Saturday, December 31, 2011

Preserving a message in a cemetery

This is the result of a small SLIPs (small local improvement project) application to have an interpretive sign placed beside the earliest grave at St Ninian's Cemetery in Avondale, that of Rev David Hamilton from 1873.

The Whau Local Board approved the project, which involved the inclusion of the words that are carved on the stone faces of the obelisk on the sign. Time and weather are eroding the stone, rendering most of the wording unreadable. The Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, at the suggestion of member Peter Blaiklock waited for the right opportunity to ask for such a sign for around three years. When St Ninians was opened up again, and the cemetery cleared of most of the overgrowth, I put in the application on behalf of the Society. The sign was installed in late November this year. (The photo on the sign is mine.)

“Rev. David Hamilton B.A., Clergyman of the parish, who after a pastorate of 15 months, died from exposure in the Manukau Forest, in the month of July 1873, a. 29. ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ The above words, which aptly describe his career, are those from which he last preached the gospel to his people. He left his home on 9th July for Huia, to conduct Divine service, and proceeded on the 10th for Manukau Heads, but missed his way in the darkness. His body was found on the 20th and interred here on 23 July 1873.

“Erected by his parishioners and friends, in affectionate remembrance of his goodness as a man and his devotedness as a Christian minister.”

My thanks to the Auckland Council SLIPs team, and the Whau Local Board for seeing this to fruition. Now, future generations have a chance to see what those who held Rev Hamilton in such high regard had to say from so long ago.

Timbers Fortune -- the rough notes

Like so many other interests I let myself get involved in, the story of Henderson's origins in the 19th century just hasn't come to full fruition. Yet. But -- I like to share what I find (which is why Timespanner is here). So -- here, on Scribd, is the result of two years of going utterly bonkers gathering up information on Henderson's roots. This, though, is not all of it, and I'll be adding to and updating the notes on a regular basis. Besides, as with any research project on West Auckland's story, more always comes along as the years go by ...

If anyone wants the digital file sent via email, just drop me a line.

Aramoho Zoo - updated

Animals at J J Boyd's Aramoho Zoo, Wanganui. Weekly News, 27 July 1911, ref. AWNS-19110727-11-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries

I've updated and revised the Aramoho Zoo chapter from The Zoo War, adjusting a typo a reader spotted, and adding additional information from the Wanganui Chronicle on the zoo. You'll find the update here on Scribd.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A farewell to the Aotea Chapel

In early February this year, when I heard the former Aotea Chapel was going to be demolished on Queen Street, I took the following shots. These date from 8 February.

Next door, the 1950s MLC Building, now recently renovated as a hotel, is probably what could be described as faux Art Deco, if the true period pretty well dwindled out during World War II. This was definitely after that period (built by Fletcher Construction).

Still -- it's a great part of the streetscape.

But, across the stub of Airedale Street from the MLC, said stub left by the formation of Mayoral Drive just above in the 1970s, the Methodist Central Mission Chapel, once the Aotea Chapel, was doomed.

 Reference 4-1923, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries

Looking up Airedale Street on 22 January 1928, you'd see a completely different streetscape. Where the MLC Building is today (right) was Richard Arthur's auction house, while across the way, to the left, site of the chapel -- Armitage's store for ladies' and children's wear. This was Probert's Chambers -- while the Methodist Church can be seen just up Airedale Street on the left. 
The church was the first Primitive Methodist Church in Auckland, opened 16 March 1851. "The kauri structure," according to Rev Wesley Parker, author of In the midst of the city: Methodist Central Mission, Auckland Civic Square (1971), "measuring 35 feet by 25 feet, was built for £130 15s. This was the lowest of eight prices tendered in reply to advertisements 'in both papers'. The successful tenderer was Walter Robertson. The land had been given by the Government, for Sir George Grey was fully sympathetic towards the work of the Churches."

Primitive Methodism joined the other branches and ceased to be separate in 1913 as the Union of Methodist Churches. One of the well-known personalities associated with the Airedale Street church in the 20th century was Colin Graham Scrimgeour, still famous in New Zealand's history for his "Man in the Street" broadcast in 1935 being deliberately jammed by the Coalition Government before the election of that year which saw victory for the Labour party opposition and Michael Joseph Savage. His radio devotional services began in 1931, while he was still in charge at the Airedale Street church.

His successor, Rev Albert Everill Orr, started the process towards the creation of an Auckland Central Mission. When he took over, he found "a mere handful of faithful supporters, together with large debts, a decrepit church building, and a parsonage alongside with a great flight of wooden steps leading to it, all strangely out of character in the heart of a city now boasting a population of 200,000." (Parker, p. 33) He changed the name of the Airedale Street Church to Auckland Central Mission, and saw the start of the Central Building Fund for a new church. Over the course of the next three decades, buildings on the total site bounded by Airedale, Queen and Wakefield Streets were purchased, tenancies extinguished, and then structures demolished to make way for the new Central Mission, along with the old kauri church from 1851. A model of the proposed development was prepared in 1960, involving a church and multi-storey Mission facilities next door. Fletcher Construction built both, and the new Auckland Central Mission was opened by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake on 7 February 1964.

Cover to Rev Parker's book. The chapel building is seen in the centre.

"In 1969," according to Rev Parker, "a large stained-glass window was installed in the gallery of the church facing Queen Street. The Saviour is depicted with His face toward the world and His hands open in wide gesture, signifying His invitation 'Come unto Me.' At night the window is brightly illuminated."

In 1992, the Mission Chapel was redeveloped. Whether it became the Aotea Chapel at that point, I'm not sure -- but it certainly bore the name on the frontage from that time. There is still a webpage up which shows images of the Aotea Chapel in its heyday. I don't know how long that page will remain -- if you are reading this and the link doesn't work, well ... it's gone the way of the chapel itself.

Several hundred packed the chapel for Christmas celebrations in 2000. A public meeting over the future of Auckland's Hero Parade was held there in November 2001. A meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the Labour government of David Lange, with emphasis on our country's nuclear-free policy, was held there in July 2004. A mayoral debate between John Banks and Dick Hubbard was held there in 2007.

But in July 2008, the site was sold.  The sale price was confidential, but the value on the property was put at $25M.
Methodist Mission Northern executive director John Murray said it had been a difficult choice, given that the site had strong sentimental value, but he believed it existed to support the mission's services and generate income. "We certainly got the price that we wanted and he was prepared to pay. We are well pleased," he said. 

Mr Murray said last year that the mission gave the issue "heart-searching" thought, but decided that it could not afford to upgrade the buildings to modern standards.It will use the proceeds from the sale to extend its social services beyond the core group of homeless men who are the main users of the existing soup kitchen."We can deal with issues relating to youth and women," he said. Mr Murray said the mission's lease would expire on July 31, 2010. 

The barest of remains of where the Aotea Chapel neon once shone red into the night.

And so, to demolition. I think it started in early December. I remember seeing just the outer shell of the building remaining as I passed by in a bus. Best views of the end of 160 years of Methodist gatherings and community voices on the site, however, are from the Town Hall. Quite a few of us on the 15 December tour, when the following shots were taken, paused at the windows, hearing with our ears about heritage preservation and conservation, a success story for the Auckland Town Hall -- only to look out at the machinery of change across the street.

And above -- is what will replace the chapel: another retail block, Queens Court. They may even sell clothing there, although most likely boutique style.

Some of the tradition of Mr Armitage from back in the 1920s, therefore, looks set to return.

