Monday, September 21, 2009

The Astley House

Image: AWHS Collection

At the St Jude’s “Avondale Then and Now” photo exhibition, a member of the local community approached me and asked why I had identified an image of the house at 160 New Windsor Road as the “Astley House”. She felt sure it was the “Dickey House”.

The answer, as I suspected, was that we were both correct, always a good thing in terms of local history.

The Astley family arrived in Auckland in 1880, Elijah Astley and his sons worked at the Ireland Brothers tannery in Panmure, before shifting to the Gittos Tannery at Avondale. After first living in Richardson Road, the family saved enough to purchase a 12-acre section along New Windsor Road in September 1882, and had their house built there in 1883 “The rooms were large, but some of them were left unfinished, though habitable, for a considerable time. To our eyes it seemed, and was, a fine family home and our own property, but it was sadly deficient in the amenities which are regarded as indispensable in a modern home today.” (John E. Astley, “The Astley Saga, A Post-Pioneer Auckland Family”, Journal of the Auckland Historical Society, [Part One] October 1966)

The two-storey English Colonial style building was the size it was, most likely, to accommodate the large Astley family (total of 10 children when they arrived from England). Elijah Astley founded the Astley Tannery in New Lynn, one of the district’s most enduring industries.

Eijah Astley died 10 December 1905. In 1907, his son John Edward Astley and Thomas Atherton transferred the property to Mr and Mrs. Lamey from Morrinsville, who in turn transferred to Robert Dickey of Penrose in 1918. The Dickey name remains in the name Dickey Street, close to the original land holding.

So yes: the house at 160 New Windsor Road is both the Astley House and the Dickey House. Call it what you will – but most use the first name.


  1. Just to be a nark...we always knew this house as the Hamilton house as I went to playcentre (St. Judes) with John Hamilton in the early 1950's, who lived there with his family in those days. I attended his 5th(?) birthday party held at this amazing home. Do you know if the Hamilton's owned the property or perhaps they were relatives of the Dickey family?

    1. I believe John Hamilton was adopted by one of My Great Aunts (don't recall who).
      I recall meeting him when I visited the homestead with my parents/Grandparents
      (my Grandmother was Muriel Dickey, 11th child of family).
      According to an article by my aunt, Rosemary Brown (nee Willoughby) daughter
      of Muriel and Walter Willoughby, the home was purchased by the Segedins who owned
      it at least until 1999.
      You can read it here on page 5 of this link

      Alan R Willoughby (Great Grandson of Robert Dickey)

    2. My understanding is that Robert Dickey left the house to two of his daughters Dolly and Ida Mary who married James Hamilton and her son was John Hamilton.
      I understand that John Hamilton now lives in Australia.

  2. I'd have to wait until October (new month, new LINZ billing period) before I could answer that question probably, Gail. But if I remember, I'll see what the Council's valuation field sheets say in City Archives. Looking there is free.

    And where were you so we could have had a three-way debate over the Astley-Dickey-Hamilton house, eh? Eh? (S'okay, I'm kidding, I know you didn't know until too late about the exhibition!)

  3. As stated in the article the house was purchased by Robert Dickey and when he died in 1943 the property was retained in the Dickey family name until the mid 1970's when it was acquired by myself.

  4. House is now owned by the Railey family and has been beautifully restored internally

  5. Sadly the front lawn area has been subdivided off..this for a few years now and I understand from reliable sources that this grand old lady is now to be demolished to build flats. Very sad considering it has such local history.

    1. "Reliable sources" as in Auckland Council, or not? Auckland Council are the ones to confirm demolition consents.