Thursday, August 23, 2012

Freeman Bay's corner icon

Lyn Dear, fellow blogger at Genealogy New Zealand, asked by email tonight about the history of one of the most well-known corner dairies in the land -- Rupa's, corner Wellington and Hepburn Streets in Freemans Bay. Fortunately, there is the above classic view (1992) of the shop online.

The shops (there are two here, with shared history) date from c.1899, built on what was at one stage earlier that decade a Bank of New South Wales subdivision (NA 72/95). Most of the land was purchased by Tamar Amy Harris, who sold Lot 10A in 1898 to Hannah Worsnop, wife of Josiah Worsnop (NA 89/13). It was the Worsnops who built the first of the two shops, the one on the left, as a two-storey wooden building. Josiah, a builder, may have been the one hammering in the nails.
Wellington Street.—Mr J. Worsnop wrote complaining about the imperfect condition of the footpath opposite his new shop.—The Engineer reported about 55 feet of rough kerb was required to keep the water off the footway, and the channeling wanted opening out to allow the water to escape. The side of the road also wanted trimming: estimated cost, £3 10/. —On the motion of Councillor Julian, it was agreed that the work be done.
Auckland Star 2 June 1899

I don't know all that much about the Worsnops. Josiah and Hannah appear to have hailed from Yorkshire originally, travelling via departure point at London to Australia, landing in Brisbane on 6 May 1885 (  They probably made their way over here soon after that. Hannah Worsnop appears in Wises Directory for 1900 as a grocer at the corner store, then Josiah Worsnop takes over as occupier -- then, they're out of the story. "J Worsnop" became involved with a business making or distributing "Boska" washing fluid, which sounds like a liquid laundry detergent in the advertising, operating from Picton Street in Freemans Bay by 1911. He died while living at 18 Picton Street, 4 July 1929, aged 67.

A bootmaker named Ernest Crocker was the next to own the property, from 1904. In the 1905 Wises, he's described as a grocer there. Then came Hugh Munro Wilson and his wife Ada Elizabeth, leasing the property to the Gregory Brothers, John and Montague Pearce Gregory. The Gregory Brothers bought the property outright in 1917, only to sell in 1920 to Arthur and George Alfred Langford, with immediate transfer to Alfred and Harriett Annie Scott, storekeepers. (NA 89/13)

The following year the Clarks come into the picture, Henry a motorman and his wife Ada Evangeline. Henry shows in the 1926 Wises. Then another builder, William Preston, bought the site that year. He's probably the one responsible for the brick shop added to the right, completing the double-shop look we see today, the brick addition appearing in records at Council Archives from May 1931. (ACC 213/210b)

The earliest instance of Bushell's in New Zealand I've been able to find tonight comes from the Hutt News 29 April 1936 (the firm's coffee on a list). Tea comes slightly later.

BUSHELL'S TEAS. Bushell's, Ltd., Sydney, one of the great tea distributing companies in Australia, will shortly begin business in New Zealand, a company having been registered for that purpose. 
 Evening Post 17 February 1937

It doesn't seem to have been terribly common in the papers before 1945, but short of finding images from before the 1950s, there's a possibility that sign above the store may well have existed from before the war. Repairs to a sign, all of £7, are recorded in 1947. Might be for that one.

The Rupas, the shops' famous owners, bought the site in 1953. This was just about the last of the period before progress began to affect Freemans Bay, and town planning policy decisions were made to clean up the area, and create a better and brighter suburb by clearing away the old. Combined with the growth of the Napier Street School in behind, the Rupas' became increasingly isolated, no longer part of a continuous line of small shops and simple residences.

The Auckland Education Board offered to buy the corner site in 1968, but the offer was refused. (NZ Herald, May 1999) The district scheme changed the zoning for the site, making it part of the school-use area in 1970. The Rupas negotiated with the Ministry of Works in 1976 for that department to purchase the store -- but the Ministry's offer of $21,500 was refused. (Auckland Star, 21 October 1998) The Education Board relented, lifting their designation in 1978.

The Rupas application to develop their site as a two-storey dairy and home in 1983 was declined by Council, as it was felt the business would adversely affect the nearby shopping village. The family removed the old Bushells sign in 2001, to restore it and put it in storage, and installed the replica, as seen in this still (c.2010) from Google Maps.

