Saturday, October 19, 2013

Angelo Parigi -- an early Auckland waterman

Official Bay just to the left of Point Britomart in the centre. Copy of an oil painting by Samuel Stuart showing Auckland waterfront. Ref 4-509, Sir George Grey Special Collections

A descendant of one Angelo Parigi (also recorded as Paragee, Paragei and other variants) told me via email a few months ago that he was an early Auckland waterman, essentially a water taxi proprietor. The watermen were an important part of harbour operations in the early days before even the imposing Queen Street Wharf stretching out from the Commercial Bay reclamation. With mud and shallows between immigrant and cargo ships and the port itself, the boats of the watermen were one of the main ways of conveying items and people ashore.

To the Editor of the Southern Cross.
Sir, Will you be kind enough to insert this in your next publication, as we are of opinion that we labour under a grievance, which may be remedied if publicity be given to our complaint through the public press. What we complain of is that on the arrival of a vessel in this Port, the Harbour Master's Boat is generally tendered for the conveyance of Passengers and Luggage on shore, although at the same time there are a number of Watermen very often standing idle for want of a Fare. This we consider is tantamount to taking away in a great measure our means of livelihood. We think that it is the exclusive privilege of Watermen to take Passengers to and fro' in the Harbour, and that although at present no Local Act has been passed to protect them in their avocation, yet we are of opinion, they are protected by implication from any infringement on their rights. Perhaps (and we hope it to be the case) the Harbour Master is not aware of the use made of his Boat, at all events we think that should this meet his eye he will put a stop to a proceeding which we assure you, Mr. Editor, has been for some time a serious loss to us. In conclusion we beg to observe, that there are a number of us who endeavour to obtain a livelihood as Watermen (and in these somewhat dull times not a very lucrative one), therefore any encroachment on (what we conceive to be) our exclusive privileges must, you will perceive, be rather sensibly felt by ourselves and families. We remain yours &c. The Watermen. Auckland, October 1st, 1847. 

Southern Cross 9 October 1847

Angelo was originally from the island of Malta, from the Tarxien district. He must surely have been one of the first immigrants from that island to New Zealand, if not the first. His span of existence here in Auckland was brief, likely little more than seven years, and his death raises questions to this day for those who claim him on their family tree.

He was also one of the city’s earliest competitive rowers, taking part in the sport at the annual regattas, during the days of the first Waitemata Boating Club.

The earliest possible trace I’ve found of him goes back to early 1847, when the New Zealander reported on the anniversary regatta that had just taken place: “The last race was of wherries, three of which started, and the race was won by Mr Thatcher's Mirage, jun., rowed by Angelo.” (6 February)

If this was him, by the end of the year he seems to have broken away from rowing other men’s boats, and was in business for himself, setting up at the “water place” in Official Bay – the Wynyard Pier, where ships came to take water from the Wai Ariki spring piped to the jetty. The Fear Not (later spelled "Fear-nought") was one of his boats, right through to nearly the end. Oddly, he advertised that it was for sale – or, he may simply have passed the name onto another, later boat.

FOR SALE, THE 'FEAR NOT,' a Waterman's Boat, with Anchor and Cable, pair of Ash Paddles, Rudder and Yoke, and Spread-sail complete. She is about nine months old, copper-fastened and roughed, and is in excellent repair. Apply to Angelo Paragee. Auckland, Dec. 13, 1847.

New Zealander 15 Dec 1847

He was still in business early the following year.

NOTICE. THE Undersigned informs the inhabitants of Auckland that he has a WATERMAN'S BOAT ready at any hour, Day or Night, at the Watering Place, Official Bay. ANGELO PARAGEE. Auckland, 14th Jan. 
New Zealander 15 Jan 1848

It could be said that Angelo was a man who didn’t shy away from a contest. Here he set up a swimming or diving challenge (it isn’t known at present whether anyone took him up on it.)

CHALLENGE. Swimming and Diving. THE UNDERSIGNED hereby challenges any person in the Port of Auckland to take him up in a match of either Swimming or Diving, on Wednesday Next, the 31st Jan., for the sum of Five Pounds a side. The distance and particulars to be arranged between the parties. Angelo Paragee, Waterman, Official Bay. 

New Zealander 27 Jan 1849

Family sources state that he married Roseanne McMullen on 4 July 1849, a 16 year old daughter of one of the Fencibles who had arrived with her family on the Ann not long before and lived at Otahuhu. They married, apparently, at St Patricks cathedral. A year later, their 8 day old daughter Mary Ann died from a bowel complaint, 31 July 1850. The death registration reveals that Angelo was illiterate.

Next, we see him taking part in the 10th anniversary regatta in January 1850, his British Queen bearing a flag with a red cross on white background. (Southern Cross 29 Jan 1850) He won the race, pulling a pair of sculls, but objections were raised. (New Zealander 2 Feb 1850) He responded in what may have been true Angelo Parigi fashion – with a challenge.

CHALLENGE. A DISPUTE having arisen out of the Race at the Regatta, between the boats British Queen, Red Rover, and Talyho, The Undersigned, in whose favour the decision for the prize was given, hereby challenges the same boats, to be rowed by the same men, to a Rowing Match, to start from the Albert Buoy, round Brown's Island and back to the Buoy, for Twenty Pounds against Ten. Angelo Peragi, Owner of the British Queen. February 4, 1850. 

New Zealander 6 Feb 1850

Again, no word on what outcome there was, if any. The following year, he issued another challenge.

CHALLENGE. I, ANGELO PARAGEE, hereby Challenge any Boatman or Amateur Rower in the Port of Auckland to a single handed match with sculls, either in two equal boats, or in one boat to pull a certain distance in a given time, for any moderate stake not exceeding seven pounds a side.

New Zealander 1 Feb 1851

His second daughter Susan was born 29 November 1851. At the twelfth anniversary regatta (1852), in race eight, waterman’s boats pulling two oars for a prize of £5, The “Robert” (Angelo) won. He also came second in the 11th race. (New Zealander 31 Jan 1852) In the 1853 regatta – he won the eighth race with his waterman’s boat, two sculls, Susannah, prize £5 5s.

Southern Cross 1 Feb 1853

Another mystery from around this time, linked with Angelo because he was apparently associated, is the first “Waitemata Boat Club”, which appears to have been involved somehow with the early regattas.

Waitemata Boat Club. THOS. WESTON & CO will Sell by Auction, THIS DAY, at the Victoria Pier, Commercial Bay, on account of the Waitemata Boat Club,
The racing gig "ALPHABET," with Oars, &c.
The racing gig SYLPH," with Oars, Masts, Sail, &c.
These Boats are in first rate order for the Regatta.
Also, THE BOAT SHED, situate in Official Bay.
The above may be seen any time previous to the sale, on application to Mr. Angelo Paragee, Official Bay, or at the Victoria Pier at 1 o'clock on the Day of Sale.

Southern Cross 27 Jan 1854

The Alphabet was a raffle prize for a competition at the Exchange Hotel in December 1850, with proceeds going towards “the Regatta Fund”. (New Zealander 14 December 1850) It, along with Sylph (which was raced by the Waitemata Boat Club) took part in the 1851 regatta. (New Zealander 29 January 1851)

In the last year of his life, Angelo Parigi took part in the 1854 regatta, but lost the ninth race (waterman’s boats) in his “Fear-nought.” In September, someone seems to have been mucking about with his boat.

