Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pierce Building, now Symond Court

Every time, up to now, when I've gone past this building on the corner of Khyber Pass and Upper Symonds Street, I've wondered if it was ever a hotel. Well, no, it wasn't, but -- it had connections with one. To a point.

It seems that the corner site once belonged to a Mr Gilfillan, according to NZ Map 4207 in the Sir George Grey Special Collections. Likely this was John Anderson Gilfillan who is remembered among other things as the Gilfillan of Gilfillan's Store in Queen Street.

 Auckland Star 18 January 1873

 Those readers out there who would like the challenge for further information: try rates records for Auckland City's Grafton Ward, Deeds Index 1A.615 and application file 34697C with Land Information New Zealand. Let me know what you find.

Then, sometime between 1873 and 1890, this appeared.

Edward Qualtrough's Orchard & Garden Store (left), and M J Coyle's smithy (right), 1890s. Ref. 7-A11354, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, by kind permission.

A wooden store, operated by Edward Qualtrough, appeared by around 1890 at the corner, next to Michael John Coyle's coachbuilding, smithy and contracting business (Coyle was later a chairman of the Pt Chevalier Road Board, a Mayor of Mt Albert, and headed the Auckland Charitable Aid Board for a time).

Looking down Khyber Pass from Symonds Street showing the Indian Contingent of the Imperial Troops wheeling into Khyber Pass with the Queens Hotel on left, Edward Qualtrough, grocer, on right, and Holy Sepulchre Church. Ref. 4-991, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, by kind permission.

In 1902, Qualtrough's business was taken over by J Valentine, down to sometime around 1910.

Valentine's store (centre), Upper Symonds Street, c.1908. Ref. 7-A1922, Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, by kind permission.

I know that by 1912, when the Auckland Council valuation sheets (ACC 213/171d) began recording the properties for Upper Symonds Street, the wooden store had been replaced by brick shops tenanted by a number of businesses, known as the Pierce Buildings, named after the owner at the time, widow Eleanor Pierce, and the family. Her husband George Patrick Pierce was much lamented when he died in 1891.

The face and figure of the deceased gentleman will be sadly missed from our streets,his genial laugh from many circles where he was always welcomed, and not a few people in Auckland will say with heartfelt sorrow to-day "We have lost a truehearted friend." To the family thus suddenly bereaved, such consolation as may come from a universal public sympathy will be theirs in the painful and unexpected affliction which, in the course of God's providence, has befallen them.

Auckland Star 18 May 1891
Mr. George Patrick Pierce, for many years well known and greatly respected as the General Manager of the New Zealand Fire Insurance Company, was born at Plymouth, on the 21st of June, 1825, and died at Auckland on the 17th of May, 1891, deeply regretted by all classes of the community. He was a son of the late Captain Pierce, R.N. Mr. Pierce placed a memorial window in St. Sepulchre's Church in remembrance of his father and mother. While he was a lad his parents removed to Ireland, whither he accompanied them. Subsequently he was connected with the firm of Messrs Smith, Elder and Co., of London. About thirty-five years ago he arrived in Auckland and became a member of the firm of Messrs Bain, Pierce and Co., trading for a considerable period in Auckland. He retired from the connection, however, and became first local and then general manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company, and occupied both positions with conspicuous ability and success. From his first arrival in Auckland he identified himself with church work, and gained the respect and esteem of the Bishop of New Zealand. In 1865 he joined with four other gentlemen in building old St. Sepulchre's church, under the direction of Bishop Selwyn. From that date until his death he filled various church offices; as vestryman or churchwarden of St. Sepulchre's, Diocesan Nominator, Diocesan Trustee, and member of the Diocesan and of the General Synod. He was also one of the assessors of the Bishop's Court, and for many years secretary of the Orphan Home, Parnell, founded by Archdeacon Lloyd. Mr. Pierce was not only a veteran Freemason, but one of the most distinguished members of the craft in the Colony. ‘He was a member and subsequently worshipful master of the Ara Lodge, I.C., from the early days up to his death. On the retirement with the troops from New Zealand of Most Worshipful Brother De Burgh Adams, the first Provincial Grand Master of the Irish Constitution of Freemasonry, the choice fell upon Bro. Pierce, as his successor; and by his suavity and courtesy, combined with firmness, strict justice and impartiality, Mr. Pierce gained the love and esteem of every Mason belonging to the various constitutions. A Mason he lived and a Mason he died, and his funeral was attended by the members of the English, Scotch and New Zealand Constitutions, who paid their last tribute of respect to their deceased Brother at the Purewa Cemetery, and the occasion was marked by a most eloquent funeral oration delivered by the Grand Chaplain, the Rev. D. Kidd. Mr. Pierce was twice married, and his eldest surviving son by the first marriage, Mr. George Nelson Pierce, is the manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company at Auckland. He contracted his second marriage with Miss Eleanor Connell, who survives him. (NZETC, Cyclopedia of NZ)

Pierce's Building (left, with car parked outside), 10 January 1928, photographed by James D Richardson. Ref. 4-2185,       Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, by kind permission.

After Eleanor Pierce died in 1912, aged 67, the Pierce family retained ownership of the building under Pierce Properties Limited, through to 1944 when the family sold the building to Grace Bros. Ltd, and it became a furnishing store, complete with bulk store to the side and rear. (NA 767/197, LINZ records) Whether this was a branch or subsidiary of the Grace Bros. stores over in Australia, I'm not sure.

Part of Pierce's Building (right), 20 September 1929, photographed by James D Richardson. Ref. 4-1835, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, by kind permission.

Probably Grace Bros. renamed the store. Or, a later owner, refurbishing, decided that "Symond Court" sounded swish.

Oh, the hotel connection? The photo just above also shows the Queens Hotel on the left hand side. There was a bottle store, run by that hotel's proprietor, just across the road in the Pierce Building, according to the Council records.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chan Dar Chee and his family business, revisited

The appearance online, via Papers Past, of the Auckland Star up to 1903 has been a boon for studies into personalities where, before, there were brick walls in research due to a lack of Auckland-based newspaper coverage by the service. One such personality is Chinese merchant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chan Dar Chee.

Additional information has been found in the records of the Epsom Road Board, held at Auckland Council Archives, and Waikumete Cemetery Burial Books.

This post incorporates, adds to and corrects these previous posts:
As more comes to light, I'll update this post.

