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July-August 2011

Volume 10 Issue 60

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

Cast of “Princess Chrysanthemum” of St Judes Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society: Saturday, 6 August 2011, 2.30 pm St Ninian’s Church
St Georges Road, Avondale (opp. Hollywood Cinema)

I received the above photo and this letter from Richie Afford back in May this year, in response to the previous issue’s item on the Avondale Town Hall cinema panto. — Editor I was fascinated and intrigued by details of the Pantomime held in December 1932 and especially the fact full details of the cast have been retained. Perhaps the event spurred St Judes to try to compete by performing an Operetta “Princess Chrysanthemum” shortly afterwards. I am not sure of the exact date and I confess to not remembering many of those in the cast. It may not be too late for someone in the cast still extant to fill the gap with names. However here goes with my memory. The left rear: Mrs Marsden, Mr Hoskings (Superintendent of the Sunday School), and Edith Amos (who organised and directed). At shoulder height left and right of the cat in the rear, Ethel Hoskings and Esme Amos. Left front: Pat Addison –Sape. Centre of the three pixies: Peter Crees (killed in the war) and yours truly, the Court Chamberlain third or is it fourth from the right second row from the back. You must agree we excelled with the costumes. Those were the days.

This is the Society’s Annual General Meeting

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Christobel Ash – your legacy as a teacher is appreciated. Kind regards, Helen Laurenson

Christabel Ash
Dear Lisa, I read in recent issues of the Avondale Historical Journal of Christabel Ash and her father as residents of Avondale. Christabel Ash taught both my elder sister Jocelyn, and myself at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School. When I began at EGGS in Form 3ALatin in 1950, she was my form mistress, so for me there was a special interest in that small glimpse of her background. I have now found that John Willstead Ash, her father, who died in January 1944, was for many years the Senior Art master at Seddon Memorial Technical College, before retiring in 1940. He was born and had trained in the United Kingdom, where he also taught at Dudley School of Art. Two of his oil paintings ‘Near Mt Albert’ and ‘Study of Pines’ are held in the Auckland City Art Gallery, one donated by the Auckland Society of Arts, the other by his family in 1944. Christabel Ash was on the staff of EGGS, teaching both French and Latin from 1928. We girls knew of her romantic Christian name but of course nobody would either have dreamed of calling her anything other than the requisite ‘Miss Ash’ or inquiring where she lived, for teachers’ private lives did not exist as far as we were concerned. She gained her MA as she began her teaching career, later qualifying with a Dip Ed during the 1940s, and always wore her graduate gown, hood and trencher when at the school. Sadly I understand that her gentle nature found classroom control difficult on occasions but thankfully our 1950 3AL class was always respectful. When she retired at the end of Term I 1955 her tribute in the school magazine noted that: ‘her sound scholarship was very much appreciated by all her pupils, but especially by those to whom she taught advanced Latin.’ I remember her explaining to our class the difficulty of translating the subtleties of the Latin noun ‘res,’ and have never forgotten the example she gave us from Virgil: ‘sunt lacrimae rerum’ – ‘there are the tears of things’. It is a poignant phrase which for me at times encapsulates a wealth of meaning. Thank you, Miss

Tomlinson’s shop
Hi Lisa, Felt compelled to say once again a wonderful newsletter. It is interesting how Blockhouse Bay and Avondale residents mingle probably more so way back – before the advent of cars. I remember Tomlinsons well, Mum took me shopping there for dress materials after I left school in 1961 as I went on to a year at a business college in the city. I was allowed to pick my own and felt very grown up – kids these days seem to chose from 5 or younger! I think it was next door to Tomlinsons on the high side there was a land agent and Sara Mellsop worked in the office. I can remember standing in the door way watching her type. I think this is where the NZ kiwiana shop is now – the 2 shops fronts were grey mottled polished stone. Pam Harpham The following are a selection of passages from two letters over the past year or two by Robin Fazakerley, a wonderfully prolific writer to the Society. I’m still gradually making my way through them all. Thank you, Robin! — Editor.

Transport Bus Services
We had two main means of transport ---by train or by bus. Transport Bus Services seemed to have two sorts of busses, --a flat-nosed Bedford and one with a very long bonnet fastened with sort of clips on the side. The livery was red on the bottom and buff on the top, like the trams, with a narrow panel separating the buff and red, with Transport Bus Services in black capitals. The drivers wore light brown coats. There were two routes, one via Blockhouse Bay Rd and the other via Taylor St These two routes alternated, so you had to read the bus time-table. There were two sections from Avondale to Blockhouse Bay, both ending on the corner of either Wolverton Rd and Blockhouse Bay Rd or Wolverton Street and Taylor St. I can't remember the prices of fares now, but you could purchase School Concession Cards from the driver. We often had Mr Bonnet as driver on our route. He was often very bad-tempered, but this could be due to wartime shortages---necessities were in very short supply. Billy Bonnet. Mr Bonnet's son, was in the same classroom as me at Blockhouse Bay Primary School, in 1941. I think they lived in New Windsor Rd, on the left hand. side in the 1st block from Blockhouse Bay Rd. (2009)

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The Bishes were also English. They had a son Charles who went to Mt Albert Grammar.

