Sunday, November 30, 2008

The lady with the cigarette

This photo was found by a member of the community dumped on the footpath in the rain about four or five years ago, when the house by the railway line in St Jude Street was being cleared just prior to demolition. It was given to me and the historical society -- but we still have no idea what, if any, significance this photo has with the former "Dingle Dell."

More about the site where this came from here.

The George Hemus scandal -- 1884

My friend Margaret Edgcumbe has helped me once again with some side information on a personality associated with Avondale’s past: George Hemus. She has pointed out to me that Mr. Hemus, bootmaker from Upper Queen Street, was not only an evangelical lecture of some note, but he was involved in a scandal which involved international travel, another woman, divorce and rumours aplenty. After which, he appears to have vanished without trace. I have done some further digging in Papers Past, at Margaret’s suggestion.

The Hemus family from Birmingham, England, led by father Soloman (a Gospel Temperance preacher in the 1870s), may have arrived in Auckland in August 1864 on the Ironside. Charles and Henry Hemus were noted as bootmakers by August 1867, while George married Frances Harwood Keane in September the following year. By October 1873, he was establishing himself in a three storey boot factory, warehouse and offices, designed by the architect Herapath, and standing just up from where the Town Hall is today on Queen Street. In 1880, he was Auckland City councillor for one year, defeating (for the Good Templars) John Grey (the publicans’ favourite).

He was also superintendent of the United Free Methodist Sunday School in Pitt Street, and an “indefatigable” evangelistic preacher, known for spreading the word to the rest of the Auckland Province, and in one instance at least even to a Maori audience through an interpreter. He had associations with John Buchanan of Avondale, at least with regard to business and the establishment of the Bell & Gemmell tannery – but he was also connected with the Good Templars Excelsior Lodge at the Whau.

And then, Mrs. Margaret Hampson arrived in Auckland. Hemus was apparently inspired, “fired by her influence and example” according to one report. Mrs. Hampson seems to have been every bit as indefatigable as Hemus, preaching on both sides of the Tasman. Prior to August 1884, Hemus decided to sell his business (despite protests from Mrs. Hemus), and shift himself and his family to America. There, however, he appears to have abandoned his family. Mrs. Hemus sued for divorce on the grounds of neglect, was awarded £200 damages and maintenance from Hemus for his four children, and set up in a boarding house in San Francisco. Rumours back in New Zealand were flying, many sure that Hemus did not contest the divorce, in fact welcoming it, because he intended marrying Mrs. Hampson.

Nothing more, at this stage, is known of George Hemus, his wife Frances, or whether he did indeed marry the inspiring Mrs. Hampson.

1 December: An update here.

Awesome Blog Award

My friend at the Mad Bush Farm Crew has seen fit to present this award to the Timespanner blog. (This one I can't turn down -- "an offer I can't refuse, Giovanni!" -- because unlike a lot of other Blogger awards going around, my friend has geared it so that it doesn't have to go in turn to an oddle of other blogs in turn in order to be accepted. Which is good, 'cause I don't know a whole lot of other blogs. Mainly those of my dear friend at Mad Bush.

So thank you -- I do heartily and gratefully accept this award. Soon as I can come up with something historic like, I'll return the favour. But this one is really beautiful.

Avondale's Hindu Temple

This has to be the most sumptuous building ever in Avondale, past or present: the Shri Swaminarayan Manoir & Cultural Complex at Lansford Crescent. It is a Hindu temple, connected with the Swamianarayan sect. These photos don't do the building justice, it is simply stunning. I remember there was a big of kick-up and fuss from neighbours whwn it was being built -- but it is in the light-industrial zone at Lansford.

Close-up of the wreck by the Kaipara

Photo taken April 2008. Information, or ideas, welcome.

