Co-operative Dairy Company of Otago factory and offices

Built: 1951-1954
Address: 90 Anzac Avenue
Architect: L.W.S. Lowther (1901-1970)
Builders: Love Construction Co.

The building as it appeared when new in 1954. Image courtesy of Naylor Love.

The 1950s Streamline Moderne building that is home to the Hocken Collections was originally built as a dairy factory and offices. The Dunedin-based Co-operative Dairy Co. of Otago produced Huia brand butter and cheese for 75 years, and from this site for over 40. The company disappeared in the dairy mergers of the late 1990s, and their premises became the University of Otago’s new Hocken Library in 1998.

Outwardly, the building perhaps looks older than its years, although it was internally and practically up-to-date when new. It is a late example of a style of architecture introduced to Dunedin in the mid-1930s. Plans were ready in 1947, but there were numerous delays in securing permits and consents, followed by a long construction period of three years. The factory finally opened in 1954.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. First some earlier history of the dairy company…

Dunedin has a long a long association with the dairy industry. New Zealand’s first co-operative dairy factory opened on the Otago Peninsula in 1871, when the eight shareholders of John Matheson & Co. established the Peninsula Cheese Factory at Matheson’s Springfield property. The development of infrastructure and technology saw rapid growth in the industry from the 1880s, when further factories were built around the country. Improved transport networks, refrigeration in both factories and transportation, cream separators, new testing methods, and selective breeding all contributed to the rapid growth of an export industry in the decades that followed. Combined exports of butter and cheese grew from 5,000 tonnes in 1881, to 300,000 tonnes in 1901.

The Co-operative Dairy Co. of Otago formed in Dunedin in 1922. At that time, 564 dairy companies operated around the country, 88% of them co-operatives within a highly regulated industry. The new company claimed it was owned entirely by those who supplied cream, with ‘absolutely no dry shareholders’. 284 individuals operating home separators took 68% of the initial share allocation, while eight small Otago factories (Momona, Mosgiel, Milton, Goodwood, Waikouaiti, Merton, Omimi, and Maungatua) took the remaining 32%. The new company purchased the business of the Dunedin Dairy Co., taking over their newly-built premises opposite the railway station in June 1923. In doing so, it acquired the Huia brand, under which Dunedin Dairy had marketed butter since 1920. By the 1927/28 season the new co-op produced 800 tonnes of butter, the second largest output by a South Island factory.

The original building served the company for thirty years, but by the 1940s it was cramped and behind the standard demanded by regulators. The company bought out the butter business of the Taieri & Peninsula Milk Supply Co. in 1942, taking on its Oamaru factory, but it still sought to expand its Dunedin operation on a larger and more accessible site.

An area of reclaimed Otago Harbour Board land included a vacant and appealing site near the railway line on the east side of Anzac Avenue. The avenue had been built in 1925, in time to link the railway station with the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition at the newly reclaimed Lake Logan. The idea of such a road been put forward by Harbour Board member John Loudon as early as 1922, before the exhibition was formally proposed. The development or reclamation of the lake had been anticipated for some years, and a new road would also improve connection with West Harbour. It was the exhibition, however, that brought the impetus needed to make what was then referred to as the ‘highway’ a reality. Exhibition architect Edmund Anscombe played a central role in the planning, proposing parks, reserves, and housing for the area to the east of the avenue, but it remained largely undeveloped through the depression years and up to the war.

A late 1920s photograph shows young trees lining the avenue, but by 1933 some had died and others were stunted. Most of the present elms were planted between 1934 and 1938, by school pupils participating in Arbour Day activities.

Detail from c.1902, from ‘Dunedin from Logans Point’ by Muir & Moodie. The future site of the co-op building is under water, next to the shoreline at the far left centre of the image. Ref: Te Papa PA.000184.

Anzac Avenue as it appeared about 1928, meeting Union Street and the southern edge of Logan Park. The future factory site is the furthest of the vacant land on the left. Ref: ‘Dunedin, New Zealand no. 872’, Alexander Turnbull Library Pan-0017-F.

An aerial view from April 1947, showing the vacant site at the centre of the image. Ref: Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library WA-06920-F (cropped detail).

The new Dunedin North Intermediate School opened at the corner of Albany Street and Anzac Avenue in 1934. In 1944, a rehabilitation centre for disabled servicemen opened. Most of the other new land was put to industrial use. Dominion Industries built a linseed oil operation, Shaw Savill Albion a wool and grain store, J. Mill & Co. another wool store, and stationers Williamson Jeffery a factory and head office. On the north side of Leith, a new milk treatment station opened in 1948.

The dairy co-op secured a leasehold section from the Harbour Board in October 1945. Allan Cave, a North Island architect with extensive experience of dairy buildings, prepared preliminary sketch plans and a well was bored on the site in April 1946. Two months later, the district building commissioner deferred issuing a permit, due to the post-war building restrictions and a shortage of cement and labour.

In September 1946, Cave recommended switching to a local architect, and the company appointed L.W.S. Lowther in his place. Lowther immediately began work on plans and specifications, completed in February 1947.

Launcelot William Stratton (Lance) Lowther, architect. Image courtesy of Barbara Parry.

