You are on page 1of 12

March — April 2018

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

100th Issue
Lives on Thomas’ Paddock by Lisa Truttman

Part of a sentence in one article on Papers Past, from July 1878, changed a long-running assumption I’d held about
Avondale history before the beginning of this year completely, and started to open up stories about part of the centre
of the township.

“The distance between their house and Thomas’ [shown here in a detail
Next meeting of the from an Auckland Libraries image, attribution on next page] was about
Avondale-Waterview 200 yards …”
Historical Society “Where did they live?” It is one of the commonest queries I receive on
will be Saturday 7 April 2018 behalf of the AWHS from casual enquirers, pursuing their ancestral re-
at 2pm, St Ninians Hall, search, finding that their relative at some point came into the early
St Georges Road, Avondale Avondale community in the 19th and early 20th centuries, before postal
The Avondale Historical Journal
Page 2
directories and electoral
rolls provided handy ad-
dresses in their listings.

Before 1910, we have to
make do with the directo-
ries simply listing who
was here, the original land
deeds indexes and some
titles (generally from 1885
onward), and occasional
advertisements and public
notices describing the
properties and who
someone’s house was next
-door to. Early rates rec-
ords at Council Archives
start from 1905, but
there’s a gap until 1911. A
lot of the time, we can
never find out; the person
may have just rented a
house, passed through the
district in too few years to have left a mark, and/or had Likely very early 1890s image of the junction of Great
a very common name to boot. North, St Judes and St Georges Roads, Avondale. 7-A9460,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
Then, along came the Thompsons, just over 140 years
after they came to live here, who have helped to solve
a puzzle thanks to one of their exploits, and caused me Disturbed by Watson’s behaviour, Eliza Thomas went
to reassess what I had believed to be the case about the outside to look for assistance – at which point Watson
story of the Great North Road block from Crayford seized a brush lying on the counter, and chased after
Street West to St Judes Street in the 19th century to the her, shouting that he would kill her.
early 1900s, known at that time by many as Thomas’
Paddock. Eliza ran frantically for the nearest house, that of the
Thompsons’ across the way and 200 yards along the
William and Jane Thompson moved into a house on road. The Thompson’s daughter, sitting in the kitchen,
what is now the former Three Guys site on the western heard Eliza’s screams as the latter made the dash to
side of Great North Road, near the line of today’s the house. She let her in, and slammed the door shut,
Racecourse Parade by late 1877, where William, a locking it. Watson proceeded to swear and break the
dairyman, set up a milking shed down where Suburbs Thompsons’ windows, before smashing in the glass
Club and the line of state housing flats would come to portion of the front door, causing over £10 in damage.
be in the following two centuries. In the 1880s, he also In answer to the question why he broke the windows,
bought over 20 acres of land off Rosebank Road, Watson simply replied, “For fun.”
where Honan Place is now. The Thompsons were to
live on Great North Road for over 20 years. It’s their Miss Thompson took off out the rear door to the
house referred to in the quote at the start of this article, house. Her mother and father had already heard Eliza
because … Thomas’ screams from where they were working in
the family’s cowshed. Watson hit William Thompson
On 10 July 1878, at around 11.30 in the morning, a several times with the brush when Thompson demand-
man named Alexander Watson entered George ed that he stopped smashing the windows and door.
Thomas’ grocery store, 200 yards away to the south, Thompson got help, and it took six men to bring
near the corner of St Jude Street and Great North Watson down and secure him. The police declared that
Road, opposite the Avondale Hotel. Thomas’ 16-year Watson’s “extraordinary conduct” was a result of
daughter Eliza was alone in the shop at the time. delirium tremens. When Watson was finally brought
Watson asked for a beer, and Eliza Thomas told him, before the Supreme Court in October that year, he
of course, that the shop didn’t sell any. He then pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property,
begged for a glass of water, which she gave him. On and sentenced to six months with hard labour.
drinking it, Watson then asked for £5, which Eliza
refused. At that point, fortunately, her mother Jane Jane Thompson could certainly take care of herself. In
Thomas came into the store, and told Watson to be September 1878, Jane and her neighbour Mary Harper
off. He asked her for the £5, and was again refused. engaged in what the press poetically headlined “A
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 3
Row at the Whau” (which folks reading this will only would, on the side if it wasn’t a store (because, of
truly appreciate if they pronounce the name Whau as it course, I thought Thomas had his store further along
was back in the day). Paddocks just to the north of the the block.) Now, I’m fairly certain that it was the
