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September—October 2010 Volume 10 Issue 55

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

A New Windsor neighbourhood
in the 1930s
by Sylvia Thomas née Judd

In the early 1990s, the Avondale History Group formed with the
purpose of production of a history of Avondale: Challenge of the
Whau (1994). In the course of gathering information for the book, a
number of recollections were submitted, parts of which were later
included. This memoir, written by Sylvia Thomas during that period,
came from the Avondale History Group collection, via Ron Oates,
and was donated to the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society in
2010. Mrs. Thomas has made some amendments to the original type-
script, and gave permission for this to be published.

In 1933 our family bought a grocery business where New Windsor
Road meets Bollard Avenue.
If you stood on the front step of the shop, you looked down Bollard
Avenue, across the houses of Mt Albert to the Waitemata Harbour and the Chelsea Sugar Works. If the weather was
doubtful, you looked down New Windsor Road to the Waitakere Ranges in the distance and judged whether it was
going to rain or not. Looking up the road, you couldn’t see past the bend in the road; the tar seal ended at Batkin
Road and the metal and scoria began and continued all the
way to Blockhouse Bay or Mt Roskill.
It was one of those small shops with living quarters, two
bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and kitchenette. There
was a garden at the back, the same size as the neighbour’s,
and a corrugated iron fowl house across the top of the
section.
House and shop were leased at first, but after a few years
became our own. We were there for ten years, eventually

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
Saturday, 2 October 2010, 2.30 pm
Lion’s Hall,
(Above) the dairy/convenience store opposite Bollard Ave-
corner Blockhouse Bay Road and
nenue, as it is today, and (top) as it appeared in the late 1930s,
as one of the district’s first Four Square stores. Top photo Great North Road
from Sylvia Thomas, via the Ron Oates collection.
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 10 Issue 55
Page 2
couple of wells covered with sheets of
iron, relics of other days. On the highest
point in Bentleigh Avenue but with the
frontage on New Windsor Road was a
once elegant, then unpainted house where
Mrs B lived. In those days of the Depres-
sion, houses with paint so worn as to be
almost non-existent were common.

It also had a verandah across the front.
Rampant chokos climbed the uprights
and possibly a bottle fed lamb or a litter
of puppies would be found sheltering in a
corner. The puppies were the family of
Barney, an old ginger and white spaniel
and Phyllis a Pomeranian who were also
the parent of our own dog, Jerry.

moving in turn to two other houses across the road These old houses were probably built about the turn of
where the family lived until the 1980s. the century. In style Bs’ was similar to the one bought
by the Social Welfare home in Bollard Avenue, and
In 1933 we were a young family. Mother and Father another adjacent to the Seventh Day Adventist
still in their twenties, and two little girls; Wilma who Church, the oldest house in Avondale, built with wide
was still a baby, and me, Sylvia, two and a half years weather boards and slate roofs.
old.
At the back of our fowl houses were paddocks that
For the most part, Mum looked after the shop and Dad extended except for two small houses, the length of
made deliveries on his days off from his job as an at- Bentleigh Avenue to the two houses at the bottom of
tendant at the mental hospital – the Avondale Mental the road. We called these paddocks the “pear pad-
Asylum. Until late at night he weighed up flour and dock” because of the pear trees there, perhaps the re-
sugar, dried fruit, rice and potatoes while Mum caught mains of an orchard. Mrs B used to graze her four
up with the washing or sewing. cows there. I once brought home a clump of snow-
drops from the paddocks, and I like to think the clump
Just as it seems today, that part of New Windsor Road I have today is a descendant.
was quiet, almost sedate. Although there were several
families, the pace of the neighbourhood was set by the Exlers who had a tennis court and wisteria covered
number of retired people. summerhouse between the house and the brickworks
also kept cows in the paddocks at the back. I remem-
At the Blockhouse Bay end of the street was Exlers’ ber Dad as a favour trying to sell their homemade
brickworks where the publisher A H Reed was to be butter in the shop but it wasn’t saleable, even in those
apprenticed when he came from England as a boy
days.
(something that didn’t eventuate), and two villa
houses. From the bend in the road where the pines on each
side seemed to touch, there were fewer houses, and
On the other side of the road most of the houses had small farmlets, dairy or poultry, began. On the corner
been built in the 1920s, but there were several older. of Batkin and New Windsor Roads there was a small
The house opposite the shop on the corner of New group of houses with Mr Brightwell’s glasshouses be-
Windsor and Bollard Avenue was said to be the hind his, and on the rise Dickie’s two-storied house,
original farm house of the area. In the 1930s Reids its paint long gone, not to be repainted for another 50
lived there. The third house along (in those days) years.
down a long flower edged driveway was where Hoyles
lived, and next door to them Ash’s, a beautiful little In 1933 our immediate neighbours were the Scotts on
house a step above the lawn with a verandah across one side and on the other, another young couple the
the front and surrounded by large trees. Donaldsons with small daughter Maureen. Next to
Donaldsons were the Curreys.
Opposite Hoyle’s was Vibert’s with a large oak tree
on the lawn and a mass of daffodils underneath it in Scotts were assisted immigrants from Scotland as
spring. In the paddocks behind the house were a were several other families in the street. Mrs
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 10 Issue 55
Page 3

