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November—December 2016

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

The Teirneys of the Whau, Swanson and Northland

Lawrence and Bridget Teirney. Photo courtesy Neville Tidey.

Back in 2001, I wrote about Lawrence Teirney (18431915), who ran a horse-bus service from Avondale to the
City via Mt Albert in the 1870s, and ran foul of the law
twice through road etiquette and (on one occasion)
involvement in a proposed fist fight with another driver
outside the Avondale Hotel. He and his wife settled later
in Swanson.
I decided to revisit the family’s story recently, given that
these days access to early newspapers such as the
Auckland Star and NZ Herald have opened up in Papers
Past, along with genealogy info via the likes of Ancestry.
I found there was much more to their story.
Lawrence, according to online family histories, was born
in County Cavan, Ireland, one of at least seven children.

He married Bridget Cunningham at the parish church in
Monaghan on 29 August 1864, and the couple sailed from
London with four children (a fifth had died in infancy
before the voyage) on 2 August 1874, by means of a new
iron clipper named W aitangi. The ship arrived in
Auckland on 20 November that year, with 400
“Government immigrants” on board, most shipped out for
the chance of employment here. There had been 11 deaths
during the protracted voyage, all children. The Teirneys

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
at St Ninians, St Georges Road
SATURDAY, 3 December 2016, 2.00 pm

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were listed in the A uckland Star as “Turney: L. 29, Bridget 30.” [sic]
“They are an average looking lot. The girls are very
highly spoke of by the matron Miss Elderkin, and by the
doctor. Nearly all of them have seen service. There will
be a sharp competition for them tomorrow morning.
There being no infectious disease on board, Mr Burgess
the pilot brought the vessel at once to an anchorage off
the Queen Street wharf where she was boarded by Dr
Philson, the Health Officer, and Mr Ellis, the Immigration Commissioner. The inspection proved most satisfactory, no cases of disease were detected, and although
externally the ship does not present a very clean appearance, her decks and tween-decks are highly creditable to
the immigrants themselves, and those in charge. One
letter of complaint was handed to Mr Ellis, in which the
writer calls for summary vengeance on the head of the
captain and doctor, because he did not get what he considered enough bread on one or two occasions. With this
exception, a feeling of thankfulness to Captain Sotham,
and Dr Stewart, the officers and crew for their uniform
attention is general throughout the entire number of both
saloon and steerage passengers. In consequence of the
satisfactory condition of the vessel, it was decided on that
the immigrants should land at once, and accordingly they
came ashore this afternoon and took up the usual quarters.” (Auckland Star, 20 November 1874)

From W hite W ings(1924) by Henry Brett.

Lawrence Teirney is said to have worked at first as a
groom on the Dilworth Estate, but by at least early 1877,
he had another job working for Frank Quick, driving one
of the horse buses to and from Avondale; by May 1878
the family had a home at New Lynn, a four-roomed cottage on property owned there by the Porter family (but,
according to Teirney some years later, the family paid no
rent for the dwelling during the eight years they were
By January 1879, we see ads for “L Tierney’s [sic] Timetable, Auckland and Whau” – Frank Quick seems to have
franchised that part of the business to Teirney. Things
didn’t go smoothly for Teirney, though. He was also under contract to carry mail between Auckland and Avondale, but failed to do so. Attempts were made to serve
him with a summons to appear in court over the matter,
but these failed as, despite the fact he was in the city
twice a day, the officer of the court always managed
somehow to miss meeting up with him – and also, by the
end of January, Teirney was in Hamilton for a period.

At that time, the temporary accommodation offered to
immigrants was in the Drill Shed that was part of the
complex of buildings at the disused Albert Barracks – so
the Teirney family’s first night may well have been spent
at what is now Albert Park.
Meanwhile, Frank Quick & Co had inaugurated, from 1
December 1873, a horse-bus service between James
Palmer’s Whau Hotel and the city, via Mt Albert, leaving
Avondale at 8 am and the Union Bank in Auckland at 5
pm, “at a very reasonable fare … a great convenience to
the inhabitants of those districts who may have daily
business in town.” Three days after the first trip, the response from customers was so positive that Quick added
another trip, so the bus left Avondale at 8 am and 3 pm.
There is a possibility that Frank Quick leased land at
New Lynn from the Nathan family for stabling and
paddocks as early as 1873; certainly, by 1878, the land
was in his wife’s name, today the site of Cambridge
Clothing, the sweeping new roadway for the Clark Street
extension, and back further to stretch to Margan Ave
(including the site of the much later Gardner brickworks).