George Pulman - lithographer, photographer, and artist

"Pulman's Register Map of the City of Auckland, 1863", NZ Map 4475-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries

This map is often overlooked, in favour of the slightly later 1866-1867 Vercoe and Harding map of our city, mainly because while this does show the allotments and sub-lots ... 

the military barracks, a proposed Ponsonby Park which never came to be ...

and a gorgeous rendition of the William Mason-designed Government House -- it doesn't show building footprints or detail of construction of same as the later map does. It is, though, easier to read than Heaphy's 1850s plan.

Photography historian Keith Giles, in an article "Fairs & Steel: their impact on Auckland photography" (published in NZ Legacy by the NZ Federation of Historical Societies, Vol. 19 No. 3, 2007), traces George Pulman's origins to Manchester. He arrived in Auckland sometime before late 1862, setting up residence on Grafton Road, and while still working for the Lands Department, was already impressing the locals with his artistic abilities.

"The Fern Well."
We have seen a painting in water colours, by Mr. George Pulman, of the lands office, to which he gives the name of “The Fern Well," and which reflects very great credit upon him as an artist . From Mr Pulman's house, on the Grafton Road, a view is had of a sequestered spring, shaded by fern and the crooked branches of a few trees. From this will the inhabitants of the neighbourhood procure supplies of fresh water, during the greater part of the summer months. It is a spot of great natural beauty, and cannot fail to charm every lover of the picturesque who visits it. In the picture, the peculiar charms of New Zealand scenery are faithfully preserved by Mr. Pulman. The ragged stems, withered branches, and foliage clad top boughs of the trees, are characteristic of New Zealand, the reality being heightened by the luxurious undergrowth. We are glad to find that there are gentlemen of talent residing among us, with sufficient time at their disposal, to re produce a few of the wild charms of the natural scenery of their adopted country, before the hands of utilitarians have entirely changed the face of the country. The picture may be seen at Mr. Varty's. 

Southern Cross 23 September 1862 

The following year, he struck out on his own, setting up a printing and lithography business on Shortland Street -- apparently competing head-on with the New Zealander newspaper printers.

Southern Cross 10 August 1863

Ornamental Drawing. 
Our attention has been called to a very beautiful specimen of ornamental drawing, by Mr. Pulman. It is a business card, bordered by fern trees, the vacant space at the bottom being filled up by a very well executed and faithful sketch of the Waitemata and heads taken from Mr. Pulman’s office in Shortland-street. This is by far the best drawing of the kind we have seen in Auckland. As Mr. Pulman has gone into business for himself we hope he will be as successful as he deserves to be. 

Southern Cross 6 April 1863

Masonic Address to the Prince of Wales —We had the opportunity of inspecting last evening an address which is to be presented from the Masonic Lodge Ara to the Prince and Princess of Wales. The address has been beautifully engrossed on parchment in the illuminated style by Mr Geo Pulman of Shortland-street. At the bottom of it there is a coloured sketch of the North Shore from Official Bay, showing the flag-staff and Rangitoto. In the fore ground on the left is a graceful fern tree similar to that which may be seen at the bottom of the Domain and clusters of Indian corn and flax are entwined about its stem. The engrossing is admirably done, the words "lrish Constitution” being set off with the shamrock, and that of the Princess with a wreath of roses. It must have involved much labour, and is certainly very creditable to Mr Pulman … 

Southern Cross 30 June 1863

Then, by fate's quirky coincidence, a fire which began in the New Zealander offices spelled disaster for Pulman's business.
We have little to add to the particulars already published relative to the destructive fire at the premises of the New-Zealander newspaper, which broke out about 11 o'clock on Monday night, and continued to burn until the establishment was reduced to debris. At the time we wrote yesterday morning there was every probability the flames would be confined to the building, and we are glad to find such was the case. The volume of flame gradually diminished and about 3 a.m. was fully under the control of the Fire Brigade, who kept a continuous play on the building throughout. The destruction of property was not confined, however, to the premises of the New-Zealander, as we intimated yesterday. The loses sustained by persons in the neighbourhood are very considerable. On the west side, the premises of Mr. Pulman, draftsman and stationer, have sustained the greatest injury, owing chiefly to the recklessness of the people, who broke in to and gutted the shop, regardless of the remonstrances of the owner. There were, however, great doubts respecting the salvation of these premises during the height of the fire. The roof itself caught at an early stage of the fire, but through the prompt action of a captain of the hose, who directed his attention to the spot when brought under his notice by an insurance agent present, the buildings were preserved… In the case of Mr. Pulman, the loss is very distressing. The labour of years has been destroyed in an hour, and a valuable plant torn down and trodden under. A plan of a reduction of the Waikato lands, which cost the artist weeks of labour, was picked up in the street yesterday morning in an almost worthless state, whilst every vestige of property has been damaged or destroyed. We trust some steps will be taken to assist Mr. Pulman in the restoration of his business. The shop adjoining, which was held on a lease by Mr. Pulman, together with his own, was occupied by Mr. Shepherd as a boot and shoe warehouse, and was also ransacked. Both shops were uninsured. 

Southern Cross 9 May 1866

However, Pulman picked himself and his business up, and continued until an early death in 1871, aged just 45. His widow Elizabeth, faced with caring for 8 children alone, 6 under the age of 11, picked up where Pulman left off, defended her late husband's work against plagiarists and copyright thieves, and came to employ noted photographers Thomas Armstrong Fairs and George Armstrong Steel in the Shortland Street photographic studios. She remarried, and as Elizabeth Blackman died in 1900, aged 64.

There are quite a few of George Pulman's other lithographed plans and maps available to view at Auckland Libraries' Heritage Images Online webpages.

The vicarage for St Paul's, Emily Place. George Pulman card, dated 1870s. Ref 4-12, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries

Miss Newey's cottage

Back in May 2010, in a post about a stroll through part of Henderson, I referred to Miss Newey's cottage. Newey's reserve is at the corner of Edmonton and Great North Roads. Almost in the picture above, taken from one of the interpretive signs there. 

I mentioned in the post that I wasn't sure how the cottage, given with the land to Henderson Borough Council in 1987, came to end up at Western Springs. 

 Western Leader 28 September 1987

Now, I do. But it's too late for the cottage. 

Eileen Newey, described in 1987 as one of Henderson's oldest residents when she died, left the Henderson Borough Council her land at the corner of Edmonton and Great North Road as a reserve, establishing Newey's Corner. Edges of the property were used to widen the intersection, with Miss Newey's approval. The Council advised the Western Leader at the time that the house "will be made available free for removal to an approved community group." The mayor of Henderson at the time, Assid Corban, described Miss Newey as a school teacher of many years, who took great interest in the Henderson community. "She taught me at school, and many generations of Henderson people, she went beyond the bounds of  a normal school teacher in the area."

What perplexed me was how the cottage ended up at Western Springs, on land which was once part of that for William Edgcumbe's Northern Hotel (the "Old Stone Jug") on Great North Road.

This is the cottage as it was earlier this year, in from of the Auckland Horticultural Society's building on Great North Road. From what I understand, Assid Corban had connections with the Society back in 1987, and offered the cottage to them for use as a caretaker's residence -- the caretaker needed to look after the Horticultural Centre on the site which is used by community groups and other organisations for hire, once the clubhouse for Chamberlain Park Golfcourse.

