Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. Thomas Francis McGauran, of Auckland and Melbourne

An article in the April 1973 issue of the Auckland-Waikato Historical Journal caught my eye a couple of weeks ago, entitled, "The Early History of the Auckland Hospital". It was compiled by the then-editor, Mrs. E. Macdonald. One paragraph is the reason why I post this:
"In 1856 Dr. McGauren [sic] was appointed in charge. He reported the most prevalent diseases among Europeans were 'those of the heart, kidneys and liver, the outcome of excessive indulgence in ardent spirits.' In 1858 the provincial surgeon was given authority to admit urgent cases direct to the hospital. In 1859 Dr. McGauren was asked to resign on a charge of incompetancy but, despite protests, no investigations were allowed."
I wondered what on earth lay behind that last sentence. So, I picked up the digital shovel and started to dig.

Thomas Francis McGauran is said to have qualified at the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1843, and came out to New Zealand, settling in Auckland. McGauran seemed to be ahead of the play with medical practice, importing “a quantity of Vaccine Lymph” for smallpox into the country early in 1844. By then, he’d set himself up in Queen Street, with Dr. O’Neill. (New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 2 March 1844) By 1849, he was Assistant Colonial Surgeon, and by July 1851 he worked at the Colonial Hospital at the Domain, Auckland’s first hospital. It appears by June 1853, he was out of a job, possibly for political reasons between Lt.-Col. Wynyard and the Coroner, Dr. Davies. (Southern Cross, 10 June 1953)

By 1855, Dr. McGauran was resident in Otahuhu, and by April that year he was a licensed land dealer and auctioneer. (SC, 27 April 1855) In June, he moved to Newmarket. He continued in the business until 26 July 1856, when he was appointed Provincial Surgeon for the Lunatic Asylum, hospital and stockade after the death of William Davies five days before. (SC, 29 July 1856) There had already been letters to newspaper editors complaining that the Provincial Surgeon (Dr. Davies at the time) had too many positions to give either of them enough of his time. Now, Dr. McGauran faced the same situation.
“The duties of the provincial Surgeon are, we believe, to take charge of or attend upon
1 The Hospital
2 The Lunatic Asylum
3 The Stockade
4 The Gaol
5 The Lock Up
6 The Police station and Police cases; also
7 To board the Emigrant ships.”
(SC, 4 December 1857)

And for all this responsibility, McGauran was paid £300 per annum, around $30,290 in today’s money. (Estimate of the Expenditure of the Province of Auckland, for the Year 1858, from SC, 23 February 1858) From the end of that year, the salary rose to £350, or around $35,300. (SC, 26 November 1858)

He was the first to publicly appeal for the creation of a library for the lunatic asylum, then in a building on the Domain beside the provincial hospital. (SC, 14 October 1856)

By April 1859, he was president of the Auckland Medical and Surgical Society, and ran his own practice from Auckland, having been replaced as Provincial Surgeon by Dr. Philson. At the time it was put to the public that he had officially been dismissed from the post of Provincial Surgeon due to an absence of some hours from the hospital. (SC, 25 October 1859) However, it turned out that he had been accused of being “of too great intimacy with a female patient” (SC, 2 March 1860) named Pemberton. (SC, 24 February 1860) The Provincial Council members heard and read testimony against Dr. McGauran behind closed doors, in “Star Chamber” as one member later put in the 1860, and decided to dismiss McGauran based on the charges, one of which Dr. Daniel Pollen refused to disclose or divulge due to confidentiality, despite councillor’s protests when the decision was reviewed in 1860. “The impression given by Dr. Pollen would be that there was lewdness which made it unfit for public gaze,” according to one councillor. General feeling in Auckland seems to have been divided between McGauran’s exoneration of character or whether he had indeed committed some form of indiscretion. He still remained within the medical profession, apparently.

In July 1859, soon after his sacking, he was the Surgeon Superintendent for the Metropolitan Infirmary and Dispensary, where “the sick poor and others can obtain medical and surgical relief.” This was set up at a meeting at the Victoria Hotel on 6 July 1859, with a who’s-who for a committee: J. F. Boylan, Patrick Dignan, Reader Wood, Daniel Lynch, F. McMillan, Joseph May, H. Hardington, W. Britton, Thomas Poynton, James George, M Fahy, J. O’Neill, and McGauran himself. (SC, 12 July 1859) This venture didn’t last beyond that year.

In early 1862, he undertook a three week tour of the Lakes District of the North Island, and is said to have met Potatau II, the Maori King, there. (SC, 9 May 1862; Otago Witness, 14 June 1862) At that point, he announced that he was leaving the country. (Advertisement, SC, 4 April 1862)

Then, the Australian part of his career began. This isn't known in much detail, except for the following:
"(New South Wales) THE MAORI CHIEFS.-We understand that, by the desire of his Excellency the Governor, the Maori Chiefs now sojourning in this city were taken yesterday morning to Government House, accompanied by Dr. McGauran, where they were introduced to his Excellency"
Courier (Brisbane, Qld.) Thursday 17 July 1862

"The "New Zealand Warriors" who have been performing here at the Lyceum Theatre have had a disagreement with their padrone, Dr. McGauran, and have summoned him to appear at the Police Office to-morrow for breach of agreement. One of these Maories, I see, signs himself Tamati Hopimaua-a name, if I mistake not, rather famous during the late operations in the Taranaki district.

"The dispute between Dr. McGauran and his " New Zealand Warriors " has been thus far settled by the bench ordering each party to give up the goods they held belonging to the other."
Courier (Brisbane, Qld.) Wednesday 20 August 1862

By October, although the show was successful in Sydney, it apparently bombed in Melbourne. (Otago Witness, 18 October 1862)

(Update, 4 June 2009: Jayne has found in the Victorian Gazettes online that T. F. McGauran passed a civil service exam in Melbourne in September 1863, for work at the Immigration Hospital, gazetted 17th September of that year. Thanks, Jayne!)

In 1874 comes the Gunner Dagwell case, apparently where a Dr. McGauran in Melbourne mis-diagnosed typhoid fever as delirium tremens. Dagwell committed suicide and was buried with full military honours. The doctors connected with the case were exonerated. (Brisbane Courier, 13 August 1874)

There's nothing further, until a death notice for one Thomas Francis McGauran, son of Thomas Francis McGauran, appearing in the Argus in 1916.
On the 18th August, 1916, at "Hazelmere” 250 Glebe Road, Glebe Point, Sydney NSW. Thomas Francis McGauran (late of Lands Dept., Melbourne), dearly loved husband of Kathleen; beloved father of Mary and Thomas, eldest son of the late Dr. T. F. McGauran assistant medical officer of Melbourne); 71 years. May his soul rest in peace.
(Argus, 21 August 1916)

Some of T. F. McGauran junior’s maps can be found today on the National Library of Australia website, like this one.

If anyone from Melbourne would like to help fill in more of the story, feel free.

(Update 23 October 2012) Stew Barr from Melbourne has pointed out a link to the database for the Public Record Office in Victoria. A probate entry is there for a surgeon, Thomas F McGauran, dying on 27 September 1875. He had resided at Bunya Bunya cottage, Acland Street in St Kilda.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The metal roads of Avondale and Mt Albert

I found a brief paragraph in, of all places, the Poverty Bay Herald from 3 July 1888, which gives an example of how the early roads, paid for and maintained by Auckland's communities in the last quarter of the 19th century, really mattered.
"It has often been remarked that in some districts the roads of one portion are damaged by carting material during the winter months for the repairing of another road. An apt illustration of this fact is now taking place in the vicinity of Auckland. It appears that the Avondale Road Board applied to the Hon. the Minister of Public Works, and received a gift of 500 yards of metal broken by the unemployed at the foot of Mount Eden. This grant is said to have been made for repairing a portion of the Great North Road, which had been injured by carting bricks for the new wing of the Asylum from the Avondale brickyards.