Helensville ruins

History isn't just the pretty and the picturesque, the careful restorations we all admire. History is also ruins -- such as these. During the 2008 conference, we were guided around on a heritage walk which included the success stories of Helensville's heritage, and quite rightly so. But, between a lecture (at which, I have to admit, I fell asleep, due to tiredness rather than boredom) and a lunch, I decided to get the clouds out of my head by breaking away from the group for a bit and walking up the road and over the railway bridge toward Commercial Road. And took photos of the remains of the dairy co-op building.

If anyone would care to share some history of the building which i can put up here, I'd appreciate it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Helensville, April 2008

A sample of more photos from the April 2008 NZ Federation of Historical Societies conference weekend.

A seat in Silverdale Museum

Photo taken during the 2008 national conference for the NZ Federation of Historical Societies in April. This is the kind of seat I'd have in my backyard.

Wade Hotel, Silverdale

Another for my list of "I'd like to know more." Buck Shelford apparently owned this at one time, according to some of the 'Net pages tonight -- but what's the history behind the Wade Hotel? The centre part of the building looks almost late Victorian-early Edwardian. Is it?

Sorry for the less than wonderful photo quality -- I was being safe and taking an optical/digital zoom shot from the other side of the highway today.

Silverdale Hall

When I can, I'll ask the team at the Silverdale & Districts Historical Society more about this building. Seems in late March 1896, the Wade Agricultural Hall burned down, according to the Hawera & Normanby Star of 23 March. Looks like it was rebuilt -- but in April 1899, it was nearly destroyed again.
Auckland, 11th April --An attempt to burn down the Agricultural Hall at the Wade, an agricultural district on the east coast, 24 miles north of the city, was frustrated on Wednesday night. A fire was discovered in the back part of the hall. The burning material proved to be straw saturated with kerosene. The floor of the platform and part of the walls inside had been similarly treated. The fire was extinguished.
(Evening Post, 12 April)

I popped inside today to have a look at the arts & craft fair happening there. Lovely interior -- a real rural meeting place.

History in modern distortion

So, there I am, Saturday morning, waiting on Albert Street at 8.30 am, trying to avoid getting my legs and feet caught under the brushes of the street sweeping machine which came along just as I was waiting for the Silverdale bus -- when I noticed this:

The reflections of the old building distorted by the panes of modern mirror glass quite took my fancy.

And here's the building -- the Shakespeare Hotel, corner Wyndham and Albert Streets in the city.

Memorial Park, Avondale

The small park at the corner of St Georges and Great North Roads was gifted by the Avondale Presbyterian Church to Auckland City Council as a war memorial area in 1948. A memorial was raised in honour of those in the district who gave their lives in both World Wars. Each Anzac Day, the annual service is now held there.

In addition to the long stone (which, unfortunately, has no names) are four plaques produced on various anniversaries to do with the Boer War through to World War II.

The Boer War one is interesting. Memorials to the Boer War are far fewer than to World Wars I & II, but it was still our first real conflict which gave rise to memorials.

More information here.

Painting heritage buildings

Exhibit A: Avondale's Hollywood Cinema. A recent repaint of the front and northern side has made this building look stunning. The cinema is scheduled on the Auckland City District Plan at the moment.

Exhibit B: Page's Store building, 1903. It isn't scheduled with Council nor registered by NZ Historic Places Trust. Avondale's oldest shopping block, it was built by the same Arthur W Page who had the more famous Kingsland store of the same name (but ours is older).

The latest in a long series of tenants in the northern-most part of the block (once the location of Des Ferry Panelbeaters) is a meals outlet. I understand the right of the business to have the colour branding of their choice, but -- bright green? It is somewhat of a pity, I feel. The Avondale Business Association put quite a bit into organising a heritage paint scheme earlier this decade. The Pages Building was one of their success showcases. Here's the building from the late 1980s.

Mind you, I could just be sounding like the old fuddy duddy I am becoming as the years progress.

Tea in a Pill

I found an old tin at the Avondale Sunday Market on March 9 this year. It was cheap enough, and fascinated both myself and the seller. I did tell her I was with the Avondale Waterview Historical Society, and that I’d look up on the Internet just what was the story behind this unusual wee tin. Here it is ...

