Monday, June 8, 2009

Coronation Bridge, Henderson

I think that this could be a "Beware of the taniwha" sign.

This is Coronation Bridge, Henderson, the pedestrian accessway from Henderson Valley Road up the southern side of Great North Road towards the Corban Arts Centre and beyond. With the frosty mornings we've had this last week, the surface iced up.

Why am I posting this? Well, it seems that the date when it opened has been incorrectly noted for posterity by various histories of the district. Easy enough to do -- given that all they had to go on was the bottom plaque. No date of opening -- just when King George V was coronated (hence, the established name of the bridge.)

But, because I am an Avondale history collector, and John Bollard (father of Avondale's name) was our most influential resident for most of the 19th century history of settlement here -- when I saw an article one time in the library about him, as MP, opening the Henderson bridge, I grabbed it and filed it. Only a chance comment by a West Auckland historian over the weekend dredged it back out again.

The bridge was actually opened by Bollard, as MP for Eden (where the site of the bridge was c.1909, when they first started thinking it was a good idea) on 14 November 1912. By then, the bridge was no longer in Eden, due to boundary changes, but that didn't seem to matter much; the other bloke, A. Harris the MP for Waitemata, was there as well, but Bollard did the formalities.

"The township of Henderson presented a very gay appearence on Saturday, when the new ferro-concrete Coronation Bridge was opened by Mr. J. Bollard, M.P. The bridge was prettily decorated with greenery and bunting, and a number of decorated carts and waggons filled with school children added to the gaiety of the scene. Practically the whole population of the township, and a large number of visitors from other districts, including the majority of the members of the Waitemata County Council, attended the ceremony." (NZ Herald, 16 December 1912)

The Great North Road was realigned to lead to and from the new bridge, and everyone went away quite happy.

I have but one, non-historical, bugbear: the bridge, you see, was designed for primarily wheeled traffic. Yes, pedestrians used it too, but it was to provide an access for drays -- and situated so the horses weren't alarmed too much by the trains. Today, it's just for pedestrians , the road has deviated again, and passes alongside. All well and good -- until you see what passes as a pedestrian access along Great North Road above the bridge today:

Yes, this is a carpark. It is also a footpath, of sorts. Walking up here in winter to meetings of the local historical society is a bit worrying.

The footpath starts up again at the end of the carpark. From here, you've got a clear path up to Lincoln Road and beyond. But -- why can't we have a footpath below??

1 comment:

  1. Gee, it wouldn't take much to mark a shared bike/footpath lane and have a few concrete blocks at the end of each car park space so to keep the footpath clear.
    Well done on finding the correct date for the bridge opening!