January – February 2002

Volume 1,Issue 3

The Avondale
Historical Journal
Publication of the Heart of the Whau Project
Just Some Notes
Well, the New Year’s upon us all. I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season, and are ready to take on what 2002 has to offer..

Otahuhu Historical Society visit
In December last year I had the opportunity to visit the offices of the
Otahuhu Historical Society 12 – 16 High Street, Otahuhu. This Society
has been in existence just over a quarter of a century, gathering together
and collating files, news clippings, photographs and old Borough Council
records in rooms just in behind the community library there.

Inside this issue:
Otahuhu
Historical
Society

1

Going Down to
the Hotel

2-3

Diary Dates

4

They also have a mini-museum of memorabilia — a great chance to see
those tins and other odds and ends from the days gone by. I can thoroughly recommend to anyone reading this that a visit to their offices/
museum is well worth the time you can spend there. I nearly didn’t want
to leave myself!
My thanks go out to the Otahuhu Historical Society for allowing the
opportunity to have a look around on that day. Some news items regarding Auckland history has already been installed on the Archive Room site
(www.geocities.com/ArchiveRoom/index.html).
Contact: Wilma Madgwick, Ph/Fax: 276-6756
— Lisa Truttman

Reminder
Interested in having a get together, to initiate a local historical society for
Avondale? Even if you’d like a chance to get together with other people full of
memories such as yourself — I’d love to hear from you.
Forming a fully incorporated Society would allow that Society to fundraise, have
its own accounts, and in turn sponsor the study of history, preservation of records
and photographs, and encourage the continuation of a heritage theme in Avondale.
Please do let me know by January 31. I’ll contact everyone towards the end of
February with a meeting date (hopefully the weather settles down by then!)

The Avondale Historical
Journal

Volume 1,Issue 3
Page 2

Going Down to the Hotel (Part two)
Continuing from last issue.
In 1879, Robert Da Vause was the keeper of the
Whau Hotel, appearing as a signatory to the application for the then Whau Library to be incorporated.
At some point from 1882 until 1889, the Avondale
Hotel (as it was now called) had major alterations
done, changing it from a wooden building, to the
brick and plaster building remembered by many today.

Committee) for the transfer of the licence in respect
to the Avondale Hotel from the widow Mrs Emma
Stych to William Baker. Mr O Nicholson (a lawyer
and later Mayor of Mt Eden Borough) appeared in
support. The police report stated that the house was
in good order and well-conducted. The necessary papers being in order, the transfer was granted, and also
renewal of William Baker’s licence. (He may have
been last licensee).

Those who had imbibed too
much at the Avondale HoThe last licensees
tel in those latter days of the
licence ran the risk of being
Michael Foley, licensee of the
thrown bodily into the
Avondale Hotel from around
trough to sober up, and then
1888, helped form the Avonleft under the shop verandale Jockey Club in 1889.
dahs.
He had previously started a
“As kids we used to sit on
racing club at Taranaki, the
the old horse trough, where
Opunake Racing Club.
the traffic island now
stands, and look after the
horses of anyone going in
The next licensee of the
[to
the Avondale Hotel] to
Avondale Hotel, John R
Avondale Hotel, at the turn of the 20th century
drink. If we were lucky we
Stych, (1845-1898) commitwould get a bob for it.” [Remembrance of Mr. J
ted suicide on 20 December 1898, shooting himself
McCrae, aged 77, Western Leader, 11/8/67]
in the head with a shot-gun in the cellar of the Avondale Hotel. He was apparently in financial difficulLocal Option (regarding liquor licence provision in
ties, and after being approached that afternoon by a
districts) was first held in conjunction with General
Mr. Boylan and Mr Abbott, he went to get a revolver
Elections on 17 November 1908. Avondale was then
and shot-gun, and ended his life. The suicide, and repart of Eden district, which had 4 hotels at the time:
sulting inquest presided over by John Bollard as
Junction Hotel (Epsom), Epsom Hotel, Avondale
district coroner, was quite a sensation in Avondale at
Hotel and Henderson Hotel. The total Eden vote in
the time, so much so that it went into “Avondale
1908 was: No Licence, 4010, Reduction 4015,
lore” as the suicide of the last publican after losing
Continuance, 2192.
the hotel licence in 1909. Only after I interviewed
The narrow vote for reduction was probably overMrs Vera Crawford, and she mentioned the name
turned by later overseas votes.
“Mr Stych”, was I able to put Mr Stych’s death together with the suicide story – a part of Avondale
Closure for 107 hotels up and down the country, inlore which turned out to have more than a grain of
cluding the four in Eden district, was set for 10 pm,
truth to it. His widow Emma took over the licence for
June 30 1909. The NZ Herald of the time advised
5 years.
that both Avondale and St Heliers bars were to be put
John Stych was buried in the Rosebank Cemetery,
his headstone giving no indication of the cause of his
demise.
In 1903 an application was made (to Eden Licensing

up for sale.
I had an interesting conversation with Mr Keith
Grubb, who has lived in and around Avondale much
of his life. He told me of some of the ways the prohibition of liquor in the district was circumvented. In
the Cracroft Street billiard saloon, for instance, imbibers would fill Coke bottles with spirits, so as to

The Avondale Historical
Journal

Volume 1,Issue 3
Page 3

Going Down to the Hotel (part two)
fool the police who regularly monitored that “den of iniquity”.