31 May 2012: Update to 1926.
7 May 2013: Updated with NZ Herald references from 1883.
13 May 2015: Confirmation from naturalisation file as to the start of his residence in NZ.
31 December 2017: Information on Ah Chee's Arch Hill and Epsom market gardens, and more on the Mangere tobacco venture.

The family’s actual surname is Chan – Ah Chee who emerged as a successful merchant and market garden owner was known as Chan Dar Chee (1851-1931) in his native village of Tarp Gwong. He arrived in New Zealand sometime during 1876-1877 -- on his memorial application for naturalisation in July 1882 (lodged today at the Wellington office of Archives New Zealand), he stated that he had resided in the colony for 5 years.

It seems that Ah Chee's involvement with market garden enterprises began quite soon after his arrival in the country. Ah Chee, Ah Check (Ah Sec), Ah Sing and Kew Hing (the contents of the lease explained to them by Sam Ah Him, one of James Ah Kew's partners) took out a lease on 1 October 1880 for just over 6.25 acres at Arch Hill, south and nearly at the western end of "Arch Hill Road", what is known today as Turangi Road (DI 1A.550).

Just over a year later, on 24 October 1881, the Crown, in the form of the Public Buildings Commissioner of the City of Auckland, entered into a lease agreement with Chan Dar Chee and Ah Sec, described as two market gardeners of Auckland. The lease was formalised on 28 August 1882. This was for 7-1-20 acres, just over 7 1/4 acres, "with all buildings thereon erected", for a term of 21 years, at an annual rental of £95, in advance, payable on the 24th of October and April each year. The lessees were not to carry on any noxious or offensive trade or business on the said premises (ironic, seeing as there had been a tannery there two decades before), and "in the event of the lessees cultivating the said premises or any part thereof they shall do so in a proper and husbandmanlike manner and so as not to unduly impoverish the soil."

The lease was signed by Sir John Prendergast, Wellington, for the government, and by "the said Ah See and Ah Chee after the same had been fully explained to them by the undersigned Thomas Quoi, in the presence of Thomas Quoi, Chinese interpreter."(D13.891, LINZ records)

Ah Chee became a naturalised citizen in 1882, and by 1883 was described as a Queen Street merchant. (NZH 10 May 1883)

Ah Chee was attacked in the garden in 1885. At this stage, Thomas Ah Quoi, as with the Tanyard Gully lease, served as interpreter.

ASSAULTING Ah Chee.—Malcolm Mackenzie was charged with striking Ah Chee, a Celestial, in the face and knocking him down, also with destroying 10s worth of cabbages and cucumbers on the 5th inst. Prisoner pleaded not guilty…
Ah Chee, who had two black eyes and had evidently received brutal treatment, took the English oath, being a believer in the Bible, deposed that he was lessee of the gardens, Mechanics' Bay. On Thursday last, he saw defendant in his garden. He was passing through and loitering about. Prisoner then commenced pulling up various vegetables. He told him to desist and clear out. Prisoner immediately struck him a violent blow between the eyes. Knocked him down, and held him there. As soon as he regained his liberty, he sent his man for the police.
The judge found McKenzie guilty, and ordered him to pay 40s and costs, and to find security for his good conduct for three months, himself in £10, and one surety to the same amount. 

Auckland Star 7 February 1885

Two of the workers at the garden with Ah Chee that day were named in the press as "Ah Quoi" and "Young Chee". (NZH 9 February 1885)

This wasn’t the only time Ah Chee had been attacked. In July 1890, Frederick Frowein tried to garrote him on the way from the city to the Tanyard Gully gardens at Mechanic’s Bay. (Auckland Star, 11 July 1890)
"The Tanyard Gully gardens, a detail from George Treacy Steven's 1886 bird's eye view of Auckland, NZ Map 374, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries"

On 21 January 1886, Ah Chee married Rain See at the Auckland Registry Office.

On Thursday morning (says the Bell) a marriage took place at the Registry Office, Auckland, of Ah Chee, gardener, Mechanic's Bay, to Rain See, of Canton. The bride and bridegroom were accompanied by a party of friends. The ceremony took place at the Registrar's office. The bride, who presented an extremely interesting and pretty appearance, was dressed in Chinese costume, and manifested considerable shyness during the ordeal. She had a clear complexion, and looked about eighteen or nineteen years old; had a delicate round face, with a pair of dark eyes, which she kept fixed on the floor most of the time. Her hair was gathered on the top of her head in Chinese style, and fastened with artificial Chinese flowers. She was dressed in a dark blue underskirt, richly embroidered, cut just short enough not to encumber her in walking; a light blue jacket of some delicate material trimmed with light green silk. The jacket hung loose and had wide sleeves. Rich, and apparently gold, bracelets were on her wrists, and her fingers were encircled by two or three gold rings. She also wore gold earrings. On her feet she wore white silk Chinese shoes with flowers embroidered on and around them.
Taranaki Herald, 26 January 1886 

The marriage of Mr and Mrs Chee on Thursday last, by Mr Lord, Registrar, has afforded a subject for conversation at tea tables, it being, we understand, the first real Chinese wedding that has occurred in Auckland. Ah Chee and the lady of his love having been solemnly joined together in holy matrimony, the thoughtful couple conceived the happy idea of the celestial bride-cake, a piece of which we have duly received with compliments, nicely tied, and surmounted by a white rose, emblematic of purity and conjugal affection. We wish the happy pair long life and domestic peace.
Auckland Star 23 January 1886

As Mrs Ling See Ah Chee, Rain See became a naturalised citizen in 1900. (The Ah Chee naturalisation file).

Ah Chee the businessman

From this point, Ah Chee’s dealings took on a pattern of diversification within the late 19th century commercial environment in Auckland. From October 1886, he took over a restaurant business formerly carried on by Lum Yut & Co, the Scandinavian Dining Rooms, Customs Street East, in his first trading foray in the central city. (Auckland Star, 4 October 1886) But two months later, he was charged with leaving stagnant water in the basement of the premises, and fined 10s and costs. (Auckland Star, 2 December 1886)

By March 1887, Ah Chee & Co as his business was now known operated a grocers and fruiterers on Wakefield Street, in the vicinity of Lyndock Street, probably a short distance downhill from the Fitzroy Hotel. (Advertisement, Auckland Star, 23 March 1887) The firm’s first fruit store ran in legal trouble at the end of June that year when it was raided by the police who seized “12 cases of Chinese brandy and other varieties of spirituous liquid dear to the Celestial palate.” 