Born in Llanelli, Wales, to a New Zealand-born father, Lance Lowther had worked as assistant to Henry McDowell Smith before taking up private practice in 1945. He had at least a hand in many streamlined designs that came out of Smith’s office in the late 1930s, including the Law Court Hotel and two blocks of flats on View Street. In a more traditional aesthetic, he had a significant and it has been claimed leading design role (under Smith’s name) for the new St Peter’s Anglican Church at Queenstown. Early houses by Lowther include a Moderne/Art Deco design at the corner of Taieri Road and Wairoa Street. He later worked in private partnership with former Otago Education Board architect Clifford Muir.

Huia advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 27 May 1949 p.7. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

The construction history of the factory highlights the challenges faced in post-war building. Plans had to be approved by both the Department of Agriculture and the Harbour Board, both of which asked for changes. Finance also proved difficult, as although commercial banks were happy to lend, the Reserve Bank could exercise its power to stop advances of more than £60,000 for building work. Building firms were stretched and unenthusiastic to tender for the contract, but Love Construction gave a price from the quantities. They were given the go-ahead in August 1947, before the building controller again deferred issuing a permit. Despite repeated efforts it was not until February 1951 that a permit was finally issued. Drawings held in the Hocken are undated, but the work finally begun in March 1951 was probably mostly carried out according to the 1947 plans.

Michael Findlay has described the building as ‘constructed from steel reinforced concrete with steel roof trusses enabling wide spans and unobstructed floors. The wall and floor surfaces had rounded internal corners for hygiene and the design was efficient and modern, a great step up from their earlier Dunedin factory’. The Moderne exterior is characterised by clean lines and simplicity. It might also be described as Art Deco, as it fits some definitions of that style. Embellishment is minimal, consisting mostly of raised banding or string courses. Glass bricks are a feature of the west elevation, and allowed a filtered light into the factory.

The original plans show a large butter and smaller cheese manufacturing area, and a big garage space at the rear with access from Anzac Avenue. There was also stores, freezers, a box and pallet area opening to the cart dock on Parry Street, dressing rooms, and a dining room. Unusually, a bicycle parking area was placed internally in the south-west corner. Office activities took place upstairs, where there was a public counter, large general office, manager’s and secretary’s offices, strong room, another dining room, and a generously sized and wood-panelled board room.

Rosemarie Patterson’s excellent history of Naylor Love, A Bob Both Ways, provides some insight into experiences on the building site through the recollections of foreman Duncan McKenzie. He remembered laying the foundations on the swampy reclaimed site in the winter of 1951: ‘It was just an absolute bog. We were building a kind of floating foundation, big pads right across. 8 feet wide and 18 inches deep. Alex Ross, manager at the time, put an ad in the paper for labourers’. Because of the strike there were many men looking for work. ‘He started sending them to me, and they just kept on coming. But in those days we worked in the rain, and wharfies weren’t used to working in the rain, so most of them left on those wet days. A few stayed on, three or four who didn’t get their jobs back on the wharf.’

The project employed many new Dutch migrants. Conditions in Europe and a shortage of workers saw significant Dutch immigration after the Second World War, with over 10,000 arriving in the three years from July 1951 to June 1954. Most were single, non-English speaking men from a working class background, including carpenters and skilled labourers. McKenzie used one of his steelworkers, a good English speaker who had been a corporal in the Dutch Army in Indonesia, as an interpreter. McKenzie remembered they ‘had to learn to do things differently, especially the concrete work which all had to be boxed. They were not used to doing that.’

McKenzie also recalled Love’s purchasing their first skilsaw in time for the laying of the upstairs floor. ‘It was big 6 x ¼ inch flooring, and they brought it over for us to cut the flooring with. And everybody’s eyes nearly popped out. Len Griffin, the supervisor who used to go round the jobs, every so often for some particular job would come and borrow our skilsaw! The company’s only skilsaw! It was the same with dumpy levels. Being a big job, I always had one there, but there was always someone coming and borrowing it. We didn’t have one for a job, we had one for a lot of jobs.’

‘We didn’t have cranes. We had electric hoists. You’d fill the barrows, generally on the ground, and take them up on a hoist, and wheel the concrete round to wherever you wanted it, and pour it, and take it back down again. It got a bit more complicated later on. We’d take a skip on the hoist and put it in a hopper on the top. And you’d fill your barrow out of that. All the concrete was done by barrow. You had to have scaffold ramps up every lift. Every four feet you’d probably put a pour. So the scaffold had to be built at the right height to swing the barrow and tip the concrete in. We had pre-mix concrete there, but before that – while I worked on the Nurses’ Home in Cumberland Street – all the concrete was mixed on site.’

When construction began, co-op management optimistically hoped it would be able to its machinery in by April 1952, but there were more delays, including sourcing the roofing material and steel girders. In March 1953, the manager reported a shortage of carpenters. The building neared completion the following summer, but it was practically impossible to move in during the dairying season. In April 1954, building work was complete with the exception of some painting and plastering. Plant was moved from the old premises, and by the end of August all departments had moved in. The final build cost was £150,000.

Butter churners. Campbell Photography. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena P1998-167-006.

