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November—December 2018

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

Memories of Beatrice Lucy
Dolphin and the family’s
market garden on Rosebank

Following on from the article on the Dolphins at what is now Honan Place on Rosebank Peninsula in issue 102 of
the Journal earlier this year, Ngaire Dolphin has very kindly arranged to send through a series of written memories
that arose from a reunion of members of the Dolphin family held recently.

Above (left) is a photo of Mrs Beatrice Lucy Dolphin, and (right) the Dolphins’ home at 271 Rosebank Road.

B L Dolphin & Sons Market Garden, Rosebank Road, Avondale, Auckland.
My early memories of the 'farm' as we called it, was having to dress up in our Sunday dresses and polished shoes
and walk down the road to this funny old house that was probably built out of hand sawn timber. Although the kitch-
en was warm and cosy, the rest of the house was dark with windows covered in heavy velvet drapes coloured dark
olive green. There were three bedrooms, a lounge and kitchen which contained a wood/coal range, a store room/
washhouse, kitchen sink a long table with many chairs and the first telephone I had ever seen hanging on the wall
with two metal bells and a swinging metal arm that swung hitting each bell when the phone rang.

The toilet was outside, and the container emptied each night by the night cart. Many a story was told about people
sitting in their "outhouses" and having the container removed through the rear whilst they contemplated. We were
fortunate that the main sewer finished at our house two hundred yards up the road.
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There was a large building which housed at that stage Memories of 271 Rosebank Road
one Farmall tractor, a rotary hoe, the truck used to take
produce to the city markets and various pieces of Granny always seemed to be at her place. She was
ploughing, harrowing and digging equipment that were really involved with the day to day running of the
pulled by the tractor. There was a room on the side market garden. As most of my regular visits were
containing a multitude of hand tools & equipment during the week after school, usually afternoon tea
which I always found fascinating. There was a loft on time for the workers - my dad and uncles and any
top which housed hay and was used to store wrapped young high school boys looking to earn some pocket
up kumara in large tea chests for selling after the sea- money - were there.
son was finished, and the stock that was planted in
beds of horse manure to create the shoots for the next From talks with my maternal grandmother and my
seasons plants. Later on a Ferguson tractor was pur- mum, Granny Dolphin continued market gardening
chased. all during the war years and enlisted the help of the
local women in the area to bring in the harvest which
Early memories of the farm were the large bones of was mainly tomatoes at that time.
"Geordie" the last plough-horse, which lay beside the
creek we used to dam and catch large eels in. On the Granny had a long drop toilet until about the 1960s. It
slope leading down to the creek were rows of chinese was out down a path in the garden out of sight of the
gooseberries, now known as kiwifruit. These would house. It really was quite spooky going to the toilet as
have been some of the earliest ones to have been mar- there was no light in the building.
keted. Another crop that was first grown in New
Zealand on the farm in the 1950s was cantaloupe In Granny's kitchen there always was an all sorts
melon. The seeds were given to the farm by Turners & drawer with any number of odds and ends that didn't
Growers, the auctioneers for vegetables and other pro- really belong in any other drawer, sort of a just in
duce. The first crop was a bumper and made a good case its needed scenario. I loved searching through
profit for the farm, but other gardens jumped on the that drawer. Her lounge was dark and very sombre
bandwagon in future years. with a painting of a man in a stream/river fly fishing
on one wall, fascinating!
The crops grown on the farm included, cabbage, cauli-
flower, beans, peas, onions, lettuce, kumara, pumpkin The big shed down the driveway was amazing to me -
red and grey, marrow, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes it smelt of manure and fertiliser and when they were
which failed badly and had to be dug up and destroyed packing tomatoes that became the predominant smell.
and never grown again. When the glasshouse was built It housed a tractor in one side. There was a high door
indoor tomatoes beans and cucumbers were produced. leading to a loft situation in the front of the building.
There were many fruit trees growing around the perim-
eter of the property ranging from quinces, plums, During the Kumara growing season my Dad would
peaches, and weanies a type of grapefruit with a very take me down the rows to look for pheasant nests and
pale yellow skin, these were also picked and marketed. eggs. It was quite an amazing place to see nature
close up: hares and pheasants a-plenty.
As a child I enjoyed working on the farm with my fa-
ther, sharing his morning tea (a very sweet hot tea) and
fruit cake, and going in the truck to the markets at the Ngaire Dolphin
end of the day, stapling cards on the boxes with the (Bob Dolphin's daughter, b 1950)
farm’s name on them as they were stacked ready for
auction. Sometimes the farm name was stencilled on
using black nugget. Another journey enjoyed was tak-
ing the outdoor crops of tomatoes to the Thompson & Memories of 271 Rosebank Road
Hills sauce factory in Penrose. As far as I'm concerned
there has never been a better tasting tomato than those My first recollection, of Granny's home in Rosebank
produced on plants that sprawled along the ground and Road, was the big green bed settee in the lounge
had patches of green on the top than those grown by where Ralph and Colin slept when we lived there for
B L Dolphin & Sons. three years in the early 1950s. From 1957 when I
lived with Uncle Bill and Aunty Elsie in Avondale
These are some of my memories written for my father, Road I used to go around to Granny's at least twice a
Joseph Percy Jennings, eldest son of Beatrice Dolphin, week, the garden there being my playroom. The
who spent most of his life working on the farm until it swing under the sweet navel orange tree was a
was sold due to re-zoning by council to light-industrial favourite and climbing the Loquat tree and eating the
in the 1960s. banana passion fruit when in season.
John Dolphin (my cousin), John Milburn and I used
Jocelyn Beatrice Jennings (b 1942) to race our bikes down the gully and see who could
get to the top of the other side without pedaling. We
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also spent a lot of time down in the creek building
dams and seeing if we could catch any fish.
The kiwifruit vines were on a bank above where the
creek was and I remember picking kiwifruit for the
market one school holidays.
A highlight was when the Choc Bom Van (now Mr
Whippy) would come to the gate and Granny would
buy us one each.
I returned to the market garden in the early 1960s to
weed kumara for Ted TePa who leased the property
after the Dolphin family sold up.
Gillian Coppard
(Ethel Dolphin's daughter, b.1947)

