Thursday, January 28, 2010

Street Stories 14: William Paterson, not quite remembered

Postetrity doesn't always go quite to plan.

The death of Mr. Wm. Paterson, founder of the firm of W. Paterson and Co., ‘bus proprietors, occurred yesterday. The late Mr. Paterson, who was a native of East Kilbryde, Scotland, was 62 years of age, and came to Auckland in the early sixties. In 1865 he started to work for Mr. A. Bell, of this city, and in the seventies Mr. Bell purchased the business of Belcher and Co., grain and forage merchants, on Mr. Paterson’s account. Here he laid the foundation of a most successful business as a ‘bus and cab proprietor, with branches at Auckland, Mount Roskill, Mount Eden, Avondale, Devonport, and Rotorua. He was at one time proprietor of the horse tramcars, at the same time carrying on his grain and produce business. He took a keen interest in politics, and followed the various political changes of his day with close attention, although he sought no public office. He was a benevolent man, but carefully concealed from the public gaze his many charitable acts. Mrs. Paterson and a family of four sons and three daughters survive him. The funeral will leave his late residence at Mount Roskill for Purewa cemetery tomorrow.
(NZ Herald, 2 August 1905)

William Paterson owned several pieces of land in Auckland, North Shore, Avondale, Onehunga ... on two part of his estate, when his family later subdivided and solkd off sections, he had a real chance of being remembered.

A William Street was so-named through part of his Balmoral/Mt Eden paddocks -- but at some point, it had a name-change to Wiremu (the Maori equivalent), so that link is largely severed.

At Sandringham, Patterson Street runs alongside a large amount of what was once Paterson's land -- but somehow, the single T became double. (A Paterson family history researcher the other day brought both examples to my attention the other day.) Not something easily corrected, if at all possible -- four other Patersons already exist among our region's street names. A shame, really.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Old South British Insurance building, Shortland Street

 The name has faded on all bar a couple of plaques and initials on the window frosting ...


For an office building, especially one for an insurance company from last century, this has a lot of truly beautiful features in its architecture. Then again, according to Archives New Zealand (link has a 1950s photo of the building) it was built during the Art Deco period, 1928/1929. It shows.





I love the lamps.


Fort Lane mural

Fort Lane is a small lane between Fort and Customs Streets in the city, at the back of the old Imperial Hotel. Whenever I'm heading from upper midtown down to the trains, Fort Lane is one of my shortcuts, used with care as there is no footpath, and it's really a vehicular accessway.

Anyway -- heading up from the station to the Art Gallery this afternoon, I spotted this as I passed by. My brain stopped me in my tracks, and I thought, "That looks like an unfinished mural ..."

Unfinished murals are a bit like baby pigeons. Everyone knows there's a stage between blank wall and finished artwork, but rarely is the intermediate stage spotted, so it seems. The wall seems to have been painted especially for the work, and rough lines added for the main features. I hope it does get finished -- what's there already looks promising.

Looks something like a wood pigeon ...

... a heron ...

... and another bird in amongst palms/cabbage trees. I'll let readers know if I see any progress next time I duck down that way.

Spotted on Customs Street East

Smack opposite the stop for Mt Eden buses on Customs Street is this lovely bit of parapet architecture which appears to have survived concerns about earthquake risk, redevelopment, and just out-and-out not giving a damn attitude by land owners in general. The present occupiers are the Showgirls club (hence the pixel blur), but hey -- they've kept something beautiful.

Dr. Seuss at Stokes Road

Someone had the good idea to brighten up a bit of Stokes Road intersection with Mt Eden Road for the seemingly endless lines of cars waiting for the lights.

Nice to see that the Dr Seuss inspiration lives on.

Down the Bay – Growing up in the Shadow of Larnach Castle

I never know quite what I’ll take out of my letterbox, sometimes.