Post Office on the corner of Rosebank Road and
Great North Road. Once more, the Hotel was up for
sale.

Later, when restrictive licensing
came into force, some joined sports
clubs simply so they could enjoy
their pint legally. According to Mr
Grubb, the racecourse jockeys had
their own secret bar under the grandstands at one time.

It was bought in 1940 bought by Mr Albert E. Bailey, and renamed Avoncourt.
“Avoncourt is listed in the AA Hotel guide as “2027
Great North Road, Avondale, 30 Beds, B.B.” as Mr
Bailey gave up the full board service in 1957. Up until it’s demolition in 1967, Avoncourt only hotel between Symonds Street and Henderson.” [Western
Leader, 18/8/65]

By 1912, the old building had
“Those who had been sold to the Post Office. “By
imbibed too much 1912 the postal business had
at the Avondale grown to sufficient proportions to
Hotel in those lat- justify a separate building, and on
ter days of the li- February 13 of that year the
cence ran the risk premises which had served for the
of being thrown past 26 years were occupied. They
bodily into the
had been acquired by the P. and
trough to sober T. Department and converted
up.”
from a hotel, “no license” having
been carried in the district, which
was, at this time, part of the Eden
electorate.” [Speech by H. G. R.
Mason, Minister of Justice, 19 August 1938.]
“The Hotel was made into the Post
Office (1912). It was a beautiful
looking place inside. All the counter
was polished and done with brass –
that must have been where the bar
used to be. The Post Office was also
the manual exchange.” [Section of
Avondale Oral Histories, 1990/1991]
Come general election day, a sheet
would be hung from the hotel verandah facing the Page’s Building, and
the results as they came in to the post
office would be posted up on the
sheet for the crowds to see under the
shop verandahs. [Conversation with
Mrs V. Crawford, 28 June 2001]
In 1938, the Post Office moved from
the Hotel building to a purpose-built

For 25 years Avoncourt was as an Avondale landmark. But in 1965 it was again put on the market for
sale. In September 1967 the Avoncourt Hotel was
demolished. Avondale’s first supermarket, Coopers,
built on the site.
The site of revelry and suicide, of fire and Post Office, was a supermarket and small mall until 1976,
then the Inner Circle Development until 1991, and
now the site of the ASB Bank, Spiders Bar, Top Cat
Liquor Store, Bakehouse Café, Avondale Pet Centre
and Jungle Instinct.
Another old landmark of Avondale, however, has
been lost.

Heart of the Whau Project
Publications
While compiling Heart of the Whau I’ve also put together a
few mini-projects in the last year:

Towards a Bright Future: The History of the
Avondale Business Association 1937 to 2001. 14
pages.

Bookmarks: A history of Avondale’s public
libraries 1868 to 1973. 8 pages.

The Story of Victoria Hall, 1897 to 1887. 14 pages.

Anyone wishing to have copies of any of these, please let
me know. $4 each should cover post and copying.

The Avondale Historical
Journal

Page 4
Volume 1,Issue 3

Diary Dates
Two upcoming events for Avondale history coming up this year which you might like to mark in your diaries.

Rosebank Reunion
First, on March 2 and 3 (Saturday/Sunday), the
Reunion of Former Residents of Lower Rosebank Road will take place. If you know of anyone
who lived in the area from Mead Street (formerly
Astrolabe) down to the old Rosebank Domain, contact Terry on phone (09) 828-3769. I’ve been invited (thank you, Terry!) and will be there with pen
and paper poised for the memories.

Urban Safari
Later in March, come along to an Urban Safari
along the new Kurt Brehmer Walkway, between
Charann Place and Timothy Place on Saturday
March 23, at 10 am and 1 pm. Auckland City
have asked me to provide some historical background on the Whau River, while information on
the environment will be provided by local group
Friends of the Whau. The walks are free. Bookings
essential — contact Auckland City at (09) 3791341.

Some overdue thanks
I’ve thanked past sponsors in previous issues, but there are who deserve to have a special spot to helping this
Journal exist into its third issue. Copies are now sent to the Otahuhu Historical Society, Avondale Community
Library, Auckland Public Library, and Auckland branch of Historic Places Trust.
Mr Jan Grefstad
Mr and Mrs Browne
Mrs G Wilson
Duncan Macdonald
Jennifer Battersby, Battersby Funeral Services (Jennifer — thanks again for the listing of graves in
Rosebank Cemetery. I’m indexing the list at the moment)
Avondale Variety, Great North Rd, Avondale
And thanks to everyone else who has let me know you like this little publication. Your support and feedback are
really appreciated!

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by Lisa J Truttman
19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland
Phone: (09) 828-8494, Fax: (09) 828-8497
Email: historian@avondale.org.nz
Printed by Avondale Photo Centre
1962 Great North Road, Avondale

Phone/Fax: 09-820 6030

I thank
Ramilla Magan and
the Magan Family for their
support and sponsorship of
this publication.

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