Loading finished products. Campbell Photography. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena P1998-167-004.

The building officially opened some eight years after the first consent permit was sought. Keith Holyoake, minister of agriculture and future prime minister, performed the honours before a crowd of 450 people on 2 November 1954. Referring to the end of the bulk purchasing agreement with the United Kingdom, he said: ‘This is a new era and a really challenging time as far as the primary producer is concerned’. In a peculiar call to arms for securing market share he said ‘we now have to fight the battle with the British housewife’.

The company had 55 staff in its Dunedin and Oamaru factories in 1954. Its products over the years included butter, process cheese, savoury sandwich paste, and reconstituted cream. A subtle name rearrangement occurred in 1976, when the Co-operative Dairy Company of Otago became the Otago Co-operative Dairy Company. In the 1980s the Dunedin factory was producing over 3,500 tonnes of butter annually.

Cheese continued to be made on the site, with a specialty cheese unit established in 1985/86. The company had large shareholdings in the Otago Cheese Co., and in Mainland Products Ltd, which had some operations at Anzac Avenue. In 1989/90 butter reworking ceased after the Dairy Board decided it could satisfy the Otago and Southland markets with patted butter ex-churn from Westland. In the same year, Mainland’s processing plant moved to Eltham, reducing manufacturing operations at Anzac Avenue to creamery and whey butter, and specialty cheese. A Cheese Shop fronting Parry Street opened in 1990, with some products continuing to be marketed under Huia brand. Adjoining chicken and sausage shops also operated for a time but were less successful. The company performed well for its shareholders, but the Anzac Avenue site was becoming surplus to requirements.

Reconstituted cream point of sale advertisement. Ref: Otago Co-operative Dairy Company records, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena 84-159/003.

CDCO_9

The building as it appeared in 1997, when vacated by the dairy company. Ref: Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena MS-4069/070.

The University of Otago purchased the building in 1996, for redevelopment as a new Hocken Library. The library had been established in 1910 to care for and provide access to Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s public gift of his collection of books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, paintings, and manuscripts relating to Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. It opened in a purpose-built wing of the Otago Museum and was a much expanded collection by the time it left that site in 1979. By the 1990s the collections were split between the Hocken (now Richardson) Building and a former vehicle testing station in Leith Street. The dairy co-op site brought the library, archive, and gallery together in a secure, environmentally controlled facility, and allowed much improved public access. The architects for the redevelopment were Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in collaboration with Works Consultancy Services, and the project was managed by Octa Associates Ltd. The main contractor was Lund South.

The University took possession on 30 June 1997 and the work was carried out over most of 1998. The interior was more or less gutted, with the reorganised space including a large foyer, gallery, public reference area, reading rooms, public lunch room (now researcher lounge), staff areas, and stacks. Preserved internal features included steel trusses and exposed timber joists. Two doors with frosted-glass decoration (moved from the entrance) each feature a pair of huia, as used in the co-op’s branding. The building retains the sympathetic colour scheme given to it at this time, of yellow-creams and gold, with grey-green metal joinery. One of the more obvious external changes was the replacement of steel-framed windows with aluminium ones.

Officially opened by Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boys on 2 December 1998, the refurbished building was the university’s major Otago sesquicentennial project. It is currently home to over 11 shelf kilometres of archives, 200,000 books, 17,000 pictures, and 2 million photographs, bringing it to very near capacity.

The Hocken Library, in case there is confusion, remains the official name for the building, while the institution within is the Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, a branch of the University of Otago Library.

The building during its transformation into the Hocken Library in 1998. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena MS-4069/070.

After selling its building, the Otago Co-operative Dairy Co. did not continue as an independent entity for long. The profitable business made a record payout to shareholders in 1996 but mergers across the industry meant there would only be four co-operatives nationwide by the end of the 1990s, and a further mega-merger would follow. In 1997, Otago merged into Kiwi Co-operative Dairies. One farmer who welcomed the news commented: ‘Otago is sitting as a small company doing well and wondering where it will end up’. In 2001, Kiwi in turn merged with the New Zealand Dairy Group and the New Zealand Dairy Board to form the country’s largest company, Fonterra. The Anzac Avenue building is now one of few tangible reminders of the old business.

The Hocken Library in 2019.

Newspaper references:
Lyttelton Times 16 October 1873 p.3 (‘A Cheese Factory in Otago’, copied from Otago Guardian); Evening Star 29 April 1920 p.6 (advertisement for Huia butter), 8 September 1922 p.2 (formation of company), 25 November 1922 p.4 (Loudon’s proposal), 17 May 1923 p.9 (proposed highway), 7 July 1923 p.4 (housing proposal), 14 November 1924 p.2 (‘Highway proposal’), 11 May 1928 p.5 (trees and verges), 29 April 1933 p.23 (dead trees), 2 August 1934 p.12 (elms, with photograph), 5 August 1936 p.14 (elms), 9 August 1937 p.11 (elms) , 10 August 1938 p.15 (elms), 16 September 1938 p.7 (replacing damaged trees); Otago Daily Times 12 October 1922 p.5 (notice of establishment), 22 October 1923 p.9 (‘famous Huia butter’), 19 June 1928 p.18 (company history and purchase of Dunedin Dairy Co.), 9 March 1934 p.6 (dead and stunted trees), 30 September 1942 p.6 (‘Butter business purchased’), 5 August 1947 p.6 (‘New factory to be built’). 3 November 1954 p.10 (‘New £140,000 dairy facory opened by Mr K.J. Holyoake), 21 March 1996 p.1 (‘Dairy factory to become Hocken Library’), 31 July 1996 p.16 (‘Otago Dairy Co-op makes record pay-out to suppliers’), 30 October 1997 p.3 (‘Otago-Kiwi dairy merger nets suppliers a windfall’ and ‘Dairy merger welcomed by farmers’)