Ah Chee's shop has for a long time been a rendezvous for his compatriots, and it has been an open secret that opium smoking and fan-tan were amongst the amusements provided by Ah Chee for his almond-eyed patrons. When the proprietor had recovered from the surprise caused by the descent of the police, he explained that the liquor was Chinese wine, and was made from the decoction of a root. He stated that he had received it from Sydney, that it had passed through the Customs in the ordinary manner, and that he had paid 5s per gallon duty on it. In a back room Detective Hughes found an opium den—beds, pipes and all the other requisites complete, while down stairs was an apartment apparently used as a gaming room, as there were a number of fan-tan counters, etc., lying about. The bottles are valued at 4s 2d each. 
Auckland Star 30 June 1887

Ah Chee was charged with a breach of the Licensing Act by being the occupier of unlicensed premises situated in Wakefield-street Auckland, in which intoxicating liquor, to wit, mykuito, was sold. Mr Cotter, who appeared for the defendant, pleaded guilty, but urged that the liquor was essentially a Chinese drink, and sold only to Chinamen. He was certain that no hotelkeeper in Auckland kept it, but, like the persons in the King Country who were prosecuted for selling hop-beer, Ah Chee was liable under the Act owing to the intoxicating nature of mykuito. He mentioned that the defendant had already suffered considerable loss through the forfeiture of the liquor, and urged the infliction of a small penalty.

Sergeant Pratt put in a document showing the result of Mr Pond's analysis, which, he said, showed it was stronger than case brandy.

The Bench inflicted a penalty of £5 and costs. Another charge for selling, and a charge against Chee Chang of also being an occupier of the house in Wakefield-street, were withdrawn.
 Auckland Star 9 July 1887

But at the Wakefield Street shop, the company also began trading in fungus, a business which was to prove to be a mainstay for Ah Chee & Co. (Advertisement, Auckland Star, 12 August 1887)

He soon branched out further, purchasing the Temperance Boarding House on the corner of Wyndham and Albert Streets in January 1888. (Auckland Star, 18 January 1888) This business appears to have started around 1883, under G. Johnston. In 1888, Charles Ling appeared to be in charge, described as a partner of Ah Chee's. (NZH 15 September 1888) By August 1889, however, the Temperance Boarding Hotel was up for let “as a shop, store, etc.” (Advertisement, Auckland Star, 20 August 1889)

In October 1888, Ah Chee purchased the Auckland Coffee Tavern on Queen Street Wharf from Thomas Henry Brister. (Auckland Star 3 October 1888) Ah Chee may have had prior dealings with Brister at the Temperance Boarding Hotel, where the latter had one of his Coffee Palaces (another was at Cook Street in the mid 1880s.) Ah Chee re-opened the Queen Street Wharf business as a restaurant, going back to his prior experience with the Scandinavian Dining Rooms in Customs Street, but also offering board and rooms for 6d to 13d per week. By December, it had become the hub of his enterprise.

Auckland Star 24 December 1888

In May 1889, Ah Chee purchased another restaurant, this one at 201 Queen Street, just down from the intersection with Victoria Street (now all part of the ANZ Bank building). 

CITY DINING ROOMS, Next Union Bank, Queen-street.
AH CHEE Begs to inform his friends and patrons that he has purchased the above Restaurant, and on completion of alterations will re-open the same on MONDAY, 27th inst. Meals, 6d each. Board and Residence, 13s to 15s per week. Beds, 9d to 1s. The whole of the Establishment being Refurnished, visitors will find the Comforts of a Home.
Auckland Star 15 May 1889

Mr Ah Chee has now taken ever the restaurant adjoining Cochrane's mart, known as Cox's. The new proprietor has made extensive alterations at a cost of £250, and everything has been done in order to make this a really good restaurant. In the kitchen a first-class heating apparatus and washing stove has been admirably fitted up by Mr J. Broady, of Durham-street. A hot plate has been fitted on the stove by means of pipes. A large boiler of hot water is kept in operation over a sink where all the washing up is done, when the plates are placed in a drying rack just overhead. The whole of the arrangements are well carried out. 
Auckland Star 29 May 1889

In late 1889, one could buy turtle soup and steak, advertised as being “on table at noon”. (Auckland Star, 17 October 1889)

For the 1890 jubilee celebrations, he and other Chinese businessmen contributed two barrow-loads of Chinese crackers for the occasion, and also took part in a race on the Domain “for Chinamen, which will take place in the afternoon. It is a half-mile race got up chiefly by Messrs J. Ah Kew and Ah Chee. We shall leave the public to pick the winner.” 
Auckland Star 29 January 1890

Extending the market garden business

From around 1888, Ah Chee & Co were involved with a tobacco growing operation on George Roome McCrae’s Farm in Mangere. The exact location is, at this stage, still uncertain, but appears likely to have been on part of McCrae's "Fairlie" farm, nearly 18 acres today bounded on three sides by Greenwood, Ascot and Kirkbride Roads.

"About 20 acres of tobacco have been grown this season on the farm of Mr G R McCrae, Mangere. Three varieties have been cultivated, namely Virginia, a broad leaf, and a third variety, a short round leaf, suitable for cigars. The great proportion of the crop (19 acres) has been raised by Ah Chee, a Chinaman, the other by Mr McCrae, for experimental purposes. Ah Chee and his party are erecting a shed 200 feet long by 50 broad, and 16 feet for drying purposes, and also fitting up a quick drying shed, 20 feet square, with steam pipes throughout. The Tobacco Company have guaranteed to purchase all the tobacco grown on this block. The crop is a splendid one, and both Ah Chee and Mr McCrae are saving seed for future operations." 

(NZ Herald 26 February 1889)

In July 1891, the Mangere tobacco farm had brief prominence in the local newspapers, when a Chinese man named Ah Pi or Ah Py deserted from the HMS Cordelia and found his way to Mangere. While on board the Cordelia, he had served as a fireman. The authorities duly rounded him up, and shipped him back to the Cordelia’s base at Sydney the following month. Ah Chee's tobacco plantation lapses back out of any documentation at that point. Which company Ah Chee and McCrae were dealing with is not certain. One, the Atlas Tobacco Company based in Fort Street, went into liquidation just before the Ah Pi incident.