Thompson’s property were owned by the McLivers, Thomas store, around 200 yards from the Thompson
with Henry and Mary Harper using them as their ten- house, the closest house the Thomas women could
ants. Jane Thompson had Mrs McLiver’s permission to think to flee to in 1878.
graze the Thompson cattle on these paddocks.
The George Thomas family
This did not please Mary Harper one bit. On 17
September, incensed that the Thompson cows were George Thomas was a member of the Thomas family
eating her grass, she turned them out of the paddock. who built and operated the Star Flour Mill in
Jane Thompson came over, and turned them back into Waterview. John Thomas’ brother, George was appar-
the paddock – and so Mary Harper let fly with her ently working in the family flour mill as a miller back
tongue. Annoyed at what she also claimed were con- in Devon from at least the age of 13. He arrived in
tinual insults from Mrs and Miss Thompson, calling Wellington in 1855, just over a year after his brother,
her “Irish” (“I’ve been 26 years in the colony, your and by 1860 was residing at the Whau, where he was
honour!”), Mary yelled and threatened to put Jane married. His association with the Star Mill may there-
Thompson’s head between her knees and “spiflicate fore go back as far as his brother’s land purchase of
her.” “Spiflicate”, a very rare word these days, origi- the future mill site from Andrew Rooney in 1859.
nated from the mid 18th century, made up from various However, George chose Ponsonby for his own initial
bits and pieces of other words, and meant in the 19th land investments, buying sections in Napier Street and
century “to beat up violently, to destroy.” Sheridan Street in 1860 and 1864 respectively. He was
residing at the Star Mill both in 1865 and 1869, taking
Quite naturally, therefore, Jane Thompson told the lat- over the running of the Star Mill after John’s death.
er court hearing that she greatly feared her neighbour
would cause her grievous bodily harm. Harper coun- During this time (in December 1867), he also pur-
tered that was only because Thompson threatened to chased a block of the Greytown township in the Whau
kick her first. The judge cautioned Harper to “govern Village bounded by Great North Road, Layard, St
her tongue”, lest he sentence her to a term in Mt Eden Judes, and Crayford Streets, while his true interests
gaol. Harper humbly apologised, saying “that it was an still lay with the flour mill and his flour stores in the
infirmity peculiar to the women of the Whau. They city. On this site, Clement Crisp had built a substantial
were all mighty fine talkers!” complex from 1864, which the NZ Herald described
at the time as “stores, a bakehouse, stables etc.”
“But you must be careful what you say in Court, or
you will get into trouble!” His Worship admonished. Crisp borrowed money for the purchase from James
Mary Harper bowed in response. He found there was Harris, but doesn’t appear to have repaid the amount;
no real evidence to convict Mary, so dismissed the Harris, in 1867, transferred title to George Thomas,
case, ordering her to pay 12s 6d in court costs, which who probably considered it just another business in-
she promptly did, promising never to threaten her vestment, nothing more. In February 1869, Clement
neighbour again. Crisp’s store burned to the ground, and Crisp left the
district, already under a legal cloud for an earlier sly
Back to that description of the Thomas’ store being grogging conviction when plain clothed police raided
200 yards from the Thompson house. Up to the point his store and still.
when I read it in the articles describing Alexander
Watson’s pursuit of Eliza Thomas along Great North Thomas’ focus, meanwhile, was to be on the Star Mill
Road, I had thought that the store was at the corner of and his outlet store in the city, until the middle of
Crayford Street West and Great North Road, site of the 1870. Then his nephew William Thomas, with Thomas
later barber shop and billiard saloon. But – that would Barraclough, took over the mill, and George Thomas
be around 100 yards away. began to become involved with the Whau village
community.
For 200 yards, we need to look further along the road,
to a building that shows up in a late 1880s-early 1890s Sports were held at “Mr. Thomas’s Paddock”, near the
image of horse buses waiting outside the Avondale Whau Hotel on Boxing Day 1870, and George Thomas
Hotel, looking up to St Judes Street, the Binsted fami- was a member of the Whau Hall committee in May
ly’s butcher shop on one corner, and a building with an 1871. His store existed by 1 April 1871, when he was
ad on its wall for Brown Barrett & Co’s coffees and appointed as the district’s postmaster. He was a trustee
teas. I’ve wondered for years why a building that looks on the Whau Highway District Board as at 26 July
like a house, on a site where Atkinson’s two-storey 1871, but his tenure as postmaster ended 19 February
drapery shop would be built just a few years later, 1872, when William Morris took over both the
would have a large advertisement, as a general store position and the store.
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 4
“Greytown” sale of 1863. Great North Road to the
left, Blockhouse Bay Road to the right. Rectangle
and squares denote approximate position of
Clement Crisp’s store between what is now
Crayford St West and St Judes Street.