Books:
Ledgerwood, Norman. Southern Architects: A History of the Southern Branch, New Zealand Institute of Architects (Dunedin: Southern Branch, New Zealand Institute of Architects, 2009) p.126.
Patterson, Rosemarie. A Bob Both Ways: Celebrating 100 Years of Naylor Love (Dunedn: Advertising and Art, 2010), p.90.
Philpott, H.G. A History of the New Zealand Dairy Industry 1840-1935 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1937), pp.375-406 (statistics).

Web resources:
Petchey, Peter. ‘La Crème de la Crème‘, Friends of the Hocken Bulletin no.26 (November 1998), https://www.otago.ac.nz/library/hocken/otago038951.html#bulletins (accessed 24 October 2019).
Stringleman, Hugh and Frank Scrimgeour, ‘Dairying and Dairy Products‘, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/dairying-and-dairy-products (accessed 24 October 2019).
Yska, Redmer, ‘Dutch – Migration After 1945‘, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/dutch/page-2 (accessed 24 October 2019).
Zam, Darian, ‘When Lactose Goes‘, Longwhitekid, https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/when-lactose-goes/ (accessed 24 October 2019).

Archives:
Otago Co-operative Dairy Co. records, Hocken Archives, including manager’s reports (84-159 box 6), architectural drawings (97-235 box 32), and annual reports (97-235 box 4).

Special thanks to: Chris Naylor, Rosemarie Patterson, Barbara Parry, Chris Scott (DCC Archives), and the late and much missed Michael Findlay.

 

Apologies…

Sorry subscribers for confusion over the previous notification from me. I created a locked post for someone to proofread without realising you would all get an automatic email about it! The post isn’t ready yet but will appear on the blog soon, should you be interested in reading about the former life of the Hocken Library building on Anzac Avenue.

David

 

Mosgiel Cenotaph / Taieri Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial

Built: 1923
Address: Anzac Park, Gordon Road, Mosgiel
Architect: David Gourlay Mowat
Contractors: H.S. Bingham & Co.

Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena. Foster Series No. 4, Box 136.

Over 500 community war memorials honour the more than 18,000 New Zealand soldiers who died in World War I. They are expressions of remembrance for the loss of family, friends, citizens, and brothers in arms. This month they are focal points as the country marks the centenary of the end of the war.

Memorials built before the armistice include one at Kaitaia unveiled as early as 1916, but most date from the years after the war. In Otago, the busiest years for construction were 1921 to 1923. The Dunedin Cenotaph was not completed until 1926, and Andersons Bay unveiled its memorial arch in 1928.

Monuments took a variety of forms, including obelisks, statues, arches, and gates. Practical memorials were more common after the Second World War, but examples following the Great War included hospitals and libraries. The description ‘War Memorial’ was most prevalent, but ‘Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial’ was also common and placed emphasis on the dead rather than the conflict itself. Commentary from the time shows an awareness of this.

In April 1920, the Taieri RSA sought progress towards a memorial for the Taieri Plain. In response, the Mosgiel Borough Council organised a public meeting, held in May. RSA President Ivan Spedding suggested ‘something in the shape of a rough-cast monument’ with marble tablets. Little was settled, but there was enough momentum to get the project underway. A further meeting in July elected a committee chaired by Mosgiel mayor William Allan. Other members represented the RSA, the church, patriotic organisations, and the borough and county councils.

Fundraising efforts began with a concert in the Coronation Hall. Performers included singers, instrumentalists, a dancer, a ventriloquist, and comedy jugglers. In March 1921 the committee called for submissions for the design, and the site was debated at a public meeting in May. The leading suggestions were Gordon Road itself, and Mosgiel (now Anzac) Park. The park won out in a close vote.

Mosgiel Park was the gift of the Taieri Amateur Turf Club, which on closing had left funds for the purchase of a reserve. Opened in April 1919, it featured paths and lawn, ornamental entrance gates, and a band rotunda. In July 1919, peace oaks were planted on either side of the entrance, one by the mayoress Mrs Allan, and another by Dr Spedding on behalf of the RSA.

HyperFocal: 0

Mosgiel Park as it appeared when it opened in 1919. Otago Witness 21 May 1919 p.33  (Hocken Collections).

A proposal to dismantle the centrally-placed rotunda to make way for the memorial offended park donors, who threatened legal action. The monument was instead built inside the gates, close to Gordon Road. The rotunda and gates survived another 50 or more years before they were removed.

