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July-August 2012

Volume 11 Issue 66

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

Taking the tram home to Avondale
A tram at the corner of Karangahape Road and Symonds Street, either late 1940s or during the 1950s down to when trams were withdrawn in 1956. It stopped outside the Caledonian Hotel (itself built c.1870, and demolished Next meeting of the 1980). Across the road on Avondale-Waterview Symonds Street can be seen the Edwardian-era tram stop Historical Society: loos near the entrance to Saturday, 4 August 2012, Grafton Bridge.

2.30 pm St Ninian’s Church

St Georges Road, Avondale (opp. Hollywood Cinema)


The tram had left the city, come up Queen Street (past the Town Hall), then turned left into Karangahape Road, and right into Symonds Street, heading towards New North Road and Kingsland, Morningside, Mt Albert and Avondale. Image: a postcard purchased through TradeMe.

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Avondale College

Avondale Intermediate

Holly Str e e t

Avondale Intermediate—struggling for space (1945-1967)
I went to Avondale Intermediate from 1975-1976. What has always struck me is that the Intermediate is in the shadow of its larger neighbour — it hasn’t even had the chance, since 1945 (same year the College started) to pull together a published school history. Instead, most of what is known of the school’s story is scattered among files at Archives New Zealand (where much of the information in this article came from), newspaper cuttings, and what past pupils may or may not remember. I hope that situation changes soon. Surprisingly to me, what we know as Avondale College was not initially intended to become a secondary school at all when that part of the facility was designed and built during World War II as the American forces hospital — the Government’s intention had been to have a primary school along with an intermediate school on the site. This was announced in early June 1944, as the Americans were vacating the premises, and plans for peacetime use of the Holly-Victor-Rosebank Road site were being worked out. The conversion of the American Hospital at Rosebank Road, Avondale, into two schools —one primary and one intermediate —should soon be an accomplished fact, according to a statement made to-day by the

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chairman of the Mr W J Campbell. Auckland Education Board,

Mr Campbell said the report that the hospital was being vacated, together with a telegram received by the Mayor, Mr Allum, concerning the houses on the property erected for staff quarters for the hospital, were indications that the property would be handed over to the board in the near future. School accommodation was urgently needed at Avondale, he said. This was realised when the hospital was designed, the plans being drawn with a view to the speedy conversion of the buildings into schools the moment they were made available. "The construction of the hospital on lines for an easy change-over to schools showed vision on the part of the Government and no doubt in the long run will save time and a large sum of money in the construction of separate schools," said Mr. Campbell. "When the decision was made the promise was given that there should be two schools, one primary and one intermediate, and the proposal was eminently satisfactory to the board." Mr Campbell said the present school on the main road, close to the railway line at Avondale, was out of date in every respect. It was attended by between 600 and 700 children. Its locality was dangerous, and the playing area was inadequate. Residents of the district would be thrilled at the prospect of the new schools being

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the Board in 1951 to complete the grounds at Avondale College – but this was not to include the Intermediate. July 1951 – School Committee asked for an assembly hall to be built at the school “such as that built at Pasadena Intermediate School”, the start of a 15-year effort to secure the addition. Up to this point, the College and Intermediate shared the College’s hall and gymnasium, but Avondale College rolls were rising too. Use of the existing facilities had been “practically denied to the School,” according to Mr Gair. Apparently, Mr Gair expressed strong opinions to the Education Board as to their lack of response to the School’s accommodation needs. In August 1951, the Board responded that they were well aware of the accommodation crisis, and that they had four new intermediate schools underway at that time, one of which, Wesley Intermediate, was designed to take up enrolments from Owairaka, Blockhouse Bay and possibly New Lynn, all areas served by Avondale’s intermediate school. Another school was planned in the future for Kelston, and “another one to replace the present Avondale Intermediate … so as to ultimately free up the whole of the present ground for the College.” Where this would have been, the files didn’t say. Despite all this, in January 1952, the Headmaster again wrote to the Board, concerned that the rolls would rise by two sub-grades that year. In 1954, with the coming of a separate controlling body for the College, the Education Board took steps to try to clarify the boundary between the two schools, so that each committee could plan their own development. A report was prepared. “The Board owns title to 11¾ acres which in the main is … occupied by the Avondale Intermediate School. The combined playing fields are allocated between the college and the Intermediate School …The North end of the 11¾ acres has on it, roughly on the median line, the old boiler room building and beyond this an undeveloped area which includes the present rifle range for the College.” The College apparently considered using the rifle range area as a site for their swimming pool. In the end, the Intermediate site was set at 10½ acres, 4 of which were developed with buildings. In March 1957, the query was raised by the school as to whether the Armoury, “situated in the waste area behind the power house” was the responsibility of the College, the Intermediate, or some other body or department. The Board responded that the Armoury was the responsibility of the Army (Works Dept.) Questions then arose in 1958 as to whether the old boiler house was within the Intermediate grounds or the College’s. The Board responded that while the Education Department intended constructing a bulk store behind the boiler house with the Intermediate

occupied at an early date. They had been looking forward to the change-over ever since it was first suggested some months ago that the hospital was to be vacated. "From my knowledge of the buildings plans were in a large measure those of the board—l do not think it will take long to make the change over." said Mr. Campbell. "The accommodation provided under the scheme is for some 600 or 700 pupils in the primary school and 500 in the intermediate school. The 11 acres in the block will provide ample playing grounds for both schools. There is urgent need for the schools to be opened."
(Auckland Star 14 June 1944)