NZ Map 4498-3, Sir George Grey Special
Collections, Auckland Libraries

A George Thomas is referred to as a mill man-
ager at the Ngaruawahia Mills as at 1874 when
he was aced as manager by the new owner,
R S Lamb (of the Waitemata Flour Mills fami-
ly). Hunt took over the mill there in October
1873. 1874 was the year when George Thomas
bought out the partnership of Barraclough and
John Thomas the younger for the Star Mill
back at Waterview. George Thomas, therefore,
was possibly in the Waikato from January
1872 until he returned in 1874. Then again,
there may have been two George Thomases,
both in the flour milling trade, one at the
Whau, the other at Ngaruawahia, and they may
never have crossed paths. It is possible we may
never know for sure.

What is known is that George Thomas was
back in the Whau district by September 1874,
paying £1300 for the Waterview land, the wa-
ter right, and the mill and plant at Oakley
Creek. By October that year, George and his
nephew John were back in business and put-
ting advertisements in the newspapers. By
March 1876, however, it was all over. George
Thomas transferred the mill property, and the
Thomas family’s interest in the Star Mill
ceased after nearly 17 years.

William Morris left the Whau store and the
position of postmaster as at 1 April 1877, and
George Thomas returned to the postal agency
position himself, to hold it through to 31
August 1881 when the agency transferred to
the new Whau Railway Station offices. During
his years here Morris was apparently highly regarded
by the Whau village community. On the evening of times of trouble; and while such acts of kindness have
Monday, 4 June 1877, members of the community secured for you the gratitude of many, your unwearied
assembled at the Whau Public Hall to present Morris efforts to promote the moral and religious welfare of
with the following testimonial: the community. Have won for you golden opinions
and a good name in a wide circle of friends and ac-
“WILLIAM MORRIS, ESQ., quaintances. We beg your acceptance of the accompa-
DEAR SIR – Your intended departure from our midst nying Bible and gold pencil case. Intrinsically they do
presents a fitting opportunity to express – in this man- not represent much, but as an enduring expression of
ner – our esteem for you as a Christian, a gentleman, esteem they are of more value than much gold, for
and a man of business. During your long residence in they represent the contributors’ high estimate of your
Whau, you have maintained an unimpeachable charac- religious, moral and social character. You carry with
ter, and your kindliness of disposition, and your up- you our hearty good wishes for your happiness and
right and gentlemanly bearing have secured for you prosperity in your new sphere of usefulness, and we
the affectionate regard of all sections of the communi- hope that those admirable traits of character which
ty. We have marked with approbation your willing aid have evoked this expression of regard from the friends
in times of affliction, and your friendly assistance in you leave behind will soon draw around you many
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 5
new friends as warm in their friendship, and sincere in England, and his lease over Thomas’ property was sur-
their esteem, as those whose society you are about to rendered in 1889 to Thomas’ creditors. Possibly, the
leave. one lasting remainder of his time in Avondale is the
sheds and other buildings we can see on the Great
“We are, dear sir, your sincere friends, in name and North Road frontage of Thomas’ property, around
authority of the subscribers, where the last Post Office was built in the township in
ROBT. SOMMERVILLE, Chairman of Committee the 1980s, in a well-known photograph featuring the
JOHN BOLLARD, Treasurer wooden Avondale Hotel (the one destroyed by fire in
JAMES OWEN, JOHN BUCHANAN, JOSEPH April 1888).
GLENNY, Members of Committee”
George Thomas served on the Whau Highway Board
At the time of writing, nothing more is known for from 1878-1880, and on the local school committee in
certain as to the rest of William Morris’ story. the mid 1880s. He added a second mortgage, from
John Buchanan, in 1887 – two years later John
By 1882, George Thomas had cleared the last vestiges Buchanan, merchant and elder of the Avondale
of the old 1860s mortgages from his property. Straight Presbyterian Church, and one of the committee mem-
away, he took out a mortgage from the Auckland bers for the earlier testimonial to William Morris, went
Savings Bank, but was able to repay that by 1886 (by bankrupt. George Thomas went bankrupt as well, and
taking out another mortgage with the NZ Land he lost the title to his eight acre property there in the
Mortgage Company). In 1884, he leased part of the heart of the village. According to the auction notice in
property to Abraham Pattinson, likely for the chance May 1889, “The buildings consist of store, bakehouse,
of extra income. Pattinson, one of Avondale’s lost three dwelling houses, sheds, stables, out-buildings
footnote characters, started out as a partner with Henry etc. There is a splendid orchard and two good wells.”
Davison as a wine and spirit importer and merchant Also for sale was his allotment in Highbury Street, a
from 1883-1884, then when that partnership ceased he
arrived in Avondale, put in a tender for the building of
St Judes Church (he lost), and tried also for some edu- Detail from 7-A3039, Sir George Grey Special Collections,
cation board tenders. He wasn’t all that successful, but Auckland Libraries, 1880s. Shows Avondale Hotel to the
seems to have done reasonably well from some left, and the school on the rise in the centre. The structures
on Great North Road in the centre tie in with the location of
Thames mining investments; in 1887, he left for the part of Thomas’ Paddock leased to Abraham Pattinson.
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 6

