Sunday, November 30, 2008

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.


  1. Yo Ice. It's so Sad to see the old Kaipara Co-operative Diary Co in such a dreadful state
    The top photo is where the reception area used to be along with a fantastic 1950's curved glass exterior which was smashed by vandals

    The Dairy Company was quite successful during its heydays. At one point during the late seventies and early eighties the Dairy Company ventured into the Margarine building an edible oils factory which is adjacent to the building. River Valley Margarine was the brand the KDC marketed and for a while it did quite well. Then disaster struck with the change of economic situation and the edible oils factory was closed down sometime around 1984 or 85 perhaps earlier I would again need to check with Roi since he used to work for the KDC. The KDC also owned the local small supermarket and sold farm supply goods as well. That is now the RD1 shop. The KDC also had a large workshop and maintenance area sited across the other side of Mill Rd. Fred Day of Helensville Timber bought part of the site and revamped the entire building into Helensville ITM around 2001 or so. I'm not quite exact on the date there. From there Fred and Anne day sold out to Mitre 10 which is now on the current site. Kelvin Paton of Steelpac Buildings purchased the rest of the workshop site sometime during the late 1980's and operated from the large steel warehouse building until around 2002. It was then sold I think to Stokes Transport or Dave Swale Contractors. I would again need to ask the people directly.

    The Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company was closed completely around 1987 and taken over by NZ Dairy. The buildings now surplus were sold to Martec Industries who attempted to run a fruit juicing operation there and failed on two occasions. Finally the company was put into liquidation as I recall in 1989 and the machinery within the KDC completely stripped out and sold off. The building was again sold and has had a number of owners since. It has been at one stage leased by Helensville Railway Trust then run by Arnold Gosling. Sadly Arnold passed away some years ago. Arnold fought for the preservation of the Helensville Railway Station and thanks to his perseverance it still remains alongside the railway tracks.

    The KDC Supply store became Anchormart on one side and the grocery business was sold as a separate going concern. Eventually with the opening of the Woolworth supermarket the Fou Square store could no longer complete. The last owners sold the lease to RD1 (owned by Fonterra) which has operated since.

    One last thing to note. The KDC also built a house for the Dairy Company Manager in the 1950's, The house is situated right on the corner of Puriri Street opposite the church on the other side of the same street. It's been sold of course several times since the KDC closure but a typical design of its era.

    And on a final note. When the KDC closed down it nearly killed the township. Sad but a fact of progress.
    Hope that helps at least a little bit

    Oh and I think the area where the reception part is has a date above the door way saying 1952 or 1953. Hard not to forget something I go to know so well over nineteen years of living in Helensville.

  2. The date over the word "Wakefield" in the photo is 1937. This is something I can't tie in with the Helensville history I have here, unless it means the mid 1930s alterations and additions.

    The site was a that of a pa, initially, and later one of the early sawmills. Lots of history, there. Thanks for the info, my friend.

  3. I used to drive milk tankers for the KDC. I started with a TK Bedford.

  4. One of the upstairs parts of the building was rented as a private residence for a time in the late 80s early family lived there...huge metal stairs used to go up the outside to our door...or you could enter by the internal stairwell...

  5. I lived here with my family as a child...either the late 80s or 90s it must have been rented as a private rental...there was a big glass door at the bottom off of a gravel car park that opened into a stairwell that led up to our house there was also a big metal staircase that went up the outside of the building that led to a big metal door...there were a few abandoned rail cars just next to the building...

    1. Hi there, do you happen to know if the factory still stands? I'm interested in doing some filming there, but I don't know who to get in touch with about permission. I also can't find the exact address online. I know some demolition happened about 4 or 5 years ago, but is there any part of it that is still there? Would really appreciate a lead on this! Thank you! :)

    2. Contact the Helensville museum. They have a website ...

  6. Yes it still stands, the shell anyway. It's on the main road leading into Helensville from the Parakai end. Don't know who to contact tho.