Monday, April 25, 2011

The making of Memorial Park, Avondale

I had put up an earlier post on the Memorial Park, but as with the way things go, I've needed to update it. Previously, I'd gone by what the centennial booklet put out by St Ninian's Church in 1960 said: that the park was donated to Auckland City Council in 1951. Actually, Council Archives records (ACC 219/706q) point to the land being offered to the city by the church in 1948. So, I've adjusted the previous post -- but the story, so I found while looking at the file, didn't end there.

Council minutes from 12 February 1948 refer to the offer by the Sessions Managers of St Ninians Presbyterian Church to donate an area of land at the corner of St Georges and Great North Roads (see above 2008 image). Council accepted the offer in April that year, and the Parks Department began to plan the shape of the war memorial there -- to be not more than 2 feet in height. The triangular area was to be walled with rough-faced stone on two sides (facing the two roads), and the surface grassed.

By October the City Engineer, Arthur James Dickson (from 1944), was able to advise the Town Clerk that it was expected to take £500 to develop the park. The war memorial was to consist of a spacious memorial seat or permanent construction, with plant boxes and a small terrace of pre-cast paving slabs of crushed brick. The cost of the main feature, the memorial itself, was to be borne by the RSA to an estimated sum of £100-£115. In the end, it cost them £107. All these plans and intentions were authorised by Council on 24 February 1949, but -- in July there was a sudden hitch.

This being still within the postwar era, construction projects of any size in the country had to be approved by the wartime-created Building Advisory Committee in Wellington. That committee advised that it was unable to issue a permit for the work of constructing the stone walls, seat, terracing and memorial, due to a critical material supply situation. Council had to wait until November 1949 for the concrete and steel work to finally be approved.

A quote was received in February 1950 from W G Archer, building contractors, to do the work for £1392 and 15 shillings, just over $93,000 in today's values. Work began that month, but on 20 February vandals knocked over 15 feet of the stone wall. According to the newspaper report of the time, the "wall is of fairly substantial construction and it appears that the mischief was caused by several adults."

Still, work proceeded and all was ready for April 1951. "This Memorial," the church's centennial booklet tells us, "was unveiled by Sir John Allum, then Mayor of Auckland, assisted at the ceremony by ministers of several denominations."


  1. Hi

    I am having a blonde day and can't find your contact details - sorry.

    I would like to let you know that Eye on Auckland has moved to a new website - ...... please amend the link on your blogroll list - thanks :)