quarter acre further down on Rosebank Peninsula, and View of Thomas’ Paddock in 1898. Possible site of George
part of the Taupaki Block in Waitakere. Downing’s smithy at the corner of Crayford Street West
and Great North Road arrowed.
The official assignee granted the Avondale Village Detail from NZG-18981001-434-3, Sir George Grey
property to Herman Brown and John McKail Geddes Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
in 1889, who paid the outstanding mortgage owed to
the NZ Land Mortgage Co of £700 plus interest. It is
because of this that the cross street between St Judes where it was required to send due notice of the title
and Crayford Street West is called Geddes Terrace, application – and that usually meant she was either an
dedicated when Geddes subdivided the property for occupier of part of the land, or had some other interest.
retail and residential premises early the following At the moment, I suspect that the Thomas family re-
century. tained a general store somewhere else on the property,
in the middle of the block on the Great North Road
Bankruptcy, though, was not the end of George frontage, through to c.1907, after which point it was
Thomas’ story, or even the end of the family’s store. sold along with the rest of what had been Thomas’
During the 1890s, Thomas’ paddocks were, so it is paddocks. Their competition with the Peck family
said, used for horses attending the Avondale races, the store beside the hotel would have been one thing – the
entrance to the course in those days just down Old competition from Arthur W Page’s store from August
Windsor Road (Wingate Street). References to Thom- 1903 was surely something that would have been too
as’ store continue on through to 1895 (Brown and much to bear. Perhaps Jane Thomas worked for Page
McKail Geddes likely leased the St Judes corner lot towards the end? Nothing along those lines is known.
to John Frederick Atkinson for his own store there in
1894, so the Thomas’ store would have had to shift But the Thomas family likely weren’t at the Crayford
location). And on through postal directories of the time Street, Great North Road corner. The view we have of
and electoral rolls, right up to George Thomas’ death the east side of Great North Road as seen from the
in 1902 from a heart attack in the comfort of his own racecourse in 1898 shows a complex of structures
chair by the hearth in his own home while talking to there on the corner that don’t quite seem to be in the
his wife, Jane – “death … caused by failure of the style of a country general store. They look more like
heart’s action” as the inquest found – George Thomas the buildings, workshops and stables of a 19th century
was a storekeeper. blacksmith’s yard.