(Both photos): Exler Potteries, New Windsor Road. From
Donaldson was Florence Greep from Blockhouse Bay Ron Oates collection.
(the Mission Sunday School and Girls’ Life Brigade).
Donaldson senior lived a few houses away in Bollard Mrs Scott would stand on her front porch and call to
Avenue. Mr. Currey had been a captain in the English her sister across the road, “Will ye send our Jimmy
army and had already established on his large property home?” If Jimmy wasn’t there, Mrs. Campbell would
several tomato glass houses which later became a very go to the back of her house and call from her back
sizeable business. porch across the paddocks to her mother’s in Methuen
Road, “Will ye tell Lizzie’s Jimmy his mither wants
On the other corner of Bollard Avenue, opposite
him?”
Reid’s, were the Dowthwaites. Their pretty little
stucco house, white with green shutters, had been built In that extended family there was “our Jim (or Jim
by Mr Dowthwaite. Like the Hoyles further along the Scott, Jimmy Campbell or Jimpy Reid), “our Dave”,
road, they were English. I remember many of our “our Rose”, “our Tom”, because each family had one.
neighbours as retired folk, mostly English with
distinctive regional accents, living a country style with As a six-year-old I spent a lot of time with Mr Scott
gardens and fruit trees, gentle and kindly. A little who was a returned soldier from the 1914-1918 war. I
notice on Mr Dowthwaite’s side gate said he sold lem- used to watch him making dressing table mats with
ons and other fruit, but not on Sunday. silky thread and a board of nails. While I almost died
in hospital from pneumonia, Mr Scott died at home
When I was four or five Mr Dowthwaite’s elderly from being gassed during the war. He would not have
brother died. I remember the coffin and the flowers been 50.
being carried through the front gate, as I watched with
Mum. Sadly, I realised for the first time that people My illness along with that of classmate Barbara
did not live forever. Our front room blinds were Howie, who also had pneumonia at the same time,
lowered, as were the blinds of the nearby neighbours, was put down to our class being taught in the draughty
a custom of sympathy and respect that seems to have cloakroom in the primer block at Avondale Primary.
vanished now. The shocked committee ruled it out as a classroom
from that time on. Many years later I heard it was be-
There were still adult children living with their retired ing used again. I felt angry but did nothing.
parents, several of them teachers. The Misses Hoyle,
Millie and Madge; the Misses Jarvie, one of whom Dad used to keep an eye on another man returned
taught at Avondale Primary for many years; the from the war. A gentle, almost timid man, he was
Misses Spargo; and Christobel Ash who walked daily always immaculate in suit, gabardine overcoat and
to the tram with her father a professor. hat. He went to war as a young medical student, his
training interrupted. He returned badly shell shocked,
Mrs Scott who had made munitions during the World unable to work.
War, told us her family had arrived by ship in winter
weather, freezing in their summer clothes. Having Once when he hadn’t seen Mr M for some time Dad
been told they were going to a warm country, they had found him starving and terrified, hiding in his small
left their winter clothes at home in Scotland. There bach. I remember Dad taking with some urgency half
were several related families all living close by. a wholemeal loaf and other wholesome food that was
Scotts, Campbells, Gordons, Haverns. Scottish Reids Mr M’s usual choice, and calling the nearest doctor,
and Weirs were also related. Dr. Paterson of Mt Albert.
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 10 Issue 55
Page 4
Mr M recovered to be very angry. I think it was be- Who was Curley, pipe cleaner curlers in his hair, smil-
cause his life style had been disclosed to the doctor. It ing and singing to himself as he twirled his cane and
seemed he and the doctor had been students together. minced along? At the sight of him, we kids playing
outside the shop, or digging our toes into the soft tar
It was some time before Mr M forgave Dad, but he on the road outside Currey’s would run for our lives.
used to talk often to Mum when he collected his bread
and groceries from the shop. He was very religious On one occasion Wilma was left literally holding the
and once gave her a little Testament, the Book of St baby – or someone’s pram with a sitting-up baby har-
John. I have it now. nessed in. Horrified we watched. Curley stole
children. However, he only stopped to admire the
Thinking back to those days it seems each family had baby, patted Wilma on the head and walked on,
something interesting about it. The lady who regularly smiling, singing to himself and once again twirling his
made the most delicious bread, Mrs Story, who moth- cane.
ered countless foster children, often those no one else
would have, physically handicapped or difficult. Mr There were two other men we were frightened of.
Forgesson who was said to be an American Indian Another Curley the bottle-oh who also stole children –
who had run away from a circus and who now trained and the Indian rag and bone man who took your bones
trotting horses. Mrs Forgesson and Mrs Williams who away!
knitted as they walked the long distances to the trams
or the “village” which was Avondale shopping centre. Who started these terrible stories? These two men
Gus Hoffman, Mr Currey’s foreman who walked came up our street several times a year, carts loaded
down the middle of the road on Sundays (no traffic with old sacks, horses plodding along while they
then), best suit and a posy of flowers for a mysterious called “Bottle-oh!” or “Rag-n-bo-hone!”
lady. Mr Tribe the coal man, chimney sweep black
Did they know kids ran from them? Curley once had a
from coal dust. And Curley.
chat to Mum in the shop and the Indian man once