"To repair that piece of road drays are now engaged in carting these 500 yards of broken metal right through the Mount Albert District, thus damaging four miles of the main road through Mount Albert, which the ratepayers of that district formed, made, and gave to the public free of expense, and for which they have been taxing themselves to keep in repair for ordinary traffic for over 20 years.

"If there are any circumstances under which the imposition of a heavy toll for carting metal is justifiable it is surely in this case, and could only be looked on as a measure of self-defence on the part of the Mount Albert rate payers, We understand that the Mount Albert Road Board have telegraphed a remonstrance to the Hon. the Minister of Public Works, pointing out the injustice of this action. "
Basically, until the coming of concrete and then sealed roads, and until the roads themselves became strategic highways and therefore sorted out on a government level, this kind of thing went on and on between the road boards. At the turn of the century, there was quibbling even over who was going to sort out the Oakley Creek Bridge. There's a story there -- some day, I may have time to write about it.

Ben Copedo, and the mill wheel at Mill Cottage

Continuing from Henderson's Mill:

Ben Copedo is one of West Auckland's foremost historians and researchers. I have the highest regard for him and his work, because he questions everything, checks everything, and publishes research that helps others following behind. Now and then, sometimes more frequently during some periods than others, I call him up on the phone with a question, or to tell him about something I've found which I think he'll be interested in -- and he always is. I consider him one of the major influences on the way I go about my own research.

He's given me some feedback, and aside from some typos (whoops!), his comment is regarding the site of the original mill (not so much "near" the confluence of the two rivers, but 700-800 metres up from it), and regarding the model mill wheel there today. I used the term "replica" -- Ben quite rightly pointed out it isn't a replica, for these reasons (quoting his notes sent to me): it is ..
"An approximately half size example of a water wheel with a small workshop behind it was built in 1995 to celebrate Henderson's official sesquicentary. The original water wheel may have been 6 feet (1.8m) wide and 18 feet (5.5m) in diameter and was almost certainly "overshot" and not "low breast shot" as is the one at present on display."
The model was built by David Harre (noted for, amongst other things, his rescue work with old trams) with funding from the local licensing trust, Waitakere City Council took control, but today it is administered (I've checked with a member of the WAHS committee today) by the West Auckland Historical Society.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Hendersons Mill

Anthony Flude’s revised edition of Henderson’s Mill (2008) costs around $30 retail. Right now, I wouldn’t buy it at that price. I don’t think it’s worth it, given the errors within it, and that it’s mainly an extended version of the original from 1977. I may buy it at perhaps half the price, in a second hand bookstore, but that would be if I could spare the $15. It has some value as a reference book, and an attempt has been made to extend the index, but its lack of source crediting and reliance on non-contemporary sources of information aside from some Archives New Zealand records and one book from the 19th century means I just can’t trust it for accuracy.

Instead, I borrowed a copy from New Lynn library today for this review of some of the facts around the story of the mill.

My previous posts on Henderson’s Mill, part of my interest in locating the mill in history (geographically, it’s been fairly well sussed), are here : Henderson's Mill, and Flude's emails.

The Lucidan

The Lucidan name is now applied to the schooner Henderson traded to Ngati Whatua in the 2008 edition. (p. 22) According to Flude, it was purchased by Henderson & Macfarlane in 1843, and he has reproduced an early advertisement (both statement and ad are unsourced).

He hasn’t offered a theory as to why the name is different in Thomas Henderson’s own submissions to the government the following decade, which he hasn’t reprinted from the 1977 edition, but included in the body of the text (pp.48-49). There, he corrects Thomas Henderson’s reference.

Update 3 June 2009: Ben Copedo thought one answer to why the name is different in the Thomas Henderson statement may have been because perhaps it was a transcript, written by a legal clerk, and not Henderson himself. We'll never know for sure, but that sounds plausible, at least.

The John Bull

Flude’s statement in 1977 that the sale of the John Bull financed the building of Henderson’s saw mill in West Auckland in 1849-1849 has now been changed. In his 2008 edition, he has it that in 1846, Thomas Henderson purchased the John Bull in Sydney, sailed her to Auckland, loaded her up with Waitakere Ranges kauri, and sent John Macfarlane to Hobart with the consignment. There, the market depressed, Macfarlane exchanged ship and cargo for a consignment of flour, which was delivered back to Auckland and fetch a high price. The partners purchased the scow Mazeppa with the proceeds.

From Papers Past, we see that the John Bull in March 1846 was captained by Twohey, and had H. R. Cretnay as an agent. No sign in the shipping notices that Henderson & Macfarlane owned or were agents for the John Bull at this time. Cretnay was still the agent in March 1847. In September 1847, we see David Nathan has become the shipping agent for the John Bull, now captained by George Clinch, and Nathan was still agent at the end of 1848.

I believe the John Bull can be discounted from this period of the Henderson & Macfarlane story. Flude doesn’t say where he got either version (1977 or 2008) of his story from – but it does appear to be in error, compared with contemporary records.

As for the Mazeppa – this, also, had H. R. Cretnay as an agent in May 1846. I can’t find any association between that ship and Henderson & Macfarlane. In March 1859, it was owned by Jardine, Matheson & Co, and was lost off the coast of China.

Pheasants

Flude claims (pp. 31-32) that Thomas Henderson was the first to introduce pheasants into New Zealand. This website says they’d been introduced over time since 1842.

Update, 3 June 2009: Historian and researcher Anne Stewart Ball has very kindly emailed me with some further info on the introduction of pheasants into the Auckland Province: a presentation was made before the NZ Institute in 1869 by Captain F. W. Hutton who credited Thomas Henderson as being first in the province in 1851. (Elsewhere, it was reported that Canterbury immigrants brought pheasants into the country as Canterbury was settled. I did read in the papers from the 1840s that at least the first shipment died soon after reaching here).

The Spencer

Flude, in his email to me of 27 May 2009, said:
“The Mill upgrade funds were gained as the result of the sale of the ship and cargo of kauri timber on the Brigantine SPENCER 1849, published later in the NZ Herald at the time of his death.”
But, his 2008 book says (p. 32):
“In 1852, speculating there would be an increased demand for exported timber, Henderson & Macfarlane purchased the brig Spencer.”
Here are notes from research into the Southern Cross newspaper:

SC, 14 April 1852 -- Henderson & Macfarlane as agents for the 222 ton brig Spencer, master C. J. Martin.

SC 15 February 1853 --Coombes & Daldy agents for Spencer, J. C. Martin

SC, 22 February 1853 -- H & M agents for Spencer.

Coombes & Daldy again in March

21 June 1853 -- H&M again.

SC, 22 November 1853 -- H&M agents for Spencer, now captained by Captain Wootton

SC, 24 February 1854 --Reported loss of the Spencer, H&M as owners, J. B. Wootton, captain.

So, yes, Henderson & Macfarlane owned the Spencer, but no, they did not sell it in 1849 to pay for building Henderson’s Mill.

McLeod and Haskell

Flude does not mention, in either the 1977 nor the 2008 editions, the partnership of John McLeod and Cyrus Haskell, who managed the saw mill at Henderson from late 1854 until the partnership broke up by mutual consent in January 1858.

Notes from Southern Cross:

SC, 1 December 1854 -- McLeod & Haskell apply for carpenters, good axemen and labourers at Henderson’s Saw Mills.

SC, 3 December 1855 - Advertisement from McLeod & Haskell, for “a man possessing a knowledge of measuring and handling sawn timber.”

