Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Rosebank Bakehouse

R & M Kirkpatrick's bread cart, c.1903-1905. Photo courtesy of the Kirkpatrick family.

At what is now 69 Rosebank Road a Mr Grubb became the first baker on the Rosebank Rd/Great North Rd (northwest) corner. His shop included an area for the stabling of horses, which is now the present-day site of the former Masonic Hall. Before this, the area, part of the larger Chisholm Estate, was just farmland.

The father of Mr Grubb who started the Rosebank Bakehouse came to New Zealand in the 1860s, and set up a bakery in Karangahape Road. Unfortunately, during the Depression of the 1880s -1890s, he went bankrupt.

His son was a baker in the Northern Ireland Constabulary when he emigrated with his sister to New Zealand, following their father. Later, in Avondale, once he had married, he started the bakery.

Mr Keith Grubb, his grandson, told me how his grandfather would drink quite a bit, and would frequent the Avondale Hotel all too often and for far too long as far as his wife was concerned. Once, when losing her patience with her husband, she took a stock whip and went into the Hotel, clearing everyone out in her anger. However, Mr Grubb had seen her coming from across the fields, and was well out of the way. The licensee at the time, possibly Mr J R Stych, banned Mrs Grubb from ever coming in and clearing out his hotel again.

John Bollard, during his time as the local MP for Eden, would often come into the bakehouse to talk to Mr Grubb – and would just as often walk out onto the street with flour all over his back from being heartily patted across the shoulders by Mr Grubb.

By 1 April 1903, Mr Robert Samuel Kirkpatrick had bought Grubb’s land and bakery on the north-western corner of Rosebank/Great North Road, and ran Kirkpatrick’s Bakery there until early 1905.

Robert Samuel Kirkpatrick (1866-1948) was the son of Duncan Kirkpatrick (arrived 1860 from County Antrim, Ireland) and Jane McCaughan, whom he married in Napier. “Sam” Kirkpatrick married Magdalene Webster Grubb of the Avondale baker’s family in 1890, so in 1903 he was essentially carrying on the family business. (The Kirkpatricks and the Grubbs had been cousin families before this).

One of their sons, Robert Webster Kirkpatrick, (1890-1937) went on to co-found, with the Stevens family, Kirkpatrick & Stevens of Newmarket, and one of his sons in turn, Robert Noel Kirkpatrick, was a Newmarket Borough Councillor in the early 1970s. His daughter is Noeline Raffills, current Auckland City Councillor for Avondale-Roskill Ward.

Mr Grubb senior continued to work for his son-in-law until his death on the railway line, crushed between two carriages he was passing between without realising they were being shunted. According to Mr Keith Grubb, his grandson, his grandfather’s dog (to which he gave a double whiskey and milk each morning) ran yelping from the scene and fetched Mrs Grubb. He died "after a long illness", according to his death notice in the Auckland Star, in 1916, and is buried in Waikumete Cemetery.

By 1910, Daniel Robertson had a general store on the bakery site, running his combined bakery-groceries-coal business until around the end of World War I, when the Thode Brothers took over. Ernest Bright ran a bakery business close by, until a fire in the early 1920s burned the entire block out.

Fearon's Building stand there today.

13/3/2009: Post updated and corrected here.


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