By 2009, however, the cottage wasn't used as much, and the Auckland City Council advised the Society that the cottage was too close to the Meola Stream banks, and could cause major erosion problems. Earlier this year, a committee member in the Society had some ideas to reopen the cottage as a kind of arts centre. I had a look inside then. For its age, from around the late 1920s onwards, it was in very good nick.

Then, in late October, as I arrived for a meeting of the Pt Chevalier Historical Society, I found this. Bare remnants of the foundations. The storage container was linked, I believe, to a crew selling fireworks from the site later on in November.

What I later found out, thanks to some kind folk within Auckland Council and Trevor Pollard of West Auckland Historical Society, was that the cottage was removed on 23 September and carted west, to a yard on Hobsonville Road. There, it will either be sold (if it hasn't been already) or -- broken up for demolition bits and pieces.

I know it is just a cottage, and there are a lot of them around, but -- with a bit more thought, it might have ended up back at Henderson, somewhere like Tui Glen. Perhaps even set up as a bit of a historical display on the history of education in the area and in West Auckland. Something for children to help them learn about our history.

But, just like some old cottage on an anonymous and ordinary bit of land -- it's now gone.

Auckland Council can't be blamed for this. Passing any kind of file notation from Henderson Borough Council to Waitakere City Council then on to Auckland Council would be expecting too much. And Henderson Borough Council may not have even made note of the heritage values of the building anyway, values diminished to next to nothing once they allowed its removal from the district and its community associations. The Horticultural Society, faced with demands to move the cottage, obviously saw only the one solution, and that was to sell for removal. No fault lies there, they were acting in their own interests. The company which removed the cottage are, of course, just doing business. No fault lies there, either.

It's just a pity that no one mentioned, before it was removed, what was going to happen, perhaps looked into its story (published online prior to removal via the Point Chevalier Times last year), asked the local historical society about it ... just a shame.

Update 3 February 2012: Remembering Miss Newey.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hunting for New Zealand connections with the American Civil War

Terry Foenander, who runs a site on US Civil War Navies, is an indefatiguable researcher into the stories behind the names of those who were involved in the mid 19th century conflict -- and who drifted down to Australasia to settle, and in many cases die here.

Over recent days, he's sent through a number of emails involving queries of men who were involved at somed point with the war, came here -- and then seem to have vanished from the records.

If anyone can help, contact Terry via

Frederick William ATTWOOD

"I have ... located the details of another veteran who lived in New Zealand, though I could not locate any death details. His name was among the Naval pension files, but in the disapproved section, which has now been uploaded on to the Internet at the FOLD3 web site, and which I have only started searching through a couple of days ago. Although these files are described as "Disapproved" it should be remembered that there were a large number of reasons for their rejection, such as that the applicant may have died before it was approved by the Pension department in Washington, or his service may have been less than ninety days (which was the stipulation for the issue of a pension), and several other factors. In the case of Frederick W. Attwood, who lived at Gisborne, Poverty Bay, he seems to have, after several years of trying to obtain the pension, with the usual run around by the Department, abandoned these attempts. I do know that, prior to about the early 1900s, foreign applicants had to have one or more proper requirements before they were issued the pension, and nothing to do with age. The age pension, if I recall correctly, only came through in the Act of 1907. Anyway, here are the details I have compiled, from the pension files, and also the enlistment records (available at I did also check the online New Zealand marriages and deaths indices, with negative results, though I am unsure if these records are complete. "
Frederick William Attwood, born England, about 1846; resident of Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand; prior to joining the Naval service, Attwood stated that he had sailed aboard the vessel, the Young Republic, out of Portland, Maine, and had also been aboard the Thomas Lord, of Bath, in the commissariat department, and that he had also voted in the election of 1864; enlisted in the Union Navy, July 28, 1864, and sent aboard the receiving vessel, North Carolina, at Brooklyn, and remained aboard until August 18, 1864; his enlistment is confirmed by the United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous records, showing that he enlisted for three years under the “General Service” and that he received an initial bounty of $48; personal particular shown as being, by occupation, a seaman, with blue eyes, light hair, light complexion, and standing 4 feet 10 ½ inches tall; then served as ordinary seaman on USS Minnesota (at Fortress Monroe), until January 24, 1865, and then sent aboard the USS A.D. Vance, for one day, January 25, 1865, before going aboard the USS Fort Donelson until July 15, 1865; Attwood had declared that he was in the second attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, and his group had found a lieutenant Birdwhistle lying wounded; Birdwhistle stated directly to Attwood to take one of the guns in the fort, and, pointing to a flag lying beside him, told Attwood and his group to try and plant the flag at the site of the Armstrong gun; it was during this attack, and after the flag had been planted on the gun, that Attwood received the wounds that he declared later in his pension application; after his wounding he was rendered unconscious, and remembered nothing until he awoke the next morning aboard the USS Minnesota; later contracted yellow fever, while aboard another vessel; he later served aboard the USS Buckthorn until April 1, 1867, then on board the USS Potomac to June 13, 1867, and finally discharged from Naval service at Pensacola, Florida, July 27, 1867 aboard the Yucca; then left for England, before going to New Zealand; Attwood filed for a pension from the U.S. government in 1892; stated that he had injured his hip and right knee cap; in a letter to the pension commissioner, dated June 6, 1895, Attwood states that:

“It is only through the injuries I received while in the serviced that renders me incapable of earning a living for myself and children”; 

married Mary Irvine at Kairiki, Poverty Bay, date not shown, and they had two children, Margaret Jane, born June 25, 1879, and William Bernard, born June 14, 1881; an affidavit, filled out in 1899 states that George Davie, aged 57 and also a resident of Gisborne, had known Attwood since 1862, and that Attwood was, at that time a fine strapping young fellow, and that Attwood had left New Zealand in March, 1863, and had gone to the United States where he served in the United States Navy during the Civil War; Davie had again met Attwood in 1869, after he had returned from the U.S., and noted that he (Attwood) was then broken in health, limped, and was only able to do light manual work; Attwood then complained that he had been shot in the left hip and right knee cap; Attwood also declared in another statement: “I will leave it to the generosity of the U.S. government to award me what they consider I am entitled to. If I am entitled to a medal I should be very pleased to wear one”; as identifying marks, Attwood also stated that he had several tattoos all of which he got while he was in the service; they were noted as the U.S. coat of arms on the front of his right arm, and on the back of the same arm the Guardian of Liberty, and, on his thumb, an anchor; unfortunately, some of the medical files for some of the vessels he served on do not exist, and others show no record of any medical attendances by Attwood, other than the USS Yucca, which indicate that he attended with a fever in 1867; after several years of writing to the pension commissioner, and then being medically examined, and after several attestations, his application was finally abandoned, with no reason shown for such abandonment. [Navy Survivor’s Originals (Disapproved) #36801; United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous Records, at]

Robert GEARY

"Just found details of another veteran who had applied for the U.S. government pension, from New Zealand, in the 1890s, but which was abandoned. However, he may have returned to the U.S., as he was stated, in a letter dated in 1902, to have been living in Texas, though this seems to have been an assumption. Here are the details, as gathered from his disapproved pension application file:"

