Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gribblehirst Park -- a reserve without a history

Welcome to Gribblehirst Park, Mt Albert, here in Auckland. This is one of two signs which describe what you can and can't do there. Not much in the way of information for the heritage tourist, though.

It is a very, very nice place, especially today, a sunny February Sunday afternoon. The road (right) is used by drivers as a shortcut between Morningside Drive and Sandringham Road, but some do stop here, let the kids play at the playground, perhaps exercise the dog (it's an off-leash area). There's tall trees and pretty roses to admire.

The rugby club has a building set nicely amongst the verdancy of the green playing fields which dominate this park. The signs pointing to the sports grounds are a bit elderly, mind.

I came up to this pile of volcanic rock, expecting -- with hopes rising -- that there would be some kind of a plaque telling the casual visitor (like me) just what was the story of Gribblehirst Park. Instead, it bore just the park's name, and this (still, quite interesting) coat of arms of the now defunct and replaced Mt Albert Borough Council. This dates from before 1978 -- that's when the Borough became, for a short span of 11 years, a city before amalgamation with Auckland's council. The 1911 date is when the borough succeeded, in turn, the road board before it.

Gribblehirst Park is named after the Gribble and Hirst families. James Gribble died 1886 but owned quite a bit of this part of Auckland, and Samuel Luther Hirst was his son-in-law who inherited the estate. The families gave 11 acres of the estate to the borough council in 1930, according to Dick Scott, and the council purchased another 3 acres to make up today's total of 14 acres. That's just part of it -- Gribblehirst Park was cleared of rock, levelled, and drained (much of the surrounding area flooded rather badly for the first quarter of the 20th century) by depression-era unemployment work gangs. Scheme No. 5, as one was called, did much during the 1930s to form many of the recreation areas we know and love today in Auckland, through subsidies from government cutting council costs and providing employment during hard financial times.

Something along these lines would be, I think, interesting for those who would like to know the story behind a pretty park like this. I don't live in the ward (Eden-Albert; I'm in Avondale) but hopefully someone will get the idea to put something forward as a project. Pending budgetary constraints and that recession thing, of course.


  1. aftern link ...come again and I enjoy your post :) great nice 4u and drop :) smile 4u

  2. I like those sort of history outings, where the little details and things are researched and explained. :)

  3. James Gribble was my great, great, grandfather. I should make a sign and donate it.

    1. James Gribble was my great great grandfather Henry Gribble's brother. Just interested in the park and history now because we have bought a house opposite GribbleHirst park.

  4. It's a good thought, but chances are that Council would say no. Their signage has to be their way (and their way takes absolute ages, with lots of excuses!)

    I think that a mural of some description was added to a circular seat up near the top of the park, but sadly that was just a mix of images, not a history. If I were you, I'd contact the Albert-Eden Local Board to express an opinion.