Margaret Walther from Kaiapoi sent me a copy of a book she has written called Down the Bay – Growing up in the Shadow of Larnach Castle. Her work isn’t much to do with Larnach Castle at all, though. It is a delightful memoir of childhood spent on a farm on the Otago Peninsula in the 1920s -1930s with her family, her sister Edna, extended family members, horses, and ducks.

Three baby ducks waddled along King Edward Road and sheltered in the doorway of a cake shop at Cargill’s Corner. They huddfled round the door. Every entrance and exit was made with the aid of a boot and a muttered ‘bloody ducks’. They eluded Edna and me. A great deal of scrabbling and quacking followed on the linoleum in the kitchen, with the whole family in pursuit.

The ducks flew away when they got big enough.

As the blurb on the back says: "Margaret Walther grew up on the Otago Peninsula during the Great Depression. Above the family farm stood the then abandoned Larnach's Castle, and below, Company Bay. She and her sister Edna lived in an imaginative world of dolls and flappers." Plus much, much more -- surprisingly so for such a wonderful wee book.

At 65 pages, A-5 softcover format, it is on sale from Margaret Walther, $12 plus $1 p&p. Contact me for her details.

Avondale and the ‘50s bypass blues

 From NZ Herald 16 June 1959

A funny thing I find about looking back in the past, even the more recent bits: even though I wasn’t born when some of the truly bizarre ideas were being cooked up, I’m no less appalled. As if they were being proposed, right here, right now. Especially when it's about my home suburb.

Well, the 1954 Avondale bypass proposal wasn’t a “right now”, of course, but it was right here. If it had gone ahead, the Avondale I know and grew up in would have been changed.

It began, as is often the case, from much smaller things. The Auckland City Council had purchased land on Rosebank Road just after World War II, a couple of old villas, with the intent at some stage to demolish them and build a community centre. The community centre wasn’t to be until 1990, for various reasons. In 1948, the Avondale Businessmen’s Association, voicing a need for more parking spaces in the township, asked for permission to use the Rosebank Road site at the corner of Highbury Street for off-street parking. The request must have rattled around in the Town Hall for a while, gathering ideas to it like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Then, in 1954, with the change in zoning for much of Rosebank Peninsula from residential/horticultural to industrial, the city planners saw that there was another, greater need in terms of the city’s infrastructure. They saw a need to try to route traffic from Penrose’s growing industrial centre via Mt Albert through Avondale towards the then-new North-Western Motorway and on to Te Atatu, as well as a way of getting traffic from the city, via Pt Chevalier, and towards the growing suburbs of West Auckland. What was in the way of all this free movement was a chokepoint: the Great North Road, where Avondale’s central township had grown up along its sides. Avondale’s main street had been planned and laid out in the 19th century for horses and cattle, not cars. The planners considered what could be done which would solve that chokepoint problem, and even grant the ABA’s wish for more parking for their shops. The Avondale Jockey Club wanted to subdivide and sell their Great North Road frontage for more shops with off-street parking around that time -- this appears to have been the catalyst for municipal decision.

The solution? Bypass the shopping centre completely. Put in a bypass road, starting from near Victor Street-Great North Road intersection, blaze through properties to Rosebank Road (diverting an intact Highbury Street’s intersection with Rosebank just a tad), go straight across and through the eastern-most part of the racecourse, cutting off access from Elm Street and Racecourse Parade (they later relented, and suggested a flyover from Racecourse Parade – a flyover going across a bypass …), through the racecourse’s mile-start (again, more negotiating; they ultimately put forward the idea of tunnelling under the mile start, see below), then through Wingate Street, cutting off the eastern end, before curving into Great North Road and heading west, cutting off the road from the five-roads intersection. On top of all that, they wanted to have a link from Chalmers and Ahuriri Streets with St Judes. That link with the new bypass would have carved through the St Ninians Cemetery, and come close enough to the church to cause real concerns among the parishioners.

Great North Road through Avondale would have become little more than a series of cul-de-sacs.