Despite that possible setback, Ah Chee’s market garden enterprise was extended three years later. The City Councils Finance Committee are reported as recommending a lease of land at Arch Hill in June 1894 to Ah Chee at £3 per acre for six acres (Auckland Star, 22 June 1894) which may have been on part of their Western Springs waterworks reserve in the area (the earlier Arch Hill market garden in 1880 was private land). In the same month, Ah Chee, Ming Sung, Ah Chong and Ah Hing took out a lease from George Potter for just over 16 acres of his land to the south of Green Lane West (just opposite Potters Paddock, the future site of Alexandra Park, and beside the Costley Home) (DI 3A.2065). James Ah Kew provided translation services.

Ah Sec reassigned his share for the Tanyard Gully garden in Mechanics Bay to Ah Chee in 1897. The agreement was signed in the presence of W Ah Chang, Book keeper, Auckland, and by Chan Dar Chee in the presence of Joseph Sykes, solicitor, Auckland.

The following month, 18 May, Chan Dar Chee had to provide security to the National Bank of New Zealand. The document found during the recent Geometria research into the Ah Chee market garden site wasn't a mortgage so much as it was a promise of collateral, as Chan Dar Chee was "already indebted and may become further indebted." Also, the mortgage was dated 1897, not the 1882 date as had been stated by the Historic Places Trust. The amount he owed isn't recorded on the deed, but it was "for advances and business accommodation". Whatever it was, he had fully paid it off by 25 March 1901, and the lease was cleared. (LINZ records)

On 15 December 1897, Ah Chee took out a lease on land at Epsom, comprised of four separate but adjoining lots, for four years at £30 per year in total. The gardens were bounded by The Drive, Onslow Avenue, and Manukau Road. (Lease document 1576, LINZ records)
Lot 1 & 2 -- From the estate of William Henry Haslett, per Lizzie Haslett of Epsom
Lot 3 -- From Peter Collie, engineer, of Epsom
Lot 4 - From Louis Wilfred Hollis Hill, a railway guard from Parnell

"Looking south west from Manukau Road showing Onslow Avenue, (left to right), and Chinese market gardens", reference 4-1478, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

"Looking north west from the south side of Onslow Avenue (No 16) showing market gardens and Mount Eden in the background," reference 4-1479, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
At the end of the lease in 1903, he concentrated his operations to Mechanics Bay and Avondale. On September 1903, Ah Chee renewed his lease for a term of 14 years with the Public Trustee (the office now handling the Crown lease), again for £95 per annum. This would have brought him down to 1917, which was when the area was starting to be handed over to the Rugby League. This time, he only had just over 6 acres -- which meant he was paying more for the lease per acre than before. A year later, he began his Avondale purchases on Rosebank Peninsula -- hardly surprising, as the news of the day was full of public debate over the hospital wanting more Domain land, and the possibility that Chan Dar Chee's Mechanic's Bay gardens might be swapped by the hospital board for that land. (DI 1A.733, LINZ records)

The Marine Store, and other court appearances

Earlier, from the beginning of 1891, Ah Chee had begun a new business venture – a marine store at Mechanic’s Bay. Marine stores bought and sold various metal items related to shops and boats, second-hand. 
TO SHIPWRIGHTS, SETTLERS, and Bushmen, Etc.—Old Copper, Brass, Zinc. Tea Lead, Fungus, Beeswax, Shark Fins, and Horseshoes Bought, and the Best Price given by Ah Chee, Queen-street and Mechanics' Bay, Auckland. 
Auckland Star 6 January 1891

From September 1892, this business landed Ah Chee in a lot of legal troubles, when an employee of his purchased stolen goods from some children. On top of that, his employee in charge of the store was found, on inspection, to have not been as scrupulous as he should have been when it came to recording the stock moving in and out. The police probably thought that they had Ah Chee dead to rights.

But then, on the last day in the Supreme Court, in December 1892, Ah Chee brought to the court to testify as to his good character, some of Auckland’s brightest and most respected in the city's business world.
Subsequent to our going to press on Saturday, several witnesses were examined for the defence in the case of Ah Chee, who was charged with having received certain stolen property belonging to William Oliver. Messrs Charles Ransom (manager of the Northern S.S. Company), L. D. Nathan, Henry Johnstone (Carr, Johnstone and Co.), Richard Hellaby, A. H. Nathan, J. J. Odlum, Charles Hesketh, Alexander Aitken, J. M. Geddes (Brown, Barrett and Co.), and Shirley Hill, gave evidence as to the previous good character of the accused. 

Counsel then addressed the jury, and the Court adjourned from six until seven o'clock at night. His Honor summed up the evidence at great length. Referring to the evidence as to character, His Honor said that according to the evidence Ah Chee's character was of the highest. They had had ten of the leading citizens of Auckland giving evidence as to the accused's character, several of whom went beyond their own personal knowledge, and spoke of his general reputation for honesty and honourable conduct. His Honor said he should leave it with the jury thus: If they thought the evidence of guilt doubtful, evidence of character should weigh strongly; but if the evidence of guilt was clear, they should not allow evidence of character to interfere with their verdict. The jury returned into court with a verdict of not guilty at ten minutes to nine o'clock. His Honor said he quite concurred with the verdict of the jury but advised Ah Chee to caution those in his employ not to buy goods from little boys. The accused was then discharged. This closed the December criminal sittings. 
Auckland Star, 5 December 1892

The police had their eye on Ah Chee, from that point on. But they hardly ever seemed able to prove he had any part in dodgy deals or wrongdoing.

In July 1893, Ah Chee’s services were called for in court, as an interpreter when the usual interpreter, Thomas Ah Quoi, was seen to have had a conflict of interest in a particular case. The result gave the Auckland Star journalist an opportunity for some light comedy.

Mr Ah Chee, by request, assumed the duties of interpreter, pledging himself to "truly and faithfully interpret the evidence according to the best of his skill and ability." To make this the more binding upon him he blew out a lighted match, signifying thereby that if he should prove false so might his spark of existence be also snuffed out. 