The boat "Fear-nought" having been taken away from the Wynyard Pier, after 9 o'clock, on Friday night last and on looking for it during the night, I found the said boat unmoored under the Pier, with a few potatoes in the bottom of it. Whoever can give information as to who took the boat away off its mooring will receive the above reward. Angelo Paragee, N.N. Three bundles were found at the end of the Pier, the same evening. Sept. 11, 1854.

Southern Cross 12 Sept 1854

A month and a half later, on 29 October 1854, Angelo Parigi died at the Colonial Hospital in Auckland. The cause of death was given in the registration as “Irritative fever, the result of a severe burn.” How Angelo received so severe a burn that it led to a fatal inflammation and infection of his tissues, something like gangrene and tetanus, is not yet known. He was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Symonds Street Cemetery. Angelo’s third daughter Margaret never saw her father, as she was born January 1855. Later, in June that year, a set of by-laws were put in place by the new Provincial Council governing the watermen, concerning licences, fees, carriage of persons and luggage.

There is a family story that Angelo was somewhere in South Auckland in mid October 1854, helping to clear land with some “colonel friends” when he was badly burned, to the extent that his fingers were burned off. The names Balneavis, Haultain and Nixon are mentioned. However, there are no reports in either the New Zealander or the Southern Cross of any incident so severe – and in colonial times, something so horrific as the loss of fingers in the fire would have attracted some attention. Was there a fire near where he lived on Eden Crescent? Did one of his boats catch fire? Again, the newspapers and the records remain silent.

Angelo’s name had slipped into forgotten history long before a new Waitemata Boat Club started up in 1862, with no reference to the first club by that name. The days of watermen were numbered as the wharves and jetties extended out into the harbour, ferries began to appear, and cutters and scows handled most of the old ship-to-shore trade.

Angelo Parigi’s story, though, is intriguing. His descendants and I would love to know more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cucksey's mis-dated legacy in Mt Eden

It doesn’t pay to always take a photograph at face value. Certainly, they are a valuable resource in the quest to find out more about the past. But sometimes, putting a photograph over and above documented evidence creates a series of errors.

In 1989, the Mt Eden Borough Council commissioned author Faye M Angelo to put together a book on the area, The Changing Face of Mt Eden. In it, a photo was included, showing Cucksey’s Corner, on the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Roads. The original wooden Cucksey’s Building is shown, with “Est. 1873” inscribed above the wrap-around verandah.

Ref 7-A4322, Sir George Grey Special Collection,  Auckland Library

Angelo went with that as the date for the building; so did the researcher who compiled the Mt Eden/Maungawhau Heritage Walks brochure early last decade, an error repeated in the latest reprint, and this year repeated again in the journal Prospect, produced by the Epsom & Eden Districts Historical Society. All done in good faith – except that it is wrong.

Another example of the “Established date” thing can be found clearly across the fa├žade of Millar Patterson Metals Brasscraft Ltd on Halsey Road, just opposite Victoria Park. That declares “Established 1903”, when actually 1903 is when the business began close to Britomart Place, whereas John Stewart Millar began leasing the Halsey Street site from 1919-1920.

This isn’t to say all dates on buildings are wrong. It just pays to check, before rushing into print and spreading the error further.

As for Alfred Cucksey and his buildings …

On 27 September 1867, the clipper ship Siam docked at Queen Street Wharf, after a voyage of 105 days from England. Aboard was Alfred Cucksey (NZ Herald 28 September 1867), brother of Henry Cucksey, well-known “Instrument Music Seller and Publisher” of 202 Queen Street, well-known at the time for his Cucksey’s Music Saloon, “established 1863”. (Ad, Southern Cross, 21 October 1863) Henry himself had been in business 13 years in London before he arrived in Auckland, taking over “Mr Webb’s Royal Harmonium and Pianoforte Saloon” in Queen Street, (SC 21 October 1863) while Alfred later boasted 10 years’ experience before arriving in New Zealand “in the London trade”. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) Henry and Alfred’s father was James Cucksey, who later died in Kent, England, in 1870 aged 64. 

Henry’s wife first wife Eliza died in October 1867 and was buried at Symonds Street cemetery together with an infant child. Henry remarried, to Annie H Irwin, in 1870. (Annie may have already been a widow. In 1890, she was applying for assistance from two grown sons by the surname of Irwin – Star 8 Feb 1890) In 1873, Henry Cucksey became part of a “Political League” in the city (NZH 24 February 1873), after a number of years of on-again, off-again reports as to him running for office, either on the City Council, or the fading Provincial Council. Later that year, he shifted from Queen Street to the junction of Queen and Wakefield Streets.

By April 1868, Alfred Cucksey was being praised by the newspapers for his doormats made from flax fibre, on display at an ironmongers’ store in Shortland Street, and at Alfred Cucksey’s first store at 138 Queen Street. (SC & NZH 27 April 1868) Around this time, Henry Cucksey was living in Nelson Street, where some items were stolen from his house. (SC 14 January 1868)

Alfred Cucksey married Margaret Catherine Williams in 1870. In 1871, Alfred was living in Nelson Street, where a daughter was born 16 December. Between 1868 and 1873, Alfred apparently spent time at Thames. A report in the Grey River Argus at the time may have erroneously named his brother, when in fact it was more likely Alfred’s discovery.
It is reported that Mr Cucksey, the music-seller in Auckland, has made an important discovery in respect to saving gold by a new method of treating tailings. The new plan is said to be most effectual in saving the finest gold in the smallest quantity. Mr Cucksey is about to apply for a patent so as to secure some benefit from his discovery. (24 Feb 1873)
Whatever happened, Alfred clearly returned to his flax after that. In June 1873, at the opening of the Auckland Markets on the Market Reserve (present day Aotea Square), Alfred exhibited his flax working as a local industry, (NZH 19 June 1873) winning first prize for his flax mat at that exhibition, and at the New Zealand Agricultural Society’s Show in November that year. (SC 20 November 1873) In March 1874, he took over a grocery and provision store in Wakefield Street. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) His brother Henry had returned to England in 1875 – and by 1879 was producing “Cucksey’s Miraculous Mixture,” a “Celebrated Conqueror of Bronchitis, Diphtheria, Neuralgia, Headaches, Sore Throats, and All Diseases of the Throat.” In Auckland Alfred served as an agent for the medicine, selling his brother’s mixture from the Wakefield Street store. (Ad Star 15 November 1879)

On 29 March 1881, Alfred purchased Lot 4 of 11 of Section 6, Suburbs of Auckland, at the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Road, from John Batger. (Deeds Index 2A.1311) In mid April, he advertised for tenders “for the Erection of Shop and Dwelling House at Mount Eden.” (Star 13 April 1881). In July that year, he advertised his Wakefield store for lease, with immediate possession, (NZH 26 July 1881) and by August 1881, he had moved his business to the new store in Mt Eden.
Alfred Cucksey begs to inform his numerous friends that he has Removed from Wakefield-street to his New Store on the Mount Eden Road, near Smith's Stables. All Goods at town prices. First-class articles guaranteed. Families waited on daily. Agent for the Mount Eden Railway Station Coal and Firewood Depot. (Ad, Star 6 August 1881)
So, yes -- clearly the 1873 date on the photograph referred to when Alfred Cucksey established his business (in the central city), rather than had the first wooden store built at Mt Eden.