Robert Geary, born about 1836; enlisted as a private, May 1, 1861 in company B, 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, and mustered out August 9, 1861, as a member of company B, 24th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry; later enlisted as a landsman on the USS Princeton, May 13, 1862, and served there until June 5, 1862; then as landsman aboard the USS Braziliera until April 29, 1863, after which he was rated as captain of the hold until October 10, 1863, and again as landsman until April 19, 1864, and was discharged on April 28, 1865, at Philadelphia, as captain of the hold; indicated that when the war was over, and in the excitement, he had hurt his head on a beam aboard ship; application for the government pension filed on January 2, 1892; stated that he had never been married; stated that he had a disabled leg and impaired sight; a letter from a medical officer, T.G.H. Hall of Whangarie, New Zealand, dated February 26, 1896, certified that Geary had been under his treatment for some months, and had lost the sight of his right eye, and that the other eye was quite weak, and also indicated that Geary was depending on the charitable aid board for a living; at some stage it was indicated that he had worked in a cemetery; a final notation dated in September, 1896 indicates that the claim was abandoned; however, a letter dated May 12, 1902, written by a Robert Stanley, jr., of 6730 Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois, addressed to the Commissioner of Pensions, makes the following query:

“Will you kindly advise me if there is a man by the name of Robert Geary on the pension roll of the veterans of the Civil War. This man served in the Army, and the last of his service was on the Frigate Wabash at the end of the war. He is now living somewhere in the state of Texas and being very anxious to find him, I appeal to you for such information as you may be able to give me to locate this man”; 

the file contains no response to this message. [Navy Survivors’pension (Disapproved) file #31711.] I doubt if we will ever be able to confirm where he died.

Rangitoto Jack

Rangitoto by moonlight, c.1910. Ref 35-R50, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries.

My eye was caught the other night by a notice placed in the Auckland Star of 11 February 1878. 

My interest was piqued especially when the matters of the rescue were described by the newspaper. Sinel, with a young man named Alfred Beetson, had headed out on a fishing trip in the harbour, when a squall caught them near Rangitoto Island. On making it ashore, they spent a night in a cave, then, after erecting a signal, discovered they were close to the “solitary abode” of George Jackson, otherwise known as “Rangitoto Jack.” The “lonely fisherman” and his wife took them in and made them comfortable, until Sinel and Beetson were rescued by the Naval Brigade. 

With a name like “Rangitoto Jack”, it seemed that George Jackson had a story behind him. As it turned out, there were apparently two “Rangitoto Jacks”. The first seems to have been one John Beaton, said to have been a crewman on the immigration ship Duchess of Argyle in 1842. 

An old settler whose experience in this province dates as far back as 1842, in rummaging his boxes, came across the following scrap, an interesting reminiscence of the arrival of the pioneer immigrant ship on the shores of this province: "About sunset, on the 4th of October, 1842, our vessel was steadily gliding over the ocean with a careful watch placed, upon her forecastle. An experienced eye would have seen at a glance from the preparations on deck that she was near the end of her journey. She was the pioneer immigrant ship Duchess of Argyle, with nearly 500 souls onboard, commanded by Captain Pait, a thorough gentleman and sailor, he having no chart but those laid down by Captain Cook. It was needful that there should be a sharp look-out, as the Captain had intimated that we were nearing the land, and that possibly we might see it early next morning. We gradually, one after another, retired to dream of those we had parted from, probably, in this world, to meet no more, and our ship followed her path over the waste of water. Early the next morning, a very little before the first dawn of light, there was a cry that roused every one on board, it was "land oh the weather bow." I hurried on deck, it was very dark the captain was standing with only his trowers [sic] and shirt on him, night glass in band, and the seamen were heaving the ship to, but no one could see anything like land, only one man, a sailor, whose name was John Beaton, better known lately as "Rangitoto Jack." He was standing, bent a little forward, pointing over the bulwark, crying, "there it is, don't ye see it." Still the Captain, nor any other one on deck could see anything like land. The Captain looked at John, and said "Beaton, it was the Flying Dutchman you saw." "No, it was not; don't you see it, there -- there it is." Gradually, as if by magic, the darkness passed away, and there rose before us the Three Kings, apparently towering hundreds of feet above over masts, glittering like silver and gold before the rising sun. We had reached the shores of New Zealand." 

Auckland Star 5 October 1875 

That passage is interesting as, by the time that was published, there was a different man known as "Rangitoto Jack" in the newspapers. The first "Rangitoto Jack" does seem to have been John Beaton. In the papers there is also, from the early 1860s, a John Beaton who was a Ponsonby Road bricklayer/brickmaker, well in business then out of business as bankrupt. There's no certainty that the two (or even three!) John Beatons are the same man. In March 1868 though, "Jack Beaton of Rangitoto" reported the theft of “a four-oared boat, sharp at both ends, clinker-built, painted black outside and lead colour inside.” In October 1868, “Rangitoto Jack” Beaton and his “intrepid daughter”, as the Southern Cross described her, both living on Rangitoto, assisted John Johnson after the fishing boat Pet was caught by a sudden storm and partly sank. 

In November 1869, “Rangitoto Jack” was charged with assaulting one Frank Deprasquail on the 23rd of that month. It seems that Deprasquail had taken a shine to Miss Beaton, and had been ardently wooing her. Her father, however, laid down some conditions for the hopeful swain – that he become Roman Catholic, and pay £100 for the privilege. (Isn’t it the bride’s father who usually provides the dowry?) According to Deprasquail: 

“I was following defendant's daughter, intending to marry her but Beaton told me to give it up, and I did give it up. I never asked defendant for his daughter after that but had twice asked for his daughter before. I did not attempt to blacken the character of the daughter after being refused. I told defendant to look out for his daughter, or she would be on the town. I told him this before being refused. I said nothing of her to any one else. The girl did not refuse me. When we parted she said, “You keep your own, and I'll keep my own," and that was all. She followed me, and I followed her.” (Laughter.) 

Southern Cross 30 November 1869 

I'd say telling a man his daughter would become the next thing to a whore would be enough to fuel any temper. Two weeks later, Beaton gave Depasquail a walloping, and was fined 50s. 

In April 1872, Beaton, described as a fisherman, sued Jeremiah Casey over a collision with one of Casey’s boats, the Gemini. But, just before this, one George Jackson appears in the newspapers. He was reported as being a witness to seeing a thief named Charles Foster on Rangitoto. (Southern Cross, 4 February 1871) 

Perhaps, John Beaton left and George Jackson took over, taking over both the sobriquet and the local legends. 

Over the years from that point, "Rangitoto Jack" popped up in reports from time to time, usually in relation to finding dead bodies in or near the Rangitoto waters, and bringing them in to the mortuary. At least the 1878 Sinel-Beetson accident ended fortunately. 

In 1876, "Rangitoto Jack" brought public attention to himself in a different way -- as part of one of the wild goose chases by the police tracking Hara Winiata, accused of an infamous Epsom murder. The following offers a colourful illustration of the "rulers" of the islands in the harbour and Hauraki Gulf.

The police expedition to Rangitoto yesterday affords an illustration of the trouble to which our zealous guardians of the peace are subjected in their search for the Maori murderer by persons coming to them and spinning yarns which are based on commonplace facts, but kindled into startling information by vivid fancy untempered by judgment or intelligence. As our readers are aware the Water-Police started for Rangitoto yesterday soon after 12 o'clock to investigate a rumour brought to town by Captain James of the Pilot service, that Wynyard, the Epsom assassin, had been seen about the island by Mr Jackson, or “Rangitoto Jack" as a well-known man is called who lives with his wife in a little whare near Rangitoto reef. 