From the days before Tiverton Road became the busy traffic conduit it is today. The sign reads: “Road unformed. Proceed
cautiously.” This dates from 9 April 1962, just before Auckland City Council’s project to upgrade the roads in New Windsor .
Courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections, photo ref 580-6251.
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 10 Issue 55
Page 5
bought a lemonade. Each knew I was shaking in my About this time we became a Four Square Store. Food-
bare feet. To this day I remember their amused smiles. stuffs the warehouse were organising them throughout
Curley told me to be good for my mother. (How did he the country, and I’m pretty sure we were number forty.
know??) Before the advent of supermarkets, there were several
hundred.
Materially, no one had very much. No electric
appliances. The Misses Hoyle and Mr Currey drove, the If today there is racial discrimination among
only cars in the street, and I think they, and Viberts, had neighbours, in New Windsor Road in the 1930s it
the only telephones. The nearest public phone was in would have been class distinction between the English
the post office. The washhouse was often an outhouse, and the Scottish. The English were probably country
but toilets – lavatories, lavvies or lavs we called them, people who had lived in the shadow of a manor house.
were modern water closets at least as far as the bend in They were tradespeople ruled by conventions of their
the road. day; kindly, gentle, but snobbish.
Most houses had bare floors, perhaps varnished, or lino The Scottish were assisted immigrants with young
covered. Ash’s and Exler’s both had earth floors in the families, working people from the cities. Good people,
kitchen. I saw Exler’s myself, and remember Dad being friendly, uninhibited. The two groups would have had
shocked that Ash’s had an earth floor. little in common except perhaps their respect for each
other as churchgoers. St Ninian’s bell tolled on
Did they get like that with age and lack of money to Sundays for the Scots, and St Jude’s for the English.
make repairs, or were kitchen floors sometimes
earthen? I don’t know. They were days of struggle, of In our house there was no religion. Dad was Church of
guarding every penny, the young families barely England and Mum was a Catholic. I went once to the
managing, and the retired people probably on small Presbyterian Sunday School and once to the Baptist
pensions, selling garden produce to make a little extra. Sunday School before settling for St Jude’s.
In 1935 we bought our first radio. A little HMV, His In 1935 I accompanied the Scarrott children to St
Master’s Voice. At five years of age I was not really Mary’s Convent School. However I don’t think I lasted
aware or impressed when it arrived, but remember to the week out. I was frightened of the nuns. I also got
this day the programmes and the music I enjoyed from worn out by the long walk from New Windsor Road to
that time on. The 1YA children’s session with the school on the Great North Road even though the
“Cinderella”, “Easy Aces”, “Fred and Maggie Every- children used a track, a short cut behind the Oddfellows
body” and lots more. The earliest songs I learned were Hall at the bottom of Chalmers Street. So, I was kept
“Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, and “Beautiful Isle of home until I was six, the age for starting Avondale Pri-
Somewhere” which introduced Uncle Scrim’s pro- mary in 1936.
gramme. Later, I loved “Up the Wooden Hill to Bed-
fordshire” sung by a teenage Vera Lynn, and the songs In 1938 Mrs Hoyle arranged for us to be christened in
by Bobby Breen, a very young boy soprano. Radios the Church of England. We had been attending Sunday
became within the reach of most people. About that School and Family Service occasionally and of course
time everyone seemed to be getting one. Dad was Anglican. My Irish descended Catholic grand-
mother was very much opposed, but Mrs Hoyle who I
In 1937-1938 we replaced the gas stove, and a gas always likened to Queen Mary was quite blunt about it.
califont in the bathroom, with an electric stove and hot If we died, we would not go to heaven. Being Catholic
water cylinder. In my standard two class there were wouldn’t save us. Little Nanna held a similar but op-
about two of us with these luxuries. posing view. Obviously there were two heavens.
A year or so later we got the phone on and our first car, I think Mum was more worn out than convinced. Angli-
a 1928 Essex. Both were necessary for the shop. Previ- cans we became. In later years unintentionally she got
ously Mum or Dad would go to town on the tram to her own back. During a winter ‘flu epidemic, we were