By 1884, Cucksey’s Mt Eden store became known as the Post Office Store, when Cucksey advertised for boys to run messages. (Ad, Star, 10 May 1884) However, this appears to have been a bit premature. In November 1885, Cucksey led the local community campaign to have a telephone bureau established at his store for public use, a campaign that proved successful when the bureau was set up at his store in June, with the expectation that a post and money order office would be set up soon after. (NZH 14 June 1886)

In June 1901, Catherine Margaret Cucksey died. In 1905, a permit application was approved by Mt Eden Borough Council for Cucksey to build “5 new shops” on his site, and these would likely have been completed by c.1906. “Mr A Cucksey’s Block of 5 new shops, corner Mt Eden & Stokes Road, area 132’ X 132’ (4 lengths). Builder Mr. W Firth, Architect Mr Jno. M Walker. Contract £2830.” (MEB 128/1, Auckland Council Archives) This is the Cucksey’s Building we see today.

Alfred Cucksey married his second wife, Charlotte Eleanor Nayler Smith in 1919. He wasn’t able to enjoy renewed married bliss for long, however; he died at his home, “Ravensbourne,” next to his Cucksey’s Buildings, on Mt Eden Road, 5 September 1922.
An old and respected resident of Auckland, Mr Alfred Cucksey, died at the Public Hospital yesterday morning, in his 79th year. Mr Cucksey was born in Greenwich, England, in 1843, and came to Auckland at the age of 23. Shortly afterwards he spent some time on the Thames goldfield, and on returning to Auckland went into business as a grocer in Wakefield Street. In 1880 Mr Cucksey went to Mount Eden and established the business that resulted in its location being known far and wide as "Cucksey's Corner." Mr Cucksey, who was known in the district as "the father of Mount Eden," retired from active life 14 years ago. He had not been in the best of health for some time prior to his death. He is survived by Mrs Cucksey, one son, and several grand-children. The interment will take place at Purewa cemetery this afternoon. (NZH 6 September 1922)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting Alice the TBM

Today being a fine day, and at the end of Auckland Heritage Festival, I trotted out as one of 20,000 holders of a free ticket to see Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine at Alan Wood Reserve in Mt Albert, the creator of two tunnels, northbound and southbound, over the next three years or so, part of the work on State Highway 20. Actually, the best view was this -- a large board right at the end of the 45 minute trek up hill and down dale. This at least lets you see what the business end of Alice looks like, the part that pumps in foam and cuts through the resulting slurry at -- wait for it -- 8cm per minute. According to the poster I picked up from an info tent, that's the top speed for a snail.

So, after winding through a snaky crowd-control path (the NZTA and Well-Connected Alliance must have taken tips from banks and the airports), we were off to see Alice. The name given to the TBM by a local school pupil who won a prize, after Alice in Wonderland.

Past a once-again altered Oakley Creek ...

On down the path through which, one day, cars and other vehicles will hurtle.

There's Alice -- well, the back end of Alice, where all the engines are, plus space for the 16 crew. The info poster says Alice needed to have a female name because of St Barbara, the patron saint of miners, tunnellers, artillerymen etc. Except that St Barbara has been removed from the Roman Catholic calendar since 1969, her story of martyrdom and association with lightning most likely a bit of Dark Ages storytelling. So, Alice the TBM is named after a fictional character due, most likely, to another bit of fiction.

I also expected Alice to be bigger.

It's the height of a four-storey building, they said on the poster. Largest TBM ever used in Australasia, weighing 3000 tonnes, the weight of 750 elephants, almost as long as a footy field ...

But ... I expected it to be something more. Even on a human scale, it doesn't look all that massive, not really.

This is a piece of artwork called "Te Haerenga Hou", "designed for the project by Auckland Ta moko artist Graham Tipene, "Te Haerenga (meaning "A New Journey) depicts the route along the volcanic landscape of what is now SH20 to the feet of Owairaka where the tunnels begin. At over 14m in diameter it is the same size as Alice's cutting face," according to a site map we were given today.

The spoil conveyor, where the resulting slurry is taken away from the tunnel, to Wiri where it'll be de-slurried and used for fill elsewhere.

It was cool, though, that they let members of the public sign these concrete launch segments, which will be used to line the tunnel. Yes, my name's on there now, too.

So, up around the corner, back out to Hendon Ave and a free bus to Mt Albert shops (and a Sunday-inconvenient -- at the moment -- train service. I took the bus back towards New Lynn.)

I'm glad I went, but -- I'm still underwhelmed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Text of a talk I gave on Lynfield this morning, for Auckland Heritage Festival.

Lynfield: from coastal wilderness to modern suburbia.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mr Partington and his hemp

Yesterday, I visited Archives NZ at Mangere. Amongst a wealth of info on bus companies, court cases, land deals and whatnot -- I asked for a file dating from 1865. It involved Charles Frederick Partington, the originator of the famous flour mill and steam biscuit factory on Symonds Street, appealing a customs duty charge on a bale of biscuit bagging he imported. The officer on the day called it "linen", as he hadn't anything on his list for "biscuit bagging", just bags. Partington was charged £5 17/- (a whopping sum). He argued that the material was hemp, not cotton. He lost the appeal, as it couldn't be ascertained if the sample he'd cut as an example of the material concerned to send with his letter was from the same bale he'd been charged for on the day (he might have gone home and cut out from another bale, they obviously thought). The upshot is -- posterity has an example of surviving correspondence from Charles Partington, one of Auckland's early merchants and entrepreneurs, and a piece of his biscuit bagging from nearly 150 years ago. I was asked today by someone what things excited me while researching. This is one of them.

Archives NZ file ref: BBAO A78 5544 Box 2

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A name on a roll of honour: William Forrest

Updated 1 November 2013.

At the time of writing this, I'm working on finding out what I can about the names on the above roll of honour from the First World War, for an article in the Point Chevalier Times. This is hung up at the Pt Chevalier RSA at the moment -- I photographed it in late June this year.

So far, I know there are men named here who worked at the nearby Auckland Mental Hospital and enrolled in the army for King and Country. One chap from Waterview. Another possibly from Surrey Crescent. I'm still working my way through, and I'm only a quarter of the way -- slowed down because of "W Forrest.".

I'm using the Cenotaph database at the Auckland War Memorial Museum website as a start off for these names -- but no one named "W Forrest" on Cenotaph matches anything that could be a man included here on this board. So, I did  search for Forrest and Point Chevalier. I found one match: William Forrest, 59 years old at the start of the war. Extraordinarily, he did indeed see active front line service during the "war to end all wars".

From the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, p. 845 (1902):
Mr William Forrest, J.P., is District Coroner for Ohinemuri. He was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, in 1855, and educated at Carmichael Academy, Lanarkshire. After completing his apprenticeship with his father as a stonemason at Carmichael he went to Glasgow to learn the best branches of the trade. There he attended the School of Arts in Sauchiehill Street for several sessions, and studied architectural drawing. He also attended evening science classes for a year. After two years' residence in Glasgow he returned to Carmichael, where he started with his brother James, building and contracting, under the style of J and W Forrest. The firm carried out several important works, notably one section of the Lanark Water Works, Westport new schools, etc. Mr. Forrest then went to America, where he travelled through most of the Northern States and worked at his trade for some time in Denver City, Colorado, and at Lonaconing, Washington. Returning to Scotland, he married Jessie, youngest daughter of the late Mr. P. Gibson, Lanarkshire, in December, 1882, and he and his wife sailed for New Zealand in January, 1883, in the first direct steamer, the “British King.” Mr. Forrest settled in Auckland and carried on business for several years as a builder and contractor. In 1890 he removed with his family to Palmerston North and with partners carried out the drainage works of Palmerston and the Manganoho section of the North Island Trunk Railway. Mr. Forrest went to West Australia in 1895, but, disliking the climate, returned the same year. He settled at Paeroa in 1896, and began business as a timber merchant. Mr Forrest was appointed Justice of the Peace and district coroner in 1897. He is an enthusiastic and prominent Freemason, and was mainly instrumental in founding Lodge Rangitira No. 71 at Hunterville, and Lodge Ohinemuri No. 107 in Paeroa. He takes a great interest in politics and municipal matters, and is superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school at Paeroa. Mr. Forrest has a family of three daughters and two sons.

