Saturday, September 8, 2012

Various murals an' stuff

A bit of a mixed bag of things spotted on my travels around Auckland over the past couple of weeks or so. First, Onehunga, where a mural has been freshly installed (these shots taken 21 August).

Painted by members of Onehunga's YMCA Raise Up n Represent group. I recognised the origami peace cranes straight off, but it took a while to notice the stylised pixellated version of One Tree Hill (without the tree, of course. If we ever get to have trees once more on the mount, will they be added later?)

It's meant to be "hip hop" and "digital", according to artist Adrian Jackman. I can see that they've succeeded.

At the other end of the spectrum, and across the Manukau Harbour at Mangere Bridge shops, this old mural still lingers in behind the main street, facing the library carpark. There used to be a hangi takeaways here, apparently, and this was done as part of the advertising. A bit of Kiwiana, found unexpectedly.

At the back of the Karangahape Road shops, this mural along an otherwise dull streetscape of carpark entries and loading bays. Sorry I didn't get a better shot without the fantail at the end washed out by the sun -- a friend had offered me a ride to Mt Albert that day, and I didn't want to keep him waiting.

Advertising, yes -- but I do rather like this mural spotted in Dominion Road's Eden Valley shops.

More of my past landscape about to vanish -- the Avondale Book Exchange has gone, the shop now a household goods store. I wonder how long the illuminated sign will last. Photographed this week.

Finally, the Maori waharoa or gateway leading to a cycleway formed up Puketapapa/Mt Roskill (Winstone Park), with State Highway 20 in the background.

If there are any interpretive signs in the vicinity, I couldn't see them -- which is a pity. I'd liked to know the story behind the gateway, and this stone (above). Yes, they're nice, but seriously -- unless you have some kind of explanation on the ground, installations like these are just about as good as lawn ornaments.  They're pretty in the landscape, but the story is lost. Just my personal opinion.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Captain Musick's memorial

Aerial view of Musick Point, Howick, Auckland, March 1946. Reference Number: WA-02384-F.  Alexander Turnbull Library.

My friends Bill and Barbara Ellis sent through a few weeks ago images of the Musick Memorial radio station building, at Musick Point, Howick. The colour images attached to this post are from them (and thanks very much, Bill and Barbara!)

Captain Edward Musick (image from Evening Post, 13 January 1938) died in January 1938 when the plane he was captain of, the Samoan Clipper, exploded near Pago Pago. He hadn't visited New Zealand all that often, but his fiery death struck a chord amongst New Zealanders at the time, perhaps because he came to symbolise the pioneering field of flight, the reduction of our sense of isolation from the world, and the romance of it all. Flags in Auckland City flew at half-mast.

In May 1938, with national feeling still high, the Government announced that a two-way radio station proposal, intended by the Auckland Electric Power Board for the benefit of ambulance, police and automobile patrols, would be taken over and dubbed the Musick Memorial Station. In April the following year, a site was decided: Tamaki Point (Te Naupata), on the eastern side of the Tamaki River estuary, a site clear of transmission interference from power or telephone lines, and one seen to be "of very great value for the navigation of aeroplanes or flying boats to New Zealand from either America or Australia." (Auckland Star 15 April 1939) It was determined by the following month that Tamaki Point would be renamed from that time on as Musick Point.

There is something of a similarity between the classic 1930s architecture of the completed station, and the lines of the Samoan Clipper which had such an ill-fated last flight. According to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust:
"The design of the new building has been credited to John Blake-Kelly, who later became the first New Zealand-trained Government Architect. Its style represents an early local use of Modern or Functionalist-influenced architecture in Auckland, and was conceived as part of a wider landscape modelled on the appearance of an aeroplane and jet stream that was evidently intended to be viewed from the air."

Musick Point Air Radio Station, Howick, Auckland, 29 August 1946. Reference Number: WA-03615-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.

"The Musick memorial radio station at Auckland, which has been established primarily to meet the requirements of the trans-Tasman and the trans pacific air services, is now in operation," stated the Minister of Aviation, the Hon. K. Jones.

"The test, which have been conducted with the Rose Bay terminal, at Sydney, and with Suva, Fiji, indicate a high grade of service is assured," added the Minister. Regular schedules are now being observed by the station with Rose Bay, Suva and Awarua."

The facilities provided at the Musick Memorial station, stated Mr. Jones, included (a) radio telegraph transmitters for a point-to-point service with overseas airports and local aeradio stations, such as Awarua, which would co-operate in the direction-finding service; (b) radio telegraph and telephone transmitters for working to aircraft, and sea direction-finding equipment, to assist in the navigation of aircraft on overseas flights.