Even so, the sign did cause quite a storm in a teacup back in '01.

The new Bushells Tea sign in Freemans Bay - paid for by the Rupas - is causing a stir, after the city council ordered a family credit be painted over. Dilip Rupa was served an abatement notice this week giving him four weeks to remove the wording "solely funded by the Rupas", or risk prosecution under the Resource Management Act.

A furious Mr Rupa said the council should concentrate on the bigger issues. "This is the first written acknowledgement of what we have done from the city council and it's a criticism of us. I think it stinks.
"The building is an icon, we have done it all," he said. "What the city council is failing to realise is we have done something special for Auckland."

Mr Rupa questioned the legality of the council notice, because the resource consent condition applied to the original sign, which had been removed from the building facade and replaced with a $5000 replica.
The original sign had been restored and was now kept inside the building. Mr Rupa said his family had owned the buildings on Wellington St since 1953 and had spent $20,000 renovating them. He believed the abatement notice was a violation of his freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and he did not plan to remove the wording.
Sometimes it's tough owning an Auckland icon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ponsonby's wharf

Spotting this card on TradeMe, I thought it was both interesting, and in need of a bit of image enhancement. Soon as it arrived in the mail today, I put it through the scanner.

Considering it's at least 106 years old and has been through the postal system back then (sent to Miss Phoebe Goodwin of Bella Vista Road, Ponsonby) -- not too bad.

The image of Ponsonby's wharf, jutting out into the Waitemata Harbour at the end of Wairangi Street, is just one of the reminders we have that Auckland relied heavily on maritime transport over land transport for much of the city's formative years in the 19th and even early 20th centuries. It was a sign, as well, that Ponsonby as a district was starting to boom when the Auckland Harbour Board began to investigate the best site for the Ponsonby Wharf in November 1879 (Star, 6 November). A builder named Edwin Swift put forward a tender for the work, at £743, in March 1883, but then he had some problem with his figures as figured by his clerk, and asked to withdraw from the contract. Still, piles had been driven into the harbour bed some 200 feet by August that year, and it was likely completed soon afterward.

Steamers called in at the wharf, to pick up passengers for trips across the harbour. But by 1894, it's popularity was on the wane, with the development of public land transport connections.

Built at a cost of £1,000 during the boom period some years ago, this wharf now serves for a promenade, and also for persons to exercise their skill as fishermen. Two or three steamers call at the wharf during the year for Sunday-school picnic parties, but beyond this the structure is of little practical use, as residents in Ponsonby apparently prefer to travel to and from town either by trams or 'buses.
Auckland Star 13 March 1894

Sir, Allow me through the medium of your columns to call the attention of the custodians of the Ponsonby wharf to its unsatisfactory condition. The steps at the end of the wharf leading down to the water have given and are hanging by one bolt; consequently, with such a sea as was running on Saturday last, when I visited the locality the strain on the wharf by the continued movement of the steps was so great that I was positively afraid to risk going on the outer tee lest the structure should be carried away. If attended to at once the steps can be easily fixed, but if repairs are not made and a rough sea sets in the wharf will be shaken to its foundation. The pier is a pleasant promenade in fine weather, and it would be a pity to let it go to ruins. I am etc., OBSERVER.
Auckland Star 3 December 1902

A lad named John Brophy, mucking about on the wharf in June 1904, jumped on and smashed one of the seats at the wharf. The judge at the Police Court fined him £1 and costs, "remarking that a whipping would almost have been better."

Auckland Weekly News 4 July 1907, Ref AWNS-19070704-7-5, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

One of Auckland's gale storms in June 1907 sent a vessel crashing against the old timbers of the wharf, gradually working its way through to the other side, leaving a gaping hole. "Observer" wrote to the Star in October, asking when the hole, still there at that point, was to be repaired. It was likely repaired soon after that.

Drifting logs struck the wharf in October 1918, damaging some of the inner piles.

Into the 1920s and 1930s, the wharf was used more as a boatie's landmark than anything else.

Then in late 1935, the beginning of the end.