He had left Paeroa for Auckland in 1910, working contracts to do with the Auckland and suburban drainage scheme, according to his obituary. He was elected to the Pt Chevalier Road Board in 1912, becoming Chairman, and so served on the Drainage Board itself. In 1913, he led the road board district’s indignation regarding the isolation hospital at the tip of Point Chevalier. He was appointed treasurer of the new Pt Chevalier Bowling Club later that year. Around this time, the firm he ran with his sons entered into a contract with the Government to construct the Okahukura Tunnel on the Stratford connection in Taranaki, the project due for completion by July 1916. (AJHR 1914 D-01)

Come the war, there was no one who could have questioned Forrest's fighting spirit or patriotism.

There was a very fair attendance at a meeting held in the Point Chevalier Hall on Tuesday evening for the purpose of forming a branch of the National Reserve. Mr W Forrest presided, and all present enrolled. The following were formed into a committee: Messrs Forrest, Dignan, Mack, Collins, Arscott, and Fitton, and Mr Martin was elected secretary. It was decided to hold the first parade end meeting of the committee in the Point Chevalier Hall on Tuesday evening next.

Auckland Star 3 March 1915

According to his obituary, he tried to join the NZ army -- but was of course turned away, due to his age (60 in 1915). Undeterred, he decided to head for England, and join the army there.

Several presentations were made last evening to Mr William Forrest, who recently resigned from the position of chairman of the Point Chevalier Road Board for the purpose of visiting England and offering his services in any capacity to the Home Government. At a parade of the Point Chevalier unit of the National Reserve, Mr Forrest was handed a handsome travelling rug by Captain T. Dignan. The branch refused to accept Mr Forrest's resignation, and asked him to retain his membership until the war was over. Members of the local Ratepayers' Association, who were present at the parade, asked Mr Forrest to accept a gold pendant, suitably inscribed, and the new chairman of the Road Board, Mr T Dignan, presented him with an inscribed silver cigar case. On all sides, Mr Forrest was the recipient of congratulations on his practical patriotism, and hopes were expressed that he would soon return to Point Chevalier and again resume his public duties.

NZ Herald 7 August 1915

Friends in his former hometown of Paeroa followed the news of his decision via the local newspaper.

I am going to England to offer my services in any capacity and in any place to which I may be sent," said Mr William Forrest a late resident of Paeroa, in explaining his resignation from the position of chairman of the Point Chevalier Road Board. Having had a lengthy experience in the organisation of business affairs, the direction of large numbers of men, and the control of machinery, Mr Forrest considers that scope for his efforts may be found in connection with the manufacture of munitions or in the transport and supplies department of the army. He is abandoning his business interests, being prepared to take cheerfully the wages of an artisan, and will leave Auckland on Saturday to join the Corinthic at Wellington. His wife and family will reside in Auckland until his return after the war.

Ohinemuri Gazette 6 August 1915

The following year, Paeroa readers were able to share the letter written by Forrest from "somewhere in France".

Mr W J Towers has received the following letter from Mr W J Forrest, under date 14th January, 1916 from "Somewhere in France"

Dear Mr Towers, —I have often been remembering you, and the more so because I neglected writing to congratulate you on being the first mayor of the new Borough of Paeroa. There is no doubt the town will progress now more than ever, and I shall rejoice accordingly, seeing I am still interested in the property values. I would like to write to many of my old friends, but time and opportunity is rather scarce. So I am writing you, and probably you will be kind enough to give my old friends what news I am sending of any interest to them, especially to Messrs McWatters, Balcke, Taylor and Nicholas, of the Gazette.

Now, even at this late date I congratulate you on your elevation, and I am quite sure that if industry, honesty, perseverance, and ability will advance Paeroa, that with you as its Mayor it will advance. Doubtless you are aware that I am, even at my years, a soldier, and am now at the front, and as close up as anyone wants to be. I am seeing much, and could tell interesting tales of aeroplanes, guns, trenches, etc. But silence is the rule of a soldier, especially is writing tabooed.

I am in excellent health; indeed, I am fitter now than I have been for some years, and am up to the neck in duties which occupy me from 6 am until about 8 pm. I have usually long journeys to-and-fro every day and only my legs to carry me. I am of course, not a combatant, but am in the 3rd Labour Battalion of the Royal Engineers, and my duties are quite familiar to me. I am as happy as a cricket and quite contented, and very glad that I came, because I feel I am successfully "doing my little bit." I have been drilled and trained for months, and am nearly a month out here, right in the middle of the thick of it. I am quite comfortable too, and a spice of danger is only sauce to one when danger is so common. Every Tommy is extremely cheerful, often complaining and grumbling, and always ending up with a laugh and a song. The troops are healthy, well-fed, and well provided for in every way. The way the great campaign is worked is almost marvellous, every little group busy, and all linked together, producing no chaos, which it often looks like, but a complete chain of marvellous efficiency.

I will not stop to talk much of the French peasants, we do not hold them in high esteem. They use the flail to thrash, and also the horse on the tread-mill to work the thrashing machine. They are 200 years behind England, and 300 years behind New Zealand in all that pertains to farming and farm buildings.

It is true, however, that they are very industrious, and cultivate every inch of land. The farms are owned in small areas, and are usually, I should say, from 10 to 20 acres, often only an acre, and very seldom have they any dividing fences. It has been an unusually mild winter, and I am not feeling the cold very much, but it is wetter than New Zealand, and that is our worst trouble. I have only one suit, and when it gets wet, as it almost always is ever since I came, it has to dry on our backs, which results in my case of a continual renewal of a cold I have had for three months.

I am only permitted to write once each week, that is why I cannot write to all my friends. Should you care to write me (and your letter would be very welcome) my address, is Sergt. W. Forrest, 124745, 3rd Labour Battalion Company, Royal Engineers, British Expeditionary Force, France. I can receive as many letters as I like, because inward letters are not censored, but outward letters are, and so to cut down the necessity for a big army of censor officers, only one letter a week is allowed. I have no knowledge of my own except what I deduce from reading and observation, but I expect peace will be declared about November next, at latest, and every one of us here would rather keep on for years than have peace (much as we desire it) until we have actually hammered the German Huns properly, and we will do it too. My kindest regards to Mrs Towers, and to yourself and family, and all old friends, including Messrs de Castro, Cassrels, Searle, Wall, D J Evans, Spry, and Mr Wilson of the Bank of New Zealand. Wishing you a happy new year, I am yours very sincerely, WILLIAM FORREST.

Ohinemuri Gazette 1 March 1916

Later that year, Forrest's confidence received a nasty blow.