Jane, as Mrs George Thomas, storekeeper, last ap- George Downing
peared as such in the 1908 edition of W ises Directory.
When McKail Geddes sought a voluntary title over the Downing, along with Jane Thomas, was one of the
property in order to resurvey and sell it off in 1902- names appearing on McKail Geddes’ 1902 title appli-
1903, Jane Thomas was noted as one of the names cation papers as someone to whom the Department of
Lands and Survey were required to send notice.
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 7
George Downing was born in Cornwall in 1850, the working as a labourer, and being a Corporal, later Ser-
son of John Downing, a tea dealer who went blind geant, with the J Battery Volunteers. His wife may
after a fever in the West Indies. One of George’s older have died in 1887; Turton faced bankruptcy in 1889,
brothers worked as a blacksmith, and George appar- and then joined the Salvation Army.
ently followed suit. According to family history
sources on Ancestry.com, George left London on As a Sergeant-Major with them, he took charge in
9 May 1875 bound for Auckland aboard the Auckland of the Prison Brigade Home in upper Queen
Alumbagh, arriving in August that year. He married Street, a halfway house institution for those recently
Jane Salt in Auckland in 1880 – and then appears at released from prison (and, a little later, also some for-
the Whau in the 1880-1881 electoral roll. mer inmates of the Auckland Asylum). While working
there at the home, he married Bertha Hickton, another
There is a possibility that his was the forge noted on officer in the Salvation Army, in July 1890 – and took
the plan for James Palmer’s second Greytown subdivi- out an insurance policy on her life. Together, they had
sion and sale in 1883-1884. If so, that would explain three children: Arthur (1891), Rose (1893), and Lewis
why he probably later took up residence on Thomas’ Hickton (1895).
paddocks, at that time on the northern edge of the
village focussed at that point around the five-roads Despite rumours and even an investigation into the
junction. In 1886, a partnership between him and fel- Home that revealed sub-standard meals, and residents
low local blacksmith John Potter dissolved, and there who probably didn’t qualify or pretended to go
another that year between Downing and William along with the religious aspects simply to have a
Larsen dissolved by December 1886. cheap place to doss down in the city, Turton was pro-
moted to Captain, and then proceeded to supervise the
Hard times hit Downing during the Long Depression moving of the Home to Panmure. There he ensured
just as it did many others, and in 1889 he was unable that the inmates worked hard planting market gardens,
to repay a debt to grocer Robert Rew of £2 15s 5d. A and managed to quash a strike by them for tobacco,
news description of two burglaries that year, affecting but shortly after an inmate was found drowned in a
the railway station and his smithy describe the dis- well in September 1891, the Turtons were reposted to
tance between as a quarter-mile. In 1891, the section Cambridge in the Waikato.
where the St Judes Street forge was located was sold
to Walter John Binsted, so if Downing was there, that There, both James and Bertha Turton resigned their
might be the time he shifted. ranking positions in March 1892, declaring that they
had no intention leaving the area but would continue
By 1903, his fortunes were greatly improved. Busi- in the Salvation Army as soldiers. They next appear in
ness was so good, he had a branch business in the records as storekeepers somewhere along
Hobsonville, which he regularly visited; one night, Wellesley Street in Auckland City according to the
waylaid by robbers hiding along the side of the road in 1896 electoral roll – but Bertha died in Avondale in
ti-tree near Don Buck’s camp, he made sure they August 1895, three days after the birth of their third
couldn’t grab hold of his horse’s head, and galloped child, and James received £12 15s insurance payout
back to Hobsonville to get an escort back to Avondale. on her life. They may have shifted from Cambridge
back to Auckland around 1893-1894.
We know from the directories that his business was
located just to the north of the Avondale School Turton was one of the first to join the Avondale
grounds by 1909 – he may well have shifted again to Volunteer Rifles in April 1895, and remained with
there around the time that the corner site on Thomas’ them right through to the end in 1898.
paddock was sold to Frederick Leslie in March 1909.
He remained in Avondale until 1919, moving to Fleet With three young children to look after, he took on a
Street in Eden Terrace. He died in 1924, and lies bur- housekeeper named Pricella Olsen in February 1896,
ied at the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery beside and married her on 19 March (and also, so it was re-
one of his sons who pre-deceased him. ported by the Observer, insured her life as he had done
with Bertha’s). Their son John was born the following
James Turton December; on 27 December, in the culmination of a
series of domestic disputes in their Avondale house-
Another of those registered as having an interest in hold, during which James Turton habitually struck his
Thomas’ paddock in 1902 when McKail Geddes was wife, Turton is said to have knocked her down, then
applying for the title was James Turton. Born in 1841, dragging her by the feet. Pricella walked out on him,
and standing 5’ 11” in height, he arrived in New and he was brought up on assault charges in January
Zealand at some point before 1880, when he married 1897 by the Society for the Protection of Women and
Margaret Evans – and was in Gisborne in late 1882 Children, with one of the two witnesses, both neigh-
when Margaret, as he said in a public notice “left my bours, being Constable Browne, and fined 40s with £2
home without my knowledge or consent.” He then 9s costs, or 21 days hard labour. He claimed inability
spent the rest of the decade in the Gisborne district, to pay the fine, so he did the time. Later that year, he
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 8
was in court once again, for refusing to pay for his maker. It looks like, as best, he was nomadic, shifting
wife’s support, as ordered by the Court. residences frequently, and appearing only briefly in
the postal directories, at Avondale, c.1899. But it does
Two of Bertha’s children, and Pricella’s son, attended look like he was living in the Avondale Village from
Avondale School. Their enrolment records there tell 1901 to his death in 1903, and as his is one of the
something of the family’s location during this period. names to be informed of the title application for
Thomas’ paddock, it would appear that he was there.
Arthur, the eldest, was first enrolled at Avondale on 6
July 1896. His father was then recorded as living in After the Avondale Rifles folded in 1898, he joined
Avondale. Then he was removed from the Avondale the 2nd Victoria Rifles, which was renamed the
roll 1 February 1897 and sent to Pt Chevalier School Gordon Rifles around 1900, and served with them un-
(then in Gladstone Road). Then 14 July 1898 Arthur til his death. His obituary referred to him having
was re-enrolled at Avondale. He only attended that served with the Coldstream Guards before coming to
day; on 2 August, he was removed from the roll, rec- New Zealand. He was accorded a military funeral at
orded as going to Auckland. At this point, James Avondale, lying now at the George Maxwell
Turton had been living in Waterview. Memorial Cemetery.