Looking south from the end of Ponsonby Wharf, 27 December 1931. Ref. 4-4649, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

There is a possibility of the Ponsonby wharf, situated at the foot of Waitangi Road, being demolished. Recently it was recommended to the Harbour Board that this structure, together with the Birkdale and Greenhithe wharves, should be dismantled, but the board has decided that the two latter wharves are to remain. The fate of the Ponsonby structure, however, has not yet been definitely determined. The Ponsonby wharf has stood for many years, and many people will recall the ferry excursions that used to be made between the city and it on Sundays and holidays for the purpose of conveying crowds to Mason's gardens and Shelly Beach. Daily trips also used to be made by the ferries, vessels that were associated with the service being the Victoria, City of Cork, Eagle and Osprey. To-day the wharf has fallen into disuse, although it provides a popular promenade on moonlit evenings, a fishing jetty for the youth of Ponsonby, and a place for yachtsmen to tie up. 
 Auckland Star 20 November 1935

The old wharf was condemned 10 December 1935 at a meeting of the Auckland Harbour Board, despite appeals from Ponsonby residents asking that upwards of 200ft of the wharf be repaired and put back into order. The cost of repairs would have been at least £450 -- the wharf, erected during one depression, was possibly doomed in part because of another.
As soon as the necessary plant is available, the Auckland Harbour Board will commence the demolition of Ponsonby wharf, which has stood since 1883. The board ordered the demolition of the wharf some time ago, but up to the present the plant has been occupied with other tasks which, however, are expected to be finished shortly.

When the wharf was built 53 years ago, there was a ferry service between there and the city, by which most of the Ponsonby residents living near the waterfront travelled between their homes and their work, as the roads then in existence followed a roundabout route and were primitive in construction. The wharf was made 680 ft long to reach water deep enough for the ferries at all states of the tide. Within a few years of its construction, however, improved roads between Ponsonby and the city opened the way for land transport facilities with which the ferries could not compete and the service was abandoned.

Although it has been a valuable convenience to yachtsmen who live or who moor their boats near the Ponsonby foreshore, past boards have spent little money on keeping it in repair and it has reached such a stage of decay that it is now dangerous, being likely to collapse at any time. Pending its demolition, the board posted notices to the effect that it was condemned and closed to traffic.

When it was known that the wharf was to be demolished a deputation of Ponsonby residents waited on the board to ask that, if the repair of the whole of the existing structure were considered a too-expensive project, then about 200 ft of it should be put in order to provide for a grid on the eastern side on which yachts and launches could be cleaned and painted below their waterline. The engineer, Mr. D. Holderness, considered, however, that the present structure was so far gone in decay that it was beyond repair and would, in any case, have to be demolished. The cost of erecting a new wharf 200 ft long would be about £450, and another £175 would be required for the grid. This expense the board considered unwarranted.

Auckland Star 2 March 1936

And, that was it. The old wharf was dismantled. In October that year the residents asked for a boat landing to be erected in replacement. The Harbour Board obviously provided something, as newspapers the following year talked of a "new" Ponsonby wharf.

But it was likely not anything like the old one.

Trout (and other fish) tales Part 2

 Image from Wikipedia.

I've just received this email from Brian Watson:
"My great grandfather, Robert Cliffe variously known as the gardener or curator worked in the Domain for the Acclimatisation Society, about 1870s to 1890s. I believe he constructed the ponds, was involved in the hatching and at various times took hatchlings, by rail, to a number of places in the North Island. He lived in the then Conquest Place, Parnell. Later he was the gardener at Government House. One of his sons was Robert McKenzie Cliffe, who wrote two articles in the Auckland Star of Saturday 20 June 1931."
Thanks for this, and pointing out the articles, Brian. Here they are -- an update to the previous post.




In a leafy gully in the Auckland Domain where a tiny stream trickles, is the remains of Auckland's first hatchery and fish pond. It was abandoned many years ago. The wooden fences rotted and decayed, but there is still to be found some of the foundation of what was many years ago quite a little hive of industry, and a place of great interest to visitors.

Captain R. McKenzie Cliffe is now a marine expert, but in the days when there were fish ponds in the Domain reserve, he was a boy and one most interested in fish, their ways and their doings. His father was the curator of the hatchery, and he was what might be termed first assistant. Few people remember these ponds, and the care which was lavished on them in earlier days, but Captain Cliffe has written, depicting them as they were, the quietness and the peace of the gardens.