place our order with Foodstuffs or pay for accounts. forbidden to drink from the chalice “after a lot of old
Making the deliveries to isolated homes in the car with people.” In the Catholic Church wine and bread came
Dad on a Friday night was a treat. We went two or together as a wafer. Mrs Hoyle was shocked that any-
three miles in any direction. The next nearest grocers one would think infections could be caught from a chal-
were the little shop at Weaton’s corner near the Fire ice, and of course it was wiped with a cloth and turned.
Station, Mr Miles on the New North Road in Mt Albert, Not good enough for my mother. Drinking communion
or Blockhouse Bay, McMurray Bros. wine was out.
Mum would not let Dad have a cheque book, though. Lots of things happened in 1938. In July our little
Our payments were in cash. brother was born and about the same time we got our
Volume 10 Issue 55
The Avondale Historical Journal
Page 6
piano. Mrs B came over to check both out. Whereas She checked the piano over as if she knew something
some of the older women were very proper and conven- about them, and probably did. Her house was full of
tional, long dark dresses and hats even when going to furniture, and she was one for a good auction.
the shop, Mrs B was not. She seemed to me to be very
old, a big woman generously built with thick grey hair When it came to the baby, she admired him and blessed
loosely wound into a bun, but sometimes in the early him with a gypsy blessing. (That part of her remains a
morning worn in a single thick plait that hung to her mystery). Then she pressed a shilling into his hand to
waist. Her clothes seemed to be always the same: a seal it.
blue-grey shirt tucked into a gathered skirt which
This caused a little embarrassment. A shilling would
reached her ankles, and old white sandshoes out of
buy ½ a loaf of bread, a pound of rice, a pound of
shape because of her bunions. The working dress of
mince and two liquorice straps. It was a good propor-
many a pioneer woman. In reality, she was probably in
tion of Mrs B’s pension of about fifteen shillings.
her early sixties, the age I am now, and short, like me.
With discretion, Dad credited Mrs B’s account with one
She had raised a family and lived with her youngest son
shilling; Paul grew up to be much blessed.
who was slightly handicapped, or at least hard to man-
age. He was unemployed and used to help his mother Although those days seemed from a child’s point of
with the four cows, milking them or taking them to the view peaceful and carefree, there was sadness.
paddocks where they were to graze.
One of the children, a girl, a little older than us, died at
I remember her husband too, a man with a walrus the age of fourteen. Not being able to get to a florist,
moustache, slouched over the reins, as he drove the Mum picked flowers and fern from the garden and
horse and dray, the big iron wheels crunching over the made a wreath. Wilma and I took it to the home and
metal as they rounded the Bentleigh Avenue corner. laid it with others on the table. The mother stood by the
After Mr B died it was often Dad who had to sort the kitchen bench quietly crying. It was the second child
son out. she had lost.
There was one time when Mrs B called him early one Looking back I now realise that we were not without
morning. One of her cows was having a difficult time the same social problems that exist today. Boys particu-
calving and George the son was trying to help. Mrs B larly played the wag from school. But that was not
was beside herself. George insisted on helping, but was thought to be a problem.
likely to damage cow and calf.
One husband drank too much, another hit his wife.
I doubt if Dad had ever seen anything born before but There were abortions – two where young women lost
Mrs B placed a lot of confidence in him as did many their lives – another saddened the grandmother – “all I
people. Perhaps it had something to do with his job and ever wanted was daisies on my lawn and grandchil-
a small amount of nursing experience. Also he was the dren.” She was never to have either.
local storekeeper, everyone knew him. We worried. We
could see Dad and George bent over the poor cow on A young man spent four years in prison for “interfering
the ground. However, Dad came home full of smiles, with young girls.” “Interfering” was the term then.
the job done and pleased with himself. We laughed. Goodness knows what it meant.
Dad was no farmer, but a city boy from London.
An angry father rowed with the man across the road. I
It was too bad that on occasion Dad had to fall out with have only vague memories of snippets of adult conver-
