Sunday, July 31, 2022

Collapse of the Beehive Toy and Fancy Repository, 1865

 536-Album-285-10-1, c.1864, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

The old Market Reserve block on Queen Street (at right, Aotea Square to Civic Theatre).  Not just street numbering shifted there, but legal descriptions as well.

Anyway, while researching the Wai Horotiu stream, I spotted The Beehive store in a couple of images from the mid 1860s (centre, highlighted), and wondered what that was about.

Turns out it was a sub-lease to one John Moginie, who had previously had a shop on the other side of the street at a corner with Wakefield Street up until he shifted to the position shown here in December 1864. He sold "wedding presents, birthday presents, and presents suitable for girls and boys, also Berlin wools, finished and unfinished, Fancy Needlework, patterns and canvasses ..." His Beehive Toy and Fancy Repository seemed set to be a long-term feature. It wasn't.

In 1864 to 1865, the City Board (ancestor of the City Council) was hard at work fixing the Queen Street levels in this part of the town. As you might be able to see, Queen Street had a bit of a gully problem, and wasn't smooth going. It was determined that the levels on the western side needed to be raised for better drainage etc, and if the businesses didn't want surface flooded shops, they needed fixing as well.

Problem was, at the back of the shops that included The Beehive lay the Wai Horotiu watercourse, so the ground at that time tended to fall away sharply at the rear.

One day then, in May 1865, while contractors were busy raising Mr Moginie's store to restore it to street level -- someone slipped up, a support was knocked, and the back of the store collapsed into the gully.

The store's shutters burst open and fell into Queen Street. The stock inside, mainly toys, were thrown from their shelves and broken. The structure itself, tilted up now at the Queen Street side, was badly twisted. Oh, how I wish someone had taken a photo that had survived!

That was it for Moginie as far as that side of the street was concerned. He moved back across the road, and did reopen his store there, but doesn't seem to have stayed in Auckland as a storekeeper much after that.

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