Sunday, April 24, 2011

Viewing the vanished: Kilbryde

Sir John Logan Campbell's home "Kilbryde" is, today, long gone. It was demolished in 1924 by Auckland City Council, who felt that restoring it would be too expensive, as they could see no use for it.

One thing I think is marvellous -- the use of today's technologies to bring the past back to life so we can appreciate what once was. The subject of this post is a case in point.

Earlier this month, architectural designer David Hirtzell contacted me out of the blue to show me a project he has been working on -- to create a digital 3-d image of the lost Kilbryde within Google Sketch-up and Google Earth. Here are some screen shots of his work.

Kilbryde's location:

David is keen to hear from anyone who has information as to the interior and layout of the house, and any colour scheme it may have had.

Thanks, David, for sharing your wonderful work. Apologies for the delay in putting this online.

26 April: An update from David.
Anyone interested in Kilbryde must visit the fully restored Monte Cecila Pah Homestead in Hillsborough. It was designed by the same architect (Mahoney) a couple of years before Kilbryde and  is very similar in style inside and out.


  1. That's incredible. Fantastic work!

  2. WOW what an amazing piece of history to have lost ;'( and an incredible use of technology .. .. ..

  3. That is incredibly fantastic!
    To bring back to 'life' that which has been long gone and give a really good impression of how it never know, the "I don't care"s might finally jump the fence and start fighting to protect what we've got left :)

  4. The vertical photo locating the house in today's setting was particularly interesting to me as I sometimes walk the dog in that section of the park. Will certainly visit with added interest next time.

  5. whoahh that is amazing! Mannn it is huge isn't it - how imposing it must have been. Seems everything he did was big.

    Just last week i was working with the personal medical chest of JLC ... jars of goodness knows what - have to be careful handling that. In the bottom drawer are the most cool splints for broken bones. It's in Sharland's apothecary shop in Auckland 1866 street - but currently the lid is down on it. Pretty impressive i must say all the same due to its size!

  6. Seriously, Sandy -- you have a heck of a cool job!

  7. For some reason this park is named after Dove Myer Robinson and you will find many plaques, monuments etc dedicated to various other people, but surprisingly not a mention of John Logan Campbell or Kilbryde ever having been there.

  8. The plaque marking the renaming dates from 20 April 1981, so it's still relatively recent in terms of the park's long history. I think there should be something for Sir John as well -- perhaps naming one of the paths Kilbryde Way or something ...

  9. Thanks re comment Spansycools. The job has its moments LOL :) I love the old stuff ;)

    Cheers ears

  10. Sandy, I assume you work at the Auckland Museum? When I was a kid our favourite thing in the museum was the 1866 street (centennial street as I remember). I think that's where I got my fascination with all this stuff.

  11. Indeed David i do :)

    The street is very cool isn't it! I've only been in Auckland for just on 4 years so i grew up with Christchurch Street in Canterbury museum instead, however no matter what museum, i think this type of gallery is perennially popular!

    Let's hope it has the same effect on todays younger generations ... museums are fantastic places! Have you visited it lately David?


  12. I am amazed at what you have done to recreate where Kilbryde was situated as I have driven past many times and wondered where exactly it was. It saddens me to think that a house of such grand proportions was demolished after only 40 years. To think that Logan Campbell GAVE Auckland Cornwall Park and that the Auckland Council back then did not see this house as worth saving for future generations. Thankfully now the Pah Homested has been restored for us to enjoy.

  13. Hi Lisa
    I'm unsure if I have mentioned it previously, but I also have in the past quoted the cliff demolition to create Tamaki Drive as a prime reason this great mansion was sadly demolished in 1924. As David's recreation indicates, that presumption was wrong because its site remains essentially intact.

    I think there are three main reasons why it wasn't sufficiently valued at the time.
    One was that it was empty and had been allowed to run down a bit; two was that its imsge had been sullied by its use as an emergency hospital during the savage 1918 flu epidemic; and three was that the then mayor Gunson was very determined to see the creation of the park and the house was an impediment to that.
    If people go to the site, be sure to visit the absolutely enormous Pohutukawa at the easternmost corner of the Kilbryde footprint - probably a JLC planting. It is an unbelieveable giant with a ground level footprint of 48m by 40m, and is a superb playground for adventurous children of all ages, and a virtual 'Lord of the Rings' environment.

    Finally I don't know if David has mentioned it, but he did the Kilbryde recreation before he knew of the closely similar Pah Homestead. When subsequently he was taken to visit The Pah after we had restored it, he described the experience as being like 'seeing a ghost'

  14. Enjoyed our visit today to the homestead with my 3 kids. Edward (Eru)Campbell was JLC'S Maori son. Shame there's only mention of his daughter Winifred. Tho it took Michael Campbell's PGA win for an admission that JLC had Maori children. Shame the old house was demolished during the city workd