Sunday, November 13, 2011

After Ravensbourn in Upper Symonds Street

Image ref 4-2235, Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Almost like something caught out the corner of an eye, a reader named Lilli spotted where she lived in an image from one of the City Library photos I use on the blog, from the post on the Edinburgh Castle:

Hi Lisa,
I have just discovered your blog and I am really enjoying reading all the posts you have made on the upper Symonds Street area. In fact my residence actually features in the top photo as "the cabin" which backs onto the historic Stable Lane. If you were up for it I would love to know more about the history of my building and also the lane and how it has been used over the years as it has always intrigued me. Hope you can help, Cheers Lilli
Actually, when I did some photographs of the Upper Symonds Street area back in June this year, I almost missed the building in one of my shots, because (yes, I admit this) it seemed much drabber than its neighbours, with less architectural detail. It's the mauve one, and quite utilitarian.

This is 207-209 Symonds Street, according to the Council website. It is part of Allotment 3, Section 7, Auckland Suburbs, a farm purchased by Crown Grant in December 1844 by one who is referred to as the first Jewish businessman in the colony, Joel Samuel Polack. He subdivided the purchase in two the following year, and sells both parts, so that's the extent of his presence in this story.

Over the course of the period from 1848-1850, a man named Fairburn reunited the subdivided area. This may have been Rev. William Thomas Fairburn, of the Christian Mission Society, and his name certainly comes up on the sales ad for the property in 1885:

NZ Map 4497-10, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

The size of the building at 207-209 Symonds Street was determined by the size of the lot, Number 9, from this sale.

Before then, though, it was called Ravensbourne apparently, and looked quite different from off Symonds Street.

The trees on the right are on the Fairburn land, then there's Newton Road, and the Edinburgh Castle hotel. Date: 1880. Ref 4-1537, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

The Fairburns lived there from the 1850s.
At Ravensbourne Cottage, near Mount Eden, on the 7th inst Mrs. W. T. Fairburn of a son.
Southern Cross 13 February 1855

William T Fairburn died in 1859, and in March part of his property adjoining his residence on Section 7 was sold off. But, it appears his widow remained at Ravensbourne, at least for another 18 years.
WANTED, a General Servant; good references required-—Apply, between 10 and 3.—Mrs. Fairburn, Ravensbourne, Symonds street.

Auckland Star 10 December 1877

Then, the property, through a series of mortgages, came to be owned by one Mr Ami Bennett.

LARGE PADDOCK to be Let for Pasturing at top of Symonds-street, known as Fairburn's Estate. Applications made to Ami Bennett, 44 Insurance Buildings.

Auckland Star 15 April 1878

WANTED, a General Servant; good wages given.—Mrs Bennet, Ravensbourne. Symonds-street.

Auckland Star 31 May 1879

£1 10s REWARD for information leading to Conviction of the person who broke down fence and took some timber off Fairburn's Paddock in Symonds-street., H. E. Brabason, builder, on the ground. July 23, 1883.

Auckland Star 23 July 1883

But Jane Fairburn seems to have still been living there.

FAIRBURN.—On June 8, at her residence, Ravensbourne, Upper Symonds-street, Jane, relict of the late W. T. Fairburn; aged 70.— Warwick papers please copy.

Auckland Star 21 June 1884

After her death, the remainder of the Fairburn estate went up for sale in March 1885, with the remainder from that sale (Symonds Street and Newton Road) advertised again in December that year. This is when the Bennetts were leaving for England.

Auckland Star 1 December 1885

This is just about the last reference I've found so far to Ravensbourne in Upper Symonds Street:

LOST. Liver and White Setter. Reward will be given hy A. G. Howard, Ravensbourne, Symonds-strcet.

Auckland Star 24 August 1896

 After this, the name was used for a boarding house on Hobson Street.

In November 1894, Thomas Elijah Webb purchased lot 9, the site of the mauve building. He was a painter by trade, born on the island of Jersey in 1851 according to this family history site. A son of his, also named Thomas Elijah, also became a painter. Not much else is known about him, but he appears to have had a 2-storey building on the site. It was there when the 1908 City of Auckland Plan was prepared by Auckland City Council, and in both 1905 and 1915, Wises Directory tells us Thomas E Webb, painter, was there.

Then, by 1919, Webb started to alter the building. That year, when the 1908 plan was updated, a 2-storey brick addition was noted.  He died in 1920, and his son and widow leased the building in 1922 to Collinson & Williams Ltd.  In the mid 1920s, a Mrs Clare Odds ran tearooms from there, while by 1930 the business was run by a Miss Delia Carr. Collinson & Williamson transferred the lease to Haymarket Stores Ltd in 1929 (they were next door, at 203 Symonds street), while in 1946 the Webbs sold the freehold to boot and shoe repairer Jack Leslie Murt. A number of owners followed from 1948 until today.

Now, why is there Stable Lane at the rear? In April 1882, the Winstone Brothers purchased land immediately to the north of Ravensbourne, and set up their stables and yard there. The main access was off Symonds Street but by the time Thomas Webb senior purchased his section, a right of way had also been put in place across the back of the Symonds Street sections on the old Fairburn estate, possibly as rear access to the sites as shops. Winstones used the stables until 1932.  

According to the Auckland Library's streets database, Stable Lane is a:
 ...service lane dedicated 16/12/1954, part abandoned land. Private road. The land is owned by the Auckland City Council. It is technically 144 Newton Road.
It led towards what was stables, so I suppose the name came up, and it stuck.

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