Mrs B. Like many of our customers she had an account sation, and the ten-year-old girl’s giggles of a funny
for her groceries. There was a docket book, kept for man and a promise of a doll.
each one. Goods were entered through the week and
people settled up regularly, or when they could. If the By 1940 Dad had given up work at the hospital and had
Avondale Saturday races were on there was no credit bought a taxi business. For a time Mum managed with
given. Settle up first. I remember a shouting match be- help from Mrs Scott but with coupon books for rationed
tween Dad and Mrs. B. She was dressed for the races in tea, sugar and butter and a new baby, a fourth child, the
almost Edwardian style, long brown outfit and lacy shop eventually became too much for her.
blouse with a little gold brooch. She stormed out of the Across the road was a section where a house had been
shop. Whether she settled up and bought her weekend built and then, almost finished, burnt down during the
supplies or went to the races, I don’t know. depression years. People said it had been deliberately
done for the insurance. For some years children played
When brother Paul was born and the piano arrived among the charred wood until it gradually disappeared.
about the same time, Mrs B was invited in to inspect.
Volume 10 Issue 55
The Avondale Historical Journal
Page 7
When we bought the section for forty-five pounds it
By 1926, orchardist John Proctor owned the 5 acre
was gorse covered with only a chimney and fireplace
property, but sold it to land investor Lyulph Thomas
standing.
Tollemache (1899-1977), who proceeded to cut up the
Dad and a friend lassoed the chimney and it came down land for residential lots. It looks like the original house
easily. The bricks later became part of the front steps from the days when it was an orchard still exists, at 8
and driveway of our new house. Bentleigh Avenue. A stable was where 10 Bentleigh
Avenue is today.
It was the start of a different kind of life for us. No
more calling “shop!” to Mum when a customer came The house/shop at 57 New Windsor Road, what was to
in, no more interrupted meals, no more Friday nights, become Judd’s Store, was built by Sidney Leslie
no more rush hour Saturday mornings. For me, no more Wallath, an important property developer in Auckland
accompanying the delivery boy with the over-flow he in the early to middle decades of the last century. In the
couldn’t manage, on Dad’s old bike. A job I had only 1940s he was involved with several properties in
just started. Newton Road and Great South Road in Ellerslie as
well as developments on Auckland University land in
It was also the end of an era. Buchanan’s bread van was the vicinity of Alten Road. Between 1927 and 1966
not drawn by horse any more. Because of the war and a he operated his own building/contracting business as
German name, Munster Road had been changed to S L Wallath Ltd. He was a noted philanthropist, estab-
Maioro Road. Mrs Campbell had delivered all the boys’ lishing the Wallath Trust which oversees a provision of
shanghais to the local cop. Mr Bach now delivered the an annual monetary prize awarded by the Auckland
milk by car instead of horse and float, although milk University Council to outstanding Science or Medical
bottles were still a little way off, and the milk was School graduates.
poured by dipper from the can to a waiting jug or billy
at the back door. The old king had died and in 1937 a Wallath formally purchased the empty allotment on
new king crowned. New Windsor Road in February 1928, at the beginning
of his property development career, but the building
State houses were being built. One by one all the empty permit for a four-roomed wooden dwelling and shop
sections were being built on by private owners. No (£550) was granted in 1927. The earliest occupant ap-
more cowboys and Indians and throwing cow pats. Big pears to have been grocer David H Knight by 1929.
brothers had gone into the army. The Salvation Army According to Sylvia Thomas, her family leased the
no longer played on Dowthwaite’s corner giving out property, still owned by Wallath, in 1933. In 1938,
tiny cards to a dozen kids seated on the kerb stones. We Winifred Ellen Judd, wife of William Joseph Judd, ob-
were all growing up, going to Girls’ or Boys’ Brigade. tained title over the property, and additions were made
The older group getting married. to the building, totalling £825. This period of ownership
however lasted only around three years; in 1941, the
The old days, for us, had gone. house and shop were sold to storekeepers John James
and Edith Millicent Stubbs, and the appearance
changed, with alterations and additions totalling £2128.

