Monday, June 28, 2010

Newmarket gun hits the headlines

Further to earlier posts here and here.

NZ Herald published this article yesterday.

Newmarket residents are miffed that a historic 125-year-old cannon has been "dumped and forgotten" while the Auckland City Council has approved $120,000 for a book on its own history.

Joan Morrow, who was secretary at the Newmarket RSA before it closed three years ago, is disappointed the cannon has been left "completely out of sight" at Olympic Green, having previously stood at Lumsden Green.
She said old soldiers had approached her wondering what had happened to the seven-tonne cannon, which dates back to 1885 and was part of fortifications overlooking the Waitemata Harbour to defend against a feared Russian invasion.

"It's just been dumped up there and left out of sight. It's ridiculous because it is such an important part of our history," said Mrs Morrow. "We want it mounted and with a plaque in front so that people can have the pleasure of seeing it and understanding it."
More at the link.

I did get a .pdf letter from the Mayor's office last week, promising that the matter had been referred to "senior Council officers" and that I could expect a reply in ten working days. Now, it might be sooner than that, I reckon ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Timespanner visits Highbury

Sandy, in a comment to an earlier post, linked to her photo of the above piece of street art in Mokoia Road, Birkenhead. So, Sandy -- thanks for the head's up. I took these shots last Sunday, while doing some Birkenhead research.

Then, there is the new library. Opened on 13 March this year, it is truly stunning. If ever you're in Highbury, go have a look. A brilliant piece of arcitecture and design. The interior (which I couldn't photograph) is even better than the exterior. And, it has its share of artworks as well.

These are quite cool, made up of words and phrases reflecting the community and local history.

Plus, a wee memorial for the anniversary of womwen's suffrage -- a plaque on a small rock.

But, walking along the main street towards Onewa Road, I found this.

Monarch butterflies have a speciual significance for me, and this one is a beauty.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Relic of Mangahao

This was an intriguing sight as I ducked down the side streets between the museum and Newmarket township last Saturday,  spotted on George Street. Wondering what on earth it was, I had a closer look.

This is, according to the plaque half-hidden by the bushes, a:
"... Pelton runner ... gifted to Worley by ECNZ to commemorate the Mangahao Power Station upgrading and refurbishing project 1991-1994.

"At Mangahao, the machine driven by this runner generated 872 GWh energy at 270m head from 1924 to 1993."
A Pelton runner or wheel is a water turbine, according to Wiki, the concept around since the 1870s. A bit of a pity that a piece of significant New Zealand technological and hydro-electric history is away on a side-street in an Auckland suburb. I hope it's included on a heritage walk map somewhere -- but, somehow I doubt it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Update on Newmarket's fallen gun

Further to my post earlier: here.

I rang Auckland City Council this morning, and a staff member from their Streetscapes division was good enough to give me a prompt call back.

There are no immediate plans to build a plinth/strand for the gun, because the budget for the Lumsden Green upgrade (from where the gun was moved) didn't allow for it. There are no funds at present, but in the longer term there are hopes there might be an opportunity this coming year (2010/2011) if funds become available. The person I spoke to said he wasn't particularly happy with the way the gun is at present, which was heartening to hear, but -- without support, both from the public, nearby historical societies and local body politicians, I can't see the situation changing any time soon.

A summary history:

I believe this to be a 7" RML gun, based on contemporary illustrations of this type of arnament. The Government imported 7" and 64-prs guns during the time of the "Russian Scare", starting from 1879. The guns were either placed in storage, or deployed in batteries along North Head, Okahu Point or Judges Bay at Parnell.

The RML guns were obsolete by 1910. Newmarket Borough Council obtained agreement in 1911 for the Permanent Force of Devonport to "render the necessary assistance in removing the Gun promised to the Council", and it was moved by J J Craig Ltd from Devonport and delivered to Newmarket by March that year. Photographs of its installation on the reserve which stretched (in those days) from Olympic Reserve right through to Lumsden Green were published in the Weekly News, 8 June 1911. It appears to have been originally sited at what is now the Lumsden Green end.