Assistance for Coastal Shipping.

The Minister stated that the new radio centre, with its separate transmitting stations and modern teleprinter service to Mechanics' Bay, besides meeting the requirements of overseas services, would be an important national asset and would provide a nucleus for all radio services required in Auckland. When the final scheme was in operation, the comprehensive cervices at Musick Point would also make it possible to extend services to ship stations and include small ships, which at the present time had no radio facilities, but to which a radio telephony service would be a great boon and would give a greater measure of safety in the operation of the coastal trade.
Auckland Star 26 August 1939

Musick Point Air Radio Station, Howick, Auckland, 29 August 1946. Reference Number: WA-03617-F. View of the interior of the Musick Point Air Radio Station building, Howick, Auckland. Radio transmission technology lines the walls and station personnel are at work. Photographed on the 29th of August 1946 by Whites Aviation. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Civil aviation moved its services to the Auckland International Airport at Mangere in 1966, while the Post Office retained maritime and emergency radio services from the station until it closed in 1993. In 1999 it became occupied by the Suburban Amateur Radio Club, and was rededicated by the American Ambassador in 2003.

Panmure's first bridge

Hatton, W S fl 1850-1870 :Panmure Bridge Auckland 1859. Reference Number: B-078-018. A large steel-framed bridge over a river, with a hill opposite with several houses. Alexander Turnbull Library.

It would appear that the image above was incorrectly dated at some point in its existence -- for it shows a bridge which existed not in 1859, but from 1865. Perhaps it was supposed to be "1869".

The bridge shown is the first Tamaki River bridge at Panmure, linking that district with Pakuranga and the rest of greater Howick. John La Roche in his article on the bridge in Evolving Auckland (2011) writes about some of the bridge's history, where local residents petitioned the Auckland Provincial Council in February 1857 for a bridge to get across to the other side, without having to rely totally on boats and boatmen, or crossing at Otahuhu. As with most things in colonial Auckland, the process was long and drawn-out. The locals were still campaigning in November that year.

Southern Cross 27 November 1857

In March 1858, when a Provincial Council member moved to have £4000 put on the estimates for erecting the bridge, his fellow councillors turned that down on the grounds that there was no firm price available as to the cost. Instead, they voted for a budget for costs for pinpointing where the bridge might be located. October 1858, and the Council were still waiting for a survey of the Tamaki River, in order to sort out the location question.

Then, in 1861, it looked like some progress had been made.

Southern Cross 16 July 1861

Or ... perhaps not.

Panmure Bridge. The council went into committee on Message No. 60, referring to the erection of a bridge over the Tamaki at Panmure, and after a prolonged debate, it was resolved to request his honor to offer a prize of £50 for the best plan and estimate for a bridge at the point named, which would not interfere with the navigation.
Southern Cross 18 February 1862

The issue was the length of the Tamaki River, and what it would take for settlers to have both a bridge by which they could cross the waters, yet not be impeded if they wanted to travel by boat up or down them. Most of the time, where bridges were constructed on the waterways, that was where access by boat started and stopped -- but in the case of the proposed Panmure Bridge, the needs of the people upstream at least at Otahuhu had to be taken into account.

So, the Council tried again.

Southern Cross 28 February 1862

A little over a year later, the Council appointed a committee "to consider and report the best means of erecting a bridge over the Tamaki river, at Panmure." (Southern Cross, 18 March 1863)  The following month, the committee reported back that they felt a suspension bridge was best to allow navigation of the river to continue, and that a budget of £15,000 be raised for the purpose. However, it was found shortly after that, through technicalities, the budgetted cost couldn't be included in an Empowering Act at the time, and so there were no funds. The Government could pay for a punt, but not a bridge.

A public meeting was organised in June 1863, to urge the Government to pass a special Act to enable funding for the bridge. The bill was submitted to Parliament in October, and Parliament appointed a committee to look into the matter, which still tried to sort out what kind of bridge should be built, and whether it should be an expensive iron suspension bridge, or something far cheaper.

