old News
In the late 1960s there seemed to have been a bit of a kerfluffle over which Presbyterian church in Auckland was the second oldest. Mr. L. E Titheridge of Avondale set the record straight. — Editor NZ Herald, 22 September 1967, Sec. 1 p. 2
How old is Avondale? Quite old, in terms of post-1840 settlement. We know of John S. Adam’s aborted attempt at potato farming on the slopes just above St Georges Road in the early 1840s — and now comes an article from the 1930s about someone who may have been one of the first children born in the rural wilderness which was to become Avondale and Rosebank: John Stewart Kelly, born 1849. — Editor Auckland Star, 26 September 1936, p. 10
St Ninian’s Is Second Oldest Church
The second oldest Presbyterian church ion Auckland is St Ninian’s, Avondale, and not Pt England Church, Mr. L. E. Titheridge, of Avondale, writes in a letter to the editor of the Herald. Second place was erroneously given to Pt England in a report of its recent centenary celebrations. The oldest Presbyterian church is St Andrew’s in Symonds Street. Mr Titheridge writes that a report in the Southern Cross newspaper of April 6, 1860, announced the opening of the Whau Presbyterian Church. “The Whau Church mentioned,” says Mr Titheridge, “is now St Ninian’s, Avondale.” The parish itself was created in 1855. Mr Titheridge adds: “Sorry, Pt England, Avondale claims the silver medal. Pt England must be content with the bronze.”
EARLY AUCKLAND—MEMORIES OF A PIONEER
Memories of early Auckland were recalled today by another of the city’s oldest residents, Mr. John Stewart Kelly, who this week celebrated his 87th birthday at his home in Ewington Avenue, Mount Eden. Mr. Kelly was born at Avondale, and has lived most of his life in Auckland. As one of the first surveyors who mapped out the land about Auckland, Mr. Kelly’s father arrived in New Zealand from Ireland in the ‘thirties or ‘forties of last century. There was not a house within miles of their Avondale home, and he remembered how the furniture was carried out across the countryside on horse-drawn drays. There was no bridge across Oakley’s Creek in those days, and the drays had to be hauled across one at a time with a full team of horses. There was no school within reasonable distance, and so a teacher lived at the house and gave the children their daily lessons. “Upper Queen Street was just a track down the hill then”, Mr Kelly related, “and the sea used to come up to Shortland Street. Maoris from Orakei would draw their canoes up on the beach and sit round the corner of Shortland and Queen Streets, where they offered huge kits of peaches for sixpence. “After farming at Waitakere for some time I took up contracting and other jobs, such as fencing work and felling and clearing trees. If I had all the wood now from the pines which I felled I would have a fortune. We just used to burn them off then, for pine was not considered useful for anything much.” Of incidents in those distant days Mr. Kelly spoke with a twinkle in his eye. Chuckling, he told a story to illustrate the state of the town roads. A little way up Wyndham Street there was a bootmaker’s shop, and the bootmaker was wont to do all his repairing work out on the street. One day a lady and gentleman of high rank came picking their way down the muddy street. When they came to where the chippings of leather were scattered on the roadway, the lady exclaimed, “Oh, what a nice piece of road this is!” and stepped onto it — and almost up to her knees in mud. “There’s been a lot in the paper these days about Partington’s mill,” he said. “When I was going to the Wesley College sometimes it was not handy for my mother to cut a lunch, so she gave me a penny to buy it at the mill. For that penny we got as many biscuits as we would carry … It would be a pity to see the old mill pulled down. Another house in which he lived was the old dwelling still standing in Kelly Street, Mount Eden. It was built by Maoris of mud and rushes, and later his father covered it with some of the best roofing iron brought to New Zealand. Married in 1873, Mr. Kelly had nine children, while there are 14 grand-children and seven great-grandchildren.
Back in the 1930s, a number of districts in the Auckland area has business associations set up, including Avondale. In those days, one of the main aims for the associations was to establish “community street lighting” in their shopping centres. Avondale had initial meetings in 1937, incorporated in 1939 — but it wasn’t until well after World War II and late 1953 when the Avondale Businessmen’s Association finally got their wish. — Editor NZ Herald 28 November 1953
MAYOR SWITCHES LIGHTS ON
The Mayor of Auckland, Mr. Luxford, last night switched on community lighting systems for the shopping areas at Avondale and Remuera. At Avondale, hundreds packed the corner of Rosebank Road and the Great North Road, where two trucks parked end to end made an impromptu platform for the official party. Mr. A. E. Bailey, president of the Avondale Businessmen’s Association, introducing the Mayor, spoke of Avondale as the “Cinderella” of the suburbs. Mr. Luxford said that as long as Avondale had no direct representation on the City Council, residents could have direct access to him on any problem to be dealt with on a civic basis. Other speakers were Mrs. Mary Wright and the Western Suburbs Birthday Carnival queen, Miss Barbara Walmsley. The City Pipe Band led marching girls in a procession and a free ice cream stall did a brisk business.
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