"To begin with,” he writes, "the hatchery and fish ponds were never situated in the Domain gardens. They were built on the sides of a gully about 200 yards south of the southerly end of Carlaw Park. The ruins are still there and it was from this place that all the trout, perch, carp and cat fish were distributed all over the Auckland province to the Waikato, Thames and North Auckland. The hatchery covered an area of perhaps two acres, which were fenced with 9in planks about 8ft high. There was one reservoir and 15 ponds, varying in side from 60ft by 6ft to 10ft by 6ft. Their depth varied from 18in to 3ft. The sides of the ponds were paved with large smooth stones and the bottoms had about two to three inches of shingle spread on them.

The Hatchery Described.

"In addition to these ponds there were 60 boxes arranged in tiers, placed in one of the two houses there. One of them was used as a hatchery and the other as a toolshed. In the latter was a fireplace where we cooked the bullocks' livers, which, with worms, formed the staple diet of the fish.

The hatchery contained about 60 hatching boxes each 4ft 6in long by 1ft 9in deep. On each side of the boxes, three inches under the water, were placed serrated battens. Athwartwise, with their ends lying on the battens were glass tubes close together. In these were placed the ova. The hatchery was under the shade of great trees and even in the hottest weather the place was very cold.

Some of the ponds were partially covered by battens over which clematis and other beautiful creepers were trained. Banking the sides of all the ponds were masses of tree ferns, and the ground was green with maidenhair and lycopodium, some of which trailed in the slowly moving water."

Besides giving the spot a witchery and an elusive beauty, these trailing ferns afforded some protection from potential marauders, among which were numbered shags, kingfishers, an occasional wild duck, cats, rats and even mice.

“It was from this place that later on came English brown trout, American brook and black-spotted mountain trout, perch, carp and catfish. Here also were a few native gray fish and Maori trout."

Birds and Beauty in the Old Domain.

Captain Cliffe deprecates the planting of exotic trees in the Domain, and the birds which were there then are heard but seldom now. When he was a boy it was the usual thing to see most of the more common native birds. "Tui, bellbirds, weka, kaka, mopokes, blight-birds, fern birds, teal, wild duck, New Zealand wrens, fantails, both pied and black, parrakeets, all these were there," he writes, "and many more which I cannot remember. An occasional bittern and a few pukekos used to frequent the swamp where the pond now is.

“I could write for hours of the beauty of the old Domain, of its birds, its trees, giant manuka, and wonderful mosses. Now it is neither one thing nor the other. The sooner the exotics are exterminated, and the native bush allowed to grow, the better it will be. It is a national asset which we do not appreciate. Some day we will be sorry and then it will be too late."

Auckland Star 20 June 1931 p.11

"Well, now I will tell you about Lake Pupuke,” he writes. "My father had to take a batch of trout up to Matamata, and Mr. Edwin Harrow was very impatiently asking for some trout for Lake Pupuke. Under the circumstances there was nothing else for it but for me to take the batch of trout to Takapuna. So, after putting them (by the way, they were a mixture of English brown trout and American brook trout) into three large cans, my father departed with his batch for the Auckland station.

"A Good Idea."

"On arrival he sent his conveyance back to take my batch to the ferry boat. Thus I was left in charge at the hatchery. I walked round, and I thought it would be a good idea to put a few carp among the trout. Getting a net, I soon had about half a dozen half-grown carp, and I placed them with the trout. Then a brilliant idea came. The week before we had been out to Lake St. John, and secured about 400 catfish, each about 13 inches long. I thought that it would be a grand idea to add a few of these to the crowd. I did so, and now my cans contained trout, carp, and catfish. Shortly afterwards we went to the ferry. We shipped our load and were met at Devonport by Mr. Harrow. We liberated our batch just below where the Lake House stood.

"So that is the story of the liberation of 'trout' in Lake Pupuke. A few years later a fish was caught weighing between 9lb and 10lb. There was a good deal of speculation about it. It had all the markings of a trout, but it was more the shape of a John Dory. It had grown downwards instead of lengthwise.

"Years afterwards in New York I was talking to a piseiculturist, and he told me that this condition was nearly always obtained when fish which were used to running water were transferred into still, stagnant water. As to the truth of it I cannot say.

Conditions Unsuitable.

