Friday, September 10, 2010

Avondale RSA Memorial Garden

I finally got a chance the other day to photograph the Avondale Primary School World War I memorial plaque, in its new home at the Avondale RSA Memorial Garden. I was a bit concerned, however, to see that the marble plaque has been broken over time.

I'm fairly sure that during its period of residing in the old window of the shop which was redeveloped to be part of the RSA's complex, that the plaque was not cracked. I'm certain when I saw it first installed in its new home, that it was still intact. If I find another photo fromm earlier to compare, I'll post it up. Possibly heat and sun caused the damage. The plaque was probably not meant to be displayed behind glass out in the open.

Below, I've reproduced my earlier post on the plaque, from 25 April 2009.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of when the soldiers returned from World War I.


The returned soldiers of Avondale township received a heart welcome home at the local town hall on Friday evening, the function being arranged by the Avondale Women’s Patriotic League. Dancing was indulged in until midnight. During intervals Miss Merson and Mr. Spencer contributed vocal solos, and Mr. McDermott recited, all items being highly appreciated.

Mr. C. J. Parr, M.P., was present, and on behalf of the ladies warmly welcomed the soldiers home again after their strenuous work in the battlefields.

Mr. H. Walker briefly responded on behalf of the guests, expressing their thanks for the way the ladies had looked after them while they were away.


A representative gathering of Avondale citizens assembled at the public school on Saturday afternoon to witness the unveiling of a memorial tablet in honour of the 33 old scholars of the school who had made the supreme sacrifice in the war. Among those present were Mrs. Bollard, sen., who had taken take in various school functions for a period of upwards of 50 years in conjunction with her husband, the late Mr. John Bollard; and Mr. J. L. Scott, who a quarter of a century ago was headmaster of the school.

Mr. H. A. V. Bollard, chairman of the School Committee, who presided, expressed the deep sense of gratitude which the townspeople felt to the donor of the tablet, Mr. James Binsted. Other speakers were Messrs. R. B. Nesbitt, chair of the Avondale Road Board, J. L. Scott, J. A. Darrow, headmaster of the school, and H. W. King, a member of the Education Board.

Mrs. Binsted performed the unveiling ceremony while the children sang “Abide With Me.”

The tablet, a slab of marble, suitable mounted on polished rimu, has been erected at the entrance to the main porch, alongside the brass memorial to the late Mr. Bollard.

(NZ Herald, 22 December 1919)

I went to Avondale Primary School, 1968-1974. During the demolition of the old school buildings, the marble plaque was removed, and reappeared in a window display in the old dairy on Layard Street, part of the RSA complex by that stage. It was there for two decades before the RSA had their own redevelopment, the recessed doorway and window from the old dairy (where the school children of years long gone by used to get their penny ices on the way home) were removed and replaced with blank wall, and the plaque found a new home outside, beside the artillery piece which forms the RSA's memorial gardens, still on Layard Street. It can be seen there to this day, but loses some of its context outside of the school buildings. It forms the only World War I memorial to the fallen in Avondale.

Below, more images of the memorial garden.

Above, a memorial to James Herbert Gwynne. He wasn't an Avondale man, but a dairy farmer from Mt Albert, son of George and Helen Gwynne of Highland Road, according to Cenotaph.  I wonder why his stone was included on the wall. He died on the Somme, 4 April 1918.

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