By January 1864, estimates received by the Provincial Council from its London agents went as high as £40,000 to £50,000, which probably made some in the council chamber pale. Later that month, the council's own Bridge Bill Committee recommended "in favour of the Bill, and of the erection of a wooden pile bridge, with an opening in the centre, swinging on a turntable, for the convenience of vessels." (Southern Cross, 20 January 1864)

The Tamaki Bridge Act was passed in March 1864, and planning once more proceeded. Tenders were advertised in April. An advertisement for masons to dress the stone used on the bridge's abutments was placed in the newspapers in August by the contractors, McNeil & Wilson of Invercargill. The latter's successful tender was for £11,548 12s 6d. A cardboard model of the bridge was forwarded to the NZ Industrial Exhibition of 1865 by William Weaver, the province's engineer-in-chief. Piles for the bridge, the longest required for any work in the province to that date, were conveyed from Whangarei. Stone was brought in on the barque Ellen Simpson (NZ Herald 18 March 1865) and the brig Sarah Gladstone (NZ Herald 21 April 1865).

The new bridge included what was described as a "swivel opening" at the Panmure end, 40 feet wide, controlled by "iron machinery" some 50 tons in weight, manufactured by Messrs Russell of Sydney, supported on masonry. While the overall engineer was William Weaver for the Provincial Council, the NZ Herald reported that the resident engineer was a Mr Baird. At the inauguration of the new bridge, the laying of the last corner stone on 20 October 1865, "A dance was extemporised upon the new bridge, in which, his Honor the Superintendent and the Engineer-in-Chief joined, the latter leading the light infantry brilliantly. There were no lads of the village so far as we could see, but the lasses seemed to enjoy themselves upon the new timbers immensely." (NZH 21 October 1865). The dance, it was reported a little later, was to the music of "the good old English dance of Sir Roger de Coverley". [There's an example of the music on You Tube.]

The cornerstone itself weighed a ton and a half, and after the Provincial Superintendent Robert Graham laid the cement bed with a ceremonial silver trowel, the stone was lowered carefully by means of a "powerful travelling crane." Once in place, Graham "finally adjusted the stone by striking it three times with a mallet, made of beautifully polished kauri, turned and fitted with a rimu handle."

John La Roche writes that there were some delays until traffic was finally admitted across the bridge from March 1865. Tolls were charged, from tuppence for someone walking across it, to 2 shillings for a carriage or public conveyance.

The swinging part of the bridge was a mechanism mounted on a circular rail, turned by a hand-operated winch. Delays opening that gap to allow boats carrying farmers' crops to market caused complaints, but the bridge remained in use for 51 years, until replaced in 1916 by a higher-level ferro-concrete bridge.

Auckland Weekly News, 28 September 1911, ref AWNS-19110928-14-6, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library.

The turning mechanism on that first bridge remains to this day. These images come from Bill and Barbara Ellis (many thanks).

Troublesome during its working life or not, this seems like incredible engineering for a small colony as we were then, in the middle of the 19th century.

At the moment, it is proposed to undertake conservation work for this reminder of the Provincial Council era of engineering and construction works in the Auckland region, so hopefully future generations will be able to look at part of the past, while the present roars on at speed close by.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Otahuhu

In late June, I visited Otahuhu to give a talk to the local historical society there. Elaine Read from the Otahuhu Historical Society very kindly took me on a walk around the suburb's central area.

Otahuhu's Holy Trinity Anglican Church is at 18 Mason Avenue. The first Anglican or Episcopalian Church in the district was built by Fencible soldiers in 1851 on Church Street, at the site now known as the Holy Trinity Memorial Park. John Fairburn donated land on what is now Mason Avenue to the church, and the second Anglican church in the district was erected in 1863, consecrated in 1866.

This makes the foundation stone laid for the third and present church somewhat perplexing. I've yet to find the fire which destroyed the first church, as referred to on the stone. Judging by reports in the 1920s, the first church did burn down, but the second church didn't result from that fire.

Ref 4-8789, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu, one of the oldest houses of worship in the province, is to be replaced by a dignified brick building, in the Gothic style. The sum of £7000 is to be expended on the new church, and as the parish has only £1800 in hand, a vigorous appeal is to be made for money. To-morrow is Trinity Sunday, and it has been decided that the money shall be subscribed by direct giving rather than by means of entertainments. Tenders will be called for the erection of the church on the present site.when,the £5000 has been subscribed. A design has been, prepared by Mr J C Blechynden, of Hamilton, and this has been adopted. An appeal for a pipe organ is later to be made. The nucleus of the building fund was established some years ago, when £800 was subscribed, and at a meeting a few weeks back, when parishioners. inaugurated the present scheme, those present gave £1000.

