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AvondaleAvondale-Waterview Historical Society Incorporated

July– August 2012 No. 58 Prepared by Lisa Truttman, President and Editor

Tait Park
I attended the 21 June re-opening of the “new” Tait Park beside Rosebank Road in Avondale, after the Council worked on improving the grounds, creating new walking paths, and generally bringing the small reserve back into community use. This park began with a donation of land, plus money for play equipment, by Avondale’s second mayor, William John Tait in 1927. 85 years on, Tait’s park is no longer a place with slides and swings, but hopefully he would still be happy that the public have an open space in which to sit on sunny days.

150th anniversary commemoration George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery
The Parish of St Jude's in Avondale will be organising a commemoration day for the 150th anniversary of the first burial at what is today the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery, corner Rosebank Road and Orchard Street. In 1862, Dr Thomas Aickin donated an acre of land there for the establishment of an Anglican church in Avondale. His young son William was the first burial there, 3 August 1862. The George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery (formerly known as Avondale Cemetery, Rosebank Cemetery, and Orchard Street Cemetery) is Avondale’s oldest cemetery. This was once part of the farm of Dr Thomas Aickin. In 1886 ownership of the property was transferred to “Alan Kerr Taylor, John Bollard and Matthew Thomas Clayton upon trust for a cemetery and for religious charitable and educational purposes.” In 1958, the last member of the Cemetery Trust Board, Harold Bollard, appointed the General Trust Board of the Diocese of Auckland to be trustees of the cemetery. Responsibility was then handed over to the Parochial District of Avondale. In 1990, the cemetery was named the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery, after the late caretaker, George Maxwell. On Sunday 5 August 2012, a service will be held at St Judes Church, St Judes Street at 10 am, followed by luncheon at the church hall at 11.30 am, then a graveside blessing at the cemetery at 12.30 pm. For further information on this occasion, please contact Christine and John Russell:

In Memorium
AWHS member Jack Petherington Munk died in late June. Some of his photographs were used alongside those by Jack Dragicevich in the latter’s work, the Waterview Heritage Study, published by our Society in 2007. Jack Munk was also active in the field of photographic history, arranging a display of cameras and photographs at the Matakohe Museum once. He was a keen supporter of our Society, and will be greatly, sadly missed.

Guest Speakers
For our August meeting, David Verran has been invited, after I heard an excellent talk by him on East Coast Bays October: AWHS member Arthur Milner. Arthur has posed a question for our Society’s members: during World War II, were local women in the district manpowered for work in that period? December: I’ve offered to give a talk on Partington’s Mill, Symonds Street (1851-1950). February: Bruce Harvey, author of a number of books on West Auckland, will talk to us on the wreck of the HMS Orpheus (1863) at the Manukau Heads. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the disaster.

Next meeting: Saturday 4 August 2012, 2.30 pm St Ninians Church St Georges Road, opposite Hollywood Cinema THIS WILL BE OUR 10th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Request for funding toward cost of gravestone cleaner
Before our April meeting, Wayne Coe of the Avondale Community Society asked AWHS to consider funding the cost of purchase of gravestone cleaner for St Ninians cemetery. To date, we’ve heard nothing further from Wayne, nor a definitive response from Auckland Council regarding their policy on cleaning in Council-owned cemeteries. AWHS at our June meeting resolved to take no further action.

Festival 2013) at St Ninians, with perhaps tours of the cemetery which would include relaying the stories of those buried there, publication of a booklet on the cemetery’s history, and refreshments for those visiting and taking a look at both the church building and the grounds. So — if there’s anyone amongst us with a dab hand at scones, sandwiches and making cuppas for refreshments inside St Ninians then, and any other ideas for the day, do please let me know.

Auckland Regional Day for Historical Societies
This will be hosted by Mangere Historical Society, Saturday 11 August 2012, commencing at 10.00 AM at St James Church Hall, 29 Church Road, Mangere Bridge. Cost: $15.00 per person Agenda: 10.00 am 10.30 am 1.00 pm 1.45 pm

Avondale’s runaway trams
Ever since 2001, I’ve been (metaphorically) chasing a runaway tram. Interviews with people for the book Heart of the Whau brought to the surface memories of a tram, at some point during the period when they served Avondale (1932-1956), which kept right on going past the terminus, over the main intersection at Rosebank and Great North Roads, and ended up around where the Korean Baptist Church is today. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t pin down exactly when this happened. Since the National Library, in conjunction with our Auckland Library in the city, have been so good as to digitise the Auckland Star up to 1945 – some of the chasing may now be over. On a Wednesday evening, March 18 1942, the brakes of the tramcar at the Avondale tram terminus gave way. The tram had been left standing on the incline, near today’s Avondale Union Parish church and Nafanua Hall, with only airbrakes on. The motorman had hopped out and the conductor was in the process of lowering the rear trolley pole which connected the tram to the overhead power supply (uphill). Suddenly – the tram began to trundle downhill. The conductor quickly moved, boarded the tram, but couldn’t halt its progress off the tracks, onto the road, down and across Great North Road to finally stop 25 yards beyond the intersection on lower Rosebank Road. Fortunately, it didn’t overturn (the conductor was all right after the impromptu off-rail excursion). After two breakdown vans were summoned, the tram was hauled back onto the tracks by 10.50 pm, and running under its own power once more, no damage done (except to the road, and some frayed nerves, one would expect.) The folks who relayed the runaway tram story said that after the incident they recalled (which happened in daylight, they said), the authorities put in special traps, covered by boards, to stop any repeat performance. Perhaps, this was done after the next incident. On Friday, 14 April 1944, an empty tram stationary at the terminus around 4 in the afternoon, obeyed gravity and began to move downhill. This time the tram’s motorman was near enough (he’d just left the tram for the changeover) to chase after the tram, board it again while it was moving, and put the brakes on – but still the tram ended about 30 yards past the end of the tram rails. Somehow, it was brought back into operation by the use of an extension of the overhead wire.

Morning Tea Bus trip to local areas of historical interest Lunch Reports from attendees

To register send payment and your contact details to Mrs Barbara Dixon, Treasurer, 18 Koru Street, Mangere Bridge 2022 before 28 July 2012. Cheques should be made payable to Mangere Historical Society. Payment may also be made by direct credit to Mangere Historical Society, ASB Papatoetoe, 12-3079-0218718-00. Any queries please contact Mrs Janet Presland, President, (09) 636 8386 (

Auckland Heritage Festival 2012
This will be from 29 September to 14 October. AWHS will not be taking part this year, but … next year (2013) marks the 140th anniversary of the death of Rev. David Hamilton of the Whau Presbyterian Church, later known as St Ninians. In July 1873, he perished in the wilderness between Huia and Whatipu, and his burial was the first at the small cemetery beside the church in Avondale, thus marking the cemetery’s 140 years since first use. I was thinking that AWHS could hold an open day (later in the year than July, so we have a good chance of nice weather and a tie-in with the Auckland Heritage