The police arrived at Jack's mansion soon after three o'clock, and were hospitably received by the island monarch. Detective Jeffries broached the subject of their mission in his well-known diplomatic style, and did his level best to set before his majesty the advantage which would accrue to himself both in a pecuniary and general sense from giving up the murderer if he had sought shelter in the rocky fastnesses of the island. King Jack made answer that, although no extradition treaty existed between himself, and her Majesty, he should be most happy to give his assistance and command his subjects (consisting of his wife, a dog and two cats) to do the same towards capturing and delivering over to justice the man Hara Winiata, should he or they come across the scoundrel. 

The detective then confronted the monarch with Captain James, and asked his island majesty to repeat the story told to the pilot yesterday. Now arose a wonderful discrepancy. King "Jack" denied most emphatically having told the captain that he had seen the Maori. He had seen a man in a punt, who said he was going to Motutapu for sheep, that was true and he had also told Captain James that he had known a man named Wynyard at Mahurangi some years ago but he had not said he had seen the murderer, nor could he even swear that the man he had seen was a Maori. To this story "Jack" adhered, till her Majesty's ambassadors, finding that the petty sovereign either could or would not furnish them any other information, took their departure after exchanging mutual felicitations. 

Determined to trace the affair to its source, the party pursued their course round the island in the direction the dingy had disappeared, and shortly before six arrived in the narrow channel between Rangitoto and Motutapu. The tide being out they could not pass through, so drawing up their boat and scouring it, they made their way across the island to the residence of the two brother kings of the island, whose name is Reed. Here again every deference was paid to their uniform, and cakes and firewater were set before them of which they partook. When the business was mentioned, the two sovereigns looked at one another, and one closed one of his eyes momentarily, and the other touched his nose with his finger. They then drove a bargain as to what they should receive if they gave all the information they had. This being settled they supplied the following important facts. On the evening of Thursday, a Portuguese man had come to them from the chief of a neighbouring island, whose name was Sandford, to fetch a ram. The man had been sent at day break, so they had learned, from the chief's island, which is called Little Motutapu, and had tried to get into Home Bay, but his boat, the tide being strong and he lazy, had drifted past, and floated into Rangitoto Channel. Now the sun being scorching hot he became sleepy, and had lain down in his boat and gone to sleep forgetful of his mission. When off the reef he was espied and interrogated by the prince of Rangitoto (as our readers have heard.) Subsequently he completed the circuit of the island, being by that time sorry for his laziness, and towards evening arrived through the channel at their palace, when he begged the ram, and obtaining it had departed in peace to his chief's island. Enough, they had spoken. 

And when they had finished, the Queen's delegates looked one upon another, and their lips moved but they spake not aloud for decency sake. So they refreshed themselves with sleep after their search, and returned to Auckland this morning much pleased with their success and Inspector Broham heard their report and his lips moved, but he spake not aloud for decency's sake, and so dismissed them and Captain James departed to the North Shore contemplating the vanity of earthly hopes. 
 Auckland Star 19 February 1876 

For decency's sake -- I'd say the investigators kept their swearing behind closed doors once they got back to base.

But in 1879 -- Auckland lost its "Rangitoto Jack." 
A Man Drowned in the Harbour. 

Yesterday morning at six o'clock the sailors on board the schooner Christina, from the Bay of Islands, noticed a dingy floating near that vessel, when inside of Rangitoto Reef. Seeing that the boat was not occupied, they approached it, and found in it a goat and several loaves of bread. Captain Smith, thinking that an accident had occurred, ordered a constant look-out to be kept until the Christina arrived at the wharf. At 11 o'clock the body was seen floating in the water, further up the channel, and it was immediately taken on board the Christina

As the schooner had to wait for the afternoon tide to come up the harbour, Captain Jackson landed at Takupuna, and walked over to Devonport and there by one of the ferry steamers to Auckland. On being informed of the finding of the dead body, Sergeant Martin, of the water-police, had the body brought Auckland in the police boat. The body was recognised to be that of an old man Jackson, who with his wife and family have resided at Rangitoto Island for many years past. It appears that deceased had been at Devonport Saturday right, and had after purchasing some provisions, left to return to his home. As the water was very calm on Saturday night and Sunday morning it is difficult to say how the accident occurred. 


An inquest was held on the body of deceased George Jackson, this afternoon before Dr Philson. Captain Smith, of the schooner Christina, deposed to finding the body, as described above. William Henry Trevarthen deposed that he last saw deceased alive on Saturday night at 9 o'clock on the Devonport Wharf. 
 Auckland Star 28 April 1879 

The verdict found was that of accidental death.

The scene at Rangitoto when the authorities went to both tell Mrs Jackson that she was now a widow, and to drag her away from her island home, must have been heart wrenching.

Sergeant Martin and several of the police went to Rangitoto last evening to inform Mrs Jackson of the death by drowning of her husband, George Jackson. The police were accompanied by a daughter of the deceased. Mr Trevarthen of Devonport also proceeded by boat to the Island. It was with much difficulty that Mrs Jackson could be induced to leave her old home and come to Auckland. She has two daughters residing in Auckland, with one of whom she will now live. 
 Auckland Star 29 April 1879 

To the Editor Sir,—lt has been suggested that a subscription list should be started, or an entertainment got up for the benefit of the widow of the late George Jackson, who was found drowned in the harbour recently. The case is a very deserving one. Mrs Jackson has no means, and is at present residing with her son-in-law, Mr F. Nicholson, shoemaker, of Wyndhnm-street. Can some of our local amateurs assist in this matter '.—I am, &c, A.B. 
 Auckland Star 7 May 1879 

I don't know what happened to Mrs Jackson after that.

In Papers Past, we find an obituary of sorts to George Jackson, the man who was, at least, the second Rangitoto Jack, most likely coming originally from out of the NZ Herald. It had the wrong details about his family life -- but at least puts something up for posterity in honour of one of the characters of the harbour.

Rangitoto Jack, the old fisherman who is reported to have been found drowned beside his boat in the Rangitoto Channel a day or two ago, was one of those odd characters who are still to be found in secluded spots in many parts of New Zealand. He lived entirely alone in a small hut on Rangitoto, the remarkable insular volcanic cone at the entrance of Auckland Harbour, and was well known to all the boating men who frequent the bays and islands on that part of the coast. There are all sorts of legends about his antecedents, some of which represent his early life as having been decidedly adventurous, and the old man himself was not at all averse to being considered a bit of a desperado. We believe there really was not much harm in him though, and that his most desperate exploit had probably been nothing more thrilling than desertion from some man-of-war. He was a first-mate hand in a boat, and knew exactly where the best fishing was to be had in all the waters anywhere near the Waitemata, and he will no doubt be a good deal missed from the circle in which he was specially known. His solitary death, in the neighbourhood of his humble retreat, was perhaps as suitable an ending to his career as could possibly have occurred. Many a yellow-covered novel has been made out of less promising materials than the incidents of his life and death afford. 

Timaru Herald 30 April 1879 

Rangitoto Island’s 19th century history from 1840 started with it nominally being under Crown control – but in fact being bought and sold actively by Europeans into the early part of that decade. 

The people will recklessly and foolishly spend their money without the sanction of Government on the purchase, or rather re-purchase of lands which are already bought by Government or by private individuals. This is no suppositious statement. It has already happened. We understand that even the barren Island of Rangitoto, although the property of the Government for more than three years, has within the last week been twice bought. 