"As to the idea of liberating trout again into Lake Pupuke, I do not think the project would be a success. The essentials necessary for success in trout-raising are plenty of running water, a shingle bed for spawning, and plenty of live food. They pine in stagnant water and finally die out. Perch and carp would do there; in fact, there are a good few carp there now, or were a few years ago; but these fish are too small to be very valuable for food or sport. In fact, ground baiting is necessary in both cases, and the water in Takapuna is too deep for either." 

Auckland Star 20 June 1931 p.12

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Queen and Wellesley Streets, c.1904

I'm still not a total fan of colourised postcards, but I must admit this one I bought recently is quite pretty. That it headed from Mt Roskill back in 1904, went across the seas to Ireland, and somehow made its way back here again is interesting enough.

This view of Queen and Wellesley Street, looking up to the Art Gallery building (then the Auckland Public Library) has completely and utterly altered today in terms of the buildings -- except for the Art Gallery Building.

 Reference 4-315, 1890s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Back in the 1890s, before the coming of electric trams, horse-drawn tram tracks were the ones snaking their way from the intersection.

Some of the detail from the 1904 card.

 Reference 4-682, 1880s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

According to Graham Stewart in his book The End of the Penny Section, double-truck, double-decker trams were introduced in Auckland in 1902, the first year of the electric tramways here. Their story is a somewhat controversial one. Christmas Eve 1903, No. 39 ran back down the New North Road from Charlotte Street nearly to Kingsland shops and collided with another tram. The accident killed three passengers and injured dozens -- I hope to post about the incident soon. The first of the fatalities was that of a young woman struck in the back of the head by the pole as she tried, with others, to get down from the upper deck before the collision. Early in 1904, in the wake of the accident, double-deckers were taken off the lines, but reintroduced soon afterward, photographed conveying crowds to and from sporting events and racedays.

The upper decks were stripped from the fleet in 1923, and the de-decked remainder retained until they were withdrawn in 1948.

From Constitution Hill to Fraser Park

This postcard was described in TradeMe as showing "Constitution Hill" -- which it does, in the centre background, but the main focus I would have thought would have been the road along which the tram was slowly trundling, called at this point Alpha Road, leading towards Parnell.

Before I get into stuff about what was what ... The back of the postcard intrigued me on reading it today when I opened the envelope from the card's seller. Crammed onto the back, written in small cursive writing in ink pen, is the following:
"Dear Win.
I am writing you a P.C. as I have not got very much news. How is Mc Kinlay, be out with him yet. Who do you think followed Else & I into town. Mr Alf Elliot. Else & I were talking to Nellie Joynt in Newton when he passed. Else didn't notice him so the child passed us again, we spoke to him and never thought any more about him. When we got to town we happened to look back & we spotted him just at the back of us. So we dodged into the Station & we didn't see any more of him. Edie Cross' two cousins from Waikumete are working at Mackay Logans. We were talking to Glady & Bob in town. I think Glady has got the same expression in her eyes as Ern has. I couldn't help noticing it last night. Else's boy & I hate one another like poison, put me in mind of her and his bossy ways, we are just civil to onother [sic] & that's all. Maggie leaving Mennies & is starting at a place in Dominion Road. A much better place. 
Best love from Liz."
Liz, were she a young lady in today's day and age, might well have fitted perfectly into our Facebook and Twitter-dominated social landscape.

Liz's reference to Dominion Road puts this image at some time after 1907, but it's likely from before the 1920s.

I referred to Constitution Hill in an earlier post. It's a part of Auckland I'd be nervy of going down, and would need oxygen to climb up these days. I always associate it personally with bus strikes -- when the bus drivers walked off the job, the only way into town in the 1980s was by train, and that meant a climb from Beach Road up Constitution Hill to Symonds Street for me. Felt as if I'd ripped a lung out.

Others, when the name was first applied to this pathway upwards in the early 1860s probably felt the same. It isn't named after a parliamentary constitution -- I think it was named after Constitution Hill in London, itself said to be named after King Charles II's habit of walking along the (flat) road from his palace to Hyde Park for his health. Then again, Parliament Buildings were close to the top of it, until Auckland was no longer the capital.

Here, though, Constitution Hill lived up to the "hill" part of its moniker.

