Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Motor Car Changes Avondale: Part 1


From the earliest days of European settlement of the Whau District, the horse was the primary mode of transport if you didn't want to use your own feet and walk. Deliveries came by horse and cart, the buses were pulled by horses taking you into the City, horse and rider made their way along the rutted roads and tracks toward parties, gatherings, and church services. Blacksmiths and horse-feed sellers reigned supreme, and stables were just as much landmarks as the local pub.

In the 20th century, all this changed.

In 1903, the first motor cars appeared in Auckland. It was another decade before they started taking over from the horse as the main form of transport for both commercial and private use, but from 1915 the trend was growing.

Where in 1912, the Station Store and Bluck's Buildings had been built to take advantage of foot traffic from the Railway Station just across the road -- by the end of World War I, the pattern had changed. With the coming of the motor car, Great North Road became the new centre of Avondale.

By 1919 Avondale businessman Ernest Goodman was up with the play as far as the motor car was concerned.
“Avondale to the Beaches by Motor – E Goodman wishes to notify the public of Avondale that he is prepared to convey parties to Blockhouse Bay, Point Chevalier etc. by motor at times to suit customers. Fares as per arrangement. A trip will run daily from Avondale to Mt Albert at 10.0 a.m. Fare 6d, leaving Thode’s corner.” [Advertisement, The News, 29/3/19]

From then on, Mr Goodman’s taxis became part of the Avondale landscape.

The motor car was starting to change the way Avondale people did business by this time. There was the Avondale Motor Delivery Service.
“Notice is hereby given that a quick Motor Delivery Service between Avondale and Auckland will be started from about April 7th, when necessary trips will be made twice daily. Passenger traffic to bays, picnics etc. will also be catered for, accommodation being provided for 15 passengers. Norman Thomas, Great North Rd, Avondale.” [Advertisement, The News, 29/3/19]

Mr Goodman was not the only one in town with the idea of ferrying people in the new-fangled innovation. A Mr McCarthy of Station Road (now Blockhouse Bay Road, near Walsall St) initially had a fish selling business (he owned his own boat) but then branched out into the funeral conveyancing business, and as a charabanc driver.

“During the 1920s a number of commercial garages were established in the district…. Stewart’s, Trigg’s, In St Jude’s Street was Bamford’s Avondale Service Station. A 1926 Automobile Association guide stated that: ‘This garage is situated below the railway crossing on the hill above Avondale on the road to Mt Albert. Watch out for trains.’” [Challenge of the Whau, p. 74]

One of the early garages belonged to J Blomley.
“J Blomley – Motor & General Engineer – Bring your cars, motor cycles, or other mechanical work to the above, where you will receive every attention, good workmanship and prompt delivery at rock bottom prices. All work guaranteed. Workshop & garages, adjoining Wm. Pendlebury’s, Draper, Great North Road, Avondale.” [Advertisement, The News, 28/8/15]

Wherever the motor car went, you needed the people to fix them.
“Machinery owners and users of motor cars have often felt the want of a local engineering establishment when necessity has arisen for repairs. It is therefore pleasing to record that Messrs. P J Cooper & Sons will in a few days open those premises adjoining the new Masonic Hall, Rosebank road, Avondale (just below Messrs. Thode Bros’ store) as a general engineering shop. We have every confidence in soliciting work for the new firm as we know Mr Cooper has had an extended experience in all branches of engineering, including motors, mill machinery, suction gas plants and steam, gas and oil engines. Repairs to agricultural and milking machinery will also be a speciality with the new firm.” [The News, 28/8/19]

This was at 79 Rosebank Road. Unfortunately, the optimism in the above piece didn’t keep the business going beyond the middle of the 1920s, with the rise of Triggs Garage and Stuarts, both on the main road

The site between the intersection and the Masonic Hall would be vacant until Forsyth’s Coal Yard in the 1930s.

Rough rutted roads were hard enough going for the horse and cart. For the motor car they used up precious benzine and petrol. Mrs Shaw, telling me of her memories of the days of the rough road through the centre of Avondale, said that the early cars had headlights on "stalks" which bobbed up and down as the cars negotiated the rough track from Avondale down the hill to the Whau Creek bridge -- which was, itself, then only a one-lane bridge.

In 1925, came the next big change for Avondale's transport history.

“There was a great deal of development during 1925. At a meeting in Auckland on February 28th, it was approved by all the town boards involved, that they would build a concrete road over the often impassable clay road from Oakley Creek at Point Chevalier, all the way to the end of the Henderson Township. Each Town Board's ratepayers bore the cost for their own section of the new highway.” [Henderson’s Mill, Anthony Flude, 1977]

“Work on the construction of the first section of the concrete highway at Oakley Creek to Lincoln Road, Henderson, is to be commenced on Monday, when the paving gangs will start operations in the Avondale district. The point of commencement will be at Blake St Avondale, and the paving will be pushed on as far as the Whau Creek bridge, after which the section from Blake St to Oakley Creek will be undertaken.

Form of construction will be a complete departure from anything yet done in New Zealand. The flanges of the roadway would be arched, the edges being thicker than the centre of the roadway, thus giving more strength at the point where the greatest weight of traffic is supported. The system is based on recent tests carried out in Illinois.”

Work began March 2, 1925. New Lynn section started approx. June 1, Glen Eden September 1, Henderson, December 1. [NZ Herald, 28/2/25]

“The excavation of the bed for the concrete highway from Avondale to Henderson commenced at the beginning of the month, and a start to be made on laying the concrete in about 10 days. A new concrete-mixer is to be employed on the job. [NZ Herald, 20/3/25]

By the end of 1925, motor cars could travel smoothly from Henderson through to Pt Chevalier, and Auckland's suburbs, such as Avondale, began to grow in earnest.

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