Ah Chee then endeavoured to administer the oath to complainant, but had to stop somewhere near the middle to inform the Court that he could not really make the man understand, as he was from a different part of the Empire Celestial. Ah Chee went at it again, however, and after a mighty struggle, in which Ah Chee gesticulated like a windmill, and Chum Loy made a whistling noise like a bird, the oath was successfully administered. Said Ah Chee, again addressing the Court, "I do-ee not know-ee about dis case." 

"That’s the very reason we got you," replied the Bench, with a smile.

"Ah, me see, me see I" answered the apt pupil in British justice. "Me see, me see!" 

Dr. Laishley then proceeded to put the question to Ah Chee, who transmitted the same to Chum Loy. 

Witness deposed that he was a market gardener at Arch Hill. On Saturday evening last about half-past eight he was on his way to town. When passing the Arch Hill Hotel he noticed two young men sitting under the verandah of a shop opposite. He identified the two accused as the young men. At this stage Dr. Laishley put the question: "Had the young men anything with them ?" The answer came back, "Yes, a whip or a stick." At this reply Dr. Laishley, who had by his side Mr Thos. Quoi, informed the Bench that he had been advised that the question had not been properly put. This was a point which even the Magistrate with his legal knowledge and experience could not decide, and he admitted as much. 

Ah Chee smiled blandly, and tried again. If he had stuck a pin in the witness, the effect could not have been more startling. Mr Chum Loy started his windmill operations again, chanting the while what appeared to be one of the most obtuse selections of Browning, read backwards, with whistling bars between the verses. "He replies," said the interpreter when it was all over, “that they had a stick. He says the word that means ‘stick ' to me. I call that a gas-pipe," said Chee in illustration, "he might-ee say-ee something else." Dr. Laishley again laid a charge against Chee's rendition. The Bench was puzzled. 

Mr O'Meagher challenged the learned doctor's knowledge of Chinese and said that Mr Quoi had no standing in the Court. 

The Bench ruled that in a case of this kind, Dr. Laishley had a right to a private interpreter as a check upon the other. The difficulty was great, for when Chinee meets Chinee, then comes the tug of war, and when Chinese differ, who is to decide ? These were the two grave maxims that came to the minds of all. Ah Chee finally came to the rescue, and admitted he could hardly make the man understand. 

The difficulty was solved, and after a protest from Mr O'Meagher, Mr Thomas Quoi was sworn in as interpreter instead of Ah Chee. Mr Quoi, as a Christian, disdained the match, and kissed the Bible with a smack that would have done credit to a Bush Baptist. From this point the evidence flowed smoothly …
More court comedy in October 1984, when Ah Chee was charged with keeping his employee, Wah Ching, at work in his Queen Street Wharf shop after 1pm on Saturday, in breach of the early closing laws.

Ah Chee was charged with having on the 22nd of September, kept Wah Chong at work in his shop after 1 p.m. on Saturday, the employee not having previously had a holiday in that week. He pleaded not guilty.

Mr McAlistair: these Chinese cases were very difficult to deal with, for he never knew how the evidence would turn out. Hubert Ferguson, Inspector under the Act, deposed to finding Wah Chong working in defendant's shop at 2.30 o'clock on the Saturday. He asked the lad if he had a half-holiday that week, and got the reply that he had not. Wah Chong admitted that he was paid wages when asked by witness. Mr Ferguson said further that he had frequently tried to get these Chinamen but failed. Europeans complained that they were allowed to do what they liked. William Ah Chong (being sworn on the Bible) deposed he was employed as shopman for Ah Chee. When he made the statement to Mr Ferguson that he had no half-holiday, he did not know what it meant. Some times he did get away on a Saturday afternoon. He did tell Mr Ferguson that he had not had a half holiday. 

Mr McAlister: What time did you get away on the Monday of that week? 

Witness: I did not get away. I stayed in until about ten every night. 

Mr McAlister: What time did you get away on the Tuesday ?

Witness, with a sweet smile, answered: I got away after one o'clock on the Tuesday. 

Mr McAlister: Why did you tell Mr Ferguson you had no holiday that week ? 

I do not get a half-holiday each week. Some day, I go away for couple of days, see? That counts for another week. I no know what half-holiday means. 

What did Ah Chee say to you about this matter? 

Oh, he did not tell me any thing to say. 

I suppose you did not speak a word to him about it. 

Oh, no. 

I suppose he did not know what you were going to say when you came to Court ?


Oh certainly not, and you can go for a couple of days when you like. 


How long have you been in New Zealand?

Oh, I suppose ten years.

You speak English very well. 

Well, a few words I speak. 

Yet you don't know what holiday means.

Well, not exactly.

Thank you. 

Mr Bush: Do you get wages? 

Yes, paid by week. 

Are you paid for the days you go away? 

Oh yes, I get paid just the same.

Did you have a holiday the week the Inspector called? 

Yes; the Tuesday after and the week before.

Did you get one that week ? 

No, but I did before. 

Ah Chee: You manage that shop and do what you like ?

Witness: Yes; I can get a holiday any time I like. 

Mr McAlister: l thought he did not know what holiday meant. Now he seems to know all about if. 

Mr Bush: You have just taught him. 

Ah Chee with a sweet smile declined to say anything. Mr Bush then said the witnesses admitted he had no holiday that particular week. I did not matter if he had three days the .week before, the law said a half day each week. He would fine the defendant 10s and costs.
Auckland Star, 2 October 1894

In February 1901, though, the police were successful in prosecuting Ah Chee for keeping his shop open contrary to the Shops Act. He was fined 40/ and costs. In that same month, he and Thomas Ah Quoi placed a funeral floral arrangement at Queen Victoria's statue in Albert Park. (NZH 4 February 1901).

Site of Ah Chee shop in Queen Street, 1919 (right of image). By kind permission, David Wong. Detail from 1-W1675, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

As at April 1908, Ah Chee was a vice president of  "the local Chinese Association". (NZH, 1 April 1908) By 1910 at least, and no doubt before that date, Ah Chee’s son William took over control of the Queen Street business (in March 1910, it was announced that Mr & Mrs Ah Chee were leaving for China via Sydney, to stay in their homeland "for a year or two" -- NZH 24 March 1910), and along with his brother Clement, they ran the wider enterprise of market gardens and import/export of produce and fruit. By 1913, according to the Evening Post who interviewed William Ah Chee, Auckland had 250 Chinese market gardeners, many working for the Ah Chee family, including overseers. (Evening Post 21 May 1913)

The lease for the Tanyard Gardens, Ah Chee’s first and oldest enterprise in Auckland, ended over the period of 1916-1917, and construction on the grandstand began for Carlaw Park as a future rugby league park. Ah Chee's sons William and Clement purchased another 10 acres or so on the other side of Eastdale Road in 1917, possibly in response to the loss of the Mechanic’s Bay land. Ah Chee himself left New Zealand, never to return, in 1920.