Southern Cross, 26 October 1844 

Before the appearance of a “Rangitoto Jack” c.1868, stone from the volcanic island was used in works such as the formation of Queen Street Wharf from c.1851, a practice that was to continue into the 20th century. In 1854, the Crown is said to have formally acquired title, but ownership was still under dispute at the Native Land Court before Judge Fenton as at 1867. In 1863, the island was used to quarantine the passengers and crew of the Tyburnia.

… your memorialists regret that the authorities have not been able to procure a better place for the performance of quarantine. The island of Rangitoto is destitute of water, has no sufficient space for exercise, and in the opinion of your memorialists, is otherwise unfit for the purpose for which it has been set apart, more especially in the case of women and children. 

Southern Cross 25 September 1863 

Even with this scarcity of fresh water, there was speculation in 1865 that grapes could be grown on the slopes of the island. Mind you, at that point, those interested in grape growing were willing to try anything. 

The dispute over ownership of the island may have been how “Rangitoto Jack” first came into the picture in 1868 – as a squatter, with no one particularly interested in moving him on. Even so, reports on excursions to the island in December 1869 and January 1870 do not include any descriptions of habitations thereon. (Auckland Star, 28 December 1869; 28 January 1870) The Auckland Harbour Board was granted management over Rangitoto from October 1872, which made sense, as the Board were in the process of the vast reclamations which reshaped Auckland’s southern foreshore to the Waitemata. Stone from Rangitoto formed part of the great seawalls built up. 

The wife of another fisherman based at Rangitoto, or so she said, one Mary Carmichael, alias Mary Cameron, was up before the courts for drunkenness in 1877. 

Sub-Inspector Pardy to prisoner: Have you been drunk three times lately? Prisoner: Oh, yes as drunk as a lord. I am the wife of a fisherman at Rangitoto. Reached this colony in 1842 and when I come to Auckland I must have a drop, you know can't help it. 

Auckland Star 31 August 1877 

By 1890, Rangitoto came under control of the Devonport Borough Council, forming a Domain Board. Ahead was the rest of the story: quarrying, wrecks, heritage baches, and Auckland's pride in a unique landmark on the waters.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Street Stories 20: the Ladies Mile

(left) Robert Graham, from the Observer, 21 January 1882

From 1848 through the 1850s, Robert Graham bought up a patchwork of landholdings, and created a farm called Ellerslie (approximately named after a boyhood home back in the old country). At the beginning, he intended for the massive farm to simply be a sheep run, but on returning from a trip to California in 1853, he decided to turn it into a true farm, built  a farmhouse at the top near Remuera Road, and set aside an area at the bottom for a racecourse by 1855. The Auckland Racing Club held their first meeting on Graham's land two years later.

In the early 1870s, he decided to create Ellerslie Gardens, in conjunction with an Ellerslie Hotel, and the coming of the railway from Newmarket through to Onehunga. The main reason for the gardens, with its orchards, and sports fields, and nice drives on which the ladies could stroll past the menagerie -- was to sell land. The Ellerslie Gardens was a grand advertisement in Victorian style.

So -- what of the Ladies Mile?

There are two main theories abroad in local history texts as to the origins of the Ladies Mile, the road stemming from off Remuera Road, heading down towards Ellerslie, veering at Peach Parade to skirt around the Ellerslie Racecourse, before heading straight through to link up with the Main Highway which heads towards Panmure.

The main theory, the one I most often see popping up its head, is the one Jenny Carlyon and Diana Morrow used on page 50 on their book, A fine prospect: A History of Remuera, Meadowbank and St John (2011) -- that the Ladies Mile was formed  as as a track to connect the properties of  David and Robert Graham. David Graham's house was "The Tower", on Remuera Road; Robert Graham's house, the farmhouse later grander mansion called Ellerslie House, is on Mainston Road, just off Remuera Road. Developing the Ladies Mile as a connection would have been pointless -- both brothers had Remuera Road frontage, and the slight line of Ladies Mile from Remuera Road perhaps leading to Ellerslie House can hardly be called a "mile". The name Ladies Mile, for a connecting road like that, had it truly existed, would make little sense. Carlyon and Morrow simply repeated the tale of the brothers' connection -- and looked no further into the logic of it.

Theory number two appears on the Wikipedia page for Ellerslie:
Adjacent to his home, 'Ellerslie House', was a track along which Mrs Graham was in the habit of riding her horse every morning, now a street called Ladies Mile.
Has anyone ever asked why Mrs Graham would ride her horse from Ellerslie House down a track towards a racecourse every morning? Was she hoping, perhaps, to be New Zealand's first woman jockey? Robert Graham ceased living on his land around 1868, pursuing a career in politics, and land deals at Waiwera and Rotorua. The racecourse was just about the only thing Mrs Graham would have been riding towards. Again, this theory, while as picturesque as the other one, just doesn't appear to make sense -- and is an attempt, on the face of it, to try to explain the "Ladies Mile" name.

What was a "Ladies Mile" in late Victorian times? I think, primarily, the "Ladies Mile" most at the time would think of was that at Hyde Park, in London. The following from W.S.Gilbert, London Characters and the Humorous Side of London Life, c.1870, via Victorian London.
But we now enter the great Hyde Park itself, assuredly the most brilliant spectacle of the kind which the world can show... the splendid mounts and the splendid comparisons, between fine carriages and fine horses---fine carriages where perhaps the cattle are lean and poor, or fine horses where the carriages are old and worn; the carriages and horses absolutely gorgeous, but with too great a display; and, again, where the perfection is absolute, but with as much quietude as possible, the style that chiefly invites admiration by the apparent desire to elude it. In St. James's Park you may lounge and be listless if you like; but in Hyde Park, though you may lounge, you must still be alert ... I sometimes think that the Ladies' Mile is a veritable female Tattersall's, where feminine charms are on view and the price may be appraised---the infinite gambols and curvettings of high-spirited maidenhood. But I declare on my conscience that I believe the Girl of the Period has a heart, and that the Girl of the Period is not so much to blame as her mamma or her chaperone.
In late 1874, as Graham's Ellerslie Gardens began to take shape, details of the layout appeared in the press, including the first description of the as-then unnamed road.

We should advise all who wish to build a suburban residence, or who wish to speculate for the rise in land, to go out and take a look at these allotments. The plan of the township shows great taste in the arrangement of the streets, crescents, and thoroughfares. One broad roadway a chain wide strikes off from the station past the Gardens, and is carried right across to the Remuera road, affording a series of beautiful frontages.
Auckland Star 7 November 1874 

So, the Ladies Mile dates from late 1874, at least on paper.  The road "striking off from the (Ellerslie) train station" was Bella Street, now part of the line of Ladies Mile. Even on an 1885 plan for the gardens and the subdivision, Bella Street still went by that name.

 NZ Map 4537, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Library

But then, by 1878, came speculation in the Auckland Star, and the first instance of the name "Ladies Mile":
It was stated some time ago that Mr Robert Graham was about to lay out a road at the back of the Ellerslie Hotel, leading through a portion of his estate at Remuera, so as to form a splendid carriage drive. We understand, however, that he has now so planned the carriage drive as to run right through the Ellerslie Gardens to the grand-stand on the race-course, opening up the Onehunga road via the Harp of Erin, and running through the race-course and gardens. This road, when completed, will be a great convenience to sportsmen and, forming a picturesque and easy drive, will probably be much used in fine weather. It has been proposed to call it “The Ladies' Mile." The alteration will also render many valuable building sites available, which will doubtless be in demand. Altogether the proposal is one that reflects much credit on Mr. Graham's forethought and enterprise. 
Auckland Star 16 November 1878

Detail from NZ Map 4537. Note the diagonal drive through the original layout of drives and paths of the gardens, before the overlay of later streets as part of the subdivision -- something which may have reminded the Auckland Star in 1878 of the "Ladies Mile" through Hyde Park in London.