Partnership of John McLeod and Cyrus Haskell ended 18 January 1858. (SC, 26 January 1858)

Not a lot is known about Cyrus Haskell. In February 1858, his name appears on a jury list as a “bush overseer, Henderson’ bush” (SC, 16 February 1858), and in February he was a sawyer, same location. (SC, 7 February 1860) He appears to have been living in Graham Street close to Freeman’s Bay by 1865. (SC, 8 April 1865)

John McLeod, the other partner, is known in Henderson histories as “Long” John McLeod, to differentiate him from “Shepherd” John McLeod who looked after Thomas Henderson’s Delta Farm (Flude, 2008, p. 38). The partnership with Haskell may have expired by as early as August 1856 – only McLeod’s name is on an ad for bush workers then (19 August 1856), for “men who are thoroughly acquainted with working in a saw mill” (SC, 18 May 1857), for “splitters and sawyers” (SC, 7 August 1857). Flude says that McLeod left Henderson in 1859 (not long after the partnership ceased). By 1863, he had established his steam saw mill on the Kaipara. (SC, 31 March 1864)

The 1858 auction

This wasn’t referred to in Flude’s 2008 edition.

According to the Southern Cross, 30 April 1858, auctioneers Hardington & Wood arranged to begin “periodical auction sales” at “the mill of Henderson & Macfarlane” to suit demand from settlers in the “District of Upper Waitemata, South”. There may only have been one attempt at such an auction, however.

The items on offer are interesting:

Several Plough, Draught and Saddle horses
Some Milk Cows and heifers
A team of Working Bullocks, with yokes, bows and chains
150,000 feet of sawn timber, 1st and 2nd quality
1 weatherboard house 18 feet by 12
1 weatherboard house 20 feet by 14
1 weatherboard shed 120 feet by 16
1 weatherboard shed 140 feet by 16
1 weatherboard shed 160 feet by 16
6 off-bearing barrows
2 crowding barrows
3 Navie barrows
Spades, shovels, hoes, rakes etc.

Were existing buildings at the mill site being sold off – or was Henderson & Macfarlane diversifying into the construction of simple settler cottages and sheds? Also, a “crowding barrow” is also called a kiln barrow – used around firing kilns, as in brickworks. An “off-bearing barrow” is also used in brickmaking. Was there a simple (and very early) brickyard at or near the mill?

The 1864 Mill Sale

Flude states that in 1862 production at the mill began to slow due to lack of trees. (p. 57) That’s quite possible – it also ties in with a drought over the summer of 1862-1863 which caused the river levels to drop region-wide, reducing the ability of mill owners to transport their timber downstream.
“One arrival during the month (that of the Chilean barque “Dominga,” from Puget Sound), was a novelty in our port, so far as the cargo is concerned. She brought a cargo of sawn timber, &c, from Oregon, to Messrs. Henderson and Macfarlane, well-known timber merchants of Auckland. The reason for this strange importation, which is like carrying coals to Newcastle, is a measure owing to the scarcity of water during the summer, preventing the floating of logs to the various saw-mills of the province, so that with an increasing home consumption which could not be supplied, and with orders from a distance which could not be executed, it was deemed proper to supplement the home produce by a cargo of imported stuff. The development of our timber trade is a branch of business which has attracted considerable enterprise and capital, and we have little doubt in a short time it will be unnecessary to have recourse to imports to supplement our home production.”
(SC, 6 April 1863)

The mill was up for sale in August 1864, along with 5,000 acres of land, including the saw mill (suitable either water or steam power), suitable residence for manager, house accommodation for 100 workmen, store, farm buildings, granary, stables, cowsheds, stockyards, and numerous outbuildings. (SC, 2 August 1864)

Henderson & Macfarlane as a company was already diversifying away from timber supply. By 1860, it appears they had a mill near the bottom of Drake Street at Freeman’s Bay. They sold stock at this mill by auction in May 1860 (SC, 29 May 1860), including “pollard, bran etc., and the whole collected Mill stuff and feeding material.” 1861, J. G. Soppet leased the “Wyndham-street Corn Mill”. (SC, 22 January 1861), converted to a bone mill by 1865. His advertising always included reference to Henderson & Macfarlane’s stores.

I’ve located an “old mill and shed” located along Dock Street, between Dock Street and present-day Halsey Street, in 1866/67 (Vercoe Map). In 1866, there were two or three jetties, fronting onto Freeman’s Bay pre-reclamation. Somewhere there, “near the end of Drake Street” (now part of Victoria Street) may have been Henderson & Macfarlane’s other mill.

What’s in a name?

According to Flude (pp. 35-36, 2008 edition), Thomas Henderson dropped the name Dundee Saw Mills in 1854 after upgrading the mill, and officially called it Henderson’s Mill. Perhaps – but in July 1862, Henderson advertised for an experienced engineer or millwright for the “Dundee Saw Mills” (SC, 16 July 1862), and the first-known horse races in Henderson were run in January that year as the “Dundee Saw Mill Races.” (SC, 14 January 1862) Flude says the races started earlier, in 1858 (p.43). I can’t find a record to substantiate this.

Update 5 June 2009: I've been gathering together more bits and pieces about the mill and those associated with it over the past few days, and have found that the earliest reference to date (via the Southern Cross and Papers Past) is from a letter published by the Southern Cross (31 March 1857) , dated three days earlier, from John McLeod. His address is given as Dundee Saw Mills.

As an aside … Dr. Pollen’s brickworks and John Thomas’ Star Mill

Flude repeats the incorrect tradition (p. 40, 2008 edition) that Daniel Pollen started his brickworks on the Whau River in 1852. Unfortunately, the real date is later – most likely sometime around 1860, when he employed John Malam as a manager there. See this post.

On p. 66, Flude talks about John Thomas’ Star Mill. As at 1865, according to Flude, the “flour building had already been sold to keep his business going, and later became Garrett Bros. tannery. It burnt down in 1873, and was replaced by a three storey building.”

Well, no – the mill wasn’t sold until 1878, when the mill, and the land it was on, was finally sold to the Garrett Brothers. When the first mill burned in 1873, it was owned by John Thomas’ son John, and Thomas Barraclough. See Terminus.

Will this be the last post on the mill at Henderson? Probably not -- noted Henderson local historian Ben Copedo is reviewing my original post, and has said he'll send some comments through on it. I'm pleased with the information that has come out of this so far, anyway.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More information on the North Island Main Trunk line

I've received some very interesting emails from rail historian Anne StewartBall sparked off by my wee piece on the building of the North Island Main Trunk line, "Riders of Hobby Horses".
"Some additions to your information.

Ferdinand Hochstetter investigated the Drury Coalfield in 1859 and from this visit came dreams over a piece of coal burning in the grate at John Logan Campbell's premises in Shortland Street.

Yes a wooden tramway 4ft. 6 in guage was built for the Waihoihoi Coal Company headed by John Logan Campbell as Chairperson to the water. The design by civil engineer James Stewart. At the opening it was suggested a rail or tramway Drury to Auckland. This was raised by Mr. Buckland at Provincial Council Meeting.

The first surveys for Auckland - Drury Railway were carried out by Samuel Harding C.E. and James Stewart C.E. ( you will see this confirmed in books by Lawn, Furkert, Cyclopaedia Auckland Province, Provincial Council Records, AJHR, and what little Archive NZ records have managed to survive fire, flood and shipwreck.These were confirmed by Mr. Weaver - Provincial Engineer - first section out a major likewise the site of the Auckland Station to be decided. The first sod of the Drury Railway was turned by Mr. Graham in Mr. Dilworth's paddock 0n 16 February 1865. There was great discussion about this being the beginning of a railway all the way to the Cook Strait.Before this there were extensive warnings in the Daily Southern Cross, etc asking people not to pull up the survey pegs.