To the Editor of the Daily Southern Cross, —Allow me to call the attention of the authorities to the present dangerous state of the pathway from the Provincial Council Chambers to Mechanic's Bay. A few loads of gravel, a little fencing, and repair of the gutter are required at once, as otherwise our “Constitution hill” will be impassable during the coming winter. A SUBSCRIBER, May 11th 1863.
SC 12 May 1863
Sir,— That the streets, and even the footways, of Auckland, are in a deplorable condition, I think no one would attempt to deny; and in many parts the passage of them involves positive danger to life and limb; none, I think, more so than the particular portion to which I would desire, through your medium, to call the attention of the proper authorities. I allude to the hill facetiously called Constitution Hill, namely, that which loads downwards to Mechanics’ Bay, from the front of the House of Assembly. I do not think that I can be accused of exaggeration in saying that this does actually endanger limb, if not life, and several, to my knowledge, have already had spills, and been much bruised. Any person who may have required to travel it last night, or even this morning would, I think, bear me out … 

SC 2 June 1865

Up to the period I write of, no attempt has been made to overcome the handicap of the cruel hills that shut Parnell off from the city. The railway line along the foreshore was only in the rough, and in any case when the crawling, poisoned trains entered the tunnel. Parnell, the harbour end, was left "in the air," so to speak. I wonder how many dwellers of the eastern suburb—"Parnell, pride and poverty"—of to-day can even visualise what Constitution Hill meant to the dwellers of the 'seventies and 'eighties. It was a veritable mountain, and in earlier days had evidently been an abrupt, towering cliff with the waters of Mechanics' Bay laving its feet. A ridiculous goat track led down from where, eventually, the Supreme Court buildings perched on its crown, and that track was ungravelled and barely drained. It was a dangerous track even for young folk and in daylight. Imagine, then, what terrors it presented to the wives of business men detained in town after dark —which, of course, nearly all were in winter. I remember hearing the wife of my uncle, John Reading, giving to my mother and aunt a graphic account of her own experiences in that respect. She told how of a rainy night, she would put the little daughter, Julia, to bed, wrap her head in an old shawl, and start out to meet her man. Remember, there were practically no street lamps in those days, and the main road was nothing but a few loads of blue metal thrown down in a quagmire. It was bad enough before Constitution Hill was reached, but then the poor creature's troubles really began. The slippery cliff path was a nightmare to her when her husband had to traverse it in the dark. In the seventies a scared goat could not safely have negotiated the hill at a gallop. 

Auckland Star 28 July 1928

Then we come to the road the tram is travelling upon. As I said, at this point in time the image was taken, it was Alpha Road, and had been since at least 1882 (the earliest reports seen in Papers Past, when the Parnell Borough Council were budgetting for a footpath to be formed there). Like Constitution Hill, it's a fair bit of a climb up from Mechanics' Bay. Before 1882, it was part of The Strand. From late 1938, it was Gittos Street, after Rev. William Gittos. Then, in the mid 1980s, it was renamed again to Parnell Rise.

What the tram is passing to the right of the picture is the site of Parnell School.

"Looking north east from Constitution Hill up Parnell Rise, with Parnell Road (top) and Augustus Terrace (left after railway bridge) with the Parnell School, Parnell Railway Bridge, Swan Hotel on corner of Stanley Street (right), Maori Hostelry (foreground) and City Steam Laundry on opposite side of Gittos Street (now Parnell Rise)." 28 September 1900. Reference AWNS-19000928-6-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Just right of centre, above the railway overbridge in the image above, you can see the old Parnell School.

Detail from DP 7386, LINZ records (1911)

In 1875, the triangle of land between the three roads was granted by the Crown to the Auckland Provincial Superintendent for use as endowment property to provide income for the asylum at Pt Chevalier (NA 6/180). Then, in 1878, moves were made in Parliament to take a chunk of the asylum endowment property as a school reserve.
Mr. Moss moved very briefly the second reading of the Parnell Reserve Bill. This bill was given notice originally as the Parnell School Reserve Bill, but the word "school" was dropped out subsequently, inasmuch as such a reserve would necessarily fall into the general education endowments, and seeing that the reserve was meant for the Parnell Borough Council, this result would have proved untoward. Mr. O'Rorke objected to the measure, on the grounds of Mr. Moss's extreme moderation; a much larger area of land ought to have been granted to the Borough. Mr. Dignan said that the land asked for was from portions of land long ago set apart as endowments for the Auckland Lunatic Asylum, and he strongly deprecated the attempt to deprive such an institution of its just right. Had Mr. Moss asked the Government for a small portion of the Auckland Domain grounds as endowments, and that ground was only about a hundred yards distant from the boundary of this Borough, he should have readily supported the claim, but he felt bound, on the score of justice, to object to this proposal to take from the Lunatic Asylum a portion of its too small reserve. If the House could consent to such a thing, what charity was safe—what institution of the kind in the colony was safe. He moved, “That the bill be read a second time this day six months.” After some consideration, the Speaker ruled that the schedule of the bill was informal, and so the matter is delayed. Mr. Moss will move in the business again, and probably may ask for a small slice of the Domain. 