Special reference will be made to the appeal to-morrow, when his Grace Archbishop Averill and Canon H. Mason, now vicar of Howick, who for 21 years was vicar of Otahuhu, will take part in the services.

The present building, erected in 1863, is a wooden structure, and the parish is in real need of a new place of worship. The passing of 63 years has left its mark on the church, and it is felt that the provision of a new one, in permanent material, will be an appropriate addition to the already picturesque little town. Four hundred worshippers will be seated in the church that is to be built.

During 63 years Holy Trinity parish has been unique, in that it has had only two vicars -- Canon Gould, from 1863 to 1905, and Canon Mason, from the latter date until he was succeeded by Mr. Seton. The history of the church, however, goes even farther back, its initiation being the combined church and school erected by the military settlers, with the Rev. S. Ward as its first minister and schoolmaster. He was followed by Mr. Carter, then Mr. Johnstone, and later Canon Gould. Later the church was removed from the old cemetery site, but some years ago it was burned down, being replaced by the parish hall now used as a centre for Sunday school work. The existing building was consecrated by Bishop Selwyn in December, 1863. It is notable that on this occasion he was accompanied by Bishop Patterson, of Melanesia, who afterwards fell a martyr in the South Sea Islands.

Auckland Star 29 May 1926

The second or Selwyn Church was removed to Mangere East in 1928, to make way for the new church.

23 July 1928, Auckland Star

30 November 1928, photo by James D Richardson. Ref 4-8791, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

The new church was opened and dedicated 14 October 1928.

When I took a photo of this WWI memorial cross, I had no idea that this was its second site, until I found the image below, from Auckland Library.

"The unveiling of the 'Wayside cross', a memorial to those who died in WW1. It was formerly located at the junction of Great South Road and Mason Avenue, but is now outside the Anglican Church, Otahuhu." Ref 653-345, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

At a vestry meeting held recently the question of erecting a memorial for the boys of Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu, who lost their lives in the great war was brought forward by the vicar, the Rev. H. Mason. The form of memorial suggested was a column of granite, placed upon a stone base. Opinions of the vestry being divided as to the nature of the memorial, it was decided to refer the matter to a meeting of parishioners. The meeting eventuated last evening in the Parish Hall, after the church service. Mr. Mason presented a plan of the proposed structure, and after explaining the objects and the desirability of erecting such a memorial, it was resolved to adopt the proposal. A committee was appointed to supervise the erection of the memorial, which will be placed near the front entrance, thus presenting a conspicuous view to the main thoroughfare.

Auckland Star 7 July 1919

Wayside memorial to fallen soldiers unveiled at Otahuhu on Saturday.

The unveiling of the soldier memorial to men belonging to the Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu, took place on Saturday afternoon [7 August]. The ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Nelson, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Sadlier. Assisting him were the vicar of the parish (the Rev. H Mason), Archdeacons MacMurray and Hawkins, and the Archdeacon of Taranaki also assisting were the members of St. Mary's choir, St. Stephen's Maori boys, and several visiting clergy. There were between 400 and 500 residents assembled, including the local fire brigade and municipal band. The memorial took the form of a basement of big stones with a column of rough-hewn granite standing about twelve feet high. The names of the fallen heroes, numbering eighteen, are inscribed on the base of the column. The speakers were Dr. Sadlier, Archdeacon MacMurray and Major Wyman, D.S.O.

Auckland Star 9 August 1920

I haven't yet found out why the memorial was moved, but at the time of writing it doesn't appear on the war memorials pin-map at I'll try to let them know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Freeman Bay's corner icon

Lyn Dear, fellow blogger at Genealogy New Zealand, asked by email tonight about the history of one of the most well-known corner dairies in the land -- Rupa's, corner Wellington and Hepburn Streets in Freemans Bay. Fortunately, there is the above classic view (1992) of the shop online.

The shops (there are two here, with shared history) date from c.1899, built on what was at one stage earlier that decade a Bank of New South Wales subdivision (NA 72/95). Most of the land was purchased by Tamar Amy Harris, who sold Lot 10A in 1898 to Hannah Worsnop, wife of Josiah Worsnop (NA 89/13). It was the Worsnops who built the first of the two shops, the one on the left, as a two-storey wooden building. Josiah, a builder, may have been the one hammering in the nails.
Wellington Street.—Mr J. Worsnop wrote complaining about the imperfect condition of the footpath opposite his new shop.—The Engineer reported about 55 feet of rough kerb was required to keep the water off the footway, and the channeling wanted opening out to allow the water to escape. The side of the road also wanted trimming: estimated cost, £3 10/. —On the motion of Councillor Julian, it was agreed that the work be done.
Auckland Star 2 June 1899