Then came the first road incident.
“A rather serious collision between two vehicles occurred at half-past-seven o'clock yesterday evening near
the Eden Vine Hotel, on the New North Road. Mr
Matthew H Frost, at the time stated, was driving in a
buggy from the Whau, and on approaching the hotel he
passed the 'bus which was going in the same direction.
Immediately afterwards the driver of the larger vehicle, a
man named Laurence Tierney, whipped his horses up and
attempted to recover his lost position. Mr Frost perceived
that the 'bus was coming up furiously behind on the same
side of the road, and comprehending the imminence of
the danger be called out loudly "Lookout." Before any
response could be made the 'bus ran into the buggy,
smashing the two off wheels of the light conveyance, as
well as the after axle, the hinder spring, and off shaft.
The passengers of the 'bus dismounted and with their
assistance Mr Frost managed to remove his trap to a
place of safety. The damage is estimated at between £15
and £20. In all probability legal proceedings will be the
direct result of the collision.”
(Auckland Star, 7 November 1879)

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By the time this reached the police court, just about the
only thing everyone agreed upon was that when Frost had
demanded that Teirney pay for damages, Teirney
responded, not dismounting from his bus, that Frost could
“go to the place of eternal punishment.” Enough doubt
was cast upon Frost’s sobriety or lack thereof, and whether he was attempting to “trot” or race both Teirney’s bus
and another which remained unnamed, for the court to
dismiss his claim.
By 1880, Teirney had expanded his business, with a
stable at Albert Street and a twice-daily additional bus
service to Onehunga. He was employing men to drive
buses in his name, and seemed quite successful at last –
then, in October that year, Teirney mysteriously left his
family and headed for Australia. Locals in Avondale
were incensed, and held a special meeting to collect money to help support Bridget Teirney and her children, left
without support. The meeting also moved that “legal
steps should be taken to secure the person of Laurence
Tierney [sic] and compel him to support his family.”
By March 1881 though, Teirney was both back in the
country – and facing bankruptcy. Unable to pay his
creditors, he filed a statement with the Supreme Court,
and remained bankrupt until October the following year.
Meanwhile, he somehow continued to provide a bus
service to Avondale.
In January 1882 he was involved in an incident where he
was accused of blocking the progress of one Patrick
Collins’ horse bus, as well as others, on the Great North
Road, on the old wooden one-way Whau Bridge, and
took off his shirt at the Avondale Hotel and offered to
give Collins a fight between them in the street. Teirney
was charged with a breach of the Public Works Act, by
allowing his horse bus to remain for a length of time in
the centre of the road, but as the prosecutor cited the
wrong section of the Act with which to charge him, that
part of the matter went no further. For creating the disturbance, Teirney was fined 20s plus costs of £1 4s.
We next hear from Teirney in January 1885, with more
hard times. He’d fallen from a loft and badly injured himself – and once again found himself in trouble for aban-