NZ Herald 15 August 1878

The school, probably c.1880 just after it was built on the reserve for £2000. Reference 1-W257, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library.

The Parnell Reserve Act 1878 was passed, though, and the land went to the education board.
Opening of the Parnell District School.
This building, which is intended for the public school of the Parnell district, is now almost completed, and is really a magnificent specimen of architecture. The whole work of building has been carried out under the management of Mr Connelly, and the present edifice reflects great credit both upon him and the workmen … According to announcement, the public opening took place this afternoon, when there were about 350 children present with their teachers and parents, and they behaved themselves in a very orderly manner. Mr Leonard, the head-master, has great command over the scholars. Mr Winks occupied the chair, and in the opening proceedings remarked that … he was very much pleased to see so many present in the interest of education. Their thanks were due both to the local Board and Mr Moss for obtaining the present magnificent building and site … 

Auckland Star 3 May 1880

A small bit at the corner of Mechanics Road (now Augustus Terrace) and (what was then) Parnell Rise (now part of Parnell Road) was transferred to the Parnell Borough Council in 1914. (Pt. 107 in the plan above) This ended up as the site of the Borough Council offices -- made redundant when Parnell amalgamated with Auckland City a few years later.

By 1932, it was realised that the site at the top of the hill was inadequate for a school in a busy suburb. The following year, the school shifted to St Stephen's Avenue. 

What will be the future of the. historic site of the old Parnell School? The Mayor of Auckland, Mr. G. W. Hutchison, who is an old boy of the school, has taken up the matter with the Minister of Education, the Hon. R. Masters, and urged that the site should be set aside as a public reserve to improve the amenities of the locality, but the Departmental view—at the moment—is that the land should be sold to the highest bidder as an offset to the cost of the new Parnell School building, which was recently opened. There is still, however, hope of the development of the area on aesthetic lines. To-day the well-known triangle is a scene of desolation, with the exception that exotic trees planted many years ago suggest how well a park scheme or reserve could be developed. The apex of the triangle was formerly the site of the Parnell Borough Council offices, the buildings being removed when the eastern side of Auckland was embraced in the city area. There are thousands of Aucklanders who attended the old Parnell School during its long history, and they will share in the view that the site should be set aside for all time as a public reserve …

Auckland Star 18 November 1933

The land was zoned for business and industrial purposes in the town plan. On 8 June 1934, the department tried selling the subdivided site at auction -- but the auctioneer failed to get even a bid of £1000. (Star 8 June) These days, a piece of prime land like this in Parnell would have had bidders lining up with their wallets to purchase even a smidgen, I'd have thought.

Suggestions were made in the press from the public that the city council should consider leasing the site as a recreation reserve, to prevent "[the district's] entrance [from being] disfigured by unsightly buildings." (Star, 17 May 1935) It was suggested that the area could become another of the city's playground areas being set up during this period (see also my post on Basque Park). The Minister of Education, Peter Fraser, even went so far as to offer the site to the Council for that purpose. But the city engineer, Tyler, wisely noted the fact that the triangle is an island in the middle of heavily used routes for traffic, especially the increasing numbers of motor vehicles. The topography was another problem, making any development above that of a few tennis courts an expensive proposition. Councillor Ellen Melville, interestingly, suggested that the area revert to a use similar to that which the education department had envisioned: turn the site into a collection of workman's homes. (Star 14 October 1936)
 Auckland Star 1 May 1937

Still, the council, with the assistance of the unemployment schemes, started a project to terrace the triangular reserve early in 1938, with the view to creating a public amenity. (Star 22 January 1938) A municipal park needed to have a name -- and Parnell Park was already taken (though today, that park now has another name.)