By the end of that same month, however, the plans had changed. The new primary school (perhaps what would have been called Rosebank Primary?) was now destined to be a Junior Technical High School, feeding in to Seddon Memorial Tech. The education district, which included West Auckland, Blockhouse Bay and Owairaka then, still needed an intermediate school — so Avondale Intermediate came to be, at the edge of the facility transformed from medical to educational purposes. Almost always a bit of an “odd one out”. Here is something of what the Archives NZ files can tell us about the development of the school, from being the easternmost end of the American Hospital buildings from World War II, to fairly well the bounds of the school today. Recently, there has been considerable modernisation — I have a hard time recognising the place where I once learned and played. The first document found came from March 1948, just over two years since Standards 5 and 6 at Avondale Primary were transferred to the new school off Holly Street. The secretary of the School Committee (once again) expressed the need to the Education Board for the school to have a science lab and dental clinic. The Board noted that providing a “tropical hut” for lab purposes might be an answer and said they needed to wait for an answer from the Health Dept re the dental clinic. (There was a clinic by the time I went there, as I recall.) The roll in 1948 was 596, and was expected to rise to 687, which entitled the school to 18 classrooms and 18 teachers in general subjects (in 1948, the school had 14 classrooms). The Board responded promising a double classroom pre-fab building, along with a new pre-fab building (a set of 50 just built), so that the school would have three extra rooms. The school’s playing area had been sown around 19441945 with grass seed, as Headmaster Mr Gair would later describe it in 1950, on “more or less bare clay.” He referred to the Intermediate as being “in a state of beggary,” which, judging from the files, wasn’t far from the truth. He asked the Board for 100 yards of topsoil – this was declined. A grant was later provided by

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end of D-block and part of the gymnasium/hall complex) in the late 1970s was much larger – even before it was transferred to a separate building in the early 1980s. Negotiations to buy additional land toward Holly Street and away from Avondale College for the intermediate school began in 1965. Finally, in 1966, a contract was let to Messrs Levy and Curruthers Ltd of Mt Albert “for the erection of two classrooms and toilets, boys’ manual block, hall, administration and alterations to existing building.” In December 1966, the pupils of Room 12 at the Intermediate were up in arms about the imminent destruction of pohutukawa trees in the school grounds to make way for the extensions. “If the destruction continues, New Zealand will soon become a desert,” they told the NZ Herald. I don’t recall the trees, as shown in a photo on the file. This early environmental campaign (probably one of the first for Avondale) probably did not succeed. In 1967, the headmaster Mr Pickens wrote to the Board that he expected the roll to fall again with the opening of Kelston Intermediate that year. The Avondale Intermediate I remember was a mix of pre-fab and permanent buildings, and all pupils separated into “houses” for activities and competition within the school - Freyberg (yellow), Jellicoe (green), Cobham (red) and Newell (blue), after Governorsgeneral (I was in Jellicoe House). We wore coloured ribbon sewn on our uniforms. The headmaster during my time was Mr Carnachan, who would give informative talks in the assembly hall for which the early school committees had campaigned so hard. The two topics that have stuck in my mind were regarding Dominion Day, and hovercraft. From the intermediate, I only needed to go next door to Avondale College from 1977-1981. It seemed almost part of the same system to me. Today, Avondale Intermediate’s roll stands at around 342, less than half the numbers the school had to cope with at its height in the 1950s. —Lisa J Truttman

School committee’s permission in 1955, part of the boiler house was used by the College to store mowing equipment, while the department used the rest for general storage. The boiler house was technically part of the Intermediate School – but the Board never intended that it become part of the school’s facilities. In May 1958, the Board decided that the boiler house was officially part of Avondale College. In 1958, the Intermediate’s grading roll, despite the opening of new intermediates in Auckland, rose to 801, requiring 20 classrooms. In 1959, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate opened, taking 105 pupils from Avondale’s roll, but still leaving Avondale with 754 pupils. A classroom was removed to Belmont, as was “one section of the temporary bicycle rack recently provided, to be used elsewhere.” (Everything in those days seemed to be temporary and mobile — I was aware before as to the pre-fab classrooms, my classroom in both years at Intermediate was in a pre-fab, but bike racks too?) Avondale’s roll dropped again during the year, to 622. More classrooms and equipment was removed. In 1959, the Board proposed extending the existing school library into an adjoining office, but headmaster R W Wilcox expressed concerns that this would not be enough. The school already had around 15,000 books, 350 feet of shelving, and many more books were expected to arrive under the free book scheme. Wilcox told the Board the school needed 200 more feet of shelving, not just another 50 feet. He also put forward the case for the Intermediate to have its own assembly hall (again). “I am allowed to use the (College) hall one day a week for School assembly and must be out by 9.30 to make room for College Music classes.” The library at Avondale Intermediate remained a relatively small one down to the 1970s. I remember the impression of being surrounded by bookshelves, with not a lot of space to sit at a table to read. Compared with that, the old library at Avondale College (at the

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

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