The chairman of the Council’s town planning committee, Dr. Kenneth Brailey Cumberland (b.1913), was all in favour of the idea. He felt the proposal they put to a public meeting of Avondale residents on 4 May 1955 was a solution for the congestion in the shopping centre, and the lack of parking. Dr. Cumberland was later Chairman of the Auckland Regional Planning Authority, and a patron (as at 2009) of the Auckland Volcanic Cones Society, which spoke out against the carving up of the volcanic cone Mount Roskill for the State Highway 20 project. On top of that, as a leading geographer, he put together and narrated the telly series Landmarks. He became Professor Emeritus at Auckland University.

Another Auckland University luminary, Dean of the School of Architecture, was architect Cyril Roy Knight, who tends to be best known for his work on books about New Zealand ecclesiastical architecture, such as the Selwyn Churches of Auckland. He was co-opted onto the City Council’s town planning committee at the time.

“We have been doing something very silly in this country,” he was quoted as saying (Star, 5 May 1955), “building highways as fast as we can, but expecting them to fulfil two functions … As soon as a highway was built, someone wanted to erect a shop or a garage on it, interfering with the highway’s main function.”

I note that the bypass project wouldn't have done much good for Avondale's oldest piece of ecclestiastical architecture though, our St Ninians church. Did Mr. Knight ever consider that?

The project, as drawn up, was budgeted to cost £110,000 (nearly $5m today). Almost instantly, it ran into sustained opposition from locals: the residents, the shopkeepers (although the Avondale Businessmen’s Association had the embarrassing situation where by a majority vote in a poorly-attended meeting they resolved to support the project, although their own members attending hearings in opposition), the Avondale Bowling Club, the Avondale Jockey Club, Suburbs Rugby Football Club, and St Ninians Church.

The Council doggedly continued and, with City Engineer A. J. Dickson’s backing, refused to let the project die. Public meetings were called, said to be among the first in the city to use projectors to display maps and plans for those who attended. Residents who bought Rosebank Road property alongside the bypass route were told, too late, that no building permits could be granted. Their land was taken over by the Council as reserves. The Jockey Club’s concerns about the carving up of their mile-start land was answered by the tunnel proposal. This didn’t win the Club over. “Horses standing at the mile start barrier might be disturbed by traffic passing underneath them,” they said to the planning commissioners. (Herald, 15 June 1959)

Back in 1955, Auckland City Council stated that the only other option to their bypass plan was to widen Great North Road – and demolish all the houses and shops along the western side. Predictably, this wasn’t favoured either.

Eventually in October 1959, after hearings, petitions, media attention and due deliberation, the Council planning commissioners decided against adopting the bypass proposal into the District Plan.

But, the idea never died. It simply changed tack.

A report by a Mr. Leith at the end of 1963 proposed a new scheme: widening not just Great North Road, but also New North Road, Victor Street and Blockhouse Bay Road to arterial route standard, semi-close upper St Judes Street to form a bypass past the problematic level crossing to link up with Chalmers Street (which also has a problem level crossing, but they seemed to not be too worried about that one), St Georges, and then into Great North Road. I haven’t seen the plan for that proposal yet – possibly St Ninians, the cemetery and Memorial Park would still have been in their sights. The 1963 plan was expected to cost about ₤800,000 (over $29m). It didn’t get off the ground, because the Auckland Regional Planning Authority recommended a deferral in April 1964.

The bypass idea wasn’t resurrected until the 1970s. The present-day Ash Street extension, this time going along Ash Street behind the racecourse, and linking, with a new bridge over the Whau River, to Rata Street on the New Lynn side, is the result. Houses were bought up and demolished, the Bowling Club had to shift its entrance and lost land, but it has had far less of an impact on the landscape as the 1954 proposal would have had.

Traffic still travels along Great North Road through the Avondale township. It still gets clogged and jammed and congested, and people have a bit of a moan. But, at least it wasn’t cut off and left to wither, and we still have the 150-year-old church building, its cemetery, and the Memorial Park used every year for Anzac Day services.