Lieutenant William Forrest, Royal Fusiliers (Morningside, Auckland), is quite fit again now. He was laid-up by shell shock, followed by influenza, and was a patient at Mrs Mitchison's Hospital, The Clock House, Chelsea. Lieutenant Forrest is under orders for overseas with one of the Labour companies.

The Press (Lyttleton) 27 July 1917

The war had not yet finished with William Forrest.
Lieut. William Forrest, Royal Fusiliers (Morningside, Auckland), contracted trench fever while on service in France and is at present relegated to home duty. Lieut. Forrest suffered from shell shock last year, but returned to the front with a Labour Company.

Evening Post 7 June 1918

Lieutenant William Forrest, R.E., Auckland, has been boarded out of the Army "permanently medically unfit," and hopes to return to the Dominion in August. Lieutenant Forrest, who is 64 years of age, is a well-known contractor in Auckland. He came to England in 1915, and enlisted as a private in the Royal Engineers, being shortly afterwards promoted sergeant in the 12th Labour Battalion. Proceeding to France in December, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Engineers, and in August 1916, received his commission in the 37th Labour Battalion Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served, through the Somme. He was invalided to England with shell-shock, and remained here eleven months convalescing. On returning to France, however, he was unfortunate enough to contract trench fever, and on coming back to England was posted to the London District Labour centre.

Evening Post 7 October 1919

In all he served a total of 4½ years in service, both at the front and confined to hospitals. He was confined to yet another military hospital on his return for another 4½ months. (Ohinemuri Gazette 8 July 1921) As soon as he was released, he returned to his home on Western Springs Road, Morningside, and petitioned the Government for compensation for lost equipment from his 1913 contract for the Okahukura Tunnel which (he claimed) had been stopped by the war conditions in March-April 1915 (Forrest had apparently received smaller progress payments than had been agreed to, so work slowed down and eventually stopped, due to his financial difficulties). The tunnel contract then given to another syndicate which he had an interest in which also failed to complete the contract. Forrest’s assets and plant, including a sawmill, was taken by the government. (The tunnel was eventually completed by the government in 1920-21). He claimed £11,000 losses, but received after several petitions only around £300 in compensation (the project had cost the government a considerable amount of money over and above original budget). He described himself in the Auckland newspapers as financially ruined, and faded out from history. He retired back to Paeroa in 1925, and died 28 January 1937 at Thames Hospital, aged 82.

See also: The Ohinemuri Journal - "William Forrest" and "Family Roots

The troublesome Okahukura Tunnel, after a washout in the 1930s. 
Auckland Star, 25 March 1933.

Update 1 November 2013:
While compiling information in Papers Past on William Forrest, I came upon the following in the Evening Post which sent me slightly on the wrong path.

Lieutenant William Forrest, R.E., Auckland, has been boarded out of the Army "permanently medically unfit," and hopes to return to the Dominion in August. Lieutenant Forrest, who is 64 years of age, is a well-known contractor in Auckland. He came to England in 1915, and enlisted as a private in the Royal Engineers, being shortly afterwards promoted sergeant in the 12th Labour Battalion. Proceeding to France in December, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Engineers, and in August 1916, received his commission in the 37th Labour Battalion Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served, through the Somme. He was invalided to England with shell-shock, and remained here eleven months convalescing. On returning to France, however, he was unfortunate enough to contract trench fever, and on coming back to England was posted to the London District Labour centre. One of Lieutenant Forrest's sons was killed in France in 1917. 

Evening Post 7 October 1919

As has been pointed out to me this week by one of William Forrest's descendants, Karl Smith -- the son of a William Forrest killed in France in 1917 (which turns out to be Hugh Alexander Forrest) wasn't one of the sons of the William Forrest who is the subject of this post. Our man had two sons, Thomas and John, and they didn't see active service.

So -- how did the Evening Post get things wrong?

The unfortunate Hugh Alexander Forrest who died  12 October 1917 was the son of William and Jessie Forrest of 31 Old Lake Road, Devonport. His parents left Devonport later that year. It's not certain whether or not Hugh's death influenced that. By coincidence, not only did this William marry another Jessie -- he was also a contractor.

The William Forrest of Pt Chevalier/Morningside/Paeroa is also said to have married a woman named Jessie, in all the outstanding biographical notes. Certainly in anything the Evening Post would have had to hand. Except for one real difference: our Mrs Forrest's name was Janet. She was probably known as Jessie to her family and friends, and that's why it was passed on into the articles (confusing yours truly!). She passed away in 1942, and her obituary is in the Auckland Star.
(O.C.) PAEROA, this day.
The death has occurred of Mrs. Janet Forrest, an old identity of the town, at the age of 85 years. Mrs. Forrest arrived in New Zealand with her husband in 1883, travelling on the first direct steamer, British King. After staying some time in Auckland, she came to Paeroa. She is survived by two sons, two daughters, 20 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Auckland Star 15 May 1942

William and Janet's children were:

Susan Barrie (b.1883). She married Charles Arthur Parker in 1915
John William (b.1885)
Thomas Ninian (b.1890)
Grace Isabella (1895). She married Robert Skilbeck Hutchinson in 1919.

Source: BDM database

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Penrose Farm

Very approximate extent of William William's original land claim (in yellow, down to the Manukau Harbour coastline), overlaid on 1890 County of Eden map.

A S Hamilton on the Timespanner FB page asked, “Do you have anything on the naming of Penrose and in particular Penrose House? I've always wondered what was on that hill between Penrose Rd and Portman Rd and it turns out to be the remains of a large estate and an old manor called Penrose House.”

The links for the name Penrose are certain in this country. William Williams named his farm Penrose Farm, and Penrose House (renamed "Scotswood" by the Fletchers) was built by the then-owner of Penrose Farm in 1885, so that follows through. What remains uncertain is why William Williams in the 1840s-1850s chose the name “Penrose Farm”.

He was born in Cornwall in 1806, in the town of Penryn, in the same parish (Budock) as Penrose Farm, which was due south from Penryn, on the southern coast. But there are apparently no surviving records as to whether the Williams family ever lived on Penrose Farm, worked there, or had any connections with the farm’s owners or tenants. Williams, according to family tradition, was known to have declared quite often that “Penrose Farm in Budock had the finest pasture-land, and raised the best beef and the very best quality mutton, in all of Cornwall,” but he also said that there was only one thing in common between his Auckland farm, and the one in Budock, and “that was the name.” So … no one is sure why Williams felt so inspired as to plant the Cornish name on the Auckland landscape. The total area claimed, fronting onto Manukau Harbour, may have inspired the name as well (Penrose Farm in Cornwall was on the coast). Then again, perhaps, and more simply, it reminded him of Home.

As a young man in Penryn, he was articled to a firm of architects, but also developed a talent for painting in oils and water-colours. Plans by the New Zealand Company were publicised in Cornwall, said to have inspired him, so he decided to settle in the new colonies, choosing Hobart first before moving to Adelaide, practicing as an architect, before briefly (very briefly) touching down at Auckland in 1840. He was away back to England before the year was out, not returning to Auckland until the middle of 1842.

