Saturday, December 20, 2008

Robert Charles Greenwood

Greenwood was an early landowner in Avondale, including Allotment 66 in the New Windsor area behind what was later to become Methuen Hamlet, and Captain James' property in the same locality. He was a land agent, auctioneer and investor, but his name pops up from time to time in reports on Avondale's local social events, meetings etc. of the early 1880s. This was a man with connections with a capital "C".

Observer, Volume v, Issue 115, 25 November 1882, Page 174

Mr. Robert Charles Greenwood, the deservedly popular and enterprising land and estate agent … is a native of Kendal, or more correctly Kirby in Kendal, a church town in the dale of Ken, Westmoreland, which has long been-celebrated for its woollen manufactures, first introduced by Flemish weavers upwards of seven centuries ago. His grandfather was E. Greenwood, of Greenwood House. Aranside, near Milinthorpe, Westmoreland, and his father a physician of some eminence enjoying an extensive practice.

The subject of this memoir was born in the year 1844, near Liverpool, where his parents were temporarily residing. He had the advantage of a careful education by the Benedictine Fathers, of Preston. His uncle, Mr. Alfred Domett, the celebrated author of "Ranolf and Amohia, a South Sea Dream," the best representative national poem of New Zealand, was at that time engaged in "the heroic work of colonisation," and in consequence of his representations as to the agricultural resources of the colony, Mr. Greenwood was encouraged to regard a colonial career as the most advantageous sphere for the employment of his talents and energies. With this view he was engaged during a period of three or four years in the study of practical farming in England, and in 1869 he had so far mastered the details of the business as to be ready to emigrate to Auckland.

Prior to leaving England he married a daughter of Favez de Peutereah, a distinguished French Commander who accompanied the First Consul in his famous exploit of crossing the Alps. Another brother held the appointment of Inspector of Military Colleges in France. The seat of the family was the Chateau De Corsier, , a famous aristocratic mansion.

Arriving with his wife in New Zealand in 1869, Mr. Greenwood found the colony suffering from the stagnation and paralysis which succeeded the war, with few favourable openings for the employment of his talents. Possessing, however, some interest with the Ministry of the day, several lucrative civil appointments were offered him by Sir Julius Vogel, one of which he accepted, and continued to discharge for a period of three years. Nothing daunted by the somewhat unpropitious character of his first experience of colonial life, he was always watching for an opportunity for entering into business on his own account in some field which would afford more favourable scope for his active and enterprising habits, and when a more favourable turn was given to affairs by the inauguration of the Immigration and Public Works Policy, he determined to sever his connection with officialism. The office of Market Inspector being vacant, he secured the position out of 100 candidates who competed for it. Twelve months later, when the leases of the market stalls were put up to auction Mr. Greenwood became the purchaser, and under his management the income derived by the Borough from this source was largely increased.

Three years ago he commenced business as an auctioneer and land and estate agent at the corner of Shortland and Queen streets. For some years past Mr. Greenwood has directed his attention to the improvement of the many beautifully-situated suburban properties around the city. Some of these properties, admirably adapted for villa and business sites, were lying practically unutilised, their owners unaware of their real value, or wanting the requisite skill and enterprise to place them in a profitable market. Mr. Greenwood's excellent judgment and keen foresight, however, enabled him to perceive that the rapid extension of the city and the active and increasing demand for building sites presented a favourable opportunity for disposing of many of these suburban properties to the best advantage, and under his skilful manipulation they have been sold with mutual benefit to seller and buyer. During the past two months he has disposed of land to the value of upwards of £30, 000, and he has now many extensive properties in his hands for purposes of realisation.

Mr. Greenwood's operations are marked by skill, judgment, and caution, combined with all the energy and dash of a Wall-street speculator. He knows exactly the right moment to make a coup, or to wait for a better opportunity. His handsome and commodious Land Mart, next door to the establishment of Messrs Fisher and Co., Queen-street, is situated in the very centre of the commercial traffic of the city. The building will shortly be opened, and will be a great convenience to sellers and purchasers.

Mr. Greenwood lives at Mount Albert, where he has a charming residence, and in the intervals of business he finds time to devote himself to the ornamentation and improvement of his grounds, and the cultivation of rare flowers, and fruits. He has also another marine residence at Waipapa, commanding delightful views of the coast scenery, and enjoying the healthy seabreezes. The place is a favourite resort of people fond of piscatorial pursuits. Mr. Green wood's residence at Mount Albert is the scene of frequent social gatherings, at which his amiable wife shines with conspicuous grace as a hostess. Mr. Greenwood is a man of kindly and genial disposition, and is universally popular and respected, apart from his excellent business qualities.

He died 29 June 1898 in Devonport. He was the father of the Greenwood family of musicians, according to the Evening Post.

Otago Witness, Issue 2314, 7 July 1898, Page 39
Mr. R. C. Greenwood, an old and well-known resident of Auckland, and father of Miss Maribel Greenwood, who is at present agent but subsequently made heavy losses, went to Australia, and returned at the beginning of the gold mining boom.

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