There was another enrolment at Avondale School, John Frederick Atkinson
from Newton School, for Arthur (and his sister Rosie)
on 9 May 1899. James Turton was living again in Because of the shift in my understanding as to where
Avondale – he kept Arthur at least at the school until the original Thomas family store had been, I looked
28 July 1899, then Arthur’s name was removed again deeper into Atkinson’s connections there. After all, his
from the register 4 September, unknown destination. two-storey drapers store and residence was one of the
Finally, Arthur returned to Avondale from Wellesley dominating features of the five-roads junction for
Street School on 5 February 1901, his father James
now in Avondale Village. Arthur remained at
Avondale until 29 May 1903, around three weeks after Atkinson’s Drapery and St Judes Street (right), from
his father’s death, obtaining a Standard 2 certificate, before 1903. Detail from a postcard in Diane Brian’s
before heading away to Taranaki. collection.

Most of the kiddies seen here could well be members of the
At the time of the assault on Pricella, Turton was de- large Atkinson family.
scribed in the newspapers as a hawker and cordial
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 9

nearly 80 years. Because of that, I photographed Avondale, c.1947. The former Atkinson’s Drapery right,
McKail Geddes’ application file at the Auckland Avoncourt Hotel at left. Looking towards the school.
office of Archives NZ, and found the additional names
associated with Thomas’ Paddock as discussed above.