I don't know all that much about the Worsnops. Josiah and Hannah appear to have hailed from Yorkshire originally, travelling via departure point at London to Australia, landing in Brisbane on 6 May 1885 (  They probably made their way over here soon after that. Hannah Worsnop appears in Wises Directory for 1900 as a grocer at the corner store, then Josiah Worsnop takes over as occupier -- then, they're out of the story. "J Worsnop" became involved with a business making or distributing "Boska" washing fluid, which sounds like a liquid laundry detergent in the advertising, operating from Picton Street in Freemans Bay by 1911. He died while living at 18 Picton Street, 4 July 1929, aged 67.

A bootmaker named Ernest Crocker was the next to own the property, from 1904. In the 1905 Wises, he's described as a grocer there. Then came Hugh Munro Wilson and his wife Ada Elizabeth, leasing the property to the Gregory Brothers, John and Montague Pearce Gregory. The Gregory Brothers bought the property outright in 1917, only to sell in 1920 to Arthur and George Alfred Langford, with immediate transfer to Alfred and Harriett Annie Scott, storekeepers. (NA 89/13)

The following year the Clarks come into the picture, Henry a motorman and his wife Ada Evangeline. Henry shows in the 1926 Wises. Then another builder, William Preston, bought the site that year. He's probably the one responsible for the brick shop added to the right, completing the double-shop look we see today, the brick addition appearing in records at Council Archives from May 1931. (ACC 213/210b)

The earliest instance of Bushell's in New Zealand I've been able to find tonight comes from the Hutt News 29 April 1936 (the firm's coffee on a list). Tea comes slightly later.

BUSHELL'S TEAS. Bushell's, Ltd., Sydney, one of the great tea distributing companies in Australia, will shortly begin business in New Zealand, a company having been registered for that purpose. 
 Evening Post 17 February 1937

It doesn't seem to have been terribly common in the papers before 1945, but short of finding images from before the 1950s, there's a possibility that sign above the store may well have existed from before the war. Repairs to a sign, all of £7, are recorded in 1947. Might be for that one.

The Rupas, the shops' famous owners, bought the site in 1953. This was just about the last of the period before progress began to affect Freemans Bay, and town planning policy decisions were made to clean up the area, and create a better and brighter suburb by clearing away the old. Combined with the growth of the Napier Street School in behind, the Rupas' became increasingly isolated, no longer part of a continuous line of small shops and simple residences.

The Auckland Education Board offered to buy the corner site in 1968, but the offer was refused. (NZ Herald, May 1999) The district scheme changed the zoning for the site, making it part of the school-use area in 1970. The Rupas negotiated with the Ministry of Works in 1976 for that department to purchase the store -- but the Ministry's offer of $21,500 was refused. (Auckland Star, 21 October 1998) The Education Board relented, lifting their designation in 1978.

The Rupas application to develop their site as a two-storey dairy and home in 1983 was declined by Council, as it was felt the business would adversely affect the nearby shopping village. The family removed the old Bushells sign in 2001, to restore it and put it in storage, and installed the replica, as seen in this still (c.2010) from Google Maps.

Even so, the sign did cause quite a storm in a teacup back in '01.

The new Bushells Tea sign in Freemans Bay - paid for by the Rupas - is causing a stir, after the city council ordered a family credit be painted over. Dilip Rupa was served an abatement notice this week giving him four weeks to remove the wording "solely funded by the Rupas", or risk prosecution under the Resource Management Act.

A furious Mr Rupa said the council should concentrate on the bigger issues. "This is the first written acknowledgement of what we have done from the city council and it's a criticism of us. I think it stinks.
"The building is an icon, we have done it all," he said. "What the city council is failing to realise is we have done something special for Auckland."

Mr Rupa questioned the legality of the council notice, because the resource consent condition applied to the original sign, which had been removed from the building facade and replaced with a $5000 replica.
The original sign had been restored and was now kept inside the building. Mr Rupa said his family had owned the buildings on Wellington St since 1953 and had spent $20,000 renovating them. He believed the abatement notice was a violation of his freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and he did not plan to remove the wording.
Sometimes it's tough owning an Auckland icon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ponsonby's wharf

Spotting this card on TradeMe, I thought it was both interesting, and in need of a bit of image enhancement. Soon as it arrived in the mail today, I put it through the scanner.