Yes there were two locomotives ( called this before a track is completed) Suggest you may like to read Vicesimus Lush diaries as there is a rather neat account of the boys enjoying seeing the locomotive in action - new technology for its time.

Harding and Stewart were the Engineers in Charge of Construction. Yes things ground to a halt in 1866 (for a number of reasons including the high cost of compensation wanted by landowners.)

Yes the railway started again under the Vogel ' think big" scheme. Yes Mr. Wrigg was District Engineer and under him was Stewart and Harding ( Resident Engineers ) who carried out a resurvey for Government. Mr. Brogden concurred the route and likewise Mr. Henderson, Brogden's Personal and Head Engineer.In fact these two were to concur so totally that it abbrogated much of the anti in the newspapers.

(If you had done more research you would have seen much from a Mr. Dalton Civil Engineer who really wanted the railway contract and was a bit pipped because Stewart had won the Mangere Bridge Design competition and he got third )

In 1872 Stewart was asked by Government to report on possible routes after Mercer South through to Wellington. In 1872 Stewart was also put in charge as Resident Engineer Public Works Auckland Mercer Railway overseeing the Brogden contract and ordering rails, sleepers, carriages,locomotives, stations, water tanks or towers, etc. In 1874 Stewart was made District Engineer for all railway construction in the Auckland Province. After Brogden completed railway to Mercer the rest of the route was built by Public Works and Militia to Ngaruawahia.

Yes the first sod for the Mercer - Ngaruawahia section was turned at Ngaruawahia. The special thing about that was that on the first sod was placed a Harakeke, Rose, Thistle and Shamrock representing those who were surveying and constructing the line.

Getting the railway to Te Awamutu is also a delightful story and is one of settler lobbying in an interesting turn, so near and yet so far because of a bottomless swamp sucking up the ballast and a wonderful country fair and dinner.

Interesting point for main trunk is that you will see names of other Engineers Beere, Hunter, Goodall, Jackson and not forgetting the contractors Gallagher, Falloon, O'Brien.

There is a wealth of reference out there to add to R.S. Fletcher - just a little scattered across Archives, Museums, Government Departments, etc. If reading the papers then one probably needs to follow the stories right through
or else only part of the story is gained,

I too am like you - a passion for writing railway history - if you would like my two articles on the Drury Railway you would be welcome. They are well referenced because of the scattered information and I have a belief it helps other researchers. Plus I have been in the process of completing my GGF's Biography - the James Stewart I have talked about. The story need to be written on those early Railway Engineers and Surveyors before they become a lost heritage.

Yours sincerely
Anne Stewart Ball"
Anne has also done a number of articles on New Zealand rail history:

Brief Biography Stewart
The beginnings Main Trunk (Waihoihoi, Drury)
Glimpses of Four Generations - their Horizons A Family in Epsom/ Eden( bit about family, Drury Railway, Mercer Railway, Auckland Electric Tramways )
Beginning Glimpses - Thames Waikato Railway
Steel Horizons to Waihi
The Tarawera Eruption 10 June 1886
Research References on Steamers in Auckland Province Coastal Waters- Those early beginnings 1866- 1875
War Horizons ( the story of PS Rangiriri and PS Koheroa)

As written have been donating or depositing copies with relevant places so others can access for information, research,etc eg National Library, MOTAT, Railway Heritage, National Maritime,etc.)

Also, the following research published on Electric Scotland:
Scottish Influence of my Scottish forebears in NZ

JAMES STEWART M.inst.C.E. – Civil Engineer and Surveyor 1832 - 1914

If anyone wishes to contact Anne, send me an email, and I'll forward it on to her. Thanks Anne for letting me publish this on the blog.

Some links from the Auckland City Libraries website

Every so often, Auckland City Libraries send out an email. This time round, it's packed with some interesting links to other parts of their extensive website.

The evolution of books.
"Where have the books come from?

The medieval books in this exhibition are all part of the collections of Auckland City Libraries. They have been among the best-loved treasures of the Library from the beginning of the Library’s history."
Photographs of scenic NZ by Frederick George Radcliffe.

Frequently requested historic maps
(one of my favourite areas on the site).

Real Gold -- treasures from Special Collections

Digitised images relating to the Auckland Harbour Bridge.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emails from Anthony Flude

I've had two emails from Anthony Flude, author of Henderson's Mill, referring to this post, which concluded with:
"Lisa, take some advice from an 80yr old author. You need to verify your facts if you are going to make comments about another author's text,. You are at liberty, of course to put forward your own version ... Please be very careful with your comments in future unless you have POSITIVE PROOF of what you write.

"Lecture over, just watch things and you will have a very interesting publication."
I don't mind criticism, and the input of my peers with regard to local history. I pull information together on this blog from research, available materials, and yes, I do make assessments of others' work from time to time. But, given a fact, I check it against other sources. With local and family histories, I've found that to be a necessity.

One weakness I will say about Henderson's Mill (that is, the 1977 version. I hope that his updated version corrects this) is a lack of source noting. This makes it difficult to use the book as a reference. It is, however, one of the three main references for West Auckland general history (the others are Dick Scott's Fire on the Clay, and J. T. Diamond's Once the Wilderness.) Another is indexing, but not many histories at the time were as fully indexed as would today be expected for historical and genealogical research. I've indexed books myself, including the 2nd edition to Once the Wilderness and the Swanson history Rugged Determination, both done because I was frustrated due to the lack of indexing. It is a time-consuming and detailed process. There is, at least, a simplified but not all-encompassing index to Henderson's Mill.

I'll go through his points.

The John Bull and Thomas Henderson

"You mention that you can find no connection to the JOHN BULL owned by Henderson & Macfarlane.

The vessel was owned by Henderson & Macfarlane in 1854 and funds from a shipment of flour used to purchase land by Thomas Henderson.

The Mill upgrade funds were gained as the result of the sale of the ship and cargo of kauri timber on the Brigantine SPENCER 1849, published later in the NZ Herald at the time of his death."
My source for Flude's inclusion of the John Bull in the story was page 21 of his book, with no mention there of the Spencer. There he discusses Thomas Henderson and "Long" John McLeod, inspecting the area purchased by Henderson covered by the timber diocese in 1848, choosing the land to build the sawmill, gangs of carpenters making their way to the site, and
"a mill was built with the proceeds of a deal that successfully recouped one of the partners' few apparent errors of judgement. They had bought the 72-ton schooner "John Bull" for the Auckland-Sydney run, but were just a few years ahead of their time. There was not enough trade in the fledgling colony to pay the ship's way. John McFarlane sold the "John Bull" in Hobart, accepting flour as payment. The flour sold well in Auckland and the money was put into building the mill."
Perhaps Mr. Flude found additional information since publishing his book first time round that pointed to the John Bull as not being associated with finance for building the mill c.1848-1849, as his earlier chapter did imply. I checked Papers Past and the Australian newspapers online at the time I prepared my original post for reference to John Bull and Henderson, and said, truthfully, I couldn't find the association. That is not saying it didn't exist, only that I couldn't find it at that time. I'll look more closely now.

In Papers Past: In January 1848, the 71 ton schooner John Bull had a Mr. Clinch as master, and W. Coombes as agent. In April, Robinson was master, and D. Nathan was agent. (Some advertisements list her as a brigantine). Then nothing (but OCR isn't 100% reliable, the ship's reference may have been there in intervening years, but just not picked up) until June 1855, when Thomson is master, and Carnegie the agent.

