Thursday, October 30, 2008

Avondale Letters 3

The 1912 Avondale Roads Debacle, continued.


(To the Editor, Auckland Star. Published 13 August 1912)

Sir, -- It was indeed refreshing to read in your issue of Friday night's "Star" a thrilling and true account of "A Visitor's" experience of trying to get through the district of Avondale without the assistance of a flying machine. And as roads are a favourite topic, it may be interesting to briefly describe how the Avondale Road Board make their roads ...

Blockhouse Bay is 2½ miles south of Avondale station, and at this point operations were commenced by taking up the old metal, and removing it to (perhaps the Board knows where?). Ploughs and scoops were got to work; hills and gullies were left to match other roads in the district. Scoria boulders were deposited along the route, and men with axes were splitting these as thin as possible and laying them flat in order to cover a greater surface. What a foundation! Then mud and metal scattered over thinly, and made to go as far as possible. And, would you and your readers really believe it! -- the Board commanded 6 inches of sticky clay to be put over the metal to cover up all defects, and make it that neither horses, vehicles, nor pedestrians could pass over their new roads without walking on stilts of clay and metal mixture.

A cutting at Burton's Hill has produced half-a-mile of mud, through which tradesmen's vehicles, residents, and school children were expected to travel. Strong protests have at last resulted in half-a-mile of 9in. x 3in. planks being placed on top of this huge treacherous bog. On these the public are expected to walk, and in the dark this is a feat requiring great skill.

For eleven months the people of Avondale South have struggled knee-deep in mud, and have patiently endured all kinds of discomfort, such as deep ditches, loads of metal and scoria, pipes etc., and yet never a light to shine on these dangers (which is contrary to law). This is the present condition of Manukau Road, the main outlet to Blockhouse Bay.

So the Board decided to open another outlet, namely Taylor Street (the residents foolishly finding half the money). This was ploughed up and graded. Not one ounce of metal or scoria was put on, and the result is that now it is disgustingly filthy and impassable.

Now we come to the last and worst of the outlets of this marine suburb, namely White Swan Road. [Note: in 1912, this included present-day Donovan St. It is the latter where the debacle occurred.] The condition of this bog was so ably described by "A Visitor" ...

During the past month two horses had to be shot, having broken their legs on these roads, another pony has been crippled, vehicles and harness smashed, and wagons, carts, motor cars, etc., are constantly being buried in these "bogs". The contractor and men working on these roads are not to blame, as they have been acting under instructions received from a Board. I am, etc.,

Blockhouse Bay.

There ensued a series of sniping letters between Pendlebury and D. Campbell in the press for much of the rest of the month. The debacle eventually fizzled out when everyone got tired of talking about muddy roads for a while.

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