Referred to in reports of the time as the Taieri Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial, the monument named soldiers from Mosgiel and the wider plain but excluded West Taieri as a separate memorial had been built at Outram in 1921. The committee placed an advertisement inviting parents and families to provide names, and in July 1923 published a list and invited corrections or additions.

The successful submitting architect was David Mowat (1880-1952). Born in Dunedin, he had worked as an assistant to Edmund Anscombe before studying at the Architectural Association School in London. He established his own practice in Dunedin in 1914. His works included the Donald Reid Wing for the Otago Early Settlers’ Association, Constance Hall for Columba College, Maori Hill Presbyterian Church, and various commercial and residential buildings. He also designed the war memorials at Port Chalmers (since demolished) and High Street School.

MosgielMemorial4

Architect David Mowat’s elevation drawing. Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena MS-3500/094.

Dunedin monumental masons H.S. Bingham & Co. built the Mosgiel memorial. Established by George Munro about 1870, and taken over by Henry Bingham in 1911, the company continued in business until 2008. Its name can be found throughout Dunedin cemeteries, and other war memorials it built included those at North East Valley and Kaikorai, and the cenotaph at Queens Gardens. The cost of the Mosgiel memorial was a little over £600, about the same as a modest two or three bedroom house. Some proposed features, not specified, were left out to keep the cost down.

The concrete base was complete by the time Major General Edward Chaytor laid the foundation stone on 26 August 1923. Sung items were ‘God Save the King’, and the hymns ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’, ‘Land of Our Fathers’, and ‘O God of Bethel’. The Rev. David Calder offered a dedicatory prayer and David Hannah of the RSA read the roll of honour. Chaytor, presented with a greenstone-handled silver trowel, remarked that ‘The amount of good that these memorials would do in the future would depend on how the young were brought up to regard them. Those who lived at present knew what the war had meant in every way.’ He emphasised the ongoing struggles of soldiers returning to peacetime lives.

The memorial under construction in 1923. Image courtesy of the Mowat family.

One of four sheets of blueprint plans for the monument held by the Hocken Collections (MS-0688/290) together with a specification.

The monument, 9.1 metres high, is an obelisk rising from a square base with three concrete steps. The main shaft is steel-reinforced concrete, with a central cavity. Most of the facings are bluestone, but the top portion is Oamaru stone over solid concrete. A cross in white Italian marble, representing sacrifice, faces Gordon Road. The monument is surmounted by a bronze stand and bowl or urn, representing the sacrifice of non-Christian peoples and nations. Panels at the base name 60 fallen World War I soldiers, including John Blair Couper,  who died as a result of his injuries in 1923. A biblical quotation comes from John’s gospel: ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’.

Mosgiel mayor J.C. Browne died two weeks before he was due to dedicate the memorial, and his widow Margaret performed the unveiling on Armistice Day, 11 November 1923. The Mosgiel Brass Band and Taieri Pipe Band played. Charles Statham, independent MP for Dunedin Central and Speaker of the House, gave a speech emphasising the scale of the loss of life, and expressing hope for a time without wars.  He said he ‘need hardly remind them of the response of every portion of the far-flung Empire to the Motherland’s call for assistance’, and offered condolences to those who had lost loved ones.

‘Soldiers’ monument at Mosgiel’. Ref: APG-1566-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

The War Trophies Committee had initially allotted Mosgiel four machine guns, but the RSA argued it should have a big gun, and in 1921 the town was allocated a 77mm Howitzer field gun captured by the New Zealand Division on 5 November 1918. It stood in front of the memorial for many years and was probably scrapped around 1956, when it was seen lying in a corner of the tennis court grounds with a collapsed wheel.

After World War 2, tablets with a further 31 servicemen’s names were added to the shaft, and ‘Great War’ was given an ‘S’ to become ‘Great Wars’. The monument was extensively renovated in 2007 at a cost of $10,000, with stonework repointed and replacement marble name tablets installed. These are not replicas of the originals, which had lead lettering. The monument has been referred to as the Mosgiel Cenotaph since at least the late 1930s. Strictly speaking it does not meet the definition of a cenotaph as an ’empty tomb’, but there are other examples of the broader usage (including at Queen’s Gardens in Dunedin).

The Mosgiel Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists has compiled two booklets of soldier biographies: Our Stories of the World War One Soldiers on the Mosgiel War Memorial Cenotaph (2016) and For the Fallen: The Story of the Thirty-one Men of WW2 whose names appear on the Mosgiel War Memorial Cenotaph (2007).

My own grandfather’s first cousin, William Ernest McLeod, was killed in action at Jean Bart Trench near Colincamps, the Somme on 5 April 1918. He had worked in Mosgiel as a bricklayer for my great-grandfather, George McLeod, who was a borough councillor and member of the memorial committee. William was the only child of Isabella and William McLeod. The story in the family (precisely how accurate it is I don’t know), was that the post office boy came to deliver the telegram with the bad news on a lovely sunny day, and saw Auntie Belle working happily in the garden. He didn’t have the heart to deliver the telegram and came back later. Years after William’s death his parents placed a memorial notice that read: ‘Too dearly loved to be forgotten’.

The memorial helps us to remember.



