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May-June 2015

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

The Soldiers’ Club: Avondale RSA 1932-2015
The Avondale Returned Services Club
building in Layard Street, 1964. From
Standfast, the Club’s journal, V ol 1
No. 1. Copy in AWHS collection

The news in early March that the local rumours about the Avondale RSA
were true – that their land at the corner of Layard Street and Rosebank
Road was up for sale – sparked the
following article. Just before the April
meeting of the AWHS, it was announced in the news that the $9 million sale had gone ahead for everything: 1-7 Layard Street, and 40-42
Rosebank Road. I had also received
the following letter from Don
Gwilliam in mid March, whose family once lived at 42 Rosebank Road.
“Someone sent me a cutting about the possible sale of the Avondale RSA properties in the Rosebank Road / Layard
Street corner block. The RSA itself can probably date their taking over of the original site next to the primary school in
Layard Street, but your files might hold answers to what I’m going to ask. Readers too can probably give details or
correct me when I’m wrong.
“Living just around the corner in Rosebank Road, I have recollections of the Association being there from when my
mother used to chase a reluctant me to school, slashing the razor strop around my legs. Well, you could do that to a
five-year-old in those days and no one even noticed. But then, about 1942, the building beside the school grounds was
simply an old two storied block of, I think, two shops. Brain boxes aren’t always accurate as they wear out, only mine
says that the shops were being used as living quarters. It wasn’t long though before it filtered through that the Returned
Services Association had taken the place over. If I’m right what must have been shop windows were covered up and the
one central doorway opened into a small foyer with a steep narrow stairway straight ahead leading to the upper floor.

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
At St Ninians, St Georges Road
(opp. Hollywood Cinema)
SATURDAY, 6 June 2015, 2.00 pm

“Either then, or not long after, a motor bike, no
doubt these days worth a king’s ransom as a desirable veteran, was sometimes parked outside on the
footpath. I can vouch for that because along with lots
of other small boys I learned to push the horn button.
Now and then the owner would charge out to chase
you away.

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“The Association, with the war’s end, started tidying up
the premises and in time an attractive brick wall appeared probably covering what I guess had once been a
shop window. No ordinary wall. The bricks were embossed with the names of local men who had served in
the forces. The chances are that it is still there. I hope so.
Or I hope any new owner will take it apart with care so
that the names can be incorporated into some other
memorial.
“The question? I haven’t asked the question you say! It’s
this: When were the shop(s) built and what were they?
Old by my reckoning, even in the forties.
“Now here is a bit more for folk to correct me on. For a
long time next door was an empty section, all gorse and
blackberry. Such spots seemed prone to flare-ups and
that plot burned one summer, the local Brigade providing a spectacle for the local kids as they hosed it into
submission. Later another spectacle when a bulldozer,
an uncommon machine then, scraped it clear and flat,
though not level, and Mr Knight built a late-deco roughcast house there. Years later I knew the slope well as
also on a whopping big section was Vincents, nice elderly (to my eyes) people and I was reluctantly their mower
boy for a time too. A ‘Government house’ filled in the
last corner. The term ‘State house’ simply wasn’t heard
then. Tenant Jim (?) Mackey might have been a returned
serviceman, later in the Public Service (?). First down
Rosebank came Goodenoughs then Gwilliams (at the
time rented from Racks.)
“Given time the RSA eventually bought all of those properties and had all sorts of plans for the space which
seems now to have been a pipe dream. Still, they really
did develop a fair chunk of the land. First came the part
immediately behind the original old shop where a fine
brick wall was built. It quickly became the venue of
choice for parties, wedding receptions and the like. At

the time Avondale was a dry district so the RSA became the
only place to legally buy liquor. It effectively was the
Avondale Pub. I guess one had to be a member or signed in
as a guest. For sure there had to be undisclosed wheels
within wheels which must have worked and returned a good
profit for next came another hall which perhaps became the
clubrooms themselves. That building wasn’t to last. In the
late 1950s I was woken in the night by exploding fibrolite
and the glow of a savage fire at the back of our yard. ‘The
Soldiers Hall,’ as my mother called it, turned to ash. I don’t
think it ever got rebuilt.
“That’s enough to be going on with. Go for it, members,
straighten my memories out.”

