Monday, May 31, 2010

Robert Chisholm of the Whau remembered

I was contacted by a businessman named Tony a while back who said he was interested in buying a small market shop at the corner of Elm Street and Rosebank Road here in Avondale -- was it on the site of the first store? I was able to say yes, give or take a few feet here and there. The earliest known store, going by the Greytown maps of the mid 1860s, was the one just down from the Priestley Brothers and their hotel, and was likely connected with them as part of their 4 acres of land at the corner.

And then, he asked where the name Rosebank Road came from. This is always a tricky question. Many have high hopes for the Avondale trad of the "banks of roses" along the lane, or Mrs Pollen (or some other ardent gardener) tending her specimens of rose banksia). I hate to pop that particular bubble. The sight of hopeful faces falling when there is a more prosaic explanation is not something I look forward to.

Still -- in honesty, I told Tony that the earliest documented evidence we have to hand is that of the Rosebank Estate sale of the majority of the north-western side of the peninsula, which was, up to that time, known as Whau Flats or (later) Avondale Flats. The estate being the property of the by-then late Robert Chisholm. And so Tony asked about him.

So -- we now have a new butcher's shop (apt, as Robert Chisholm was a butcher in Scotland before retiring here to the colonies) named in honour of one of Avondale's earliest, and most enigmatic, land owners.

On top of that, the store itself to which the butcher's shop is attached and is part of, is called Rosebank Market.

Old Chisholm's land was across the road, of course. But, I do like how local history and commercial enterprise can come together like this.

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