 

Below is a list of the names on the memorial. If you click on a name it links to the serviceman’s record on the ‘Cenotaph’ database, which for World War I soldiers includes further links to digitised military personnel records.

World War I

Eric Oliver ALLAN
James Alexander BEGG
William BYRNE
John CALDWELL
Lyndsay Lyall CHRISTIE 
John Blair COUPER
Stewart George DEWAR
John Pearce EDE
Thomas ELLIS
John FINDLAY
Walter FINDLAY
James Alexander FITZPATRICK
John Samson FLEMING
Norman Douglas FRASER 
Andrew FREW
David FREW
John James GARRETT
George James Wilson GIBSON 
Peter Murray GILLIGAN 
George GOSSAGE
James HAIGH
John HARRIS
Richard George HARRIS
George Huntley HAY 
John Currie HENDRY
Ernest JAFFRAY
Stanley Cecil KEATING
John Dudley KEATING
Donald Stewart KENNEDY 
James KIRK 
Charles Robert KNUDSON
William John MAULSEED 
James McDONALD 
Neil McDONALD
Duncan McLEAN 
Hector Malcolm McLEOD
John Thomas McLEOD 
William Ernest McLEOD 
Murdoch McQUILKAN 
John MORRISON
Albert Robert MOYLE
George Alexander MOYLE
William Hendry NAISMITH 
John O’BRIEN
Thomas OBRIEN 
William O’BRIEN 
Alexander OWENS
Joseph Jenkins RANKIN
John Allan ROBERTSON
William Dunlop ROWAN 
William Mclean SMELLIE 
George Daniel SNELL 
Charles George SPARROW 
James Walter STEELE 
David SUTHERLAND
George WALTON
Kenneth Grigor WILIAMSON 
Thomas Sanderson WINGFIELD 

World War II

William Lewis ALCOCK 
William Maxwell ALLAN 
Donald Duncan BAIN
Frederic Thomas BEALE
Walter John BLACKIE
George Royatt BREMNER 
James Robertson BROWN
Harold Henry BRUHNS
Gordon McLaren CAMPBELL
Allan Henderson FAIRMAID
Murray Alexander GILLON
Frederick Hall GORDON
William HOSEIT
Thomas Leonard KENNEDY
Vincent Xavier KIRBY
William Winder MacKINTOSH
James Seaton McCARTNEY
John Grierson McLELLAN
Charles Graham McLEOD 
George Bertram McLEOD
Peter Robert Shaw MILLER
Albert James MILNER
Archibald John Charles MUIR
Jack Leonard PARTRIDGE 
Frederick James PASCOE
Ernest John PICKERING
Eric Robert SCOTT
George Morton SHERWOOD
William Robert SMEATON
John Ivan THOMSON
Errol James WEDDELL

Newspaper references: Evening Star 28 April 1919 p.4 (handover of Mosgiel Park), 5 April 1920 p.4 (W.E. McLeod), 16 Apr 1920 p.3 (Taieri RSA), 4 May 1920 p.7 (machine guns allotted), 21 May 1920 p.2 (public meeting), 15 September 1920 p.6 (fundraising concert), 26 March 1921 p.7 (call for design submissions), 19 December 1922 p.7 (site and moving of rotunda), 30 December 1922 p.1 (call for tenders), 26 May 1923 p.4 (rotunda to stay in same position), 14 July 1923 p.4 (contract awarded to Bingham & Co.); Otago Daily Times 16 November 1917 p.2 (proposed memorial building), 17 January 1918 p.4 (gift of park), 28 April 1919 p.8 (handover of park), 15 May 1919 p.4 (peace celebrations), 14 July 1919 p/5 (peace celebrations), 24 July 1920 p.10 (memorial for whole plain, committee appointed), 5 April 1921 p.4 (W.E. McLeod), 18 May 1921 p.4 (meeting, vote on location), 7 Jun 1921 p.7 (trophy guns), 30 September 1921 p.7 (Taieri Male Choir concert), 7 November 1922 p.9 (approval by Mosgiel Borough Council), 6 February 1923 p.9 (proposal to dismantle rotunda), 25 July 1923 p.9 (list of soldiers’ names); 27 August 1923 p.10 (foundation stone), 27 October 1923 p.14 (J.C. Browne obituary), 12 November 1923 p.8 (unveiling). Otago Witness 18 December 1918 p.26 (club house opened), 16 July 1919 p.19 (peace celebrations), 14 September 1920 p.23 (West Taieri memorial); Taieri Herald 10 September 1985 p.3 (‘Anzac Park work ready to start), 13 February 2007 p.1 (‘Memorial restoration underway’).