NZ Herald
Auckland Star
Auckland City Archives files: ACC 219/822y pt. 1, ACC 339/37

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Zealand Soccer website

I see that the Ultimate New Zealand Soccer Website has put up a link to ol' Timespanner via the Blandford Park post. (Many thanks, folks!) The site also has a history of NZ soccer. Worth a look.

Visit to new Newmarket Train Station

The two-storey palace of glass and metal, which the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has built for $35 million, has been designed to cope with electric trains and up to 17,000 passengers a day by 2016.

It finally reopened on 14 January this year.

The Government marked two milestones in its $1.6 billion Auckland rail programme today with the opening of the revamped Newmarket Station and the signing of an electrification project. Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that after Britomart, Newmarket was Auckland's busiest station.
"Completing this project provides a new station offering all the amenities and services expected of a modern public transport facility, potential for more trains at peak times, and means fewer delays for trains coming into Newmarket," he said.
But, it's had teething troubles.

There is disappointment about the delays and disruption on the very first day Auckland's new $35 million Newmarket Railway Station began operating.
The station was five years in the planning and has taken two years to construct.

And more troubles ...

A resumption of full services after a three-week shutdown of much of the rail network for a summer construction drive finally put Newmarket's new $35 million station at centre-stage yesterday.
KiwiRail contractors who ran out of time on Sunday night to install a complex electronic signalling system to Newmarket's railway junction, which has been reconfigured for $65 million, completed the task early yesterday with just under two hours to spare before the first trains of the day started running.
But although the new station is drawing many admirers for its clean architectural lines and ample shelter, the Campaign for Better Transport is disappointed it has not been matched by updated timetables to ease connections for passengers transferring between western and southern trains.
Some early morning western line trains still arrive at Newmarket a minute after southern services leave the station for Papakura and Pukekohe, forcing commuters to wait 29 minutes for the second leg of their journey to work or school.
And even the train drivers' walk slows everyone down.

Extra train drivers may have to be used to reduce turnaround times at Newmarket's new $35 million station, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has acknowledged.
The authority disclosed last night that it was considering asking its rail operator, Veolia, to post drivers at each end of western line trains at peak times to reduce delays which have become apparent since the station was added to its network on Monday.
Drivers now have to walk or even run from the front to the rear of their trains at Newmarket, before reversing direction through the adjacent junction of the western and southern lines.
That meant four trains observed by the Herald yesterday spent anything from one minute and 45 seconds to three and a half minutes at Newmarket, depending on how many carriages they were pulling.
The longest wait at the station was for passengers on a locomotive-hauled SA train, as they watched the driver walk 96 metres from one end to the other before pulling out of the station.
A personal commentary here -- it is silly that we've gone back a step in tyerms of rail configuration at Newmarket. When the first station was built there in the early 1870s, it serviced stops further on and south to Onehunga (hence, Newmarket is on the Southern line in our urban system). The Western line to Waitakere and beyond only came about later that decade, opened in 1880, and is at right angles to Newmarket. But, Newmarket is south of the Western line, not North, so trains from west (like Avondale) have to reverse into Newmarket before proceeding to Britomart and the central city. The temporary station at Kingdon Street sorted that out -- while Newmarket was being reconstructed, our trains would go as trains should go -- straight through, no reversing. But now they've opened up Newmarket again, we're stuck with the same damned configuration.

Oh, there were folk who protested and wanted Kingdon left alone. But, to no avail.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee is at war with his council's transport subsidiary over a decision to demolish Newmarket's temporary Kingdon St station.
The Auckland Regional Transport Authority has defied his wishes by confirming that the facility will be closed tonight to make way for the opening next month of Newmarket's $35 million replacement station. Because the two stations are on different tracks, separated by a 400m walk, Mr Lee and neighbouring business owners say the authority's decision will rob the public of a direct connection between Britomart and the western railway line.
 Mike Lee, I raise my coffee cup to you, mate. You did your best.