John Frederick Atkinson was born in Waimate North According to an obituary in the New Lynn News,
in 1869. As a boy, he came to Auckland, and took up Atkinson “served the outlying western districts as far
work for Macky, Logan, Caldwell Ltd as a warehouse- as Piha, shopping facilities and public transport being
man, before striking out on his own in the drapery then non-existent in this area. He was a well known
trade. He rowed in champion crews for the West and welcome visitor at nearly every home between
End Rowing Club in the 1880s, being one of their Titirangi and Taupaki.”
founding members at their original home in Ponsonby.
He married Annie Rowe in 1892. They had eight chil- Memories of his West Auckland sales trips are
dren: Reginald Victor (1894), Eunice Phoebe (1895), sprinkled in a number of books about the West and its
Muriel Ethel (1898), Dorothy Lavinia (1899), Gordon settlers.
Holland (1900), Gwendoline Bertha (1903), Jack
Kenyon (1905), and Annie Vera (1908). “It was a great event when in the summer the state of
the road permitted [Mrs Maude Turner’s] draper from
In July 1894, newspapers reported that “At Avondale, Avondale to come with his gig loaded with calicos
new premises are going up for an Auckland firm,” and cottons.” (H Raymond Turner, an autobiography,
which could refer to Atkinson, who came from the compiled by Arnold Turner, 2014)
city and Ponsonby. Atkinson was one of those who
joined the Avondale Volunteer Rifles in 1895, and “Some enterprising tradesmen did make their rounds
later that year he and Annie had a daughter (Eunice at times. One such was Mr Atkinson, who had a drap-
Phoebe) at their Avondale residence. His wife Annie ers shop at Avondale. He would make periodic visits
died in 1908; in 1911 Atkinson married again, to to Huia in his horse and gig and supply many of the
Sarah Josephine Morris. With his second wife, Atkin- wants of the ladies.” (Norman Laing, The Settlement
son added at least two more to the large family: of the Huia, 1985)
Phyllis Josephine (1912) and Desmond Frederick
(1914). After the Avondale Rifles ceased, Sergeant “Mr Atkinson of Avondale was a regular visitor to
Atkinson, transferred to the Auckland Mounted Rifles Huia and he would arrive at grandfather’s place with
in 1898, received a NZ Volunteer Service Medal in his horse and gig loaded with drapery, blankets, shoes
1907 for 12 years service, was promoted to Acting and cosmetics. He would stay a night here, the next
Lieutenant in 1908, passed his exam for Lieutenant in night at Mr Barr’s in Little Huia, over to Whatipu for
1909, received a Long & Efficient Service Medal in a night; here he would borrow another horse and go
1912, and the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service around the coast as far as his two-wheeled vehicle
Medal in 1920 when he retired from volunteer militia would go near Zion Hill. The two horses would then
service. be used as pack-horses to pack most of his remaining
merchandise to Karekare. A couple of nights here at
Farleys boarding house, he would return to Gibbon’s
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 10
lodging house at Whatipu, catch a few fish off Station Meets Industrial Invasion
Paratutai wharf and then retrace his route back to
Titirangi. This exercise would take place about three
(From the Avondale Advance, 21 May 1962).
times a year – not without incident which could be
rather daunting, I would imagine!” (George Higham,
The sudden industrial invasion into Rosebank Road
Early Manukau Secrets of Yesterday, first published has created problems for the local railway station.
1990.) Over the past two years, Avondale’s once typical quiet
suburban station has grown into an important bustling
The shop wasn’t without its own incidents over the distribution centre.
years. In April 1906, a fire was noticed coming from
one of the bedrooms by a passer-by one afternoon,
Products from the fast expanding local industries
caused by the children playing with matches and acci-
flowing into the station have greatly changed the sta-
dentally setting fire to the curtains. In those days be-
tion’s traffic. Instead of the routine of one truck being
fore a dedicated volunteer fire brigade, the neighbours
loaded every two days, the station staff now fills an
rallied and put out the fire, probably with buckets of
average of six to seven trucks each day, and some-
water. There was £3 damage to the bedroom, and £7
times even 10.
damage to the drapery stock below due to the water.
Due to such a rapid change, facilities are now grossly
In May 1907, while singeing his horse’s coat, inadequate, and extensions have been planned. Work
Atkinson didn’t notice some cinders fall amongst the has started on a new 76ft loading shed. The railway
straw in the stable behind the shop. By 7 that evening, lines will run through the shed, enabling trucks to be
the stable was ablaze. Once again the neighbours, with
loaded and unloaded under cover. Lorries will have
a small hose, put out the flames after several minutes’
easy access to four loading bays, and provision will be
work. Some straw was burned, some harness and other
made for mechanical loading.
gear ruined, and the trap horse tied up at the end of the
stable that caught fire broke loose and bolted, but was
Station Master Mr D J Stapleton told the A vondale
soon caught and returned, badly singed about the head
Advance that the main difficulty at the moment was
and neck.
the lack of outside storage space … If it rained there
was no means of keeping the goods dry, and therefore
Safebreakers hit the Hellabys butcher shop at night work was curtailed. “The new building will enable us
just across the road from the drapery twice, in March to load and unload in all weathers, and thereby speed-
1929 and in November 1936. Both times Atkinson
ing up the service,” he said.
heard the noise, which roused him from slumber, but
he thought it was just the backfiring of a motor vehicle
somewhere, and went back to bed.

The First World War period was probably around
when Atkinson’s horse-drawn sales service to the far Last days of the Avondale Station’s
reaches of West Auckland came to a close. In 1917, loading shed.
Atkinson was one of the businesses taking orders for 4 October 2008, photos by L J
Valentine’s “Regular Daily Motor Delivery Service” Truttman
between New Lynn and the City.
He retired from business around
1946 when he sold the corner prop-
erty to another draper, Ivor Ernest
Skinner. Skinner was followed in
1951 by Henry Arthur Rose. By the
late 1960s, Miles Cassidy had a
real estate office in the ground
floor, and rented out the accommo-
dation upstairs, taking over the title
in 1972. The building was demolished during the
1970s, and became the site for the Avondale branch of
Homestead Chicken. There have been a number of
owners and occupiers since.