Considering it's at least 106 years old and has been through the postal system back then (sent to Miss Phoebe Goodwin of Bella Vista Road, Ponsonby) -- not too bad.

The image of Ponsonby's wharf, jutting out into the Waitemata Harbour at the end of Wairangi Street, is just one of the reminders we have that Auckland relied heavily on maritime transport over land transport for much of the city's formative years in the 19th and even early 20th centuries. It was a sign, as well, that Ponsonby as a district was starting to boom when the Auckland Harbour Board began to investigate the best site for the Ponsonby Wharf in November 1879 (Star, 6 November). A builder named Edwin Swift put forward a tender for the work, at £743, in March 1883, but then he had some problem with his figures as figured by his clerk, and asked to withdraw from the contract. Still, piles had been driven into the harbour bed some 200 feet by August that year, and it was likely completed soon afterward.

Steamers called in at the wharf, to pick up passengers for trips across the harbour. But by 1894, it's popularity was on the wane, with the development of public land transport connections.

Built at a cost of £1,000 during the boom period some years ago, this wharf now serves for a promenade, and also for persons to exercise their skill as fishermen. Two or three steamers call at the wharf during the year for Sunday-school picnic parties, but beyond this the structure is of little practical use, as residents in Ponsonby apparently prefer to travel to and from town either by trams or 'buses.
Auckland Star 13 March 1894

Sir, Allow me through the medium of your columns to call the attention of the custodians of the Ponsonby wharf to its unsatisfactory condition. The steps at the end of the wharf leading down to the water have given and are hanging by one bolt; consequently, with such a sea as was running on Saturday last, when I visited the locality the strain on the wharf by the continued movement of the steps was so great that I was positively afraid to risk going on the outer tee lest the structure should be carried away. If attended to at once the steps can be easily fixed, but if repairs are not made and a rough sea sets in the wharf will be shaken to its foundation. The pier is a pleasant promenade in fine weather, and it would be a pity to let it go to ruins. I am etc., OBSERVER.
Auckland Star 3 December 1902

A lad named John Brophy, mucking about on the wharf in June 1904, jumped on and smashed one of the seats at the wharf. The judge at the Police Court fined him £1 and costs, "remarking that a whipping would almost have been better."

Auckland Weekly News 4 July 1907, Ref AWNS-19070704-7-5, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

One of Auckland's gale storms in June 1907 sent a vessel crashing against the old timbers of the wharf, gradually working its way through to the other side, leaving a gaping hole. "Observer" wrote to the Star in October, asking when the hole, still there at that point, was to be repaired. It was likely repaired soon after that.

Drifting logs struck the wharf in October 1918, damaging some of the inner piles.

Into the 1920s and 1930s, the wharf was used more as a boatie's landmark than anything else.

Then in late 1935, the beginning of the end.

Looking south from the end of Ponsonby Wharf, 27 December 1931. Ref. 4-4649, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

There is a possibility of the Ponsonby wharf, situated at the foot of Waitangi Road, being demolished. Recently it was recommended to the Harbour Board that this structure, together with the Birkdale and Greenhithe wharves, should be dismantled, but the board has decided that the two latter wharves are to remain. The fate of the Ponsonby structure, however, has not yet been definitely determined. The Ponsonby wharf has stood for many years, and many people will recall the ferry excursions that used to be made between the city and it on Sundays and holidays for the purpose of conveying crowds to Mason's gardens and Shelly Beach. Daily trips also used to be made by the ferries, vessels that were associated with the service being the Victoria, City of Cork, Eagle and Osprey. To-day the wharf has fallen into disuse, although it provides a popular promenade on moonlit evenings, a fishing jetty for the youth of Ponsonby, and a place for yachtsmen to tie up. 
 Auckland Star 20 November 1935

The old wharf was condemned 10 December 1935 at a meeting of the Auckland Harbour Board, despite appeals from Ponsonby residents asking that upwards of 200ft of the wharf be repaired and put back into order. The cost of repairs would have been at least £450 -- the wharf, erected during one depression, was possibly doomed in part because of another.
As soon as the necessary plant is available, the Auckland Harbour Board will commence the demolition of Ponsonby wharf, which has stood since 1883. The board ordered the demolition of the wharf some time ago, but up to the present the plant has been occupied with other tasks which, however, are expected to be finished shortly.