Chan Dar Chee with his grandchildren. By kind permission, David Wong.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Harvey Tree at Martha's Corner

This year marks the tenth anniversary of a piece of whimsy in the heart of Auckland.

George Farrant, Auckland Council's heritage advisor, pointed out to me yesterday an interesting item in Auckland's CBD at an interesting site, dubbed "Martha's Corner" (Victoria and Albert Streets) after a noted madam during the years of last century's Great Depression, so the story goes, who spent profits from running a brothel in the upstairs rooms to fund a soup kitchen below for the destitute.

Just along from the corner, though, stands a tree, an oriental plane.

According to George, and to Brian Rudman, in his article for the NZ Herald, 30 May 2001, the following story was related by the former owner of Martha's Corner by the 1960s, Les Harvey, more famously remembered as the developer of Parnell Village.

"A few years before his death, Mr Harvey and George Farrant, Auckland City heritage manager, were walking past the tree in question when the developer turned to the bureaucrat and said: "I planted that bastard." 

"He continued the story in a nearby cafe: how in his youth he'd lived on the edges of the Paris Bohemian set, Jean Paul Sartre, Henry Miller, the lot. Great days.

"Much later in the 1960s, he said, one of his old Parisian friends, now a New Zealand diplomat back in Paris, sent him a memento via diplomatic bag.

"Delicately wrapped in moist tissue was a tree cutting and a note telling Mr Harvey he would well remember the parent tree. It was one he queued alongside so many times in former days. Mr Harvey said the note told him to plant it in a spot he loved and to give it a little bit of what it was used to."

So, sometime during the late 1960s or early 1970s, Harvey took tools down to a spot on the Albert Street footpath outside his building, and chopped through the seal to plant his Parisian sapling. All without permits, resource consents, environmental impact reports ... George Farrant recalled how he would see there an "insane-looking, ball-shaped tree clipped into a perfect sphere with a trunk hanging out the bottom" during the 1970s or 1980s. Harvey's contractors would keep the tree regularly pruned. Apparently, no one spotted Harvey also carrying out nightly watering.

Les Harvey died in 1994. Between that time and 2001, the tree survived but was in need of TLC. Then George Farrant, proponent of recognising our city's heritage and memories in the form of ceramic plaques at various places, chose to mark one of the quirky stories which give Auckland it's colour, between all the facts, figures and dates.

This Oriental Plane tree, propagated from one beside a Montmartre pissoir, was planted by the adjacent landowner Les Harvey. Appropriate sustenance for the young tree was provided by Mr Harvey and his family from time to time.
The plaque was unveiled on 29 May 2001. The footpath was opened up, the tree properly fed, and it still stands there today -- not on any heritage schedule, but definitely part of our story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lost Lyric

Upper Symonds Street and the Lyric Theatre, photographed 10 January 1928 by James D Richardson.  Ref 4-2181, 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. By kind permission.

Such a shame that we no longer have the Lyric Theatre, which used to be at 160-162 Symonds Street, just north of Khyber Pass. According to Jan Grefstad in his unpublished Auckland Cinemas history (2002),  the Lyric was built in 1911 by a syndicate, A C Symonds & Co, and leased to Haywards Pictures (the family of Rudall Hayward, noted film maker).
The big Lyric Theatre, under course of erection at the top of Symonds Street, is to be opened for the first performance on November 1. In making arrangements for fitting up this building the comfort of the patrons has been the first consideration, the furnishing alone costing over £1000.
Undated clipping, from valuation field sheet file, ACC 213/121b, Auckland Council Archives

NZ Graphic 8 November 1911, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-19111108-23-1

The building had seating for 1400, half of which was in the upholstered circle area. "One of the best kinematograph machines is to be fitted," the article above promised. The total cost of the furnishings was quoted at £12,000 -- the building permit value was £5200. The grand opening ended up being on 6 November 1911.

Interestingly, the valuation records show the owner as at 1912-1913 was George John Draghicavich, while the occupier was John Dalrymple, gentleman. But, very clearly, the Lyric was one of the jewels in the Hayward chain of early cinemas in this country.

Wanganui Chronicle, 20 December 1911

The Lyric even featured its own Ladies Symphony Orchestra, and in 1913 specially screened "Experiments with X-Rays" for the benefit of doctors and other medical professionals.

In 1914, a major first in this country's cinematic history took place at the Lyric. From the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry for Charles Frederick Newham:

Charles Newham moved to Auckland by 1914. While continuing to make scenic and topical films, he was associated with George Tarr in producing a lengthy dramatised film, Hinemoa, that year. Tarr wrote the script and produced the film with financial backing from Edward Anderson of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. Newham operated the camera and was responsible for the technical aspects of the production: processing, printing, titling and tinting. Hinemoa was filmed at Rotorua with an all-Maori cast drawn from the Reverend F. A. Bennett's Maori choir. The production was New Zealand's first story film and, with a length of 2,500 feet (a running time of about 42 minutes), its earliest dramatic feature film. After a première season at the Lyric Theatre, Auckland, the film received a very good distribution through the principal picture theatre circuits of New Zealand, and was later screened overseas.

The Lyric had its part to play during the First World War.

A novel and useful idea has been instituted by the management of the Lyric Theatre, Auckland. Lady patrons who wish to help in the scheme are given a pair of knitting needles and a ball of wool. They are expected to knit as much as they can during the evening, and then the next night the work is handed on to somebody else to add to. Scarves are the articles now in hand, and during Monday night's entertainment many ladies availed themselves of the opportunity of helping in the work. Special lighting has been installed, by which it is easy to knit and yet enjoy the pictures, as the globes are shaded so that they will not interfere with the screening.

Evening Post 2 June 1915

And immediately afterward.



An innovation which promises to be of exceptional value in the training of territorials and senior cadets has been introduced by Lieutenant-Colonel Duigan, DSO, of district headquarters, Auckland, states the New Zealand Herald. This takes the form of the moving picture, by means of which various phases of territorial training are illustrated. It is considered that the visualising of the work by the medium of the screen will give the members of the forces a better understanding of the elementary principles necessary to thorough training ...

