Thursday, October 9, 2008

History of "Banwell" (part 3)

Above: Grey & Menzies company picnic at "Banwell", Avondale, turn of the 20th century. Photo from Avondale-Waterview Historical Society collection.

James Palmer took out a series of mortgages on the property from 1867 through to 1879 – from a Mr Russell for 2 months in 1867, Mr Lyell in 1868 (perhaps to build the second hotel?), from Mr Greenway in 1873 (perhaps to build the third hotel?), and finally from John Grey and Mr Campbell in 1878. By the time John Grey (of John Grey & Sons, “aerated water manufacturers”) bought the northern sections from Palmer in 1879, the house on the sections was described as “mature”, even if only four rooms.

Perhaps, the sale of the northern sections of Allotment 85 to the Grey family, later creating “Banwell”, came about as part of a mortgagee sale.

(It would appear likely that the four-roomed house appeared sometime between 1849 and 1879. J Comrie could well have started it, and James Palmer added slightly to it, until the Grey family extended it further in the early 2oth century.)

From this point on, James Palmer was involved with either selling off his property in the Whau district (1882, selling the southern end of Allotment 85 to William Hunt, who created a brickworks there – now Lansford Crescent industrial estate), or giving it away (1884, donated land to the Anglican Church in order that the church could build St Judes). By 1887, he was in financial trouble, unable to pay the local Roads Board rates on his property, and having to be helped out by a friend and offered a discount for his previous community donations of land. He died, in 1893, while the Great Slump of the late 19th century was still rolling on (1886-1897).

John Grey apparently arrived in Auckland relatively late, in 1869. He founded John Grey & Sons, operating from Eden Crescent from 1874, which later became Grey & Menzies in 1902 until close down in 1964.

John Grey died in 1898, leaving his estate to his son Charles who went on to run Grey & Menzies, become a Mayor of Auckland, and passed away in 1925. His widow Fanny lived at Banwell for many years, until the late 1950s. According to Ron Oates in Challenge of the Whau, it was Charles Grey who named the estate “Banwell”.

In 1960, the four sections were subdivided into residential lots, and Acton Place was formed.


  1. I live in Banwell, Somerset, England and maintain a website on the history of Banwell - I wonder whether Charles Grey had any connection with our Banwell?
    Barry Mather

  2. I don't know. The only way to find out would be to look up Grey family history.