The house and shop were sold in 1942 to a manufactur-
ing chemist named Leslie Ralph Drayton Witty and his
The history behind the story wife Bessie Isabel, and then sold again in 1943 to gro-
Lisa J Truttman cer Frederick Robert Allen and his wife Hilda Jean in
1943. Mr. Allen died 1951, and Hilda his widow sold
the property to another grocer, Raymond Kenneth Ball
Originally part of John S Adam’s “Windsor Estate”
in 1954. He died in 1963, and his widow Daisy Doreen
from the 1840s-1860s, the part of New Windsor where
Ball inherited the property. She sold the building and
the Judds owned the store was subdivided for sale in
site to Moorcrofts Foodmarket in 1970.
the 1870s-1880s. By 1897, it was part of a block of
nearly 16 acres, owned by William G Tatton. The prop- Today, it is still our neighbourhood convenience store. I
erty was to remain as an orchard, it seems, through to remember it as a Four Square from my days as a kiddy,
the mid 1920s. The remains of this orchard in the days going around the corner from Methuen Road on
of the Judd family would have been the “pear pad- errands, along Bollard, to the shop for bread, milk, or a
docks” recalled by Sylvia Thomas. Another fruit- newspaper. The two shops alongside must have
grower,. Frederick Hutton, purchased just over 5 acres appeared in the late 1950s-early 1960s, the takeaway
of the land from Tatton, including the site of today’s used to be a butcher’s shop before supermarket trade in
Bentleigh Avenue. the 1970s shut it down.
The Avondale Historical Journal Volume 10 Issue 55
Page 8

A photo mystery

These photos of a house and property,
backing onto a waterway (the Whau
River?) came from Ron Oates earlier
this year. Whose house is this?

If anyone has any ideas, please do let
me know.

The Avondale Historical Journal
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