Saturday, May 30, 2009

The metal roads of Avondale and Mt Albert

I found a brief paragraph in, of all places, the Poverty Bay Herald from 3 July 1888, which gives an example of how the early roads, paid for and maintained by Auckland's communities in the last quarter of the 19th century, really mattered.
"It has often been remarked that in some districts the roads of one portion are damaged by carting material during the winter months for the repairing of another road. An apt illustration of this fact is now taking place in the vicinity of Auckland. It appears that the Avondale Road Board applied to the Hon. the Minister of Public Works, and received a gift of 500 yards of metal broken by the unemployed at the foot of Mount Eden. This grant is said to have been made for repairing a portion of the Great North Road, which had been injured by carting bricks for the new wing of the Asylum from the Avondale brickyards.

"To repair that piece of road drays are now engaged in carting these 500 yards of broken metal right through the Mount Albert District, thus damaging four miles of the main road through Mount Albert, which the ratepayers of that district formed, made, and gave to the public free of expense, and for which they have been taxing themselves to keep in repair for ordinary traffic for over 20 years.

"If there are any circumstances under which the imposition of a heavy toll for carting metal is justifiable it is surely in this case, and could only be looked on as a measure of self-defence on the part of the Mount Albert rate payers, We understand that the Mount Albert Road Board have telegraphed a remonstrance to the Hon. the Minister of Public Works, pointing out the injustice of this action. "
Basically, until the coming of concrete and then sealed roads, and until the roads themselves became strategic highways and therefore sorted out on a government level, this kind of thing went on and on between the road boards. At the turn of the century, there was quibbling even over who was going to sort out the Oakley Creek Bridge. There's a story there -- some day, I may have time to write about it.


  1. A few suburbs around here built steel tramways on which wagons could run, to stop the deterioration of the roads. Not common but quirky lol.

  2. Now there was a truly metal road! What a brilliant idea, Jayne. I'm not sure if any of our own councils used that as an answer to their woes. They tended to say, to heck with this, let's have a real steam-powered tramway. Some could afford it, others couldn't.