doning and not providing for his wife and their children.
Bridget however declined to appear in court to proceed
against her husband, and Lawrence himself was too ill to
attend the hearings.
It looks like, by June 1886 he was making a living as a
carter; two months later, he and Bridget made a successful application for land at Swanson, at the junction of
Waitakere and Kay Roads, and so began that phase of
their story in this country.
The Teirneys were pillars of the early Swanson community. Lawrence was elected to the first school committee
there in 1887, and was one of those who actively campaigned in 1888 for the building of the first school. The
Teirneys were also supporters of the local Catholic
congregation. In 1892, their sons James Patrick (18651949) and Lawrence Teirney (1869-1954) appears to
have been supporters of the formation of a proposed
Swanson Cricket Club in 1892.
But James Patrick Teirney, working as a carter in the
city, had a brush with the law in 1889. An argument between him and another man in the street ended with him
striking the other on the leg with a stick, the police turning up to find the two “locked in each other’s arms, but
not in a loving embrace.”
Lawrence Jr. was working as a hotel servant in Marupiu
by 1896. James Patrick was a gumdigger in Kaihu by
1900. In 1904, their mother Bridget had an arm amputated due to blood poisoning, and never recovered; she died
at the Carpenter’s Arms Hotel in Greys Ave, Auckland
City, 20 April 1904, no longer resident at Swanson. It
looks like Lawrence Snr then moved to Kaihu, setting up
a livery and stabling business that was soon sold; the
1911 electoral roll shows him occupied there as a cabman, with his unmarried daughter Nellie (1883-1970)
also in the area. That year, John Patrick started his
Winchester Shooting Gallery business in Whangarei,
opposite James’ Hotel in Cameron Street, with competition prizes provided by the Colonial Ammunition Company from Mt Eden. By 1923, J P Teirney was a wellknown local sportsman in the Whangarei area, and a purchaser of thoroughbred race horses — the family connection with horses continuing well into the 20th century.
On 9 December 1915, Lawrence
Snr. died at the Waihi home of his
daughter Catherine and her
husband Charles Henry Kayes
(they married in 1895). He was
buried in Swanson Cemetery, beside his wife Bridget. His son
Lawrence, known as Larry, started
his hairdressing and barber shop
business in Avondale around 1921,
taking over the old billiard saloon
The barber shop and billiard saloon
run by Lawrence “Larry” Teirney
from c.1921, at the corner of Crayford
St and Great North Road. Photo dates
from 1923. AWHS collection.

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as well at the corner of Crayford Street West and Great
North Road. By 1928, he’d lost the title to his shop
through a defaulted mortgage, although he remained in
business there until the 1940s.
Lisa J Truttman

Shades of Yesteryear
(From a letter received, written by Rich Afford).
Your photos of old Avondale revived old memories of
when I was a youngster in the 1920s and ‘30s. At
Tiverton Road or Garnet Street as it was then called
we were about 2 miles distant from the shops so without transport it is no wonder we were lean and fit.
At the drop of the hat we were sent regularly on errands to the village, to Atkinsons Drapery for haberdashery and cotton for mother’s sewing machine, or to
the butcher opposite with its large chopping block and
I think on the floor sawdust early on, and the cashier
in her box office near the door to take the money. To
the Post Office situated in the old hotel and to Amos’
for any groceries which between orders were in short
Each week Mr Amos or his son Vic turned up at the
door to collect the order. He would call out the range
of products: butter, flour, sugar, biscuits, salt etc., and
mother would check her cupboards and would reply
yes or no as needed and then later in the day he would
make his delivery, and hopefully a small packet of
sweets would be secreted in the order.
Along with me the Amos sisters Edith and Esme were
members of St Judes church and as our birthdays were
on the same day though different years we called ourselves the Triplets.
Between Amos’ and Atkinson’s there was the cobbler
and in his window an old battered boot with alongside

its mate fully restored, proof of the craftsman’s
Further along in the two-storey building was Mr Herdson the dentist and I recall a rather distressing extraction with the administration of gas.
Then further still on the corner of Crayford St there
was a barbers shop and at one time a visiting hypnotist
had demonstrated his skill by leaving his patient prone
on exhibition in the window for several days, much to
the interest of goggle-eyed passers-by, especially we
Then opposite there was a vacant area which was used
when the circus came to town and stayed for some
time. And Avondale races twice per year, guaranteed
to rain, and so I can go on.
Yes, those were the days, simple activities and interests and I suppose nostalgia helps us to imagine times
were happier then when perhaps in actuality they were
not. I leave you to ponder.
Rich Afford

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The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by:
the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. (since September 2001)
Editor: Lisa J. Truttman
Society contact:
19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600
Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804
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