It would seem that Robert Graham didn't take too kindly to the use name "Ladies Mile" for his Ellerslie Carriage Drive at all. His response came a few days later.
Mr Robert Graham writes as follows on the subject of the proposed Ladies' Mile at Ellerslie. 

"Sir, —In announcing my intention, in your issue of Saturday last, of laying out a public carriage drive through Ellerslie, you were not quite correct in describing the course “The Ladies' Mile," as you facetiously style it, will take. From Onehunga, passing the Harp of Erin, the carriage drive will be formed straight down to near the grand-stand; thence through the Ellerslie Gardens to near the artesian well, taking the rise of the hill behind Ellerslie Hotel.—ROBT. GRAHAM." 
 Auckland Star 21 November 1878
The name stuck, however. James Baber, engineer for the Remuera Road Board, advertised tenders for "forming part of the Ladies Mile Road, in the Remuera District", in December 1882. Bella Street at the Ellerslie end would have become known as part of Ladies Mile by early in the 20th century at the latest.

Ladies Mile: a road with picturesque myths around its origins and its naming, or a road so-named possibly because of an unknown journalist's comparison between it and a place in a famous London park where the ladies put themselves on display (in the nicest of ways, of course). I'll leave it for the reader to decide.

Lost Property, and Newton's Stories

Another site I came across recently -- Lost Property.

‘Lost Property’ is a rediscovery of unique houses, stories and pieces of history – a site for researchers, students and anyone who wants to know about lost and ‘at risk’ iconic houses, people, paintings and stories from our recent past. Combining historical imagery and in-depth research, ‘Lost Property’ connects the art and the writer to the room in the house in that it was conceived ! (Enter) the kitchens, bedrooms and hallways in which history and a new era was given voice.

I came across it while doing some research into architects and their work -- and found it fascinating. Here you'll see a list of the country's architects, and other lists still in development. As I usually say when I post about other sites I've spotted -- worth a look.

Another site of interest in Newton's Stories. No, not about Sir Isaac -- this, in a few pages, gives the reader a snapshot brief history of the suburb of Newton, the place of Karangahape Road, and a residential area mostly gone to the motorway development of the late 20th century. The site includes research links of interest, to lead the reader off on their own trail of discovery. Simple, well-illustrated, and nicely done.

The Hocken Blog

I've made a reference to The Hocken Blog before now, when posting about a rather musically inspired mural at Pt Chevalier -- but I think the blog deserves a post all its own. Worth having a browse through -- and it's a reminder to me that, someday, I must go down there. Probably for several days ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Remains of the Auckland Meat Company

Another contribution from Paul Hafner (sent in late November -- thanks, Paul!): his photo of the AMC sign still clearly marked out in tiles, Devonport.

"I know that you like relics of signage. The other day (evening, rather) when I was in Devonport, I noticed these tiles at a shop now called Abigails (corner Rattray and Victoria Roads). I think there were quite a few of these shops at some stage, but not many of the tiled logos left, I guess."

The shop looks like something from around the 1920s. It looks like the shop's butcher's block made its way to the Devonport Museum.

So -- what of the Auckland Meat Company?

As happens with NZ firms, there was more than one by the name, but the first AMC didn't last all that long. From a works on Lorne Street in 1881, operated by Wilson and Mettam (Auckland Star, 12 February 1881), it expanded under new ownership to start a freezing works down at Waitara, near Patea in 1886. Then, apparently, reinventing itself as the NZ Frozen Meat Company, it hit the financial reefs known as the Long Depression and faded out.

Cue the rise of the second, and longer lasting AMC, from 1906.

Observer 22 September 1906

The core of the new Auckland Meat Company appears to have been Jabez William James Marks. Marks arrived in New Zealand in 1878, first working as a partner with John Rod and Henry Saint in a meat company in Wellington. By the following year, however, the partners were being called into meetings with their creditors. (Evening Post 29 August 1879) By 1881, he was working from Adelaide Road in Wellington. The following year, he was in Auckland working for Enoch Wood, a butcher in Symonds Street, then taking over the business.

According to the reminiscences of one of his sons, Marks was in business in Mt Eden by 1902 at the corner of Stokes and Mt Eden Roads. He expanded his business on moving to Dominion Road, establishing several butcher’s shops by 1906. By October 1906, he had joined two partners to form the Auckland Meat Company. These were Oliver Nicholson, the last Mt Eden Road Board chairman (1905-1906) and the first Mayor of Mt Eden Borough (1906-1918), and president of the Auckland Racing Club for 12 years; and Murdoch McLean, businessman and local politician (Mayor of Mt Albert by 1914).
The stalwart figure of Murdoch McLean will no longer be known among men, and those who knew him best will regret his passing the most keenly. He was one of the best examples New Zealand had of executive ability in large affairs, and the works of his father, the late John McLean, his brother Neil, and himself will long remain to remind us of this great ability. Of his 62 years, of life, 57 were spent in New Zealand, John McLean having brought his family from Nova Scotia in 1860. He retained all his life a pleasant suggestion of the accent of his forefathers. Mr. McLean was remarkable not so many years ago for his great bodily strength and his untiring addiction to work. He had tried even during the last year to carry out the public duties he set himself to do, and was a frequent visitor to Masonic Lodges as a Deputy Grand Master. In this connection he made a point of appealing most strongly on behalf of benevolent and patriotic activities of the Order, and was a highly successful appellant to the charity of those who heard him. His public life was marked by that executive ability which distinguished his business career, and as Mayor of Mount Albert —an office he relinquished when his health began to fail—he gave the borough the experience he had gained in thirty years' intimate acquaintance of Mount Albert matters and its local politics. The late Mr. McLean had many sorrows which he outwardly bore with great fortitude. One son was killed by accident during the McLean Bros preliminary work in the Otira tunnel, and two sons have been killed in action during the present great war. A third soldier son is still fighting in France. The deceased gentleman is survived by his widow, two sons, and three daughters. On Friday last the interment took place at Waikumete Cemetery, Mr Oliver Nicholson, Grand Master of the New Zealand Freemasons, conducting the ceremony. There was a very large gathering of friends and relatives. 
 Observer 22 December 1917

Marks himself was foundation president of the Auckland Master Butcher’s Association from 1906, remaining in that position for some years. Marks started as one of two Managing Directors of the Auckland Meat Company until 1912, when he became Chairman of Directors until his death in 1938. Was the decision in 1912 the result of his appearance in court in June of that year as co-respondent to a rather salacious and messy divorce hearing, with the jury finding he did indeed dally with one Annie Jane Adamson? (Lots more detail in true NZ Truth style in the issues of 8 and 15 June for that year).