GGM Mitchell in his book The Penrose Farm Story says that in 1842 Williams spotted an early land map, where part, near Tamaki, was inscribed “volcanic soil of the finest description.” Apparently, this made Williams go off in search of that piece of land, and on finding it, made an agreement with the Maori owners and then began to make representations to Governor FitzRoy for a title. In this, he stepped into the same waiver of pre-emption mess that bedevilled Thomas Henderson of Henderson’s Mill fame for the next twenty or so years. Williams claimed a total of 789 acres of land, but by the time Governor FitzRoy’s successor Grey had arrived, plus petitions and hearings, the total claim allowed came down to 253 acres (east of Great South Road) in 1847. Williams probably received that title only due to the fact he was already occupying that part of the claim (much of the rest to the west was swampy, later owned by J Dilworth), a stone house in existence until 1850 when it was gutted by fire, replaced with a weatherboard house which also burned down in 1894, then replaced by a timbered house in 1895 at 80 Commissariat Road. The crown grant cost Williams £63 5/-, plus £123 paid out to the Maori owners and to surveyors for the original claim. Williams appealed for compensation, but failed.

The farm, as per Deeds Index 5A.522, LINZ records

Williams purchased a further 91.5 acres immediately to the north of the 1847 grant of land in 1853 (this included what was later known as Bailey’s Hill, up to Penrose Road) for £200, bring the total acreage up to 344.5 acres. When the Deeds Index begins in in 1856, this is the complete Penrose Farm.
The name Penrose Farm was used by Williams from 1843 (when he thought he had the full area). He used it for breeding Lincoln and Border Leicester Sheep, calling his operation “Penrose Stud Farm”. But the word “stud” was dropped by the 1850s. By 1847 anyway, he was briefly a hotelier at Shortland Street, until 1848, of the Royal Exchange Hotel. He also purchased further land, at Pakuranga (“Little Penrose Farm”) and residential lots at Panmure.

The Penrose Farm land documentation was brought under Deeds Index (5A.522) in time for the lease of the farm to the Maclean brothers, Robert and Thomas Every Maclean in 1856, the lease itself dating from 1854. The Macleans are well-known for their Bleak House Farm at Pakuranga. So, it appears that Williams had ceased the notion of running a farm himself on the rocky ground, instead turning his attention to being a merchant and ship-owner, particularly as part of Williams, Hinckley and Company, with a storehouse on Fort Street and schooners, ketches, and cutters for trade up and down the coasts and to Australia.

Penrose Farm and Bleak House Farm were run by the Auckland Agricultural Company from 1867 under the Macleans. The brothers had taken out a number of mortgages from Williams and others until they sold Penrose Farm to James Bailey in 1868 and 1872. They remained as leaseholders to Bailey until he returned to New Zealand in 1879, at which point the Company ceased to use the farm. (But Bailey replaced Thomas Every Maclean as head of the Company). Penrose House, built on Bailey’s Hill in 1885, remained in the Bailey family until 1944, when it was purchased by the Fletcher family.

The Bailey family subdivision of the farm, 1927. DP 20687, LINZ records.

By 1927, when the Bailey family surveyed the farm for subdivision, Commissariat, Bailey and Aranui Road were all in existence. In the 1950s, State Highway 1 carved across the western side of the farm, more or less cutting it off from Great South Road.

[Just a side note: GGM Mitchell’s 1959 book The Penrose Farm Story was republished in 2001 by Cadsonbury Publications. This is the version I’ve been able to access from the library. It has a good index added by the publisher in the new version, but the only critique I have is that the publisher (Robin Mitchell) has gone through all the book and added values in dollars alongside Mitchell’s figures – and all would be incorrect, as the figures are simply doubled. This, of course, does not bring in necessary factors such as inflation and true currency values. It would have been better in my opinion if GGM Mitchell’s manuscript had been left as-is in that regard.]

Saturday, August 31, 2013

And the dance went on ... County balls from 1877

Lemuel Lyes, a collector of things historical and admin of the excellent website History Geek, made an excellent recent purchase of a dance card from what was described back in 1877 as the first County Ball in New Zealand. Which actually turned out to be a part-of-the-Eden-County ball, or Riding Ball (the Whau Riding was one of the wards of Eden County). I have yet to find any other "Riding Balls", so this looks to be the one and only example. Thank you, Lemuel, for permission to use these scans.

The County System replaced the Provincial Council System at the close of 1876. It took at least nine months for the Whau Riding to get their act together to stage the ball, which may well (as you'll see below) have ended up staged at the Whau Public Hall, instead of (as it turned out) inside a barn on the Alberton estate.

Mr A K Taylor, of Mount Albert, has determined to inaugurate here a custom which, obtains at home, and to give a county ball, or rather in this case a ball to the electors of the Whau Riding of the County of Eden. About 150 electors recorded their votes at the last election, and we understand that invitations have been issued to. each of these, as well as to a number of private. friends of the host. We have no doubt that the ball will be a very successful affair in every respect, and will contribute greatly to the promotion of friendship and good feeling amongst the resident of the Whau riding of the County of Eden.

NZ Herald 15 September 1877

 Courtesy Lemuel Lyes collection

The first county or riding ball in New Zealand was held yesterday evening. It was given by Mr. A. K. Taylor at his estate, Alberton, in the Mount Albert district. The ball has been for a long time expected by the residents. It was to have taken place some time ago, prior to the time Mr. Taylor stood for the General Assembly. It was then arranged for a subsequent period, but in the meantime the Counties Act came into force, and Mr. Taylor was a candidate. Sooner than take a position which might appear to influence the constituents, the ball was put off, with the intention of having it brought on after the County Council election. Another question then arose, and that was with regard to the suspension of the operation of the Act as a whole. This led to a further postponement of the ball, for Mr. Taylor would not have anything to do with an arrangement which might be said to influence votes on public opinion. Subsequently it was intended to hold the ball in the Whau Public Hall but the ratepayers of Mount Albert district and their wives and families had an objection to this, and the consequence was that the ball was deferred till last night. In the meantime, a spacious barn, 60 by 28 feet, had been erected by Mr Taylor close to his residence. It has a splendid floor, and last night the dancers had no reason to complain of it. There are over 400 ratepayers in the Riding, including the Mount Albert, Mount Roskill, Point Chevalier, and Whau Highway Districts, and Mr. Tayior arranged to invite all those who had recorded their votes at the last County election, with their wives and families. About 350 invitations were issued, including of course Mr. Taylor's private friends. The large building was densely crowded, about 250 being present. It is needless to say that they were entertained in the most hospitable manner. The ball was given on the same principle as the county balls of England. Those who know the customs of the old country, will understand with what pleasure those county balls were looked forward to. Mr. Taylor deserves very great credit for being the first to inaugurate this good old custom in New Zealand, and we hope that when the representatives return from their Parliamentary labours they will be stimulated to follow the lead which is now before them. The objects of English county balls are twofold they serve to bring the electors together in a social manner, and make them acquainted with each other, and they make the representative acquainted with his constituents. The ball last night thoroughly bore out these characteristics, except that the M. H. R. was not present. Amongst those present were the host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. A. K. Taylor, the Misses Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Greenwood, Mr., Mrs and Miss Martin, Mr. and Miss Bollard, Mr. and Miss Owen, E. Allen, jun., T. Allen, Mr. and Miss Gladding, Mr. Jos. Greenwood, Mrs. and Miss Greenwood, Mr. Udy, Mr. Jos. May, jun., Mr. and Miss Braithwaite, Mr. J. D. Kelly and Miss Kelly, Mr. Walters, Mr. Paice. Mr., Mrs., and Miss McTavish, Mr. and Miss Edgecombe, Captain Seymour and Miss Seymour, Mr. G. Thomas and Miss Thomas, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Dawson, Mr. and Miss Turk, Messrs. H. and P. Hoffmann, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Smith, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston, Mr. and Mrs. James Palmer, Mr. and Mrs. James Archibald, Messrs. J. Campbell, J. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. James Hepburn, Master and Miss Laurie, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Hepburn, Mr. James and Miss Page, Miss Monaghan, Mrs. Sadgrove, Mr. Henry and Miss Hasell, Mrs. Currie, Mr. Seabrook, Mr. Wright, Mr. Vaughan. Mr. and Mrs. Sansom, Messrs. R. and G. Morrow. Philson, Bain, Smith, Bucholz, Wright, Haultain, Anderson; Mr. J. P. Sinclair, Master and Miss Denyer, Mr. and Miss French, and others whose names we did not know.