Map 1 (drawn by R Fazakerley)

Clark’s Potteries, the Mellsop family, and phones
Clark’s Potteries was situated in Taylor Street, between Borich’s orchard and Matata Street. Sewerage pipes were made here and the office had a phone. Phones were a luxury for most people. There were only 2 phones in our neighbourhood — the other was at Mellsop’s (corner of Blockhouse Bay Road and Matata Street). I was sent to either when a doctor was urgently needed etc. I used to enjoy watching the sewerage pipes being pressed by a machine from pugged clay. I think that Mr Mellsop was a JP. He had 2 daughters, Sarah and Mary. Sarah used to work in the land agent’s next to Tomlison’s Drapery (opposite Jamieson’s Butchery and Collin Cake Shop). She also took in Welfare children (the Everests’ in the 1940s) and took the Girl’s Brigade at the Mission (now the Baptist Church) in Blockhouse Bay Road. She was very kind to me and taught me how to use a phone.

Glenburn Bricks, Stenning and Bish families
When war broke out in 1939 Glenburn was a large oval structure nearly derelict, ferns growing out of the bricks on the western side, open arches and almost collapsed roof. It had a derelict and overgrown railway siding parallel to St Georges Road — connecting to the main line by a series of points at St Georges Crossing. I think that there was a kiln at the southern end. In 1942 I started to catch the 7.45 am school train every school morning from St Georges Crossing to Newmarket and the 3.40 pm train home from Newmarket in the afternoon. By 1941 the Japanese had become a serious threat in the Pacific and the NZ Government started to prepare for a possible invasion by the Japanese. The Glenburn Brickworks overnight became a highly guarded ammunition dump. The derelict building was reroofed, steel doors were put in the open arches, a high security perimeter fence was installed complete with a new army hut (live-in) as a permanent security guard and the railway tracks were cleared and up-dated. Quite exciting really for a 9 year old to watch. I have included the Stennings house (Map 1, above), a rented property with earth floors (literally). The Stennings emigrated from England in 1938. The Stenning twins Doris and Ray were in Primer 1 with me at Blockhouse Bay Primary School. They came some time during 1938 as did Doris Hughes and Betty Bull. Rosemary Stenning used to catch the train in 1942 as she was at Teachers’ College.

Vera Fowler (née Grey) (1899-1995)
I started piano lessons in September 1941 with Vera Fowler who lived in Chalmers Street in a very large rambling house whose long, dilapidated driveway was entered from Chalmers Street. Vera later used her maiden name of Grey [Ed. Note: Vera was daughter to Charles Daniel Grey, once Mayor of Auckland, who lived in the house known as “Banwell” until his death in 1925.] My lessons were arranged by
Map 2 (drawn by R Fazakerley)

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It was comforting on wet days to be greeted by the maid who took your sopping wet shoes, coat & hat and returned them to you bone dry. She was an old lady, too old to be called up for war work. I remember Vera and her maid with affection. I had one more meeting with Vera. This was before one of Juan Mattieuci’s “Beethoven Series” concerts with the Auckland Sinfonia (now Auckland Philharmonia) in late 1960s or early ‘70s. Vera was sitting on a seat, outside the Dress Circle in the Auckland Town Hall. I went up to her, introduced myself, and said that I had an LRSM in piano. Her laconic reply was, “I thought you would!” My cello pupil Michelle Olson (now Naden) also was a qualified ballet dancer, dancing at a studio in Mt Eden (1982/83?). The pianist at this studio was Vera Grey, who had reverted to her maiden name and was quite an old lady by this time. (April 2010)

Mrs Bollard (organist of St Jude’s — Rosa Bollard née Binsted) and cost the very large sum of £3—3—0 per term, so I did not stay with her for long — going to St Bride’s Convent (Great North Road, in St Mary’s grounds) where piano lessons cost very little. But piano lessons at Vera’s were an adventure. When you had negotiated the driveway, you rang the bell and the door was answered by a maid, who ushered you into a waiting room. This was a large high-ceilinged room containing a settee with a huge pile of Chatterboxes on it. The maid ushered the previous pupil out and the next pupil into the drawing room. This was a large panelled room, with a green carpet, green curtains (brocade or velvet?), venetian blinds, large green covered sofas and easy chairs, aspidistras on stands and a fireplace with an ornamental mantelpiece complete with mirrors and yellow & green tiles surrounding the fire place. I forgot to mention the brass surrounds and tongs, brush and shovel. The piano was near the fire place — wonderful on cold and wet days. Vera Fowler taught piano at St Cuthbert’s and also did Red Cross War Work, so nearly always was dressed in uniform.

From Avondale Catholic Parish, 75th jubilee, 1996, re the convent school: “...which opened in 1923, with a roll of 82 children. The original school building consisted of two brick classrooms in the Spanish Colonial style at the cost of £2,165. The school was to be run by the Sisters of Mercy who arrived in the parish towards the end of 1922. “Shortly after the opening of the school the Convent of St Bride’s was built to house the Mercy Sisters.” The building was demolished in the 1980s. Photo: Sisters of Mercy, from Ron Oates collection

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by: the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. Editor: Lisa J. Truttman Society contact: 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600 Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804 email: Society information: Website: Subscriptions: $10 individual $15 couple/family $30 corporate

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

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for their continued support and sponsorship of this publication.

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