The Club for Returned Servicemen
The Auckland Returned Services Club itself sprang from
out of the Auckland Patriotic Association in 1916, with the
Soldiers Club hall they ran in the city. As our own local
servicemen returned home from the Middle East, Gallipoli,
Samoa and Western Europe, this is the organisation they
would have joined. Anzac Day itself was marked only sporadically in Avondale up until around 1959; in the 1920s
there were a few combined special church services at the
local Town Hall during the years of the Avondale Borough
Council, but mainly folks boarded the early morning trains
to head either to Waikumete and the service at the war
memorial there, or towards the city and the cenotaph at the
War Memorial Museum. The Auckland Patriotic Association also worked in with the Auckland RSC to help returned
servicemen into emergency employment schemes around
the city from the mid 1920s.
Exactly what or who started the idea of a local club here, I
don’t know as yet. Perhaps it was a reaction to the Depression at the time. The very early days don’t seem to have
survived well in the records; a recent thesis put together in
2009 by Margaret Caroline Johnson on the Avondale

1940 (left) and 2010
(right) aerials from
Auckland Council website, showing overlaid
approximate boundary
of the RSA property
recently sold at Layard
Street and Rosebank
Road. Prince’s Store
site lower right of both
images.

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association claimed that it started in 1933. Which is slightly
wrong – it all came about towards the end of 1932, after
apparently some local community organising in the latter
part of that year.
The newspapers reported that at the first meeting of the
Avondale Ex-Servicemen’s Club, in December 1932, it was
announced that there was already a total membership of 80,
90% of those also members of the parent body, the Auckland Returned Soldiers’ Association. The first patron was
John Wilberforce Bissett from Blockhouse Bay. The first
president was commercial flower grower Richard Hart, the
vice-president F W White, the secretary and treasurer Phil
Woods, and on the committee: G Shaw, W A Cantwell, F
W Gooch, W Donovan, F Clifford, and W J Baynton. On
the ladies auxiliary committee, there was Mrs Hart, Mrs
Woods, Mrs Shaw, Mrs Marsh, Mrs Davis, Mrs Cantwell,
Mrs Clifford, Mrs Donovan, and Mrs Baynton.
The first patron, John Wilberforce Bissett (1871-1960),
according to notes fund online in Rootsweb, was born in
Perth, Scotland. As at 1901 when he was living in Leeds
with his family, he was in the wholesale clothing trade,
working as a tailor’s cutter (foreman). The family moved to
New Zealand in 1913 so that Bissett could take up a position as manager of the Kaiapoi Woollen Mill, living at New
Brighton near Christchurch. One of his daughters was a
chronic asthmatic, and they felt New Zealand’s climate
would be better for her. Family tradition says that Bissett
designed uniforms used during World War I, and wrote a
local history of Canterbury.
His first main residence in Auckland, for at least four years,
was in Kingsland, probably from 1924. By 1926 he was
living in Gilfillan Street, Blockhouse Bay, naming the new
family home “Teviot House” after the river at Hawick in
Scotland where Bissett learned the weaving skills he used
in his work. This was where he retired, describing himself
as a “merchant tailor”, but he also applied in 1928 for a
licence as a land agent, giving his address that February as
“the Terminus Store, Blockhouse Bay,” and stating in the
public notice that he was a storekeeper. It was his wife
Mary who ran the store, at “Bissett’s Corner”, but J W Bissett was a leading campaigner for direct bus links between
Blockhouse Bay and the city. While living in Blockhouse
Bay, he apparently also wrote a local history of that area as
well. He was a JP (president of the JP Association as at
1931), a member (secretary, vice-president, and president)
of the St Andrews Scottish Society, a member of the Blockhouse Bay Residents Association from 1934, and later attended the coronation of King George VI in 1937. His wife
Mary died in 1944, and he remarried. He was buried at
Waikumete Cemetery.
According to his family, he was born John Walker Bisset –
adding the extra “t” to his surname for flourish and changing the name Walker for Wilberforce because he was an
ardent supporter of the temperance movement: “Walker”

