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May—June 2010 Volume 9 Issue 53

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

(above) Part of the building plans for the Avondale
Manual and Technical School building, Avondale
Primary School, dated 1920. The architect was John
Farrell, while the main building contractor or clerk of
works may have been Thomas William Wilson (died
c.1969) who, according to his granddaughter Carolyn
Johnston (who photocopied the plans and specifications
from Thomas Wilson’s collection for AWHS), lived on
Blockhouse Bay Road, just south of New Windsor Road.
He had two daughters, one of whom married Arthur
Curry (see last issue). Carolyn said he also worked on
the Grafton Bridge, and the obelisk at One Tree Hill.

(left) A heron from Exler Potteries, recently purchased
by members of the family, and possibly dating from the
1930s. Courtesy, Neville Exler.

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
Saturday, 12 June 2010, 2.30 pm
Lion’s Hall,
corner Blockhouse Bay Road and
Great North Road
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 53
Page 2
Builders visit Glenburn, 1928

At the time, the Glenburn works on St
Georges Road was under agreement be-
tween the Craig family and a partnership
between John Melville and James Fletcher
from 1920 (the name “Glenburn Fireclay
and Pottery Limited” was formally adopted
by Supreme Court ruling in 1923). Fletcher
Construction used Glenburn Bricks widely
in projects undertaken around Auckland in
the 1920s, but formal ownership of the land
was only obtained two days before Glen-
burn was put into liquidation in 1929, and then sold on to Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company.

Copy from The Brick and Pottery Bulletin, October 1928 (from Ron Oates, the Avondale History Group collection).

Avondale’s touch of South America

The Avondale Advance announced in November
1957 that “A new rendezvous” had opened in
Avondale, the El Paso Coffee Lounge. On St Geor-
ges Road, next to the public library (now the old
hall building alongside the Hollywood Cinema).
A “popular rendezvous with the younger set,” it
was operated by Roger MacLeod,, formerly from
Hastings where he was said to have managed an-
other coffee bar catering mainly for teenagers.
The interior decoration of the El Paso was by Peter
Smeele of Titirangi, and featured a South American
MacLeod was reported as saying that “by and large the teenagers do not cause much trouble and are only too pleased
to have somewhere to go at night — where they are welcomed in pleasant surroundings.”
(Image courtesy Marc Bonny)

An early, undated, unsourced and unusual shot of St
Jude’s Church, from Ron Oates’ collection. It does
show the vicarage beside the main church building, but
appears to be from a time when the church site wasn’t
enclosed on the northern boundary by fences and vege-
tation as it is today.
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 53
Page 3
Kurt Otto Heinz Brehmer about Avondale’s past. Kurt was there at the early meet-
ings in 2002 which laid the foundation for our historical
1915-2010 society, and always remained a firm supporter, attending
our meetings at the Lions Hall and definitely saying his
Avondale has lost a dear friend. It is true we are the
poorer for his passing, but our friend Kurt made sure that
we are the richer for the fact that he was one of us for
Photo courtesy Colin Maddock

more than 50 years.

Eulogy by Chris Kiwi

The Kurt Brehmer Walkway on the western coast of the
Rosebank Peninsula, the North-western Cycleway beside
the motorway between Te Atatu and Waterview, the
cycleway bridge over Great North Road, and the Car-
rington Road cycleway with a bronze plaque mounted
over each end - all these things lead back to the vision
Kurt Brehmer, one of the AWHS foundation members and action of 1 individual - Kurt Otto Heinz Brehmer.
from 2002, died aged 94 this year. He was born in Ham-
burg, Germany in 1915. His father died serving in the My name is Chris Kiwi, and I had the privilege of being
German army in Belgium, and his mother arranged that a member of Avondale Community Board the same 3
Kurt would not be made to follow in his father’s foot- years as Kurt: 1992 - 5.
steps when Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, and another
war appeared to be looming. Sent away from his home, 2 particular incidents stand out as being good samples of
he worked in England, then Ireland, before securing pas- Kurt's character:
sage to New Zealand in 1939. 1 was our very first meeting in winter 1990, at a selec-
He and his wife Nola settled at Avondale in the early tion meeting being held in the old New Lynn Primary
1950s, and from then on became part of our local land- School to choose the New Lynn candidate for a new
scape. He was always proud of the fact that his property party: the Newlabour Party (NLP). Neither of us was a
was once a major part of that owned by Hayward Wright, candidate, and in fact the person chosen was Maire
the horticulturalist and developer of the Hayward cultivar Leadbeater, but my very first encounter with Kurt was
for the kiwifruit. Sadly, he died before Wright’s name seeing this hunched but resolute gentleman (then in his
could be truly immortalised in Avondale in the form of a mid 70s) standing in front of me asking me for my signa-
reserve or street name. He was at the forefront of the ture on a clipboard petition he was circulating: to have a
Avondale and Waterview Residents and Ratepayers As- cycleway added when the North-western Motorway was
sociation, campaigning from at least the 1960s for our being widened. What impressed me was the man's deter-
local environment. In 1995, he and the Avondale Peace mined stance, the strong expectation of success. He got
Group secured the Avondale Peace Garden at the corner my signature.
of Ash Street and Great North Road. The other incident was 2 years later in 1992, by then the
He worked tirelessly for the establishment of both cycle- NLP had joined with 4 other parties to form a party
ways and walkways — the Kurt Brehmer Walkway called The Alliance. Kurt and I had been newly elected
along part of the Rosebank shore facing the Whau River on to Avondale Community Board on the Alliance
was named in his honour. ticket, and we were having a Board discussion about the
forthcoming Official Opening of the new cycleway (a
He was a member of the Avondale Community Board dream a mere 2 years previously).
when I first met him in the 1990s. From 2001, when I
began the Heart of the Whau project, which led to the Kurt told us there was to be an open air function with
creation of AWHS, both he and Nola were staunch sup- speeches in early December, at the end of Patiki road
porters and encouragers. At times when I thought I near the Go-kart Track. I queried there being no allow-
would not have the energy to see things through, they ance for rain on the Saturday afternoon some weeks
invited me to lunches in their home, showed me photo hence. Kurt replied: "It's going to be fine. That's been
albums and gifts received from friends and relatives from taken care of."
overseas, and listened to the things I had discovered Kurt must have friends in VERY high places!
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 9 Issue 53
Page 4

A photo from the collection donated to the AWHS by Ron Oates, it shows the intersection of Rosebank and Great
North Roads in the 1950s (no traffic lights). I don’t have a photographer’s name attached to this — readers, please let
me know so I can properly attribute it.
It is intriguing for quite a few reasons. The absence of traffic levels we are so used to today is one thing. How on
earth the photographer took the shot without tumbling off the roof is another. Question number three is: whose
tractor is that parked outside Fearon’s butcher’s shop?

The Avondale Historical Journal
Copies of Avondale Historical Journal and AWHS
Published by: Newsletter produced for us by
the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road,
Editor: Lisa J. Truttman Blockhouse Bay.
Society contact:
19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600 The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank
Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804
Society information:
Subscriptions: $10 individual
Business Association
$15 couple/family for their continued support and sponsorship of this
$30 corporate publication.

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