The large Atkinson family had a second home down at
the end of Wingate Street, fronting the Whau River.
Today, part of that property is the Wingate Club.
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 11
May 1962 — Avondale’s branch of the
Auckland Savings Bank opens
(From the Avondale Advance, 21 May 1962, on the
event of the bank’s opening on Rosebank Road. The
deputy president of the bank teases the Mayor of
Auckland about rates. Today, the building is a doc-
tor’s surgery, and we no longer have an ASB branch
in Avondale.)

[Mr W T Anderson, Deputy President of the Auckland
Savings Bank] said that, speaking of earlier times, it
was interesting to note that the area’s first authority,
the Whau Highway District Board of Trustees, struck
a rate of one shilling per acre, and he wondered how
the Mayor would favour such a basis of rating in these
modern times. “I can personally guarantee that it
would be popular with the ratepayers, including the
bank,” he said.

“Since those now distant days, both the bank and the
Avondale district have progressed considerably, and
have become an integral part of the greater metropoli-
tan city that is Auckland,” said Mr Anderton. “The
bank, from an institution of some £30,000 in those
days, has become one of over £56M, and this district
has developed from an area of farmland to a thickly
populated residential area with fast-growing industrial
development, which augers well for its future.”

Mr Anderton welcomed the Mayor of Auckland, Mr D When the Avondale Furnishing & Home Appliances Ltd was
M Robinson, treasurer Mr K Armstrong, headmasters offering membership in a “television club” for a starter of £1.
of local schools, representatives of the Post Office Avondale Advance, 18 A pril 1960.
Savings Bank, the Trading Bank managers, and repre-
sentatives of the Businessmen’s Association. New Shops to be Erected
Replying to Mr Anderton, the Mayor pointed out that A block of eight new shops with adequate parking
had the rate remained at one shilling per acre, there space, where local housewives will be able to obtain all
would be no sewerage, water or roads. “In fact no 35th their food requirements, is to be erected at the corner of
branch of the Auckland Savings Bank, as thee would St Jude and St Georges Road, Avondale, and will prove
not have been sufficient prosperity to support it,” he a valuable addition to Avondale’s shopping facilities.
said.
A start on the new block will be made later this month.
“I think that people should know that the Auckland
Savings Bank is the largest single contributor to the Man behind the scheme is Mr A Graven, a well known
local bodies loans,” he said. “Local government in local businessman, who told the A dvance, “The new
Auckland would be much more difficult without block will certainly be an asset to the area, and with the
them ...” adequate off-street parking which it incorporates will
allow housewives to buy many of their household needs
In declaring the bank open for business, the Mayor in the one block, free from parking worries.”
paid 10 shillings over the counter to be deposited in
the account of the first child who entered the building. Feature of the new block, which provides off-street
parking in front of the shops and also parking space
The lucky child to become the first depositor at the behind, will be Hellabys ultra-modern meat store. The
new branch was 7-year-old Kevin Webb of 8 Walsall other shops will include a grocer, greengrocer, home
Street, Avondale. cookery, fish shop, and dairy.

(Avondale Advance, 16 June 1958)
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 12
(Gripes about the state of the Avondale “shopping
parade”, as the Mainstreet area was then called
— Avondale Advance, March 19 1962. I wonder
what “TIDY-MINDED” would have thought of the
over two decades that the former 3 Guys site just
over the road has been in a state?)

Sir —
How long is the site at the corner of Racecourse
Parade and Great North Road to remain
undeveloped?

Apart from appearing most unsightly and detract-
ing from the general appearance of the shopping
parade, it also looks most dangerous — the garage
on the site having a big crack in one of its walls.

With being on the corner it is so noticeable and
has become an eyesore to local residents.

I understand the land has been purchased by the
Bank of New Zealand for development and I won-
dered if you had any idea when work might start
on improving the site. — “TIDY-MINDED”

An official of the Bank of New Zealand told the
Avondale Advance that the site had been inspected
and the garage was in no way dangerous.

Its general appearance was regretted and work on
cleaning it up was to start shortly. As soon as it
was humanly possible work would begin on the
development of the site.

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.

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
email: waitemata@gmail.com
Society information:
Website: http://sites.google.com/site/avondalehistory/
Subscriptions: $15 individual
$20 couple/family
$30 corporate

Related Interests