Beatrice Lucy Dolphin (nee Percy)
Beatrice Lucy Percy was born 28 September 1881 in
Petone and died 20 January 1965 aged 83 years old.
Her parents were Joseph Henry and Ada (née Everest)
Percy and she was their second child and second
William Andrew Jennings ( market gardener) married
Beatrice in 1905 and they had two sons Joseph Percy
(Perc) born June 1906 and Martin born and died in
1908.William was tragically killed in 1909.
Beatrice than married John Dolphin (market gardener)
January 1912. They were market gardening in Epuni,

Beatrice Lucy Dolphin, née Percy (1881-1965). Photo from
a framed portrait, Ngaire Dolphin collection.

then shifted to Otorohonga and finally to Rosebank
Rd, Avondale in August 1920. After the death of John
on 29 October 1929, Beatrice continued to crop the 22
acre garden with the help of her children – Perc
Jennings 23, Ethel 17, Beatrice (Beat) 15, Bill and
Bob Dolphin. The business was known as B L
Dolphin and then in 1954 was changed to B L Dolphin
& Sons.
During the war years local people were also employed
to help with the harvesting which included her son
Bob's future mother-in-law Myrtle Rufford and Perc's
future wife Mary Mitchell. Bill and Bob did war ser-
vice overseas. The property was sold in October 1962
as the zoning had changed to industrial.

Norma M Dolphin
17 October 1998

Norma Rufford on Traherne Island, 1949-1950 (before, of
course, the motorway.) Ngaire Dolphin collection.
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Marcia Barrowman (née Dolphin), Bob Dolphin’s
daughter, in Auckland CBD under the sign for the lane
named after Beatrice Lucy Dolphin, August 2018.

All photos and recollections text kindly provided by
Ngaire Dolphin: Text by Norma Dolphin (wife of Bob
Dolphin), Jocelyn Jennings (Perc Jennings daughter),
Gillian Coppard (Ethel Dolphin’s daughter) and Ngaire
Dolphin (Bob Dolphin’s daughter).

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society
will be Saturday 1 December 2018
at 2pm, St Ninians Hall, St Georges Road, Avondale

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: or
Society information:
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