with his first name sounded too much like the alcoholic
drink, while Wilberforce was the admired well-known antislavery campaigner.
The first president, Richard Hart, Reg. No. 15647, was born
in London, England 3 July 1879. He married his wife Ethel
in Chiswick, London, in 1904. At the time he enlisted in the
First World War, he worked as a gas inspector for the
Auckland Gas Company, living in Cook Street in the city.
During the war, ironically, he was affected by gas poisoning. After his discharge in July 1919, he returned to his job,
and was a gas inspector living in Hill Street (now Heaphy
Street) Blockhouse Bay in the mid 1920s, after some time
in Onehunga and Thames. He also grew dahlias and other
flowers as a hobby, and took part in Avondale Flower
Shows during the 1920s and 1930s. He died in 1946, and is
buried at Waikumete Cemetery.
Immediately, the new club’s committee and ladies’ auxiliary set-to in organising a community event for Avondale’s
children for Christmas that year.
A Father Christmas picnic for the children, by the newlyformed Avondale Ex-Service Men's Club, was held on
Saturday, on the Avondale racecourse tree-shaded lawn
which, with the adjoining tea rooms, were placed at their
disposal. An assembly of over 300 participated in the outing, and two Christmas trees were erected on the lawn
laden with presents for the children. Sports and races for
all the children and their elders were entered into with
great zest, while at intervals ice creams, milk, cakes, lemonade, apples, and a hearty sit-down tea was enjoyed by one
and all. Father Christmas presented each little one with a
present from the trees, and promised to return again next
year. Mr J W Bissett, the patron of the club, thanked the
racecourse authorities, and congratulated the president, Mr
R Hart, the committee, and the ladies' auxiliary, on the admirable inaugural outing of the newly-formed association.
(Auckland Star 19 December 1932)
In March 1933, the club held a dahlia show in the
Oddfellows Hall on St George Road. At the club’s first annual general meeting in April, it was reported that membership had risen to 100. In September that year, they entertained men from the visiting Australian naval squadron at
the Avondale Town Hall, and once again organised a
Christmas treat for the kiddies at the racecourse, funded by
a concert they organised at the Town Hall in November.
The Christmas treat was once again a great success.
A Christmas free picnic to the children of the Avondale ExServicemen's Association was held on Saturday afternoon
on the lawn of the Avondale racecourse grounds, when
about 400 of the children and parents and friends were present. The day was beautifully fine and the grounds were
gaily decorated. One of the trees was laden
with Christmas toys for the children. Games, races, and
tugs-o'-war were entered into with great enjoyment by

