Friday, April 3, 2009

Another early Avondale Railway Station photo?

Auckland City Libraries' Special Collections have very kindly given me permission to publish the above photograph (reference 7-A10056) from their heritage images collection. It shows Avondale Railway Station, sometime during the 1890s. Below is a detail from the photograph.

Now, I had made enquiries to Papakura Historical Society as to any records they have on one Amos Eyes (main previous post here.) To my pleasant surprise, they replied with an envelope full of photocopies of pages from the Papakura Town Board minutes of the 1890s (which had notations pointing to the fact that Amos Eyes wasn't keeping the frontages to his properties there trimmed back, and so eventually faced a charge levied by the Board who had to carry out the work themselves), along with photocopies of images related to Amos Eyes from their collection at the Papakura & Districts Museum. One image in particular caught my eye:

This is labelled "Amos Eyes." He seemed to have a permanent squint in his photos (either that, or the photographer kept insisting that the poor man stand with his face towards the sun on a bright day). Others in the series sent up feature him supposedly with his sons Charles and John (Amos John Thomas Eyes) -- unfortunately, althought both men in the other photos are in railway uniform, Charles Eyes wasn't in the railways during the time his father was station master first at Papakura from around 1879, and then at Avondale from 1889. Charles was a farmer, at Papakura then at Waima in Northland from 1896, according to electoral rolls. John Eyes was a farmer in Papakura in 1890, then I failed to locate his name in the upper North Island, until 1902, after his father had died, when he turned up at Avondale as a carpenter. I haven't been able to determine, at this stage, whether he worked on the railways or not.

What drew my attention to the above image of Amos Eyes was that it looked very similar, although at a different angle, to the corner detail from the Special Collections photo. We know, with certainty, that the library's image is that of Avondale station -- and if it is the 1890s, Amos Eyes is probably in that shot (I think there's a man with large whiskers down near the left foreground of the cropped image). The rail line at Papakura is dead straight (and unless there wasw a major realignment there, it probably always was) -- while Avondale does curve towards Crayford Street, as seen behind Amos' back. If that's Avondale, he's standing on the early rudimentary platform, and to the right is part of the weatherboard outer wall of the goods shed seen in the full image at top.

I'd appreciate knowing what readers of this post think: could this be an early Avondale image?


  1. I think it is Ice. I'm saying to myself exactly what you've written in your post about the image. Didn't that top image appear in Challenge of the Whau as I recall? The trees,edge of the building and the curve in the double tracks match the top image so I'd say yes you do have an early Avondale Image.

  2. Cheers, Liz, Yes, the library's photo did appear in Challenge of the Whau (1994). It's so familiar, that's what gave me the " 'ere, 'ang on a minute!" reaction.

  3. Amos Eyes was my great grandfather - he fell in front of a train and lay between the tracks as the train passed over him it is believed he was burnt - hence the squint.

  4. Wonderful information thanks Timespanner!! Amos Eyes was my Great Grandfather too and I've learnt so much about him recently and this has helped enormously. Is it possible for me to contact Sue Eyes above, regarding family information?

  5. Sadly, as Sue didn't post with a link to her contact, I can't help, Ev.