In the Australian papers: I did find a reference, 10 June 1853, in the Argus, where the 71-ton brigantine John Bull was up for sale: "Family matters are the sole cause of the owners parting with her," and the buyers to to approach the owner on board or James Dowdall. December 1854, Ewart and Ginn in Australia owned her.

I won't look any further. Back at my original post I wanted to see, out of interest, if John Bull had any part to play in the story of the building of the sawmill at Henderson in 1848-1849, because of what was written in Henderson's Mill. I couldn't find anything, and said so. I'm glad Mr. Flude has confirmed that (by his email, he's confirmed I wasn't in error), and provided the additional information that the ship may have been part of the story in 1854. I say might, because I still haven't seen the evidence.

At the moment, I can't see anything for a sale of the Spencer in 1849 in the contemporary papers online. All we have to go by, I suppose, is what Mr. Flude says the obituary had included, but in writing about maritime ship ownership and disposals, I find it's best to have a contemporary source.

Lucy Dann, Lucy Dunn and Lucidan

Mr. Flude writes:
"The comments you made on the schooner owned by Thomas Henderson need to be qualified correctly so your readers can understand why the schooner has two names mentioned in the books, Henderson's Mill [2 editions] and Dick Scotts books also.

"If you refer to the documentation at the back of my book, Henderson's Mill, you will see that Thomas Henderson himself referred incorrectly to the schooners name as 'Lucy Dann' in his High Court statement to the land Claim Commissioners, which was then repeated in other Government papers, including his final settlement, whereas the correct name of the schooner was 'LUCIDAN' as we know for sure.

"So this was not an incorrect statement to make mention of both names, the reason explained in the text and the correct name used thereafter through the authors books.

"Your comments on the plight of the ship after it was beached in Thames is interesting also.....conjecture perhaps but a likely outcome if correct."
Some notes in the text of Henderson's Mill might have been helpful here in the first place (see my comment above), but -- on page 104 he reproduced a copy of the 21 December 1857 land claim document made out by Thomas Henderson. "We had a Schooner called the Lucy Dunn which the Natives had repeatedly asked to give them in exchange for land." It looks like "Dunn" to me, not "Dann". Thanks though, Mr. Flude. I had wondered how such a broad error could have crept into your work.

Nothing on Papers Past for either Lucy Dunn or Lucy Dann. You've opened up another mystery, though -- why would Thomas Henderson himself have recalled the ship's name incorrectly? We'll probably never know.

Oh, and I think the Thames beaching came after the incident on the North Shore, not before (no date was provided in Henderson's Mill, p. 17) especially as the term "stripped" was used -- but if Mr. Flude has more information on that, perhaps where he got the information from, that would be helpful.

With source notes to his research work, and perhaps with someone to help index his work more fully as well, Anthony Flude's books will be a useful research tool in time. At the moment, there's a bit of wading through to do in using them. I might quietly index my copies of his work some time, just to make them easier to use.

Update: 29 May 2009

A Tale of Two Mills

I've been looking into the story of the mouth of the Oakley Creek for some years, now. I've already released the product of that research, Terminus and posted it online via Scribd. But the centre of the obsession was the old Star Mills of Waterview.

To the right is a map from LINZ records of the Oakley Creek, drafted as part of the land transaction records to do with John Thomas from 1859. The yellow circle is the site where, I believe, any archaeological remains of the Star Mills are likely to be found. There were two mills, one built c.1859, burned down in 1873, and the second which replaced it, and disappeared from history c.1909.

But these are not the "two mills" of this post's title.

At some point, someone in the Auckland Central Library found a photograph of a mill (below). Perhaps they thought that it looked somewhat like a scene from Oakley Creek. The fact that the Star Mills existed was fairly well-known -- it's been a part of the fabric of our local knowledge since A. H. Walker wrote about it in Rangi-Mata-Rau in the 1960s. They added the following information to it:

"Showing the old mill on the banks of the Oakley Creek at Waterview built by John Thomas around 1859 and burned down in 1873. A second mill, known as Star Mills, was built by Thomas Barraclough and John Thomas Junior. It was converted to a tannery by the Garrett brothers before 1878, and was demolished about 1910." (Photo reference 7-A2820, Special Collections, Auckland City Libraries)

But, it just never looked quite right to me. It was used in a report on the Star Mill by Robin Mason and Peter McCurdy, who naturally went by the caption on the photograph, and subsequently used in displays during talks by Robin Mason to the Avondale Community Board, Friends of Oakley Creek, and West Auckland Historical Society in 2006. WAHS even published it in their newsletter. But -- still, I wasn't convinced that this was Oakley Creek.

Then, in the latest issue of Memories magazine (June/July), I found a familar photograph on page 8, in an article on Captain Ninnis of the Kawau Island copper mines, from the "Muir Collection". It seems, after Kawau, he turned to flax-milling. The caption to that photo, identical to the Special Collections one, reads: "The Flax Mill with the water wheel, built by James Ninnis and Dr. Purchas at the Waitangi Falls, Waiuku, later used as a flour mill."

I was delighted, but cautious. I checked with Special Collections, showing them the two photos, and they found this one (below) in thier Waiuku files:

This (A8084) is captioned: "WAIUKU. Flour mills at Waitangi Falls. From Waiuku Museum."

From there, I went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. They have another version of the above photo, even more of the building cropped out, from the "Botany Division 1971". The focus of the photo wasn't so much the mill building, it was the plants around that stream. Another faded photograph at the museum showed the mill, identical to the Special Collections photo, at Waiuku. 75% sure now that the Special Collections photo had been mis-captioned, I returned to Auckland Library, to hunt for further proof. I found it in B. D. Muir's 1983 book Waiuku and District: The Romantic Years. There, on a page beside a description he's taken from the Weekly News of 1889, was the photograph in Special Collections and the Memories magazine.

So, we are now left with just two photos of the Star Mill, and both (from the NZ Graphic, two different dates) show only the second Star Mill, by then converted to being part of a tannery, possibly housing the tannery's steam engines. (Photo ref: 7-A1683, Special Collections)


Of course, the site of the old mills at Oakley Creek are right in the path of the SH20 motorway, so all this discussion over which photo is which is most likely moot. But at least I know now my gut feeling was correct.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Avondale College reunion

As a past pupil of Avondale College (1977-1981), I'm delighted to see that an organising committee is up and running for a proposed reunion next year. At the moment, they're aiming for the Labour Weekend.

Contact them via their new website, and spread the word, folks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Pioneer Winemaker


A couple of photos of "The Pioneer Winemaker", a sculpture at the corner of Sel Peacock and Alderman Drives in Henderson. The sculptor was Anthony Stone (1995), and it was unveiled on 9 February 1996 by Dame Catherine Tizard, then NZ Governor-General. The names of 32 winemakers and their families who assisted with the work are listed on one of the two bronze plaques at the base. The sculpture is one of my favourites in Auckland.

Henderson's Mill


The Henderson of today in general doesn't thrill me. The shops are okay, and I still call the main mall Henderson Square, although it's been West City for absolutely ages now. But getting out of Henderson, unless you catch the train schedule at the right time, or the buses, can be a real headache without private transport, and you can get easily skittled at some of the road crossings if you don't have eyes in the back of your head. Most of West Auckland, sadly, is far more car-friendly than it is pedestrian-friendly.

That aside -- I like visiting Henderson because of its history, and it has a fair bit of that.