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young and old, while the ladies' auxiliary were fully employed in catering for the youngsters and the older
folk. Father Christmas gave out the toys, attended by his
helper from Mars. Mr J W Bissett, patron, voiced the votes
of thanks for the free use of the racecourse grounds and
also to the president, Mr Hart, and his committee and ladies' auxiliary for organising the outing. (Auckland Star
19 December 1933)
By April 1934, and the club’s second AGM, there had
been changes. John W Bissett was no longer patron – that
role now passed to H P Burton. The club now had a new
name: the Avondale Returned Soldiers’ Club. Membership
was up to 120, but the aim was for 300 by the next year.
There was a new president, H T Calagher; new vicepresident T Graham; an honorary secretary, Albert
Whowell; and an honorary treasurer, P J Wood. There had
also been a complete change in committee. By 1935, the
club was commended by the parent organisation for its
strong finances and the work in providing comforts for exservicemen at the Auckland Mental Hospital in Pt
Chevalier. Now the patron was D Jamieson, and the president C Callagher.
In February 1936, the club applied for incorporation as an
incorporated society. The registered office at that stage
was 23 Elm Street, which was Albert Whowell’s home (he
worked as a driver). In August 1937, the club took up indoor bowling – possibly using the Oddfellows Hall. By
March 1938 at least, the club had found a space for offices
and a clubroom at the former Town Hall building in
Avondale on St Georges Road, a building primarily serving at the time as a cinema run by Rudall Haywood. In
June 1939, the fire at the cinema nearly reached the
clubrooms, but there was minimal damage. Despite the
near calamity, members of the club still took part in the
ceremony for the turning on of Avondale’s first community lighting scheme in August that year. In September, the
president was Frederick George Baylis, another Auckland
Gas Company employee.
Using the Town Hall building for clubrooms and other
functions during the Second World War seems to have
become an increasing financial and generally inconvenient
headache for the club. The club in June 1940, in conjunction with the organisers of the Queen Carnival for Sick,
Wounded and Distress Fund, arranged entertainment in the
Town Hall in aid of the Soldiers’ Queen – but were
charged £2 15s by Council if they held a concert, and £3
18/9 if it was a dance. Pleas by the Queen Carnival organisers for the charges to be waived fell on deaf ears. The
club’s Ladies Auxiliary in September that year, holding a
concert, were charged £2 15s for the hall, 5% music royalty @ 2/9, and overtime charge of 12s. A Local Soldiers
Comforts Fund social and dance the same month faced a
charge of £4 18/9, even though the function only raised £4.
Major alterations and upgrades to the hall and cinema
forced the closure of the club’s rooms from November
1940 until January 1941. The club did hold a concert there
in July that year.

Then in December 1942, some internal politics and grudges
came to the fore. Baylis, still president, had some prior difficulties with a former member of the club, George Richard
Hampshire. Hampshire, a veteran of Gallipoli and the
French battlefields during the First World War, had been
expelled from the club (and the Auckland RSA), and was
also dismissed from the Avondale Home Guard by Captain
Baylis, who was also second-in-command of the Mt Albert
Home Guard. Hampshire and his wife one evening, close to
Christmas, spotted members of the club’s committee carrying “many cases of beer” into their offices at the Town
Hall. He accused the committee members, in an outraged
letter to Auckland City Council, of using Poppy Day funds
to buy the beer. He demanded that the hall caretaker be
sacked, and that the club be “chased out” of their rooms for
storing liquor there. The Council interviewed the club committee, who advised that this was all just an end-of-year
bulk buy-in from Dominion Breweries, each member of the
committee (including the then-patron W Jamieson) simply
paying for their own share for their own use at home. An
invoice was produced showing the individual names and
quantities. Usually, the carrier delivered to each household
– but with petrol rationing, it was felt best to deliver it all to
the one central place for pick-up. No further action was
taken against the club.
In 1944, however, the club were able to advise the Council
that the Town Hall rooms would no longer be required.
They now had a new home, at 7 Layard Street.

7 Layard Street – site of Prince’s Store
Going back in time, all of the Avondale RSA property in
2015 had once been part, around two thirds, of the northern
edge of Thomas Russell’s 1863 Greytown sale of land in
central Avondale. Three lots were sold to someone named
Thomas Richard Cash, fronting Layard Street, Rosebank
Road and Great North Road (except the corner of
Rosebank and Great North). In turn, Cash sold it to gentlewoman Barbara Ashton in 1865 for £75. She was to own
the property for the next 45 years. It was largely left as
open paddock and gorse.
In 1910, a local builder named Duncan Campbell purchased the property from the now Mrs Barbara Stevens for
£650, and set about levelling and subdividing the property
for residences. Campbell lived on nearby Roberton Road
and was, at this time, also a member of the Avondale Road
Board.
Adjoining the station, to the left of the Walton Estate, is
what, up to within the last few weeks, was an eyesore to
residents — a large paddock overgrown with gorse.
Mr Campbell has recently purchased this, and has had it
cleared, and plans are being prepared by Mr Munro
Wilson for levelling and subdividing the area into building
sections. (NZ Herald 15 May 1911)
If Campbell had intended to be a spec builder in this case
using his land, it didn’t quite work out that way. 7 Layard