Mr. Taylor led off the ball with Mrs. Greenwood. The programme was an excellent and varied one. A good band was in attendance. The hall was gaily festooned with flags and evergreens, and the manner in which the enjoyment of the guests of all ages was contributed to, reflects very great credit on the taste and hospitality of the host and hostess.

NZ Herald 21 September 1877

I've boldened some of the Avondale-Waterview names I know of on that list, but there were also folks there from West Auckland (Archibalds, Denyers, Hepburns), Epsom/Royal Oak/Mt Eden (Udy, Greenwoods, Paice, Kellys) and Captain Seymour from Pt Chevalier.

 Courtesy Lemuel Lyes collection

As I mentioned -- that seemed to be it for the County of Eden, the elected officials of which met only sporadically, and by the 1890s had pretty much given up the ghost. The City of Auckland would come to dominate the isthmus, rather than the 1876 county.

Elsewhere though, county balls didn't happen all that often anyway, and another "riding ball", not at all. The next reference found was in the mid 1880s, down country.

Preparations are afoot for holding a grand county ball at Waipukurau on May day. Of course this is for the upper ten. There is to be a fancy dress ball here in the county town on the same evening, which will possibly be much more popular. 

Daily Telegraph, 14 April 1885 

Stratford having blossomed into a full blown County, is to celebrate the event in about a month's time by holding a grand County Ball, which will be got up regardless of expense, and will entirely eclipse anything of the kind hitherto attempted. It is not yet known definitely whether the Governor will be present or not, but it is expected that most of the elite of the colony will grace the hall with their presence, and that the occasion will long be remembered as the most brilliant event in the history of this world renowned district. 

Taranaki Herald, 26 September 1890 

There was an Akaroa County Ball, 19 December 1894, but the next ones of note come from the early part of the following century.

The event of the month in Warkworth, the County Ball, takes place next Wednesday, the 16th, inst. Judging by the great interest displayed throughout the whole district, and the extraordinary number of acceptances to invitations that have been received by the committee, the ball promises to be a great success. The boast of the committee that it would make the ball "The ball of the North for 1905 is likely to be realised. From information received the fancy costumes will be many and varied. The services of a first class orchestra have been requisitioned from Auckland, and the caterer has received orders not to spare expense in providing supper, which is to be served in, a large marquee. Given a fine night the floor will certainly be crowded by a pleased and brilliant throng. 

Rodney & Otamatea Times, 12 August 1905

From then on, there seemed to be little point in saying these balls were so that the elected officials could meet and mix with the electors. The following seems to have been one of the last -- and it was definitely a much more exclusive affair.

Manukau and Waitemata County Councils held their first annual dance last evening at the Dixieland Cabaret. The chairmen and members of the two County Councils and the Waitemata Electric Power Board were among the large gathering that attended. The ladies' committee was: Miss H. Thomas, in cameo pink net and blue corsage; Miss B. Hanlon, ivory ring velvet; Miss W. Hill, Lido blue frilled georgette; Miss Bennetts, almond green crushed velvet and net; Miss J. Page, geranium red satin. During the evening an exhibition of ballroom dancing was given by Miss Jeanne Horne, and the latest tap dance was rendered by Miss R. Davidson. 

Auckland Star 6 July 1933

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Avondale's "Squadron" military camps 1908 and 1910

All credit due to a heritage researcher at Auckland Council, who has found references in Paper's Past to what was the first of Avondale's military camps on the racecourse in 1910, one of the last "squadron" camps before the formal organisation of the territorials under the 1909 Defence Act. The "A" Squadron First Regiment Auckland Mounted Rifles camped on the Avondale Racecourse from 7-12 November 1910, nearly a year after the Act, just months before Colonel Alexander John Godley was appointed commandant of the territorials in 1911, and two years before the camp I wrote about in They Trained Beside The River.
"A"Squadron First Regiment Auckland Mounted Rifles, went into camp on the Avondale racecourse on Saturday. At present about 75 men are under canvas. On Sunday morning church parade was held, and in the afternoon a large number of friends visited the camp. On Monday morning the squadron was inspected by Lieut.-Colonel Holgate. Lieut-Colonel Carolan is medical officer in charge of the camp. The squadron will hold their annual sports on Saturday next. A large programme is provided, and some interesting contests should ensue. All friends of the members of the squadron are invited. After the sports camp will lie broken up.
 NZ Herald 9 November 1910

The Lt.-Col Carolan may have been Dr James Frederick Carolan, one of our early GPs here in Avondale, and just before he moved to Matamata.

Two years earlier, there was another "Squadron" camp, partly using "Mr Stow's paddock" at Avondale from 7-14 November 1908. This was Robert Stow's land, a Victoria Street businessman in the city. He owned around 4 acres of land on the north side of Walsall Street (roughly 2-18 Walsall Street) from 1900 until he started to subdivide in 1910. (Deeds Index 14A.817)
"A"' Squadron First Regiment A M Rifles, 35 strong, under Captain Potter and Lieutenants Atkinson and Holden, started their trek camp and annual training at Mr Stow's paddock, Avondale, on Saturday last, and the results should be most successful. Camp was struck on Monday morning at five a.m., and a couple of hours later the squadron moved off to Henderson, where they pitched camp again for the night. Yesterday morning a move was ordered to the coast, where it is intended to spend a couple of days, and then trek back home, arriving at Avondale on Saturday next. All ranks are training under strict service conditions, only the tents and a few cooking utensils being transported by waggon. A pleasant surprise awaited the members of the squadron on Saturday night after everything had been made snug. The ladies of Avondale, led by Mesdames Carolan and Potter, had arranged a social evening for the members in tho Public Hall, and some 40 ladies attended to entertain their guests. The evening was started with progressive euchre, and at 10 pm a most excellent supper was partaken of, after which dancing was indulged in until it was well-nigh midnight. The whole evening was most enjoyable, and much appreciated by all ranks. On Sunday morning a church parade was held at St Jude's, the Rev T J Parry preaching an appropriate sermon. On Sunday afternoon tho squadron was "At Home" to friends, and a good number visited the camp. Among the visitors were Major Carolan, medical staff, and Captain H C Nutsford, adjutant of the regiment.

NZ Herald 11 November 1908

The Squadron Camps were part of the defence scheme which was first put forward during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, in 1900. Squadrons were military units of cavalry used during that war, set up under restructuring of the volunteer forces as far back as 1882.