Okay. So, Friday I toddled along, boarded the train at Avondale, and went to take a look at the "world class" station.

I think the staff were wondering what the heck I was doing, getting off the train but then loitering around on the platform instead of doing what everyone else did and head straight for the escalators.  Don't mind me, folks, I'm just a mad blogger.


Lots of seats. So far, they look nice and clean. So far.


I did finally go up the escalators, to take a view from above the platforms. I think I prefer Henderson station. At least that has cool billboards to look at, and not a wall of apartments. 

This is the single bit of heritage I found in the place -- a blow-up of a 1920s map of Newmarket Borough. It's nice, any rate. The place could have done with some heritage images of steam trains, the Newmarket rail workshops, something ...

Newmarket railway workshops, 1909. From Wiki Commons.
Ah, well. Close up of part of the map.

Outside, the east -- a fairly nice square, with metal trees and more walls.

And now, we leave Balham, Gateway to the South -- er, sorry, Newmarket Train Station.
So, I have two main grumbles: that reversing lark, and the fact that Newmarket Station proper is further away from the Domain and the Auckland Museum than the now-lost Kingdon Street station. Hopefully, they'll see sense and re-use the old wooden Newmarket station building they have in secret storage somewhere to good use as a Parnell/Museum station in the future? My fingers are crossed and I live in hope.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Groceries and bullets at Mt Eden Road

On the corner of Stokes Road, the bottom part almost completely hidden by produce crates, sits a gem of heritage art on control boxes. It features the Woods Store (still in existence up the road at Esplanade).




At the left of these two shots is the CAC (Colonial Ammunition Company) shot tower, which is also still around (and has a heritage registration). Some more info on the two structures, and on Mt Eden's old industrial area, at the Auckland City Council website.

The ladies at Mortimer Pass

My friends the Ellises had spotted this control box earlier, and sent me a photo. Today, I got a chance to stop off at Newmarket at take a good look at it.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A photo blog: Auckland-West

I really do urge you to check out Auckland-West, where the photographer has captured some wonderful images of sights west of Queen Street in Auckland. (He has a photo of the Avondale Lions Hall there, and thanked me for putting information on it online via the Avondale Historical Journal. Hence how I've come to find his blog.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maungaturoto Memories

Just popped another link onto the left-hand list: Maungaturoto Memories, an off-shoot site from Back Roads. I like the title graphics there, very snazzy! Wishing you all the best, Liz and Amy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An update from historical research madness

Timespanner's been a fair bit quiet of late -- but I will return soon. Had some projects on my plate which have diverted my attention, both in the way of my occupation and the voluntary bits and pieces I get involved with. Currently, I working on a speech and power point presentation on land history records research, called Fine Lines, to present in a couple of months time at the Auckland City Library. Might see about getting the slides and text published online later, if I can. See you later.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The day New Zealand bombarded Australia

It was the afternoon of Friday, 4 March 1955, when Mrs. S. Elliott, wife of the postmaster at Currarong, on the New South Wales coast, noticed that the post office was under attack.
“Those were not just splinters that fell here. They were honest-to-goodness shells. They exploded with terrific bangs – every one of them. It was about 4 o’clock when I heard the first one. It went off with a terrific crash, and bits of metal started falling all over the place. There were two more and everyone came running into the post office shouting for me to call the Navy.

“I called the naval station and ran out to see the last shell crash down near a boat with two fishermen in it about 100 yards off the beach, right in front of us. It sent up a terrific shower of water – a great mushroom of it – and nearly sank the boat.