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Street was one of the first of his bare sections sold, in 1912,
the deed also involving two of his mortgagors. The buyers
were local bootmaker Frank William Hampshire and his
grocer’s assistant son Frederick Ivo Hampshire – father and
brother to George Richard Hampshire who three decades
later was to be in conflict with the Returned Soldier’s Club.
Frank William Hampshire (1861-1954) was born in
Auckland, son of George and Louisa Hampshire. His father
George Hampshire (1815-1884) arrived in Auckland, probably in 1855 and worked as a hairdresser in Victoria Street.
From 1873, he cut the hair of the children at the Howe
Street Industrial School. His son Frank William took on the
trade of bootmaker in Victoria Street by the early 1890s,
and by 1896 came to live at St Georges Road, Avondale.
The Hampshire family (Frank W, his wife Ellen and children George Richard, Frederick Ivo, Reginald William,
Arthur Josiah, Louisa Clara, Maude Mary, Alma Grace and
Ralph Victor became integral members of the Avondale
community, parishioners of St Jude’s Church, scholars at
Avondale School, one son a member of the local
Oddfellows Lodge, and Frank W Hampshire himself serving
on the Avondale Road Board from 1913 until he left the
district in 1919 to shift to Hamilton. Three Hampshire sons
served during the First World War, and Mrs Ellen
Hampshire too played an active part at home in the
Avondale Patriotic League.
The Hampshires did nothing with the site either – it was
sold by them to Annie & William Cyrus Brereton of Powell
Street and Charles Weston Prince in 1922. A £700 permit
was taken out to building a two-storey shop and dwelling in
1924 – so this gives us an idea as to how old the oldest part
of the RSA complex is. The Princes were popular with the
children of the adjoining Primary School. A number of
those I interviewed in 2001-2002 for Heart of the Whau
recalled the penny ices they bought there, along with small
items of school stationery, so handy to the classes.
William Cyrus Brereton, far m hand, and his wife Annie,
left England (originally from Manchester) bound for
Auckland in December 1919. They came to live at 16
Powell Street, Avondale, William working as a clerk. Later,
during the 1940s and 1950s, Brereton served as the auditor
for the Avondale Returned Soldier’s Club.
Charles Weston Prince was bor n in Cheadle, Staffor dshire 1860, and married Amanda Poole 1892 in Cheshire.
He worked as a labourer on the railways, the London and
North Western line, in the late 1880s. The Princes arrived in
New Zealand some time before 1922. Amanda died in
Avondale in 1936, the mother of Annie, Charles, Kate,
Luty, Clin and Dolly, also Billy Jack and Ettie, according to
her death notice. Charles died in 1943. They’re both buried
in the cemetery on Rosebank.
The store was taken over in 1939 by brick company employee Percy Edward Speck (1896-1972), according to
Council valuation records, although Speck didn’t have formal title until 1942. The only other thing known about

Princes’ Store, 7 Layard Street. These could be Charles and
Amanda Prince, with unknown man (right), date unknown.
From photograph donated by Avondale RSA to the historical
society.

Speck is that his three year old daughter Judith Lillian was
knocked over by a motor car on 12 June 1942 near the old
Post Office, corner Rosebank and Great North Road. She
suffered concussion and shock – but survived the experience, and was married in 1958. Speck sold the property to
the Avondale Returned Services Club in December 1942.
The club commissioned architect A C Jeffries to convert the
Prince’s store and dwelling into clubrooms in that month, as
soon as possible on purchasing the site for £850 with funds
they had saved since 1939. The original proposal called for
the shop to be converted into a lobby, office, cloakroom,
spare room, and refreshments room on the ground floor,
with the first floor devoted to two card rooms, and a purpose
-built hall attached to the rear with its own side entrance.
This plan was superseded in April 1943 by an expanded hall
with an entry off Layard Street next to the clubrooms entry,
also designed by Jeffries. This was to be the form of the
RSA complex until the 1970s. Work on the alterations
began in May 1943.
“Avondale Ex-Servicemen's Club has been devoting most of
its energies in recent years to raising sufficient money to
procure new and suitable clubrooms. The building fund in
1939 stood at £69, while to-day it has reached the encouraging total of £996. A property on Layard Street has been
purchased, and approximately £100 has already been spent
on improvements. The proposed hall to be erected at the
rear of the property will be 60ft x 30ft, with supper room
and other facilities. The membership at present stands at
156, with, in addition, a women's section, which has been
most active in providing comforts for men overseas and entertaining soldiers' wives and mothers, besides playing a big

