Thursday, October 30, 2008

Long and winding Methuen Road

I've lived all my life on Methuen Road, so I still refer to the two parts as the "old" (the western straight part laid down in 1901-1903 as the Methuen Hamlet subdivision, Allotment 65), and the "new" (that which winds its way through Allotment 66, starting at the bottom of the hill beyond Bollard Avenue.) This differentiation comes from my mother, who listened to theories in the early 1960s that the extension was formed in such a way as an old cattle track. Mum, while she was pregnant with me, would exercise walking the length of the "new" Methuen Road in 1963, watching the new housing and subdivisions go up.

I'm not sure about the "cattle track" theory, only because it would be hard determining exactly where it would have led to in the days before New North Road had been fully formed, pre-1863. However, we do have this, anonymous, written memory:
"In the sixties [1860s] there was no road from Harbutts Corner (Mt. Albert) to Avondale. To get to Avondale from Mt. Albert one had to go pass the mountain and Stewarts thence across Oakley Creek and from there through the scrub to to New Windsor Road, or go to the Great North Road running past the Auckland Mental Hospital."
("Events in the Early History of Avondale", c.1925, author unknown, from Auckland City Library collection)

So, perhaps there may have been something to the theory.

Also, the meandering line of the road almost matches the line of the Oakley Creek -- but this could have simply come about from the subdivisions and the way the sections were surveyed.

Methuen Road, from Blockhouse Bay to Batkin Road, was formed from 1901 until c.1962, and done so in bits and pieces. The two oldest parts are the Methuen Hamlet portion (1901-1903) at the western end, and what was once called Nicholson Road just off Batkin Road from the 1950s at least. From around 1959, the subdivisions my mother recalled were taking place, and somehow, even though the snaking line of the road went through properties with different owners, it all matched up. Early town planning on the Council's part, possibly.

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