Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bell & Gemmell tannery update

An Update from here.

Last night, on a late-at-night trawl through my records on the Parish of Titirangi, I came across an entry for a lease in June 1879 concerning the 77 acre Allotment 86 (today, this is the site of Kelvinside, Arran, Stedman and Alanbrooke Streets off St Georges Road) between John Buchanan the owner and "Bell & Other" (DI A2.267, source of lower image, LINZ)

Today, a bit of nosing around led me to find Allotment 101 of the Parish of Titirangi, next to Allotment 86, but fronting onto today's Wolverton Street (image at top, from NA8/67, LINZ records). This belonged to John Buchanan as well, and in October 1879 he leased the 6 acres there to Henry James Bell and Robert Gemmell. While I doubt I'll ever find out for certain exactly what happened to the lease over Allotment 86 (except that it was probably called in by 1884 when Buchanan was selling his land, and definitely by 1889 when he went bankrupt), the one for Allotment 101 is documented on a certificate of title.

Bell & Gemmell transferred their lease to Bell and George Hemus in September 1881. Hemus was an Auckland bootmaker -- a close association with a tannery for business. In turn, Bell & Hemus' lease was transferred in October 1882 to the "Riversdale Manufacturing Company Limited." I strongly suspect John Buchanan was a leading light behind this company. In November 1883, he transferred his freehold title over Allotment 101 to that company. Back up at Allotment 86, with his sale only semi-successful and entering bankruptcy, the official assignee transferred the title from that property also to the Riversdale Manufacturing Company in 1889, but it was assigned back to Buchanan in 1891.

For Allotment 101, the official assignee also transferred it to the Company in 1889. I suspect (a lot of suspicions, I know, but I hope to nut this all out eventually), that the Company comprised the following: Jonathan Elkin of Auckland, gentleman; Charles Colville Fleming from Onehunga, merchant; Margaret Russell Smellie Buchanan, John's wife; and John Macky Alexander, an Auckland solicitor. While Buchanan himself went bankrupt, the Company didn't. It conveyed land at Allotment 86 as late as 1903, though its file in Archives New Zealand only appears to cover from 1881-1884.

Henry James Bell purchased 3 acres of Allotment 101 outright by 1893 (the half closest to the railway, just across the Whau Creek tributary from the site of the Maori carving in my profile photo, by the way), but sold it to a Mangere farmer in 1895, who then sold it to Mrs. Gertrude Stone (see below).

Margaret Buchanan transferred her interest in the Company to Herman Brown and John McKail Geddes in 1893 (the Buchanans had moved to Paeroa in 1891), and by 1898 Allotment 101 had been joined to the lower part of Allotment 86 (between the railway line and Wolverton Street/St Georges Road). From then it was owned by a widow named Gertrude Eliza Stone; Ernest Arthur Stone, an Avondale farmer (from 1906); Ralph Montgomery, a Waikino Hotelkeeper (from 1908); Joseph Ruddock Simpson of Avondale (from 1909); and many more.

By the 1950s, the land was owned by a family named Taylor, who sold part to Universal Builders Limited in 1961. By 1962, Amsterdam Place had been dedicated and formed, and the subdivisions fronting the new cul-de-sac came into existence.


  1. heya :)
    came across this 1885 entry while doing a search, mentions bell's tannery

  2. Hi Jen,

    Many thanks. More on that incident in my post from October 2008 on the Exler potteries. Cheers!