Other references:
Our stories of the World War One soldiers on the Mosgiel War Memorial Cenotaph.
(Mosgiel: New Zealand Society of Genealogists, Mosgiel Branch, 2016).
For the fallen : the story of the thirty-one men of WW2 whose names appear on the
        Mosgiel War Memorial Cenotaph (Mosgiel: New Zealand Society of Genealogists,                  Mosgiel Branch, and Mosgiel Memorial RSA Inc., 2007).
‘First World War Memorials’, from New Zealand History website,
https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/interpreting-first-world-war-memorials
‘Mosgiel war memorial’, from New Zealand History website
https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/mosgiel-war-memorial
‘Mosgiel’s Missing WW1 War Memorial Trophy Gun’ from The Hangfire: Newsletter of the           New Zealand Antique Arms Association (Otago Branch), March 2015.
Phillips, Jock. To the Memory: New Zealand’s War Memorials (Nelson: Potton & Burton,               2016).
William McLellan Ltd records, Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o o Hākena, ref: MS-                   0688/290 (blueprint plans and specifications), MS-3500/094 (elevation drawing).

Special thanks to David and Miriam Mowat, Bill Lang, and Chris Scott (DCC Archives).

A version of this post was published in the Otago Daily Times on 10 November 2018.

Hardwicke Knight: Through the Lens

HK_BookCover

The newly-released book Hardwicke Knight: Through the Lens is a compilation of colour images of 1950s Britain photographed by Hardwicke Knight (1911-2008). It has been exciting to be part of this project. Followers of Built in Dunedin will be aware of my love of mid-century Kodachrome and these images are all scanned from my collection of Knight’s 35mm slides.

Hardwicke Knight, who died ten years ago this August, will be known to many of you as an author, historian, authority on pioneer New Zealand photography and early Otago architecture, and local Dunedin identity. He was born in London and spent the first half of his life in his native England before coming to Dunedin with his family in 1957 to work as a photographer at Dunedin Hospital. The images in the book were all photographed by Knight in England and Wales in the years prior to his departure, with the earliest dating from about 1950. They were mostly taken in London, the Home Counties, East Anglia, the Cotswolds, Pembrokeshire, and Cornwall. Scenes range from the urban to the rural, architecture to landscape, and portraits to informal street scenes. They have only recently been brought before the public, some in online forums, and now for the first time in book form.

HK_Portrait

Sean Naghibi of London came up with the idea to showcase the images in a book, and through his enthusiasm, resources, and design skills the project has now come to fruition. I selected, scanned, and arranged the images, and had both fun and frustration trying to identify the subjects of many unlabelled slides. Meg Davidson, who is working on what promises to be a fascinating biography of Knight, has written the introduction. You can see a selection of the images below (click to enlarge).

I couldn’t put it better than Meg, who writes ‘The colour slide images … provide further insights into Knight and his work, demonstrating as they do the deep love he felt for his native country. The images reveal an interest in architecture whether grand or humble, a penchant for street photography and an eye for telling detail that shifted his work from by-the-book pictorialism towards documentary photography’.

The book has been published in England by August Studio in a limited edition of 100 copies and can be purchased for £19.95 (approx. $39.00 NZD) plus postage (£10.00 by air to New Zealand). Size: 220 x 158 mm (landscape). To buy a copy or enquire about the publication visit the website hardwickeknight.com.

HK_Spread

Dunedin in Kodachrome 3

The first ‘Dunedin in Kodachrome’ post on this blog showed a Ray Hargreaves image, looking south along George Street in 1957. This fascinating image above, taken by David Green, makes an excellent companion piece, as it looks north along the same street five years later.

It can be dated unusually precisely to Otago Anniversary Day, 23 March 1962, at 4:35pm (if the Arthur Barnett clock was functioning properly). The traffic movements, including the Triumph Herald and Hillman Minx (or possibly Humber 80) in the foreground, give an energy to the scene. The buildings on the left are Victorian, but with remodelled facades that have stripped them of ornamentation. The tell-tale sash windows remain. Shops include the Disabled Servicemen’s Shop and Modern Furniture. Further along is the Arthur Barnett department store. On the right is another department store, the DSA. The now-demolished State Theatre is the taller building. In the background the tower of Knox Church can be seen. The hanging boxes are quite spectacular. Are those red hot pokers?

Thanks to David Green for generously sharing this image.

Dunedin Railway Station: its architect and style

Guest post by Michael Findlay

Built: 1904-1906
Address: 20 Anzac Avenue
Architect: George Troup
Design supervisor: John Coom
Building supervisor: F.W. Maclean (District Engineer)
Foreman of works: John Hall
Contractors: John Walker (masonry), Robert Caldow (carpentry), and others

Railway1

Dunedin Railway Station c.1925. Reference: The Press Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/1-008316-G

I was recently asked to provide some background knowledge for a Japanese film production company that was intending to feature Dunedin’s railway station in a television series called Giants of Beauty (title loosely translated by the director). Curiosity piqued, I went to locate what I already knew had been written about the station and its architect George Alexander Troup and found surprisingly little that is new. Despite the fact that Troup’s crowning achievement is one of the nation’s most admired buildings, information about it was often repeated from a limited number of sources including a biography written by son Gordon in the 1960s. From this we know that Troup’s ‘nickname’ was Gingerbread George and that he was knighted after a lifetime of dedicated public service. Troup the man remains somewhat shrouded. The other question is why is the Railway Station described as a Flemish Renaissance building?