To the left is Thomas Henderson (photo taken from an image framed on the wall of Mill Cottage). He and John Macfarlane built up the Circular Saw Line of trader shipping, and the sawmill at Henderson which lent the small settlement it's first name (among a few others): Henderson's Mill. He started out owning an inn called the Commercial Hotel in the city, with his partner Macfarlane running it, around 1843-1845. On 29 May 1845, four men from the 96th Regiment were arrested for "rioting", attempting to demolish Henderson's hotel, starting by pulling off the shutters to cries of "Go it 96!" and "Knock the house down!" The regiment had apparently undergone much in the way of slander and abuse from Aucklanders after the Kororareka events that year, and now they decided that enough was enough and Henderson's hotel was going to cop it. Two of the men, John Ford and William Gutteridge were found guilty and sentenced to 18 months' hard labour. (New Zealander, 7 June 1845)

So, Henderson turned to ship trading. He had an 18-ton schooner by late 1843 known as the Lucidan (incorrectly called Lucy Dunn by Anthony Flude and Dick Scott in their books, Henderson's Mill and Fire on the Clay respectively) valued at around £350. Ngati Whatua chiefs took a shine to the schooner, and wanted to exchange land they held in West Auckland for her. This they did in 1844. However, the deal kicked off a long, long process of claims and counter-claims between Henderson and the government, lasting right through to the 1870s, but in short he had crown grant title by 1855, and permission to possess the land by around 1847. Which means that the tile sculpture below, with pride-of-place at the Great North Road entrance to Henderson Central, always makes me smile inwardly.


How can a township be "founded" when there was just an unofficial agreement between local Maori and Henderson, for land only half of which he finally was only able to obtain title for, and there was no indication of a mill settlement established here until at the very earliest 1849? It is a nice set of tiles, though. (Perhaps they could have done a bit better with the raised water meter lid, however).

Something I found about the Lucidan, which may explain (if Flude was correct in his 1977 edition) why the ship was beached and stripped at Thames by her Ngati Whatua owners. On 27 October 1847, Joseph Burns, a local boat builder, murdered the Snow family on the North Shore, and made the crime scene look as if it had been a Maori attack. Witnesses pointed out at the coroner's inquest that on the night of the murders they had sighted a schooner close by resembling the Lucidan, the Maoris on board having had a sharp disagreement with Lieutenant Robert Snow two years before before the murder over raupo that Snow had taken from them. This led to an initial belief in Auckland that local Maori were about to attack. However, Burns was later hanged for the crime, once the truth came out.

Anyway ...

Before c.1849, Henderson may simply have used his land purchase as a loading site for kauri timber brought out from the Waitakere foothills. No one knows exactly when the mill was built, but it was certainly in existence by then. Before that date, Henderson could only fill large orders for timber along with other timber merchants at the time -- such as the Wanganui Blockhouse in 1847 and fencible housing. (Southern Cross, 31 July 1847) Flude speculated in his book that it was the sale of another ship, the John Bull, which financed the sawmill at Henderson; I couldn't find a connection between Henderson and that ship, but the Wanganui contract may have been enough to get Henderson going.

Close to the confluence of the Opunuku and Oratia Streams, a dam was built, and Henderson's Mill established, c.1849. Below, is the Opunuku Stream at Sel Peacock Drive.


A replica millhouse and water wheel was built in 1995, to celebrate Henderson's official sesquicentenary. This is operated and administered today by the West Auckland Historical Society. The original millwheel, however, was overshot, not undershot in operation and design.



Here's a short video clip of the mill wheel in operation, in its Opunuku Stream setting. Today, it has to be an undershot wheel, as there isn't a dam anymore (it would have been just a bit further up stream, they say the holes in the stream bed are from the dam). Still impressive to see, though.



The mill was producing large amounts of sawn timber and finished products such as shingles by early 1850, with one shipment I found in January that year being 27,000 feet of timber exported to San Francisco (SC, 15 January 1850), while 11,178 "pieces of sawn timber and 29,000 shingles" went to America two months later. (SC 29 March 1850). If their timber production fell away in the late 1860s, it may have been because vaster sources for wood were being tapped into down in Coromandel (especially by those associated with J. S. Macfarlane). It is believed that the mill was altered, its steam sawmills removed, to process flax for a time; I do know that David Henderson, Thomas Henderson's brother, went in for the flax trade in 1869, backed up by Henderson and Macfarlane, leaving the Whau Hotel behind. Thomas Henderson seemed more involved at that point with flax, flour and kauri gum, and was agent for John Lamb's Waitemata Mills at Riverhead. The mill itself disappeared from the landscape sometime during the 1870s.

Today, all that remains is the archaeology, and Mill Cottage, part of the original mill settlement and now the home for the West Auckland Historical Society. Over the next few weeks, from 30 May, they tell me they're holding a display of some of the findings from the examination of the former mill site.






Interpretative sign at Mill Cottage. Again, not really accurate, but at least it hopefully fosters an interest among locals and others to do some digging themselves into the history of West Auckland.

Update: 27 May 2009.
Further update: 29 May 2009
Comment and correction regarding the mill wheel here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pukeko by the stream


There was an open day today for members of the West Auckland Historical Society. Seeing as it was such a great sunny day, after several days of grey and rain, I'd get on a bus and go see them. On the way, I took photos, with this blog in mind.

Just before you reach the Henderson shopping centre itself from the east, Great North Road crosses over the Oratia Stream. Despite the privet trees growing everywhere, it's a beautiful spot. This is looking south ...


... and this is looking north, towards the Waitemata Harbour.


But, my attention was caught by this pukeko. It was way down and far along the creek, and camera-shy as anything. These four shots were taken over two intervals, during which the bird thought I'd give up if it hid in the long grass. Nope.





These three ducks like the stream as well.


To see wildlife so close to a major suburban shopping centre, and so near to a main arterial route in Auckland, is something quite cool. Things aren't perfect in the Oratia Stream, but -- where there's life, there's hope.

Update: (24 May 2009) I received this email comment from regular contributor Phil Hansen --thanks, Phil!
Although I have heard them described as the "pitbull of birds" I have a real soft spot for the pukeko. Two urban spots I enjoy visiting to see them – and a wide variety of other birdlife – are the Waiatarua Reserve off Abbotts Way in Meadowbank and the Tahuna-Torea reserve near West Tamaki Road on the edge of Glendowie. I recommend both reserves as top one-stop spots for a relaxing combo of recreational history, wildlife-watching, and exercise!

Waiatarua is said on the Auckland City Council website to be New Zealand's biggest urban wetland restoration project, its principal function being a huge stormwater treatment system that removes pollutants from the waterways via a network of drains, weirs, bunds and sediment traps. The site, of about 20ha, was according to the council once part of a freshwater lake, which was denied its source by the lava flows from the Maungarei (Mt Wellington) eruptions some 9000 years ago. Subsequent ponding, silt and volcanic ash helped create the wetlands.

Tahuna-Torea covers 25ha on a long sand bank extending into the Tamaki Estuary. The council website says it is rich in Maori history as well as native birds and vegetation. Tahuna Torea means "gathering place of the oyster-catcher". In pre-European times, it was a good gathering site for the then local tangata whenua, Ngati Paoa. Says the council site: "Their food sources included shellfish, fish and birds. Evidence of their activities includes middens of pipi shells above the beach and the dams constructed at the head of the lagoon to catch fish. It was also an important strategic site being near the mouth of the Tamaki River and the shortest route for canoes to travel between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours". (But I've also heard this claim made of the route now basically followed by the two Portage Roads, one at the Western edge of Auckland City, the other in Otahuhu.) The reserve harbours a wide range of wildlife including godwits that gather between seasonal migrations to the Northern Hemisphere.


Window on Swanson

Found this site while having a look for something else. It hasn't been updated for a couple of years, but the general history, timeline, and info on William Swanson is worth a look.

