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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

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Builders visit Glenburn, 1928
At the time, the Glenburn works on St Georges Road was under agreement between 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 Glenburn 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 Georges 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 another coffee bar catering mainly for teenagers. The interior decoration of the El Paso was by Peter Smeele of Titirangi, and featured a South American atmosphere. 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 vegetation as it is today.

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about Avondale’s past. Kurt was there at the early meetings in 2002 which laid the foundation for our historical society, and always remained a firm supporter, attending our meetings at the Lions Hall and definitely saying his piece! 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 more than 50 years.

Kurt Otto Heinz Brehmer 1915-2010

Photo courtesy Colin Maddock


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 Carrington Road cycleway with a bronze plaque mounted over each end - all these things lead back to the vision and action of 1 individual - Kurt Otto Heinz Brehmer. My name is Chris Kiwi, and I had the privilege of being a member of Avondale Community Board the same 3 years as Kurt: 1992 - 5. 2 particular incidents stand out as being good samples of Kurt's character: 1 was our very first meeting in winter 1990, at a selection meeting being held in the old New Lynn Primary School to choose the New Lynn candidate for a new party: the Newlabour Party (NLP). Neither of us was a candidate, and in fact the person chosen was Maire Leadbeater, but my very first encounter with Kurt was seeing this hunched but resolute gentleman (then in his mid 70s) standing in front of me asking me for my signature on a clipboard petition he was circulating: to have a cycleway added when the North-western Motorway was being widened. What impressed me was the man's determined stance, the strong expectation of success. He got my signature. The other incident was 2 years later in 1992, by then the NLP had joined with 4 other parties to form a party called The Alliance. Kurt and I had been newly elected on to Avondale Community Board on the Alliance ticket, and we were having a Board discussion about the forthcoming Official Opening of the new cycleway (a dream a mere 2 years previously). Kurt told us there was to be an open air function with speeches in early December, at the end of Patiki road near the Go-kart Track. I queried there being no allowance for rain on the Saturday afternoon some weeks hence. Kurt replied: "It's going to be fine. That's been taken care of." Kurt must have friends in VERY high places!

Kurt Brehmer, one of the AWHS foundation members from 2002, died aged 94 this year. He was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1915. His father died serving in the German army in Belgium, and his mother arranged that Kurt would not be made to follow in his father’s footsteps when Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, and another war appeared to be looming. Sent away from his home, he worked in England, then Ireland, before securing passage to New Zealand in 1939. He and his wife Nola settled at Avondale in the early 1950s, and from then on became part of our local landscape. He was always proud of the fact that his property was once a major part of that owned by Hayward Wright, the horticulturalist and developer of the Hayward cultivar for the kiwifruit. Sadly, he died before Wright’s name could be truly immortalised in Avondale in the form of a reserve or street name. He was at the forefront of the Avondale and Waterview Residents and Ratepayers Association, campaigning from at least the 1960s for our local environment. In 1995, he and the Avondale Peace Group secured the Avondale Peace Garden at the corner of Ash Street and Great North Road. He worked tirelessly for the establishment of both cycleways and walkways — the Kurt Brehmer Walkway along part of the Rosebank shore facing the Whau River was named in his honour. He was a member of the Avondale Community Board when I first met him in the 1990s. From 2001, when I began the Heart of the Whau project, which led to the creation of AWHS, both he and Nola were staunch supporters and encouragers. At times when I thought I would not have the energy to see things through, they invited me to lunches in their home, showed me photo albums and gifts received from friends and relatives from overseas, and listened to the things I had discovered

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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
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: Society information: Website: Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate

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

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

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