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part in assisting in functions to help the funds. The executive looks forward confidently to the whole-hearted assistance of the people in Avondale when a definite appeal is
made for funds to complete the memorial hall that is visualised as the new home of the club.” (Auckland Star, 21
August 1943)
Enough of the new hall was completed in time for a
Christmas function for children of servicemen under the
age of 10 to be held there on 14 December 1944.
“The hall has been built at a cost of over £2000. Six years
ago the club, composed then of veterans of the Great War
something like 150 strong, had a building fund of £30.
With the outbreak of another world conflict, and with
recollections of post-war years and all that was lacking
for the spiritual rehabilitation of returned men, also with a
deep sense of appreciation of that comradeship that
follows in the wake of war and outlasts time, the members
of the club, then beyond the serving time of life, set themselves the task of making some preparations for the future
of the fighting men of this generation.
“With confidence in the support of the people of the
district in their aims and objects, and with enterprise and
determination, the club management increased the tempo
of their activities when it was found that to realise their
ambitions would require a sum exceeding £2000. A novel
feature of their methods of raising the necessary finance
was a scheme for the sale of bricks. These could be bought
for half a crown and the name of the donor was stamped
on each brick as it became part of the future home of returned men in which they could spend their leisure in relaxation and pleasant social intercourse. The idea caught
the imagination of many people, as well as business firms,
and the result was that over £230 was raised by this
means and hundreds of bricks procured for the hall. The
funds grew steadily and a property in Layard Street was
bought and enlarged to the present size which gives a central hall, 60 feet by 26 feet, with office, dining hall, lounge
and recreation room in the basement, and on the second
floor living quarters for a caretaker. The central hall has
a specially built floor, one of the principal attractions of
the club being indoor bowls, while it is also laid down
with a view to dances and other public functions. The dining hall is compact and well equipped, while a cosy reading and rest room adjoins. All the appointments have been
designed with a view to convenience and handy working,
and with membership now rising 300 and increasing
steadily, the club will play an important part in the social
life of Avondale. Almost half the membership is comprised
of men of the present war.
“Much of the external work on the new hall was done with
volunteer labour, while, throughout the years during
which the club has been working to attain its objective,
yeoman service has been rendered by the women's section,
amongst whose efforts has been the purchase of a piano,
though the feminine hand is also seen in the tasteful decoration and other arrangements throughout the club. The

climax on Saturday afternoon, the official opening, is likely to be a red letter day in the history of the Avondale club.” (Auckland Star, 11 July 1945)
"We have completed the building ahead of schedule. By the
continued support of the business community of Avondale,
and our own efforts, I hope it will be my privilege in the
not distant future to announce that we have completed our
task and are able to hand over, debt free, as a heritage
from the boys of the old brigade to the new generation of
ex-servicemen, this new clubroom and social hall as their
own permanent home."
In these words, Mr F Baylis, president of the Avondale
Returned Services' Club, addressed a large attendance of
returned servicemen, residents of the district and representatives of kindred clubs from the Auckland metropolitan area on Saturday afternoon at the formal opening of
the new premises in Layard Street. Amongst the guests
were the Mayor of Auckland, Mr J A C Allurn, Mr C L
Podmore, of Otahuhu, district vice-president, NZRSA, and
Mr A P Postlewaite and Mr R G Mason, of the Auckland
RSA.
Mr Baylis said the whole project had cost £3000, of which
£2000 was the cost of the building. The money had been
raised entirely by local effort. The clubrooms provided a
large and commodious central hall, a large supper room,
and a secretary's office, with living quarters for a caretaker on the top floor and a lounge and recreation room in
the basement.
Mr Allum congratulated the club and the residents of
Avondale on the handsome addition to the social amenities of the district, and complimented the executive of the
ex-servicemen's organisation in providing facilities for
perpetuating the fellowships of war service. He formally
declared the premises open.
Mr Postlewaite also briefly addressed the gathering, after
which afternoon tea was served and a public inspection of
the building was made. The Auckland Highland Pipe Band
provided a programme of national music. (Auckland Star,
16 July 1945)
By November 1947, the club acquired a recreation hut
from one of the temporary hospital sites around Auckland
(used during the war) and positioned it immediately
behind the main building as a lounge and reading room.
The annual reports of the club from the 1950s filed away
at Archives New Zealand point to 7 Layard Street as being
the scene of some ups and downs for the club. While the
club appeared to have continually strengthened in terms of
finances and activities, there were problems both with
unruly sections of the membership, and the law. The club
was raided by police at one point during 1949. The
president was now local stationer Walter Richard Charles
Saul, who warned the members in his 1953 Annual Report
that rules needed to be adhered to in the lounge. The