"There is no political significance in this," commented the Mayor, Sir Ernest Davis in suggesting to the Auckland City Council last night that it could do no better than name the old Parnell School site which is being transformed into a recreation ground, "Fraser Park". The Mayor made the suggestion because of the active interest taken in the proposal by the Minister of Education the Hon P Fraser.

Auckland Star 29 April 1938

Still, considering Peter Fraser went on to become our Prime Minister during World War II, that does add a certain something to the name.

The former asylum endowment land / school property was transferred back to the general government as Crown Land in 1939, and then gazetted as a recreation reserve in 1940, vested in the City of Auckland. (NA 186/67) Still with the education board's 1914 subdivisions existing on paper, the site remains as a Auckland Council public reserve.

2010 aerial view, Auckland Council GIS

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The latest article on Boyd's Zoo

Journalist Andre Hueber from  the Aucklander called me recently about finding information for one of his articles. He interviewed me last year for the "Property Detective" story, so in chatting asked what I was giving talks on during this year's Auckland Heritage Festival. Blockhouse Bay Library will be hosting my talk on J J Boyd and the Zoo War, so -- Andre asked for more info, and I end up being mentioned in dispatches again.

I'm glad more is now out there on J J Boyd's first zoo in Auckland. He also had the Aramoho Zoo from 1909-1916, so nationally, he takes the honours for the second and third zoos in the country, after Wellington Zoo in 1906.

I'll shuffle off back to the shadows, now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weetbix ... Weet-bix ...Weetabix ... more info appears

Evening Post 11 May 1927
Well, what I term the Weetbix Saga has been a long one here on Timespanner. It kicked off with my original post: Who invented Weetbix, (19 Feb 2009) in which I had a brain-fart, put an impossible date in the margin of an ad printed off from the library, and reproduced that in error here (producing an "oh look, Timespanner has an error" comment from one of the two sides of the real debate. Well -- the error's fixed, fairly well, now. Never said this blog is error-free ... sigh.)

Lots of comments to that post.

Then The development of Weetbix -- the sequel (24 September 2009), bringing in the Mills of Burton Latimer website (which, it now appears, also got fine details wrong such as the name of the British and African Cereal Company. )

The Weetbix controversy rolled on (14 March 2010) with the publication of John Baskerville Bagnall's article Weet-Bix the Early History supporting the case that his uncle Arthur Shannon came up with the breakfast food.

But now, we have in reply, Yvonne Sainsbury's Weet-Bix Origin and History supporting her father Bennison Osborne as the inventor. In short, she states that her father developed Weet-Bix, had financial backing from Arthur Shannon, who in turn was bought out (as Grain Products Ltd) by Sanitarium, all in the 1920s in Australia. Osborne then travelled to New Zealand with Malcolm Macfarlane, producing the product here with funding from Arthur Shannon. Sanitarium bought him out again, here (in 1930).

 Evening Post 31 March 1927

Bennison Osborne and Malcolm Macfarlane then take their business ideas to South Africa, seek funding that doesn't come from Arthur Shannon this time, and they call their product Weetabix. Sainsbury disputes Bagnall's article, showing that the British and African Cereal Company was private, that there were no public shares for Arthur Shannon to buy up on learning of the other two men's "treachery" and then demand at a shareholders meeting that the product's name couldn't be Weet-Bix. Sainsbury contends that Shannon was refused any financial part in the new company.

Then comes the story at Burton Latimer.

Yvonne Sainsbury quotes from a number of primary sources, and certainly adds to this whole story. Thank you, Yvonne and bonzer, for sharing your info with us here at Timespanner for the past over three years.

Footnote: Looking up some of the early Weetbix ads on Papers Past, I found this:

Which came from the Evening Post, 11 July 1928. Yes, that is the date from the website.

Wikipedia says Cenovis originated in Switzerland in 1931, as does this Cenovis:Tradition page. This page compares the three - Vegemite, Marmite and Cenovis.

Advertisements for Cenovis peter out here in New Zealand around 1933. This might be more of the untold or confused history of Sanitarium-related products -- but I'll leave it for readers to sort it out, for the future.