Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A memorial brickyard gatepost in New Lynn

New Lynn has another memorial to its brickmaking and ceramics heritage. I was invited  oday by Trevor Pollard, President of West Auckland Historical Society, to head on down to the corner of Rankin and Clark Streets for a bit of an event.

Around 2006, Trevor spotted an old post sticking out of the ground at the corner of the site which was once NZ Brick, Tile & Pottery Ltd (Albert Crum, manager), then Amalgamated Brick & Pipe and later Crown Lynn potteries. He rescued it from construction oblivion early last year, and started to campaign for Waitakere City Council to resite the post with an appropriate interpretive sign.

Well, he won. This is him, sweeping the newly-laid concrete square around the post clear of soil for the occasion.

Trevor chatting to Whau Local Board Chairman Derek Battersby about the post.

Today, Trevor was only able to affix a temporary version of the sign to the plinth. The concrete still needs to cure, then a permanent version will be fastened on. The capping, by the way, is Trevor's own voluntary work, in his other role in life as a master plumber.

Auckland Councillor Sandra Coney joined Board Chairman Battersby and Trevor for the photographs.

A bit of the story of the site, as far as I've been able to piece together.

In the 1880s, this was a farm occupied by a chap named Foley. At some point, before August 1905, it came to be owned by a new firm called NZ Brick, Tile & Pottery Co. It would appear that this was a partnership between two Ashburton businessmen -- Hugh Friedlander, formerly owner of the Kolmar Brickworks in Ashburton down to 1895 (named after the Friedlander's home town in Prussia, now part of Poland), and Welsh-born Albert Crum (1863-1951) who, with his father John, took over the Kolmar works, and named it Ashburton Brickworks. Both Friedlander and Crum served on the territorial authorities down that way, and they also served as co-directors on the boards of such enterprises as the Ake Ake Chainless Bicycle Company.

In 1905, having just the year before succeeded at a local election, Albert Crum announced to Ashburton that he was leaving for Auckland, and a job managing a brickworks at New Lynn for an influential company, of which, we now know, he was managing director. Friendlander remained behind, the silent partner perhaps, reaping the benefits of the investment while running the family stores. Even the contract for the New Lynn works boilersb went to an Ashburton firm.

Come World War I, things became tougher. Friendlander suffered through the wave of anti-German feeling, which probably contributed to the liquidation of his Ashburton business in 1919. The war also hampered brick production -- only Gardners, across Rankin Ave from the Crum works, was still producing bricks diring the period.

In 1925 the original NZ Brick, Tile & Pottery Company, registered in Christchurch, liquidated, in favour of a company of the same name registered at Auckland -- and this, in 1929, became Amalgamated Brick & Pipe. Albert Crum was a director right the way through the transition.


  1. When I was a 'sweet young thing' - early 80s- I visited Crete as part of my big OE. On a guided walk in a more mountainous /hilly region, I was taken to a cave. And the guide said that the locals had looked after a NZ soldier who ended up there. I think he had a broken leg, and from memory they hid him up in the cave. The soldier had some connection with what became Crown Lynn pottery, maintained contact with his rescuers after the war, and was well remembered by the locals in this area of Crete.

  2. Cheers for that, Kiwi Nomad. Memories pop up wherever one looks. Good to hear about the New Lynn connection!