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Page 7
following year Saul and secretary J Cullen were “left with
no alternative but to resign from office as a result of the
Club’s recent trouble with the police.” The president was
now Neville Paul Boland.
Saul was back as president as at early 1958 – when a fire
tore through the former recreation hut-turned-lounge on the
night of 26-27 February, gutting both the lounge and meeting room, the latter used just that evening until 11pm.
The club was still apparently the only licensed premises in a
dry area (Avondale went dry even before World War 1, in
June 1910). In 1964, when the club published the first edition of their Standfast newsletter (mistakenly assuming that
it was their 30th year), it was reported that the club had purchased a television, and now had a “TV lounge”. By 19671968 however, the Standfast of that year described the club
as unlicensed. Obtaining a liquor sales charter from the
Licensing Control Commission in 1971, then, two years
after Avondale became wet again, was an important step for
the club. It came at the beginning of the next major stage of
the club’s expansion, as the two adjoining properties at 5
and 3 Layard Street were purchased.

5 Layard Street – the last of the gorse wilderness
Frank William Hampshire purchased 5 Layard Street from
Duncan Campbell and the mortgagors in 1913, but also didn’t do anything with the site. It was sold to Joseph Volant
and William Stewart Steven in the 1920s, but then in 1929 it
returned to Hampshire family ownership, Reginald William
Hampshire regaining the title, living in Morrinsville at the
time. Still vacant, full of the gorse and blackberry that Don
Gwilliam remembered from the 1940s, the section was then
sold to Miss Florence Louise Tait for £133 in 1942. When
she married David Alan Penman in 1945, the site was once
again sold, this time to Clarence James Knight, a local cabinet maker, for £275. By July 1946,
Knight had completed his stucco and
wood-framed house.
The property was sold to J Steele Ltd
in 1971, and then to the Avondale RSA
in 1972.

3 Layard Street – the turncock’s
house
Campbell sold this section to George
Richard Hampshire in 1913 for £90,
but the First World War intervened,
and by the time Hampshire had returned, his parents were in the process
of leaving their St Georges Road

The Avondale RSA on 19 April 2015.
Photo: L Truttman

home. It is likely that he took over their property as his
home, so 3 Layard Street was still vacant when it was purchased in 1923 by Leonard Charles Vincent (c.1884-1955).
Vincent left his job as water turncock for Mt Albert Borough to take up the same position as an employee of the
new Avondale Borough in 1922. The house that once existed at 3 Layard Street was built for him and his wife in 1924,
at a cost of £1000. By 1926, Vincent had a small side business on the property, selling Indian runner ducklings. In that
year, however, tragedy struck the family when his 20 year
old son Leonard C “Mannie” Vincent Jr. was killed while
driving a motor truck which crashed into a tram at Onehunga. In 1927, with the amalgamation of Avondale in
Auckland City, Vincent was given the turncock’s job again.
When he died in 1955, the house was passed to his widow
Frances Mary Vincent. When she in turn died in 1960, it
was inherited by Mrs Gladys May Opie, who married Ivan
James Hoerts, an Avondale machinist, in 1968. Gary
William Opie inherited the property in 1975, and sold it to
the Avondale RSA that year.
Now the club had room to expand their rooms further and
establish their carpark, which they did from 1972 through to
1983. From the late 1990s through to the early part of last
decade, there were more alterations and renovations, and it
was during the first decade of this century that the club added two more of Duncan Campbell’s sections to their total
land holdings.