What does a cuppa tea have to do with newspapers today such as the Sunday News or NZ Truth? A word which was once a brand name invented by a 19th century English pharmaceutical company named Burroughs Wellcome & Co — “tabloid”. Able to mechanise drug production by the 1880s, a process which has led to the tablets and capsules we also have today in our prescriptions or simply bought at the supermarket, Henry Wellcombe invented the brand name “Tabloid” for the company’s compressed pills.

The company produced “Tabloid” first aid kits, “Tabloid” photographic developer chemicals — and “Tabloid” tea, a cuppa in a pill. As the website for Wellcome’s archives says: “One can imagine the advertising for such a product: no matter where you were in the British Empire, no matter how inhospitable the climate, with the help of Burrough Wellcome & Co, a taste of Britain could be guaranteed.” The tin I bought may be as old as 1900.

However, the “tabloids” did not sell well. Instant tea had yet to find a niche in the pantries of Britain and elsewhere in the Empire. The brand name, however, now applied to a condensed form of the news of the day rather than a tablet to be dropped in a cup of hot water, has survived.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Work beginning on the Aotea Square revamp

As I was in the city today, took the opportunity of a couple of shots of the construction work underway. The Greys Ave entrance to the Civic carpark is closed, and work is well underway to make Aotea Square in the heart of the city look something like this.

The waters of Te Wai Horotiu once created a swamp there, before it was drained in the late 1860s and a markets building constructed. That in turn was torn down in the 1920s, as were many of the surrounding buildings, leaving the Town Hall to preside over an open-air carpark until the Civic Centre project got underway in the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the Mayoral Drive in the 1970s.

Work was needed here after leaks were found in the underground carpark. Te Wai Horotiu, it seems, is not quite tamed yet.

Advertisements 1911-1912 (3)

Next time I get bronchitis or a cold, I'll bet I won't see an armoured knight striding across, trampling the little men labelled with maladies such as those, as well as "sore throat", "asthma", "coughs" and even "consumption". This ad is as much marketing the product, as it is also a product of its time.

I like this ad because it is wonderfully drawn, and tasteful with regard to what it's selling -- the services of monumental masons, mainly in the business of headstones and memorial statuary.

How do you replace the old copper system of heating water? With a new copper system of heating water. This one involved stoking up the fires in one tank to heat the water for another tank. In another two to three decades, electricity would start to replace these systems.

An advertisement for buggies, from a "carriage and motor car factory". One foot in the past, the other in the future ...

This is here because it is awful. This could be enough to give someone nightmares. The artist was trying to convey the discomfort of realising your poor choice of laundry soap has shrunk your clothes. Instead, the poor victim looks like someone with a malnourishment disorder. I don't think this one was around for too long. At least, I hope not.

Advertisements 1911-1912 (2)

J. Wiseman & Sons started out as saddlers -- by 1911, they apparently diversified. I just like this ad for the Edwardian feel of what the man and woman are wearing. I do wonder how she's staying in the hammock without having a nasty tumble.

Curicura Medicinal Toilet Soap -- still going strong after all these years (in their case, since 1865). The ad is American in origin, reprinted without alteration, and showing a price on the box of 25 cents. The manufacturers used lots of cute baby art to sell their product here.

This ad is here mainly because of the name, "Wahoo".

I'd say this was an ad from the Australian market for the American Winchester brand of rifle and pistol cartridges, what do you think?

Mosgiel rugs were rightly famous here, in Australia and over in the US even at the beginning of last century. " THE PRIMACY OF THE MOSGIEL RUG is acknowledged the world over; The Perfection of its Quality, the Luxurious Richness of its Finish, the Artistic Character of its Designs, and its Durability make the "MOSGIEL" Rug the typical product of this young Dominion. Tourists can purchase genuine "MOSGIEL" at the leading Drapers and Outfitters," according to an ad in the NZ Tablet in 1908.

This ad, though, just looks attractive to me, and part of its time.