Sunday, June 28, 2009

From billiard cue to dentists' drill

I found these three photos in a 30 June 1924 issue of The Builders' Record. They show the progression of development at the corner of Lorne and Victoria Street East, from the Auckland Billiard Centre (building there from before 1908, billiard saloon set up in 1919) and adjacent tyre shop, to a 9-story building called the Medico-Dental Chambers.

The tall building to the extreme right is the AMP Building, from c.1913. Around 1958, that, and the three-story building beside, were replaced by a modern glass-fronted office building, also owned by AMP.

The first two photographs were taken by noted photographer Henry Winkelmann (the first is on the catalogue at Auckland City Library as well, 1-W313).

Caption: The above photograph by Mr. H. Winkelmann shows the old buildings at the corner of Victoria and Lorne Streets, Auckland, which have recently been demolished to make room for the splendid, modern, 9-srory building to be called The Medico-Dental Chambers."
"The above photograph specially taken for The Builders' Record by Mr. H. Winkelmann shows the Medico-Dental Chambers in course of construction. The contract price is £49,000, the Architects are McDonald, Mullins and Sholto Smith, and the Contractors are Fletcher Construction Co., Ltd."
"The above is a photograph of the finished plans of the new Medico-Dental Chambers now in course of erection at the corner of Victoria and Lorne Streets, Auckland."

(Update, 12 July 2009) Here's how it looks now:


  1. I like both styles of building, can't pic which I prefer lol.

    Been meaning to ask - did NZ cities have a height restriction on buildings like Melbourne (and probably other Oz cities) due to the length of the reach of firemen's ladders from way back in the Victorian era until the early 20th century?

  2. That's a very good question, Jayne. Apart from Wellington, where it seems in 1902 they had a by-law (or at least considered it) restricting the height of buildings due to ability at the time of fire fighting services to cope, there doesn't appear to have been a consideration of fires in the way buildings were planned in other centres. The first restriction appears to have been due to earthquakes (a commentary on the Christchurch tram included the debateable factoid that the reason why there weren't as many tall buildings in New Zealand was due to quakes -- take that with a pinch of salt, mind). But buildings went up without real regard to earthquake-worthiness until the 1930s-1940s, when we became really aware after the 1931 Hawkes Bay quake of what could happen.

    Mainly, the restrictions were down to building materials (until steel framing came in during the early 20th century, thanks to the Aussie steel works, we were stuck with brick and reinforced concrete which could only go up so high), and the problem of how to get up multi-story buildings. Lifts and escalators revolutionised building design and sorted out the access problem (mostly).

    There's a lift in the Durham St building in town where the NZ Historic Places Trust have their offices. It's small at the best of times -- one time, when I had a heavy load with me, I needed to use it -- and the light had blown inside the lift. Travelling up a creaky early-to-mid 20th century piece of tech in the dark, even just for two floors, is something I won't forget.