When the wharf was built 53 years ago, there was a ferry service between there and the city, by which most of the Ponsonby residents living near the waterfront travelled between their homes and their work, as the roads then in existence followed a roundabout route and were primitive in construction. The wharf was made 680 ft long to reach water deep enough for the ferries at all states of the tide. Within a few years of its construction, however, improved roads between Ponsonby and the city opened the way for land transport facilities with which the ferries could not compete and the service was abandoned.

Although it has been a valuable convenience to yachtsmen who live or who moor their boats near the Ponsonby foreshore, past boards have spent little money on keeping it in repair and it has reached such a stage of decay that it is now dangerous, being likely to collapse at any time. Pending its demolition, the board posted notices to the effect that it was condemned and closed to traffic.

When it was known that the wharf was to be demolished a deputation of Ponsonby residents waited on the board to ask that, if the repair of the whole of the existing structure were considered a too-expensive project, then about 200 ft of it should be put in order to provide for a grid on the eastern side on which yachts and launches could be cleaned and painted below their waterline. The engineer, Mr. D. Holderness, considered, however, that the present structure was so far gone in decay that it was beyond repair and would, in any case, have to be demolished. The cost of erecting a new wharf 200 ft long would be about £450, and another £175 would be required for the grid. This expense the board considered unwarranted.

Auckland Star 2 March 1936

And, that was it. The old wharf was dismantled. In October that year the residents asked for a boat landing to be erected in replacement. The Harbour Board obviously provided something, as newspapers the following year talked of a "new" Ponsonby wharf.

But it was likely not anything like the old one.

Trout (and other fish) tales Part 2

 Image from Wikipedia.

I've just received this email from Brian Watson:
"My great grandfather, Robert Cliffe variously known as the gardener or curator worked in the Domain for the Acclimatisation Society, about 1870s to 1890s. I believe he constructed the ponds, was involved in the hatching and at various times took hatchlings, by rail, to a number of places in the North Island. He lived in the then Conquest Place, Parnell. Later he was the gardener at Government House. One of his sons was Robert McKenzie Cliffe, who wrote two articles in the Auckland Star of Saturday 20 June 1931."
Thanks for this, and pointing out the articles, Brian. Here they are -- an update to the previous post.




In a leafy gully in the Auckland Domain where a tiny stream trickles, is the remains of Auckland's first hatchery and fish pond. It was abandoned many years ago. The wooden fences rotted and decayed, but there is still to be found some of the foundation of what was many years ago quite a little hive of industry, and a place of great interest to visitors.

Captain R. McKenzie Cliffe is now a marine expert, but in the days when there were fish ponds in the Domain reserve, he was a boy and one most interested in fish, their ways and their doings. His father was the curator of the hatchery, and he was what might be termed first assistant. Few people remember these ponds, and the care which was lavished on them in earlier days, but Captain Cliffe has written, depicting them as they were, the quietness and the peace of the gardens.

"To begin with,” he writes, "the hatchery and fish ponds were never situated in the Domain gardens. They were built on the sides of a gully about 200 yards south of the southerly end of Carlaw Park. The ruins are still there and it was from this place that all the trout, perch, carp and cat fish were distributed all over the Auckland province to the Waikato, Thames and North Auckland. The hatchery covered an area of perhaps two acres, which were fenced with 9in planks about 8ft high. There was one reservoir and 15 ponds, varying in side from 60ft by 6ft to 10ft by 6ft. Their depth varied from 18in to 3ft. The sides of the ponds were paved with large smooth stones and the bottoms had about two to three inches of shingle spread on them.

The Hatchery Described.

"In addition to these ponds there were 60 boxes arranged in tiers, placed in one of the two houses there. One of them was used as a hatchery and the other as a toolshed. In the latter was a fireplace where we cooked the bullocks' livers, which, with worms, formed the staple diet of the fish.

The hatchery contained about 60 hatching boxes each 4ft 6in long by 1ft 9in deep. On each side of the boxes, three inches under the water, were placed serrated battens. Athwartwise, with their ends lying on the battens were glass tubes close together. In these were placed the ova. The hatchery was under the shade of great trees and even in the hottest weather the place was very cold.

Some of the ponds were partially covered by battens over which clematis and other beautiful creepers were trained. Banking the sides of all the ponds were masses of tree ferns, and the ground was green with maidenhair and lycopodium, some of which trailed in the slowly moving water."

Besides giving the spot a witchery and an elusive beauty, these trailing ferns afforded some protection from potential marauders, among which were numbered shags, kingfishers, an occasional wild duck, cats, rats and even mice.