“The fishermen came into the post office later and said that bits of shrapnel had whistled all around them after the shell exploded. It’s all right now that it’s over. But somebody could have been seriously hurt.”
(Auckland Star, 8 March 1955)

The culprit? The Kiwi cruiser, HMNZS Black Prince, on manoeuvres at the time with the Australian Navy. I've spoken to an ex-sailor from the Black Prince at that time, and it appears that the guns failed to lock onto the intended target properly as the ship sailed along the coast – instead of a bombardment aimed at an area nearby used for gunnery practice, the township copped the fire. The only official damage reported at the time was a splinter which went through a roof.

Mrs. Dorothy Bromley, wife of a garage and cafĂ© owner in the township, said, “Splinters, my eye. They were fair dinkum shells … I dropped everything. I thought the end had come.”

It was said at the time that it was an accident. For some reason (rather ominously perhaps) the acting NZ Prime Minister Keith Holyoake kept denying that it was accidental at all. “There was no question of even accidental bombardment of the town by the New Zealand cruiser Black Prince,” he is reported as stating. (Star, 8 March 1955)

The last I’ll add to this (for now, pending more info), comes from here:

“HMNZS Black Prince accidentally bombards the post office at Currarong, near Jervis Bay NSW. It is not known what offensive capacity the post office had or what level of threat it posed to our vessel.”

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Zealand Card Index

The librarians at the Auckland Research Centre told me about this a few weeks ago -- over the weekend, I did some digging at the Auckland Library website and found it: the New Zealand Card Index. There are transcription errors (there's a great "report errors" feature, though) but I think so far that this is a cracker of an online resource into our history. Another link for the list.

An Update (27 February): The Index was officially launched last Wednesday, 24 February. Unfortunately, though, it's best seen using Internet Explorer. The images of the cards themselves don't appear in Firefox (sad, because that's my browser of choice). Good thing that Firefox has a "View in IE" add-on, though.

Further update (2 March): The Council's IT expert has been onto it, and the link altered to allow better access using Firefox. Links updated here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Australia Trove

Australia Trove

I've only just found this (oi, Jayne! Have you been holding out on me??)

You may think it odd why I'm adding an Aussie historical search site to my Kiwi history blog -- but, let's face it: Australian and New Zealand history are very closely linked, and anything that could make finding out what really happened way back when has my support.

And yes, this is going on the links list.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pieces of culture

More items from the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Above is a pram, built by Dick & Cowden's pram works at Newton, according to the descriptive text below. I haven't any info on that factory at the moment -- but this reminds me more of a kiddies' toy pram than one you'd use for the baby of the family.

This I had to take a shot of, once I realised who had owned it. Built from Australian cedar at the Hokianga  in 1845-1850 by William Webster (1816-1895), an early saw-miller, it is displayed with this description:

"In 1845 he began to make a pipe organ in his leisure hours, using an Australian Cedar log for the case and Kauri, Kahikatea, Matai and Tenekaha. The organ has a compass of four and a half octaves. The white keys (naturals) were made of whales' teeth obtained by trade from the Bay of Islands and the black keys (sharps) were dyed with the same dye used by the Maori for their mats. The brass bellows gauge was filed from the rudder of his rowing boat. The pedals and iron work were handmade in his own blacksmiths shop."
He gave the organ to his daughter Annabella Mary (1864-1955) on her marriage to John McKail Geddes, he who has a street named after him here in Avondale. Hence my interest.


Pottery by Helen Keir, late 19th century, "Moa and Clematis".


I couldn't find the description for these stairs under glass -- but I was taken with the design.

This is supposed to have been a barber's chair, designed  by Garnet Campbell around the middle of last century, for Kay's French Beauty Salon (1954) in Karangahape Road. Even if I was svelte and as light as a feather, I reckon I'd be way too scared to ever sit in that. And it was one of three in the salon! Egad.

Pickled culture

During my recent visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and in particular the Weird & Wonderful section,  I found that one phrase transcends most language boundaries (there are a lot of tourists at the museum any time one visits. It's like walking into a United Nations convention. Very cool, though).


 "Oh, look! A Bart Simpson specimen!"

Out came the mobile phones, capturing the image of museum whimsy amidst the pickled species.