With respect to the formation of an Imperial reserve, your committee recommend that the following provisions shall apply: —It shall be open to all officers and men belonging to the ordinary volunteer corps to become efficient in both services, and to enlist for three years in the reserve. The officers and men so enlisting shall receive a fixed sum of £5 per annum as a personal payment on being certified as efficient, and shall be required to go into camp at stated periods for, say, two weeks in each year: the drills in camp as a volunteer to count as part of the said two weeks.
NZ Herald 28 September 1900

The Mounted Rifles are a very fairly efficient body of men, and are of excellent material. The majority of corps go into camp for seven whole days annually, and derive very great benefit therefrom, but owing to their civil occupations these camps are for the most part held in the winter months, and the bad weather then experienced much interferes with their training. Their training too is carried out under greater difficulties than in any other branch of the Defence Forces. The men are good horsemen, and their horses, though not showy, are for the most part hardy and serviceable; the stamp of horse too is improving. The recruiting of corps over too large an area is to be discouraged; it entails bad attendance and consequent inefficiency. Those men, too, who are irregular attendants at parade should not be retained; they cannot be properly trained, and consequently are of no value to the State, and are detrimental to the corps they belong to; this remark applies to all branches.

"Report of the Defense Forces of New Zealand" by Major-General J M Babington,
AJHR 1906 H-19

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Luna Park -- Auckland's "Coney Island"

Luna Park, at the end, 8 March 1931. Ref  4-7856, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Said Sam to Sue, “What shall we do?
I’m feeling off the mark.”
Said she, “My dear, the answer’s clear,
We’ll go to LUNA PARK.”

Advertisement, Auckland Star, 15 January 1930

On the north side of Quay Street, opposite the site of the Strand railway lines and the Auckland station at Beach Road, there was once Auckland’s own Luna Park. In June 1926, the Amusement Park Syndicate applied to the Auckland Harbour Board for an eight year lease, £2000 per annum, on 2.75 acres of what was called their Eastern Reclamation, between Quay Street and Haig Street (now Tooley Street). They had purchased “dismantled devices” used at the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in 1925 at Logan Park, Dunedin. Thomas Bloodworth on the Harbour Board was vociferous in his opposition.

Mr T Bloodworth thought it was not a proper place for an amusements park. The board should consider the effect of its actions on the remainder of the city. An amusements park, with hurdy-gurdies and scenic railways, situated right at the entrance to the city, could not do other than have a damaging effect on the businesses of the city. Money would be diverted from regular business channels. While some very large cities, such as Melbourne, had their amusements parks, he did not know of any city the size of Auckland that had such a park permanently established. It had been the experience of the Dunedin people during the exhibition that the effect of the attractions now to be brought to Auckland was anything but good. Many Auckland people did not know that this syndicate intended bringing up all the hurdy-gurdies and side shows from Dunedin in order to "plonk" them down at the very entrance to the city. Here was a proposition to establish a stimulus to visit Auckland. The city could well do with such a stimulus for a short period, when many country folk might be induced to come to town. To establish a permanent park for eight years was quite another matter.

"The evil of it is that, for almost one generation, the children of Auckland will grow up in the environment of an amusements park, open on six days of the week. This sort of thing, going on day in and day out, can only be harmful," said Mr Bloodworth. "I think there is an opening for something of the kind during the summer, but it should be located away from the business area, perhaps on one of the islands down the gulf, where people would find it a little difficult to reach." A member: “Pakatoa.” (Laughter.) In conclusion, Mr Bloodworth reiterated his statement that he thought the presence of the amusements park would have a harmful effect on the established businesses of the city.

Auckland Star 9 June 1926

After more discussion, and with Bloodworth negative vote recorded, the Harbour Board decided to lease the site to the syndicate for a five year agreement, with right of renewal for three years.

The following month, the syndicate applied for a permit from the Auckland City Council “to erect certain structures,” a switchback railway [described as a Scenic Railway around the entire block], caterpillar, river cave with Fun Factory and tea terrace, Whip, dodgem, Merry Mix Up, band stand, cabaret and entrance. This posed some points of uncertainty for the Council at that time. Firstly, the land on which the amusement park was to be sited was not officially within the legal description of the city’s boundaries, being that it was land reclaimed from the harbour itself. However, the owner of the land, the Auckland Harbour Board, could neither issue building permits, nor had the statutory power to regulate building standards, which the Council had. Council’s solicitors found that the Council could have regulatory authority for building standards over reclaimed land adjacent to its boundaries, so at least that issue was sorted. Then came the question as to the fee for such a permit. Council was briefly flummoxed – the amusement park was both novel, and substantial. Up to 250 men were to be employed in its construction, and around 100 employed there on completion, planned for close to Christmas that year. On 5 August, Council approved the building permits.

Part of the view from atop Luna Park's Scenic Railway, 1928. Ref 4-1730, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

The Amusement Park Limited issued a prospectus mid August 1926. The provisional directors were Alexander Burt, John Arthur Holloway, J F Fairbairn, H Halliday and Samuel Dunn. The company extolled the benefits of the park’s location, that amusement parks had done very well overseas, and that they intended for the park to last at least 14 years.

The park opened 4 December 1926.

Throughout the afternoon Kings Drive resounded with the shrieks and yells of young and old as they tried out the various contrivances, many of which were quite new to this city. The chief attraction, of course, was the scenic railway, a great thrill producer with its dips and' sudden bends. It races round the entire park. On Saturday afternoon and evening it carried over 6000 passengers, many of whom were so thrilled that they patronised the railway not once, but three or four times. The management have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of those who patronise this novelty, the track being provided with an electrical signalling system which prevents cars running during any but safe intervals. The entire railway is illuminated at night. Probably the next most popular feature was the "dodgem," in which patrons control their own cars and endeavour to avoid as many collisions as possible, but the real thrill of the thing is that a crash occurs on an average of about once a second. "The whip," less popular, perhaps, with nervous people because of its whirling speed, had a good share of the patronage, while the "caterpillar" and the "merry mix-up" were kept fully occupied throughout the afternoon and evening. The "fun factory" is worthy in every respect of its name. There is also a gallery of those mirrors that distort ordinary mankind into diabolical and grotesque specimens, and two toboggan slides by which a quick exit may be made.

A large tea room overlooks the Waitemata and a cabaret is to be opened in the near future. There are a number of stalls purveying numerous goods, while a variety of sideshows are still in the course of erection. City Council buses run between the foot of Queen Street and the park for the benefit of patrons. The park will be open each evening, when a band will be in attendance.

Auckland Star 6 December 1926

A fire on 22 February 1927 was catastrophic. The tea rooms, cabaret, offices of the secretary and his staff, photographer’s studio, the “fun factory” and the rear portion of the scenic railway were destroyed, amounting to an estimated £10,000 damages. Despite this, the park reopened 21 March 1927, just under a month after the fire, even though still in the process of rebuilding. Closed again for the winter months, the prospects though seemed to be good. But some directors at the annual meeting expressed concern that profits weren’t as high as had been projected.

The “railway station” at the park burned down on 1 February 1928, but that was the limit of the damage, as the organisers had set up an auxiliary fire-fighting plant on site.

In the face of the gathering depression, it was announced that there would no longer be a charge for admission to the park from 31 March 1928. But overall receipts were well down, the depression being partly blamed but also daylight saving. By October 1928, however, for all the reasons and excuses, one thing was clear – the park was running at a severe loss, the lease payment to the Harbour Board was proving to be onerous. In November 1929, reports appeared in the press stating that the directors were considering closing everything down and shifting the park to Australia. The following month, the Harbour Board agreed to reduce the rent to £1000 per annum. By November 1930, however, the directors agreed to shift the park over to Sydney at the close of the summer season. It closed finally on 7 February 1931. It was dismantled over the course of that winter; Auckland’s “Coney Island” had ended. 

Auckland Star 26 June 1931