“It was from this place that later on came English brown trout, American brook and black-spotted mountain trout, perch, carp and catfish. Here also were a few native gray fish and Maori trout."

Birds and Beauty in the Old Domain.

Captain Cliffe deprecates the planting of exotic trees in the Domain, and the birds which were there then are heard but seldom now. When he was a boy it was the usual thing to see most of the more common native birds. "Tui, bellbirds, weka, kaka, mopokes, blight-birds, fern birds, teal, wild duck, New Zealand wrens, fantails, both pied and black, parrakeets, all these were there," he writes, "and many more which I cannot remember. An occasional bittern and a few pukekos used to frequent the swamp where the pond now is.

“I could write for hours of the beauty of the old Domain, of its birds, its trees, giant manuka, and wonderful mosses. Now it is neither one thing nor the other. The sooner the exotics are exterminated, and the native bush allowed to grow, the better it will be. It is a national asset which we do not appreciate. Some day we will be sorry and then it will be too late."

Auckland Star 20 June 1931 p.11

"Well, now I will tell you about Lake Pupuke,” he writes. "My father had to take a batch of trout up to Matamata, and Mr. Edwin Harrow was very impatiently asking for some trout for Lake Pupuke. Under the circumstances there was nothing else for it but for me to take the batch of trout to Takapuna. So, after putting them (by the way, they were a mixture of English brown trout and American brook trout) into three large cans, my father departed with his batch for the Auckland station.

"A Good Idea."

"On arrival he sent his conveyance back to take my batch to the ferry boat. Thus I was left in charge at the hatchery. I walked round, and I thought it would be a good idea to put a few carp among the trout. Getting a net, I soon had about half a dozen half-grown carp, and I placed them with the trout. Then a brilliant idea came. The week before we had been out to Lake St. John, and secured about 400 catfish, each about 13 inches long. I thought that it would be a grand idea to add a few of these to the crowd. I did so, and now my cans contained trout, carp, and catfish. Shortly afterwards we went to the ferry. We shipped our load and were met at Devonport by Mr. Harrow. We liberated our batch just below where the Lake House stood.

"So that is the story of the liberation of 'trout' in Lake Pupuke. A few years later a fish was caught weighing between 9lb and 10lb. There was a good deal of speculation about it. It had all the markings of a trout, but it was more the shape of a John Dory. It had grown downwards instead of lengthwise.

"Years afterwards in New York I was talking to a piseiculturist, and he told me that this condition was nearly always obtained when fish which were used to running water were transferred into still, stagnant water. As to the truth of it I cannot say.

Conditions Unsuitable.

"As to the idea of liberating trout again into Lake Pupuke, I do not think the project would be a success. The essentials necessary for success in trout-raising are plenty of running water, a shingle bed for spawning, and plenty of live food. They pine in stagnant water and finally die out. Perch and carp would do there; in fact, there are a good few carp there now, or were a few years ago; but these fish are too small to be very valuable for food or sport. In fact, ground baiting is necessary in both cases, and the water in Takapuna is too deep for either." 

Auckland Star 20 June 1931 p.12

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Queen and Wellesley Streets, c.1904

I'm still not a total fan of colourised postcards, but I must admit this one I bought recently is quite pretty. That it headed from Mt Roskill back in 1904, went across the seas to Ireland, and somehow made its way back here again is interesting enough.

This view of Queen and Wellesley Street, looking up to the Art Gallery building (then the Auckland Public Library) has completely and utterly altered today in terms of the buildings -- except for the Art Gallery Building.

 Reference 4-315, 1890s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Back in the 1890s, before the coming of electric trams, horse-drawn tram tracks were the ones snaking their way from the intersection.

Some of the detail from the 1904 card.

 Reference 4-682, 1880s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

According to Graham Stewart in his book The End of the Penny Section, double-truck, double-decker trams were introduced in Auckland in 1902, the first year of the electric tramways here. Their story is a somewhat controversial one. Christmas Eve 1903, No. 39 ran back down the New North Road from Charlotte Street nearly to Kingsland shops and collided with another tram. The accident killed three passengers and injured dozens -- I hope to post about the incident soon. The first of the fatalities was that of a young woman struck in the back of the head by the pole as she tried, with others, to get down from the upper deck before the collision. Early in 1904, in the wake of the accident, double-deckers were taken off the lines, but reintroduced soon afterward, photographed conveying crowds to and from sporting events and racedays.

The upper decks were stripped from the fleet in 1923, and the de-decked remainder retained until they were withdrawn in 1948.