It was buried in 1942 due to fears of aerial bombing by the Japanese during World War II, and located  and unearthed in 1968. It was placed on a traffic island out on Broadway. Its original gun carriage had been sent to the tip during the war. It proved to be a traffic hazard on the traffic island, so was relocated yet again, this time back to Lumsden Green.

Peter Cooke, Defending New Zealand – Ramparts on the Sea 1840-1950s, 2000,
David Veart, North Head: The Development of a Fort, Science and Research Internal Report No. 79, 1990
Auckland Weekly News, 8 June 1911
Dinah Holman, Newmarket Lost and Found, 2001

Some more info on general coastal fortifications and the old guns here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Boxes in Newmarket ... and a survivor in Grafton

The first two are on Broadway in the middle of Newmarket shops. I couldn't make out the artist for this power box ...

But this semi-abstract traffic box is by Doug Ford.

Today, coming along from Grafton Train Station beside Outhwaite Park, I spotted a survivor. Back in July last year I had despaired for a box and its artwork as roadworks proceeded all around it. Well, today -- it's still there.

It still looks like its been through the wars, but -- at least it's there. And this time, I got to have a look at the back.

Christ Church, Ellerslie

Christ Church (Anglican) on Ladies Mile, Ellerslie, was built in 1883, on land conveyed to Bishop Cowie and others in 1881 by Robert Graham, formerly part of his Ellerslie Farm. The church is largely unchanged, aside from some restoration work in 1992. A beautiful sight, up on the hill above the Ellerslie township today.

Ellerslie's Bridge of Memories

I was at Ellerslie on Friday to give a talk, so used the opportunity to take photos of whatever Ellerslie had to offer a travelling history buff. The Bridge of Memories was a good start.

Even though it crosses the Southern Motorway, and I have a leery thing about crossing bridges over busy roads. The mind just keeps wondering if today will be the day the bridge collapses into the stream of traffic below ... I'm nervy crossing the bridge over Wellesley Street in the city as well. This shot is from whwen I'd reached the other side from the train station.

Anyway ...

In 2006, the Ellerslie Town Centre received a bit of a do-up, and the Bridge of Memories was part of the work done. These panels represent Ellerslie School.

Historical places in the village itself.

Horse racing, of course. You can't possibly have Ellerslie without its racecourse.

A tribute to Robert Graham's Ellerslie Gardens. They weren't a zoological gardens at all, despite what's on the mosaic -- just a sports ground and walking areas with a small menagerie of a couple of cages. So, here's an urban legend, enshrined in tiles.

Ellerslie Hotel. The c.1860 date is interesting. Do they mean the Harp of Erin Hotel, at Ellerslie, from around that date (said to have been on the Panmure Road?)  Or the "first-class hotel at Ellerslie Station" designed by G W Hollis and owned by Robert Graham, where tenders for the building of same were advertised in the Southern Cross in April 1874? The Ellerslie Business Association's webpage on the hotel stays out of any arguments.

Surviving logos like this (although this was of course a mosaic made long after the logo was obsolete) are historical enough now in the changing landscape of Auckland's territorial authorities. This one will be even more so after the end of this year.

Grafton Train Station art

The Grafton Station opened back in April. It's taken me this long though to organise the schedule so I had a reason to stop and admire the heritage art.

This mural has been causing appreciative comments from users of the Western Line since April.

I'll take a guess at what the views are.

Old Grafton Bridge, 1880s to 1910. Wooden construction across the gully, folks had to break step in case it collapsed.

Part of Upper Symonds Street.

Shops in Grafton?

St David's Presbyterian, on Khyber Pass Road.

The present Grafton Bridge.

The Auckland Hospital, late 19th century (top left), with one of the elderly refuges middle, on the Domain.

Auckland Hospital, 19th century to mid 20th century.

Grafton Bridge again.

And again.

Former Trinity Methodist Theological College, former Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, now Whitecliffe College, Grafton Road.

Seccombe's Great Northern Brewery, Khyber Pass.

Auckland City Hospital, Park Road.

The original Auckland Museum in Princes Street pre 1920s

The Auckland War Memorial Museum.

And ... the Skytower view.