The first series, comprising three films, was screened at the Lyric Theatre, Auckland, on Monday night, when, in addition to several members of the district staff, there were present 400 members of the coast defence infantry.
Evening Post 21 April 1919

It was even part of the story of the early days of the NZ Labour Party, still feeling their feet.

Mr John Payne, M.P., delivered an address at the Lyric Theatre on Sunday night, in the course of which he said that before the Labour Party could obtain a majority it would have to get the farmers with it; but while it ran the farmer down it could not get his confidence. Moreover, while some of the Labour leaders enunciated pro-German sentiments the party would never make headway. To be successful, the Labour party required business men, but it would never get business men to put themselves under the thumbs of Messrs. Fraser and Holland.

Mr Payne was subjected to continuous interruptions, and Mr Way made a strenuous protest against the insinuation that a section of the Labour Party was pro-German. 

Wanganui Chronicle 30 October 1918

By July 1917, the theatre was managed by J C Williamson & Co, then by February 1919 Lionel Lawrence “Laurie” Speedy (1892-1982) came onto the scene, working with the Haywards. Speedy was born in Birkenhead and started out his entrepreneurial career selling blackbirds at the age of 10, later turning a rowing boat into a ferry service for workmen who had missed their regular ferry from Birkenhead to Chelsea, and engaging in beekeeping, with his younger brothers selling the honey.He came to manage several picture theatres in Auckland, not only the Lyric on Symonds Street but also the Tudor in Remuera, before building the Picturedome in Milford in 1922. His father J H Speedy was chief engineer at the Chelsea Sugar Works in 1897, while his grandfather Major James Speedy was a resident magistrate in Waiuku during the Waikato Wars. LL Speedy founded LL Speedy & Sons, one of the North Shore's most prominent real estate firms, in 1924.

Phillip G Murdoch took over the management in 1923, under the Lyric Co Ltd, headed by Archibald Bishop. The architect Horace Lovell Massey was involved with some rebuilding at the Lyric in 1926, according to the NZ Historic Places Trust. Lyric Co Ltd were to operate there until Kerridge-Odeon took over the lease in 1951.

From July 1930, the Lyric took on talkies. It closed in 1933 to modernise and reopen from that December as the State Theatre. Kerridge-Odeon finally closed the theatre 30 March 1960, and sold it to the members of the Chinese community in Auckland, but with a covenant that they were not allowed to show movies there on a commercial basis for 10 years. During that time, Phil Warren organised dances, two nights a week on Fridays and Saturdays, and dubbed the hall the Oriental Ballroom. The Chinese Film Committee, were finally able to start the screening of films in both Mandarin and Cantonese from 1971, but this was shortlived.

Photo by Diana Wong, Grey Lynn.

In 1972, the theatre reopened once again for the showing of general films under Graham Kahn. Until 1980, other cinema operators would work under the Chinese group's film showing license, but after that, that was it for the Lyric/State. For a time, according to Grefstad, it was a skating rink (Rainbow Roller Skating Rink), interesting as there had been cases of former roller skating rinks in the early days being converted into picture theatres ...

But, by 1983, it was all over. In disrepair, after use as a sleepout by the homeless and street kids, the Lyric was demolished. In its place today, a block of single-storey retail shops. No image, sorry -- but take a look at the scene on Google street view if you want to compare the now with the past.

In this case -- I prefer the past.

Anchors at Bledisloe

These must be among the most venerable pieces of Auckland's public street art -- the Matahorua and Tainui Anchors off Wellesley Street west, beside the Bledisloe Building by sculptor Russell Stuart Cedric Clark (1959). A friend mentioned the other day that she remembered when they were first installed, way back then. No wonder, to me (all of nearly 48) they've always been right there, passed by on the way to appointments at the Bledisloe Building beyond, the Post Office, or across to the Council's Civic Building.

These are, though, just "sculptural representations" of the two anchors concerned. According to the Journal of the Polynesian Society (go to this link for photos), the actual anchors identified look quite different.

Update on the Te Waharoa O Aotea gateway

Back in October last year, I posted about the return of Selwyn's Muru's artwork to Aotea Square. Little did I know at the time that the sculpture's roving days were still not over.  This from today's NZ Herald:
Auckland Council is racing against time to get a sculpture back in place for the Rugby World Cup - at a cost of more than $150,000. Four official team welcomes are to be held in Aotea Square in the first week of September and Auckland tourism wants the Te Waharoa O Aotea gateway to be a backdrop for international media. But an Auckland Council staff report yesterday on works progress reveals they will be cutting it fine to get the 7m tall archway back up at the square and at its photogenic best.
The council set about getting a "stiff steel frame" after removing the leaning artwork in December 2010, but "a steel skeleton designed to brace it was found not to comply", so now they're going to try welded base plates. As at two days ago, this was what there was to be seen at the Square.

Mistaking Remuera's market gardeners

Detail from DP 292, LINZ records, Crown Copyright (copy of October 1884 plan)

This is a bit of a rant, sorry.  Every so often, under-researched history turns up, and makes me sigh.  Actually more than sigh.

A Fine Prospect, a history of Remuera, is now out on sale. I haven't bought a copy yet. After reading the other day what three pages out of the book had to say about the story of Chinese market gardeners there, I might hold off purchasing, I think, until the price softens.

Pages 311-313 have information authors Jenny Carlyon and Diana Morrow included on the "Chinamen's Gardens" off Scherff and Portland Roads, and printed part of an 1885 sale map which shows the location of the gardens. "These gardens were in all likelihood run by Chan Ah Chee, a prominent and highly successful businessman who lived in Auckland from the late 1860s to 1918, when he returned to China,"  the authors declared. Their apparent reasoning for connecting Ah Chee with the Remuera gardens? Ah Chee leased the Mechanic's Bay market garden area now called Carlaw Park. That's over on the other side of Parnell from the Remuera site.

I found at least three main problems with Carlyon and Morrow's research regarding this.

First problem: Ah Chee wasn't involved with that land at all.