I'll add a plug for my index to Rugged Determination, the Swanson history book, as well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

25 February 1982 – Opening of Kinder House, Parnell

Kinder House in Parnell, owned by Auckland City Council and administered by the Kinder Society, became the first building in New Zealand devoted to the artistic work of one person when it was opened as a gallery and museum on 25 February 1982. Inside, the works of Rev. Dr. John Kinder are on display and provide examples of the contribution Kinder made to the history of New Zealand art, as well as that made to the history of the Anglican church in this country.

Bishop Augustus Selwyn purchased land in Parnell for the school, and had the house made from Rangitoto stone, designed by Frederick Thatcher. It was built to serve as the Master’s House for the Church of England Grammar School. Kinder arrived in Auckland in 1856 to be the headmaster of the school by 1857, and the house at Ayr Street was to be the Kinder family home for the next 15 years. Five other headmasters of the school followed him as residents of the house. In 1974 the council purchased the house for the purpose of preserving it as a historic building.

Rev. Kinder left the house in 1872 on being appointed as master of theology at St John’s College, Meadowbank, and in later years lived at Arney Road, Remuera. He journeyed over much of the country, both painting and photographing scenes of New Zealand during the 19th century. He died aged 83 at his Remuera home, Woodcroft, in 1903, after a brief illness.

The house today is looked after, as I said earlier, by the Kinder Society, of which I'm very proudly a member. I've come to know some truly wonderful, history-minded people over the past two of three years through attending their meetings and book launches. The house itself is one of Auckland's real treasures. Visit, next time you're in Parnell.

20 December 1929 – Opening of the Civic Theatre


On the night before the gala opening of Auckland’s fourth and last “picture palace”, the new theatre was outlined in a blaze of red lights, a fiery radiance that could be seen all across the city, a promise of spectacles that came to be associated with the Civic.

The Civic Theatre gained its name from the civic square development put forward by Auckland City Council as early as 1925 but unfortunately failed to go ahead at that stage after rejection at a public poll in April that year. The land, bounded by Queen Street, Cook Street, Albert Street and Wellesley Street was to have been a new civic administration centre, to go with the grandeur of the Town Hall already in place. Before that, it was the site of Auckland’s City Market, and was a Market Reserve from 1855. After the poll failure, and with the site already cleared of buildings that had been leased from the Council, new leases were entered into for buildings on the periphery of the old Market Reserve. One of these leases was given to Thomas O’Brien.

O’Brien purchased and operated his first theatre in Dunedin in the early 1920s, after working for the theatre chain company of Fuller-Hayward. In 1925 he became the owner of Everybody’s Theatre in Auckland’s Queen Street and went on to acquire a number of other cinemas in the Auckland area, including the Rialto in Newmarket, the Theatre Royal in Kingsland and the Regent (later the Lido) in Epsom.

There was controversy which reached government levels over the funding for the building of the Civic, but O’Brien still managed to have the opening night on 20 December 1929 as planned, showing the citizens of Auckland the detailed design by Australian architect Charles Bohringer.

However, the timing of the Civic theatre counted against O’Brien. The Depression in the 1930s, along with O’Brien’s choice to screen British rather than American movies contributed to poor attendances. His company collapsed and he returned to Sydney in 1932. The Civic passed to Amalgamated Theatres in 1945.

17 November 1902 – Inauguration of Auckland’s electric tramways


It began, in 1902, with the turning on of a switch. On Monday 17 November 1902 the Mayor of Auckland, Alfred Kidd started the generators at the lower Hobson Street power station, thus inauguration the era of electric traction to Auckland. A short time later, at the junction of Queen and Custom Streets, 85-year-old Sir John Logan Campbell was presented with a motorman’s licence, and drove the first electric tram in Auckland City to the Choral Hall and a luncheon for the guests. The day ended with a ball at “Rocklands” in Epsom.

Auckland had been served by horse trams from 1884 but by 1899 the growing city was ready for the “jazzy electrics”. In that year the British Electric Tramways Company bought the tramway network from the company operating it at the time, registered the Auckland Electric Tramways Company in that year, and from 1900 began construction of the new system, including its own power station in Hobson Street. Bad weather, fire, and even the sinking of the Elingamite off Three Kings Islands (on board were motormen bound for Auckland and the Ponsonby-College Hill run) delayed the inauguration of the service until mid-November 1902. But from the start, it was a success with the public, and the spread of the “steel web” was part of the spread of suburban Auckland in the first half of the 20th century.


The Auckland Electric Tramway Company moved into offices in this Fanshawe Street building, still bearing the "AET" inscription on the facade, c.1908. They were only there four years -- as soon as more land had been reclaimed from the harbour, they shifted closer to the shore, to the corner of Albert and Customs Streets. By the end of the First World War, their enterprise belonged to the city council, and the company had faded completely away -- apart from their enduring mark on a central city building now associated with ships' chandlery rather than the rattling of an innovative public transport system.

1 December 1917 – Introduction of six o’clock closing

Nearly 42 years ago, it was illegal to buy a beer in a pub after six o’clock. If you wanted the beer, you had to get your order in before six o’clock, and drink it all by 6.15pm, when the pub had to close. This started on 1 December 1917, a temporary measure as part of wartime restrictions, but made permanent in 1918. It even prohibited the consumption of liquor after hours in restaurants and “oyster saloons”. It meant the start also of a new phrase for Aucklanders: the “six o’clock swill”

A referendum in 1949 voted for the regulations to continue, with many in the liquor industry ironically not promoting a change. A move back to 10 o’clock closing would have meant huge investment in bar and dining facility upgrades, as well as increased wages costs.

Ten o’clock closing was endorsed by a vote of almost 2 to 1 on 23 September 1967. Brewery managers and hotel operators immediately predicted increases in liquor prices due to longer staff hours and alterations. On Monday 9 October that year, the first day the new regulations came into effect, many hotels locked their doors and turned customers away because staff refused to work past 7 pm until night pay rates had been negotiated. Eventually the new hours were accepted, and the “six o’clock swill” became part of our past.

My mother, to her dying day, said she was proud to have voted in the end of the "swill". This meant that "six o'clock swill" was one of those historic terms I basically cut my teeth on, in a way. That, and knowing the list of the Kings and Queens of England.

The art of peering at tiny history

This post is where I will probably upset those who organise art exhibitions which include historic images. I may never be invited to an opening ever again after these comments.

I turned up early last night at the Corbans Estate Art Centre in Henderson, a very fortunate location for a gallery, considering its still lovely heritage exterior, and the history tied in with the Corban family. Heading West as the sun's going down gives me a sense of homecoming, even though I'm actually travelling away from home (Avondale). With stacks of time to pick up a meal on the go, and to check the last time I could catch a train out of the township before the track closed down and rail buses took over for the night, I made my way up the Great North Road, across the old Coronation Bridge (formally opened by John Bollard of Avondale, then MHR for Eden, although there's scarce mention of that usually) and over the level crossing to the arts centre.

The floors inside, although polished and varnished, still show the trails of the long-gone wood worm on some of the boards (but not others. Did the beasties only get so far in their voracious foraging, were some of the boards replaced, or was some of the restoration more successful on one half of a board than the other? The zones of munched versus unmunched seem to be spit down the length of the board, almost as if one part of the timber was a favoured meal over another). The floors are quite sound, though -- as I sat, quietly watching people move around in Brian Marsom's Great North Road photo exhibition, I heard the loud staccato tap-tap footsteps of one woman in winklepickers as she headed from one room to another.

