Sunday, September 11, 2011

Street Stories 17: History's kinks in Whitney Street

2008 aerial photo. Auckland Council website.

Updated 12 September 2016.

A commenter, Neil under this post,  asked: " ...if you want to try something else, could you do an article on what was happening in Blockhouse Bay around Whitney/Terry Sts in the early days!!"

Okay -- I take it the question was something to do with why on earth we have a crazy intersection at the joining of Terry and Whitney Streets? (If not, get back to me, Neil!)

Above is the intersection in question. Instead of a simple north-south, east-west layout which meets together neatly and cleanly, today we have this. I'm not a driver -- but as a pedestrian walking down the length of Whitney one time (just to see how long it took to get from New Windsor to Lynfield. Answer: 45 minutes without rushing), I have to say it is very, very confusing.

I've added the original Parish of Titirangi allotment numbers to the aerial detail above. These are the root of the problem, from what I can see at a quick glance of my records this Sunday afternoon.

Allotment 76 (lower left of this detail from Roll 45, dating from around the late 1840s-early 1850s, LINZ records, crown copyright) was sold by Crown Grant in 1845. Its subdivision happened in 1859 -- not altogether successfully, as much of the land was uneven, marshy, and generally inhospitable. It was a planning headache for Auckland City Council into the middle of the 20th century.

"Sections for sale in Blockhouse Bay, with all the streets named, but most were never made. Henry Powning Stark subdivided this allotment, No. 76, between June and August 1858." Reference NZ Map 4498-2, Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Henry Powning Stark started the problem right then in 1858. In the original survey for those allotments between Blockhouse Bay, New Windsor/Boundary Road and the future Donovan Street, no allowance had been made for cross roads linking the three main ones. Stark added in Whittaker Street (Whitney) and Thomas Street (Terry) -- but it doesn't look like anyone else followed suit at the time.

Allotment 77 (across Whitney Street from Stark's subdivision) was sold by Crown Grant in 1845 as well, but not subdivided until 1907.

Allotment 79 (across Terry Street from Stark) was under Crown Grant from 1845 as well -- but subdivided in 1894.

The problem came with Allotment 78, which wasn't sold under Crown Grant at all. In the 1880s or so, the Government further subdivided it themselves -- but by then, it appears the owners of 77 and 79 wouldn't give an inch toward the formation and continuation of Terry and Whitney Streets. The dreadful kinked intersection was therefore established by c.1890.

Detail from Roll 46, County of Eden map, c.1890, LINZ records, crown copyright

Two lesser kinks, at Tiverton/Whitney and Margate/Whitney, are probably due to a similar circumstance: Allotment 82 was included in John Shedden Adam's May 1865 Windsor Estate land sale -- but it can't have sold. Instead, by 1888, the Government was subdividing that and Allotment 78. The Education Board took over the Whitney Street frontage for the allotment in the early 1890s, and leased it in pieces well into the 20th century.

Aerial 1940, Auckland Council website.

Aerial 1959-1960, Auckland Council website.

Aerial 1996, Auckland Council website.

So there it is. A crooked Whitney and Terry Streets (with others to a lesser degree) -- with my hypothesis being that it was due to the pattern of land sales, plus lack of road survey right at the start. Folks in the mid 1840s, I suppose, never realised how New Windsor would become a popular place in which to live. And how straight roads would have been a truly grand idea ...


  1. That's fantastic Lisa! And so fast! What was the area used for back in the day? I have heard market gardens...

  2. I think a bit of a look at the Council's aerials would tell you -- a bit of a mix of everything back then.

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  4. Yes it does look quite piecemeal! My house is there in the 1940 photo, the little house on lot 176 of allotment 78 is mine. It has been moved forward on the section recently though. Interestingly in the 1959-60 photo it seems there is a structure behind the house, which must have been demolished as it was bare section when we moved in 10 years ago.
    Thanks so much for this Lisa!

  5. You're welcome. Thanks for your comments!

  6. Melbourne has many non aligned intersections, which cause no end of traffic botheration, but I have never wondered why they are there. I might have a clue now for some of them.