A look into the historic land titles for that nearly 6 acre block, Lots 13 and 17 (see above) shows that it was purchased in June 1884 by Yan Kew (James Ah Kew) and Ah Bing from the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency (NA 22/25, LINZ records). [Update 10 August 2011: they paid £1000, roughly $172,000 for the land, according to the transfer documents.] Ah Kew and Ah Bing (as tenants in common) took out a mortgage with the City of Auckland Tramways and Suburban Company in 1884, which in turn transferred the mortgage to the New Zealand Land Mortgage Company Limited later in November 1884. This company sold the land due to default to land agent William Aitken in 1901 (NA 36/257 & 36/258, LINZ records). Later owners in 1912 leased the land to a Chinese market gardener, Low Ten or Tan, for period of four years. Eventually, from 1924, it was surveyed and subdivided for sale (NA 102/95 and DP 18532, LINZ records).

A George Cutler whose memories were published in the Remuera Round in the 1940s, quoted by Carlyon and Morrow, did offer them a clue as to the true situation there by Portland Road. He recalled and apparently named James Ah Kew sending silk hawkers around the suburb. This would have been in the late c19th century, the same time as the Remuera gardens was in operation. The produce from the Portland-Scherff gardens was also hawked around Auckland, he said. He just didn't say who ran the hawking enterprise. But the authors didn't tie in Ah Kew with market gardening.

Which is unfortunate, because if they checked Cutler's memory of the Remuera Chinese-run garden as "the first Chinese vegetable gardens in Auckland" (second problem), they would have found that the first such garden wasn't in Remuera, but was operated by none other than -- James Ah Kew, on Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, from around 1875, nine years or more earlier. I've had that info here on Timespanner since 2009, with source.

Third problem: the date of Ah Chee's first garden at Mechanic's Bay. Carlyon and Morrow wrote "In the early 1870s, he leased land at the bottom of Parnell Rise, and established successful market gardens on what is now Carlaw Park to supply fresh fruit and vegetables to his greengrocers shops." Well, I don't think Ah Chee did much fruit growing in Auckland, more veges, but the main thing is -- his lease, in partnership with Ah See (a partner not mentioned by the authors at all) started in October 1881, not the late 1870s. Actually, the early 1880s seems to be around when Ah Chee first appeared in Auckland. I put that online, with info on what I called Tanyard Gully, here, back in 2009.

Yes, I do realise that stuff read on the internet is prone to the whims of those writing the words for the screen and the big wide world. We're wary of Wikipedia, and wise folk use it simply as a place to start, but not to use as sole citation in place of actual research footwork and checking. We are almost always lulled into a sense of confidence when it comes to the printed word. But -- it pays to check anything you read, including my stuff here on the blog (my policy here is -- if I muck things up, I fix 'em). But where there was info on Auckland Chinese market gardens on the internet, in the form of Timespanner and even my sources from both Land Information New Zealand and Papers Past, surely Carlyon and Morrow could have checked what they had in the form of secondary and tertiary sources before publishing?

Was there any sort of peer review at all with this book? I can't really tell, but it does look like yet another flawed reference book on our local suburbs has gone out, to put generations of school students doing projects utterly crook. Because they, likely as not, won't go checking what someone said in print in a pretty book which folk praising it say is "comprehensively researched", either.

And thus, the cycle of bad history and misinformation is perpetuated.

How does the rest of the book fare? Don't know. I'm waiting for a chance to borrow a copy through the library. Or until the book is reduced in price ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not Just Weighing Babies in Avondale

I take the title for this post from Linda Bryder’s 1998 book on the centenary of Plunket in Auckland. How did Plunket start out in Avondale? Somewhat controversially – through no fault of the organisation, or anything to do with Truby King’s ideals.

The Auckland branch secretary of Plunket at the time, Eileen Partiridge, came out to Avondale in 1922, in the days when Avondale was a borough, and during the term of office of our first Mayor, James Watkin Kinniburgh. His wife Naomi is described by descendants today as forthright , a woman who held her own opinion. While living in Wellington in 1893, she was one of the signatories to the petition calling for the right for women to vote. Avondale in 1922 was where, according to the local nurse, Mrs W MacKenzie, “a great number of very poor mothers” wanted Plunket assistance but couldn’t afford the trip into the city to what was then the headquarters of Plunket in Auckland. The district’s doctor, initially anti-Plunket, was won over; the local chemist, possibly Robert Allely, a “dear kindly old soul” was also enlisted. The first Plunket office was set up in a room at the Town Hall that year – so next year marks the 90th anniversary of Plunket in Avondale.

The Mayoress, Naomi Kinniburgh, was asked to convene the first Avondale Plunket sub-committee meeting. This is where things became interesting. To quote from Bryder’s book, taken from Partridge’s account of that first meeting, described as a “very quaint experience”:
Mrs Bloomfield and I arrived at the Town Hall, Avondale, at the appointed hour and were met by the Mayoress. Her first words were ‘There is no one here and I don’t think there will be for no one seems interested’ It was like getting a bucket of ice water thrown on one’s face. However we went inside and I am glad to say quite a fair crowd turned up, including the chemist and the doctor. We explained our mission. After many funny little incidents, the doctor, for courtesy’s sake, proposed that the Mayoress be President of the sub-committee. Some one seconded this and after some hesitation the lady, half pleased, half annoyed, agreed to it. She and the Secretary were elected.

I whispered to Mrs Bloomfield to suggest that the two men be asked to act as advisers to the ladies. The suggestion was received with acclamation by all but the newly elected President who looked as though she had received an electric shock. She sat bolt upright in her chair and said, ‘This alters the whole situation. I will not sit on any committee with a man (a long cold pause). I have very advanced views on this subject which cannot be spoken of at a mixed meeting. I would no doubt shock you if I did speak of them. If I remain President I should be placed in an embarrassing and false position therefore I must ask you to choose someone else.’

The poor male creatures looked at one another weakly. They could neither ‘cuss’ nor argue. Mrs Bloomfield asked her to try it, as she might change her ‘views’ later but the answer ‘Never!’ was crushing. One cheery soul cleared the air by offering to become President. Before we left Mrs Bloomfield asked if some one would give Nurse some lunch on her office days, as there was no restaurant in the village. The old Chemist who was sitting behind the Mayoress said with a merry twinkle in his eye, ‘I will, Mrs Bloomfield, and if Nurse is shy, I will hold her hand while she eats it.’ The back of the Mayoress stiffened again, and the ‘sniff’ clearly meant ‘just as I thought.’