Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sidney Weetman's survey of the Auckland Railyards, 1882

Survey Office plan 3006, LINZ records, crown copyright.

In July 1882, Sidney Weetman surveyed the land along the eastern waterfront for Central Auckland designated to become the second of Auckland's so-far four main railway stations. In 1872-1873, the first one was laid out and completed alongside Beach Road. From 1882, construction was underway for the Queen Street Station, which ended up behind the Central Post Office, and which is where the Britomart Station is today -- but over-ground, not underground. Then, the the 1930s, the move back towards Beach Road, finally reversed yet again by this century's Britomart development.

Sidney Weetman was born in Rio de Janiero in 1841, and educated in England. He was working in Auckland from 1865 to 1887, so this is one of his later plans while working in this city. He died in 1912, a Remuera resident.
The death took place on Friday last at Remuera, Auckland, of Mr Sidney Weetman, an old and respected resident of Auckland. Mr Weetman, who was born at La Gloria, Rio de Janiero, was the son of Mr Carter Weetman, of the firm of Hopkirk and Weetman, bankers and merchants, of that city, and was educated in  England. Having taken up the profession of a surveyor he, on his arrival in New Zealand as a young man, took service under the Provincial Government of Southland; he afterwards removed to Auckland, and later became district surveyor, which position he held for many years. He was then appointed in charge of the Gisborne district, and afterwards, in turns, as Commissioner of Crown Lands and Chief Surveyor of the Taranaki, Marlborough and Canterbury districts. After nearly 40 years in the public service, he retired on superannuation,, and has since lived privately in England and Auckland. Mr Weetman. being a man of many attainments, took a keen interest outside his profession, in affairs. He was a member of various societies, and for many years a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Marlborough Express 28 February 1912

So, to the plan. Above can be see the present site of the Britomart Station. I actually came across this map while trying to work out where Edward Wall's hulk had been discovered in 1904, and came to the conclusion that it was right opposite the end of Fort Street, at 52 Customs Street East.

I do like one little touch to Weetman's plan -- the shading around the stump of Point Britomart. That was where Customs Street came to an end in the days before they blew the point up for reclamation in the 1870s. Fort Street was a "Jacob's Ladder" away (and a heck of a climb) from the foot of Princes Street.

This part shows the layout of the 1872 station, which was halted from further development for a time by the bulk of Point Britomart.

Mechanic's Bay in 1882. Already, its fate is sealed. Weetman's plan shows the area of the remaining bay, already reclaimed around the western, southern and eastern edges, was just over nine acres, a considerable investment property for the Auckland Harbour Board. At the far right, partly obliterated by a tear in the plan, is a boiler house of some kind. Further down, jutting onto the bay itself, a jetty then a large timber jetty. The sea wall existed from at least the 1870s, formed out of the remains of Point Britomart. Weetman's view of the 1880s Mechanics Bay would have been like this (from beside that boiler house, looking westward toward the railway station):

Photograph attributed to James D Richardson, reference 4-609, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries. By kind permission.

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