A pity that there were no captions or titles or some other kind of word addition beside Brian's photos. The layout relied solely on people coming in one door (two rooms, so two doors), heading straight for the large typed-out reproduction of J. C. Loch's 1861 letter, reading it, I would imagine, with some of the place names (Henderson's Hill, should have been Henderson's Mill, Glengary in the Grey Lynn area, should have been Glengarry, and Rewa Creek, should have been Rewa Rewa Creek, in bold for easier reading). Then, blue arrows on the floor, punctuated by large red spots, indicated in which direction the viewer should walk. There were small, very small, numbers beside each one -- under electric light, and with my wonky vision, I had a hard time making them out for most of the journey around the room's walls. The explanation, the captions Brian had worked very hard to research and put together, were in the second room, in a plastic wall holder, in the middle of the journey, not the beginning. I listened to the viewers' comments while I was there -- many were trying to guess just what was photographed, and where the photographs were taken. Many viewed the photographs out of sequence, perhaps not realising there even was a sequence, as the arrows and spots were hard to see (but the children there noticed),

Brian's photographs are quite good, and many are taken from angles which do much to capture an essense of the road and its surroundings. I just think more emphasis should have been given to them in the way they were displayed, and his words highlighted a little more than they were.

Across the foyer, another exhibition that night: "Love and Food, the Family Photographs of Bob Raw". The blurb on the Arts Centre website says:
"Bob Raw was twelve years old in 1942 when he and his family moved to a house on Golf Road, New Lynn. He lived there for most of the next fifty years. He was a keen amateur photographer with an interest in recording the social and family environments around him. Proudly supported by Waitakere Library and Information Services.Part of the Auckland Festival of Photography."
These were family photographs, and part of West Auckland's social history. The gallery exhibition however did not enlarge the Box Brownie photos -- instead, they were displayed in a large sea of white, dead centre so the viewer had to peer at them to try to make out the details. To be sure, the purpose of the exhibition was to portray the photographs artistically rather than as a view on the past, perhaps -- but that view would have been enhanced if enlargements of the photos were perhaps alongside the originals. That, to me, would have brought out the wonder of seeing images from 50-60 years ago, out of suburban Auckland. Again, no captions, just the explanatory sheets of paper in a holder at the door. But, I had to remind myself as I left the room, disappointed, this is an art gallery, not a heritage museum. I tend to be an explorer though, not just a viewer.

Saying my farewells to Brian, I headed home again. The walk to the station, catching the evening train, and then walk home at the end was just 50 minutes, if that. Not bad for a public transport system in Auckland.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Early Chinese immigrants to Auckland

Ching Man WU, in her bibliography 19th & 20th century history of Chinese settlement in Auckland : a selective annotated bibliography of resources : submitted to the School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Library and Information Studies (2007) included a mention of me on her acknowledgments page:
“Grateful acknowledgement must also be made to Ms. Lisa Truttman, who had shown me some of the relevant resources generally not known to the public.”
I knew her only as Cynthia, so – thanks, Cynthia, if ever you read this. Very, very cool being mentioned in your work, which is such a benefit to future researchers into the history of the Chinese here in Auckland.

She found some information (I’m not sure where) that a group of 12 Chinese arrived in Auckland in 1866 as market gardeners (page 8). However, I’ve been able to push that date back a bit, looking up Papers Past.

By late October 1865, a Chinese man named John Joss was already in Auckland, as were three fellow country-men, known in the papers only as O Chow, Comin, and Towniu. Joss claimed in court on 25 October that the three had knocked him down and beaten him with a stick. The case proved problematic, however, for the simple reason that there were no other Chinese dialect speakers around in Auckland at that time. The lack of interpreters meant that the Police Court had to abandon the case three times, despite Joss’ protests. The only other information available is that the three men who allegedly attacked Joss worked for a brewer named Mr. Kirkwood. (Southern Cross, 26, 28 and 30 October 1865)

The early Chinese in Auckland, though, were virtually invisible to the media’s eye. In late November 1866, Ex Ting had a coat stolen by one Robert Johnston (who was later apprehended by Detective Ternahan). No further information on that case, however. (Southern Cross, 1 December 1866) Only when one got into trouble – or, in the following instance, nearly lynched – is there recognition of their existence.

“We regret to learn that a shack, the property of the Hon. Colonel [Stephen Ponsonby] Peacocke, at Howick, was burned on Monday night, or rather after midnight on yesterday morning, by an incendiary — a vagrant Chinaman — who was previously unknown m the neighbourhood. The vagabond was taken into custody in the act — literally flagrante delicto. Most fortunately a neighbour was out of bed to a later hour than usual, and about one o'clock, seeing the glare of the names, he rushed out, and, having given the alarm, he was the means of preventing the fire spreading to the neighbouring houses, in which were cattle and horses. The people took the incendiary into safe keeping for the purpose of his being handed over to the police. The damage is estimated at £50 or £60, and the property was uninsured. The people who caught the incendiary were naturally very indignant, and were half inclined to let him have in a personal and feeling manner, some benefit of his own handiwork.”
(Southern Cross, 26 May 1869)

The tour in 1870 by Chang Woo Gow , the Chinese Giant, did raise public awareness in a way – though possibly just in surprise that “John Chinaman” could grow that tall.
“The great specialty in the amusement line at the present time is the public exhibition .of the truly great Chinaman Chang Woo Gow, and his little wife Kin Foo. It is almost invariably a rule that a tall man selects a small woman for his wife, and a small man a tall muscular woman, but never have we seen a disparity as between the above two. Kin Foo is under the ordinary size of women, and Chang towers up to eight feet, and is stout-built in proportion. From three to five o'clock he was, in the City Hall, when a great many people visited him, and chatted with him and his wife. He was dressed in the embroidered robe of a mandarin. In the evening he was in the Prince of Wales Theatre, and those who compared their heights with him looked like pigmies beside him.”
(Southern Cross, 26 October 1870)

Finally, a court case where the race of the defendant (Chinese), was entirely incidental to the fact that his lawyer was making a legal point during the trial.
“A curious question cropped up at the Police Court, when the Chinaman, [James] Ah Foo, was charged with attempting to defraud H M Customs. He was about to step into the dock, when his solicitor, Mr. Joy, L.L.B , called him back and told him to place himself at the bar. A discussion then took place between Mr. Barstow and Mr. Joy as to whether the dock was the proper place for Ah Foo or not. His Worship said that the dock was for prisoners, and the bar for defendants only. What constituted a prisoner was being arrested by warrant. Ah Foo had been arrested by warrant, and had therefore been placed in the dock when first brought before the Court. Mr. Joy argued that as Ah Foo was only liable to a fine or imprisonment, and had been released on bail, it was not right to put him in the dock. His Worship said that Ah Foo in surrendering to his bail had surrendered himself again into the custody of the police. His Worship, however, did not insist on the point, and Ah Foo consequently remained at the bar.”
Despite all the legal posturing, Ah Foo was found guilty of evading customs duty on 1½ lbs of cigars, fined £11 5s, and ordered to be imprisoned until the fine was paid. (Southern Cross, 25 November 1876)

Off the Rails

Today, for a while, I was without my CPU. Such things as the ol' computer developing a bit of a tizz and going haywire happens, I know -- but I really don't like being without the Black Beast, as I affectionately call my good ol' workhorse which hums away beside me as I type more guff into its storage areas.

Feeling definitely at a loose end -- I turned to my (still quite small) DVD collection, and Off the Rails.

Result: I could bliss out watching Marcus Lush travel through our railway heritage, both the stuff I haven't seen (yet) and the stuff I have, the time passed until it was time to call the repair shop, and now the CPU is back where it should be. (Lots of dust clogging the fans was the diagnosis, by the way).

If you're a railfan, rail enthusiast, or simply like seeing NZ sights and scenery and characters, buy the DVD. Made in 2005, it's still a gem.