1 Layard Street – almost a Masonic Hall?
In 1911, Campbell sold the corner section to local contractor
Charles Theodore Pooley for £120. What came as a surprise
while I researched this article was what came next: in 1917,
the property at what would become 1 Layard Street was

The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 8
transferred to Joseph Crisp (gentleman), Charles
Theodore Pooley, Henry Potter (contractor), William Neilson
Ingram (teacher) and John Potter (gentlemen) as trustees for
Lodge Titirangi No. 204 of the Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons of New Zealand, for £150. This was two years before what did become the Masonic Hall further down Rosebank Road was opened as such. We may never know for
sure, but could the Layard/Rosebank corner site have been
purchased with the view to it being the site of the new
Lodge building?
In 1925, anyway, the still empty section was purchased by
Charles Hamilton Banton (brickmaker) and his wife
Eveline (nee Boswell). Born in Lyttelton in 1880, before he
enlisted Banton (Reg No. 13/2713) worked for Charles
Pooley as a labourer, living in Taylor Street, Blockhouse
Bay. He died in 1947. The section was still empty when the
Bantons sold it to the Crown for State Housing in 1940 for
£147. A house was built there soon after. The property was
sold to the Avondale RSA in 1980.
Around 2009, a memorial garden was in place at the southern end of this section, which included a 25pr field gun, the
1919 Avondale Primary School marble roll of honour
(unfortunately broken at some point), and other plaques of
honour. This garden lasted until April 2015, when the gun,
roll and plaques were stripped and stored, prior to the
centenary of Gallipoli.

40 Rosebank (23 Brown Street)
Duncan Campbell sold this section to farmer Alfred James
Melville in 1920, by which time Campbell had moved away
from Avondale to Rotorua. After brief ownership by the
Myers family, the empty section was purchased by Walter
John Williamson in 1923. Williamson took out two mortgages under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Acts, 1915
& 1917, and built his house by 1925. For a brief while,
from around 1926 to 1929, he rented the house to others,
then lived there from 1929 until c.1939, when Syd G
Goodenough became his tenant there. The house was taken
over by the Crown through the mortgages, and in 1965 the
property was sold to Davern Holdings Limited. William-

son’s house was demolished and three flats built around this
time. In 2006, the property was purchased by the Avondale
RSA.

42 Rosebank (21 Brown Street)
Alfred Melville also purchased the adjoining section from
Campbell in 1920, and it also went to Myers in 1922. In
1925, it was bought by Granville and Laura Jane Rack.
Granville Rack, by then, worked for Auckland City
Council. From around 1926, the Racks rented the house out
to a series of tenants, including local undertaker W R
Battersby from c.1937-c.1939 – then the house was occupied by David K Gwilliam’s family. In 1948, Gwilliam
bought the house from Rack, and it remained in the possession of members of the Gwilliam family until 2001 when it
was purchased by the RSA. The bungalow was demolished
c.2012.
Lisa J Truttman

This report was compiled from a number of sources, including:
Archives New Zealand: Deeds books, the file for the
Avondale Returned Services Club, military files online.
Auckland Council Archives: Valuation field sheet files, Town
Clerk’s files on the Avondale Town Hall.

Land Information New Zealand titles and survey plans.
Wises Directories, electoral rolls, Papers Past
Online genealogy websites: Ancestry, Rootsweb
Standfast, the Official Journal of the Avondale Returned
Services Club (Inc)
Challenge of the Whau (1994), Heart of the Whau (2003)
I would appreciate further memories and stories from readers — I hope to put together a larger version of this for the
Avondale Library’s reference collection.

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: $15 individual
$20 couple/family
$30 corporate

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The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank

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

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