The Auckland Meat Company was always the number two chain store operation to that of the Hellaby family. At the time of a 1919 strike of butchers, Hellaby's had 75% of the market. Nevertheless, the AMC proceeded and flourished during the 20th century, up until the 1980s. Some highlights included:

1920 – R S Briggs, butcher at Parnell Road AMC shop (AMC had taken over his business. He was once Mayor of Parnell borough) gassed himself in the back of his shop. (Poverty Bay Herald, 8 December 1920)

1969 – Manager of Ponsonby branch still carrying out daily deliveries by bicycle. (Auckland Scarpbook, Library database)

1974 – Opened first butcher shop in Henderson, at Henderson Square. (Auckland Scrapbook, Library database)

c. 1982 Auckland Meat Company proposal to subdivide holding paddocks land at Hamlin’s Hill opposed by NZHPT – former Maori pa site (Auckland Scrapbook, Library database)

1985-1986 – Last remaining butcher shop in Queen St to go. (Auckland Scrapbook, Library database)

1987 – Pacific Business Centre to be built on former holding paddocks owned by AMC in Mt Wellington.(Auckland Scrapbook, Library database)

There are some remains of the company around. The shop front Paul photographed in Devonport is one -- and then there's the Auckland Meat Company building on Dominion Road, now (thankfully) sans billboards and polka dots.

Treasures of the Auckland Town Hall

Photos taken from when I was part of a group guided around the Auckland Town Hall, 15 December. See also my previous post on the Town Hall's centenary.

Plaques extolling the work of former city councillors are everywhere in the vestibule areas of the Town Hall. If your name ends up in bronze or marble -- and it isn't in a cemetery -- you've made it in the world.

But this one is special: in honour of Lieutenant-Commander William Edward Sanders, VC, DSO. I've come across him before when looking at the Takapuna War Memorial.

Kate Sheppard is here as well. Roderic Burgess' bronze from 2009, donated by Parisian Neckwear Co Ltd "in recognition of the contribution of women in society, and in particular those who have worked in the company since 1919."

In the South Lightwell area, a rather large irregular-shaped piece of kauri.  It looks somewhat like an oversized woodwork off-cut. This was donated to the city by retired cabinetmaker George F Saunders at Arbor Day, July 1950. Saunders, after working for Garlick & Cranwell since 1886, struck out on his own in May 1898 (Auckland Star, May 16 1898) as a "practical cabinetmaker", as well as a joiner and an undertaker. By 1900, business must have been good, as he advertised for other cabinetmakers to work with him, and a french polisher. His house (he only rented it) in Portland Road Remuera burned down in 1901. But, he remained in business through at least to the 1930s-1940s, living by that time in Lincoln Street, Ponsonby.

The provenance for the kauri board is given as having been originally part of a large tree in the Kaureranga Forest near Thames, floated to Auckland by the tug Lyttelton in 1915 to be cut up by the Kauri Timber Company. "The tree from which it came", according to the Herald on 4 August 1950, "measured 50ft to the first branch and towered another 45 ft above that. It was reputed to be more than 3000 years old."

Of course, with 21st century hindsight, the word "vandals" comes to mind, but -- such was the way of the timber trade back then. See something big and old, cut it down ...

Saunders may have purchased the timber direct from the company -- and probably used a fair bit in the course of his trade. There may even be the remains of coffins at Waikumete Cemetery made from the wood of that same tree. This remaining piece measured 13ft 10 inches long by 7ft 4 3/4 inches wide when donated. Initially, Council considered incorporating the board in the vestibule of the Pioneer Women's Hall, Freyberg Place. But, as with other items offered to the Council, such as stone sculptures from off old Post Offices, this was stored "for the time being" at the Town Hall. Probably due to its dimensions, it never left.

One thing about the wording on the board: "The polishing of the board was the gratuitous work of the Auckland Disabled Servicemens Re-establishment League." Now, reports at the time described the League's work as "generous" rather than "gratuitous". Sign of a changing slant to the meaning of our words, that "gratuitous" these days is seen as more "unjustified, uncalled-for", than freely given.

Just as an aside, here's the story about the tug Lyttelton according to the NZ Maritime Index:

"Paddle tug built for Lyttelton Harbour Board. She made her way out to New Zealand under sail rigged as a brig, arriving at Lyttelton 21 Nov 1878. Whilst in service she was involved in several notable salvage feats. 1901 reboilered. Sep 1907 sold to Devonport Steam Ferry Company. 1912 sold to Kauri Timber Company and was active between Whangaroa and Coromandel ports towing rafts of kauri logs. 1941 laid up inside the Western Viaduct. 1945 superstructure destroyed in fire. 5 Oct 1955 towed north and run ashore at Lagoon Bay, Takatu Peninsula, for use as a shingle hopper. When shingle trade ceased mid-1970s the hull was left to become slowly buried in the shingle drifts."

Images of her can be found here.

This is now historic, displayed in the old Council Chambers. The Super City came into effect in 2010 just before the last space could be filled. Has a new board been started for the Mayor of Auckland Council?

I didn't quite catch the name of the room during the tour, but Rendell McIntosh of Parnell Heritage advised that this, the chandelier remnant of Sir John Logan Campbell's Kilbryde house, now resides in the Ngati Whatua Room, part of the municipal offices section of the Town Hall.

The thought that went through my mind on seeing this was -- it is also one of the last remnants of one of the temporary hospitals used during the 1918 'flu epidemic here in Auckland, with Kilbryde, then owned by the Council, called into service.

Next year is the centenary of Sir JLC's death -- mark the calendars, folks.

Sir John Logan Campbell's funeral cortege. Auckland Weekly News, 4 July 1912, ref. AWNS-19120704-7-3, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries.

Finally, on display in the front section of the Town Hall, by the reception area to the meeting rooms, there is a small collection of artifacts from the history of territorial authority in Auckland. Here are some of them.

Above, a silver jug to commemorate the last year of the Auckland Harbour Board before amalgamation in 1989 as Ports of Auckland.

Petrified wood, estimated to be 40,000 years old, from a puriri tree, found during the formation of the Balmoral to St Lukes regional road in 1971.

Crown Lynn crockery for the Auckland Regional Authority.

The switch used to turn on electric current for Birkenhead, 1926.

The most intriguing of all: "Trowel used by Governor Hobson when he laid the foundation stone of old St Paul's Church, Britomart Point, in 1841. Presented to the city of Auckland by Geo. S Graham on behalf of the builder, William Greenwood."

Old St Pauls Church, ref 1-W471, Sir George Grey Special Collections

The trowel, so the Auckland Star reported on 11 June 1894, appears to have been kept by William Greenwood until returned to the St Paul's Trustees by that year, when it was used to lay the foundation stone for the second St Paul's church, on Symonds Street. Then, two and a half years later in February 1897, George S Graham presented the trowel to the Auckland Art Gallery, at the request of William Greenwood, who had recently died. If Greenwood did manage to keep the small trowel in such condition for over 50 years, before passing it along -- he did very well indeed.

Another very old settler of the Auckland district passed away at his home at Epsom this morning between one and two o'clock, in the person of Mr Wm. Greenwood, one of our most respected residents. He had been ailing for the past four days from an attack of bronchitis, and had been carefully attended by Dr. Lewis and Knight, but without avail. For some years, he was in partnership with the late Mr Charles Lawson in the stone masonry trade, but for many years past he had lived in retirement at his home at Epsom. He was about 89 years of age, and had been a resident of Auckland for over forty years. An interesting fact in connection with the deceased, as illustrative of the fruits of early settlement in some, if not many, cases, is that over 30 years ago Mr Greenwood became the owner of that block of buildings between the Thistle and Albert Hotels in Queen-street opposite the Auckland Savings Bank, and about six months ago sold the property to Messrs Ehrenfried Bros, for £14,000. 
 Auckland Star 30 September 1895

Thanks in part no doubt to such shrewd dealings, Greenwood's estate was valued at £20,000.