Some insights into what drove Troup can be found in his early years in Scotland. Gordon Troup recounts that George Troup senior was drowned in the Union Canal in Glasgow in 1874 when his son was aged 11. His death certificate reports that he was found dead in the Forth and Clyde Canal near the South Speirs Wharf, a short walk from where the Troups were living in Port Street. There is no evidence that Troup took his own life but newspapers of the day often carried reports of ‘well dressed men’ found dead in the city’s waterways. However it occurred, the sudden death of George Troup caused the family great distress. It is sad to note that his body was identified by Jane Troup, the eldest daughter. This background of reversal of fortunes is not uncommon in nineteenth century architecture and may have helped shape Troup’s keen sense of social justice and life long bonds to the Presbyterian church. It may also help explain his dedication to the welfare of disadvantaged boys as the Troup family’s relatively comfortable existence was ended abruptly at this point. All that lay ahead was struggle.

George needed an occupation and fortunately Troup’s father had been granted the status of burgess (a freeman of the city) in Aberdeen, allowing his son to study at high school. George boarded at Robert Gordon’s College, founded in 1750 and located in a fine Robert Adam-designed building in the centre of the city. Gordon (1688–1731), a successful merchant, set up the school in his will with his aim being to ‘found a Hospital for the Maintenance, Aliment, Entertainment and Education of young boys from the city whose parents were poor and destitute and not able to keep them in schools, and put them to trades and employment’. Robert Gordon’s College was something of a double-edged sword, offering a way ahead but also a reminder of the circumstances that brought Troup there. Architecture was often seen as a pathway for self-improvement, not as tied to class and privilege as other professions such as law and medicine. On leaving the college, Troup joined the Edinburgh engineer C.E. Calvert as an articled pupil in 1879 at the age of 16. This was an apprenticeship in the tradition of articled pupilage and the trainee was not expected to earn a wage while learning the routines of the profession. In most situations, parents paid to place their sons with an architect. Calvert is noted as being particularly busy in the late 1870s despite the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank and the general downturn of building in Scotland afterwards. Troup left Calvert and joined another Edinburgh architect, John Chesser, as an architectural apprentice. In 1881, Jane and five of her children were living in Edinburgh while George continued his articles. The office was not particularly busy over the two years that Troup spent there and the arrangement ceased following the death of his mother in 1883 from heart disease. George then followed three of his older sisters to New Zealand, working his passage on the freighter S.S. Fenstanton, soon to be wrecked in the Torres Straits. Fortunately, Troup had left the ship in Port Chalmers although the entire crew survived the sinking. Troup was twenty when he arrived in Dunedin. It is not hard to imagine that the younger members of the Troup family wished to place some distance between themselves and the troubles they had faced in Scotland.

Railway2

George Troup in 1927. S.P. Andrew photographer. Reference: Alexander Turnbull Library 1/1-018930-F.

With four years training in architects’ offices, Troup was already considered qualified but opportunities in Otago were limited by the start of the long depression of the 1880s. Troup gained employment as a surveyor with the Survey Department, working initially with a gang at Ngapara and later in the Central Otago ranges. Using the connections made by his brother-in-law, George Burnett, Troup met with James Burnett, an engineer with the New Zealand Railways Department. Troup entered the Dunedin office in 1886 after studying at the Dunedin School of Mines to improve his engineering skills. He set up house in a modest cottage at 21 Leith Street, Dunedin, with his unmarried sister Christina. While living there Troup would have passed the future site of the Dunedin Railway Station while on his way to the Dunedin office, at that time located in the old Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institute building in Manse Street. Troup was transferred to the Wellington office in 1888, where at 25 he became Chief Draughtsman. He was later appointed to the role of Office and Designing Engineer, only becoming Officer-in-Charge of the Architectural Branch in 1919. His early work was clearly influenced by William Butterfield, as shown in a private commission for the Wellington Boys’ Institute in conjunction with William Crichton.

Troup was allowed considerable authority in Wellington and his first major building after carrying out timber stations at Oamaru and Whanganui was the new head office for the Railways Department, described as being Jacobean in style. Topped with exuberant Flemish gables and lanterns on the roofline, the building stood out from its more reserved neighbours and asserted the profile of the Railways Department amongst the other government offices housed in the capital. Gordon Troup wrote that the ‘Gingerbread George’ epithet arose at this time (1901-1903) and was associated with the rich design of the Wellington building, not specifically the Dunedin station. ‘Gingerbread architecture’ had quite a specific meaning. It was a way of referring to the North American taste for ornate sawn timber decoration of German and Swiss origin that had reached something of a peak during the fashion for Charles Eastlake’s houses. In America these filled the same niche as the Queen Anne style elsewhere. Eastlake himself decried the use of such decoration as a ‘bizarre burlesque’ so it was hardly meant in a complimentary way.  I somehow doubt that anyone ever used this ‘nickname’ to Troup’s face.

Troup is supposed to have entered two sets of drawings in what was described as a competition for the Dunedin Railway Station in 1903, one in Scots Baronial and the other in Baroque style. No evidence exists that any other architects competed for this prestigious work so we do not know what the other proposals were like. The competition may be seen as an effort to avoid accusations of favouritism by the Railways Department, its ministry headed at the time by Joseph Ward (1856-1930), a noted supporter of South Island interests. Ward followed Richard Seddon as Prime Minister in 1906 and was able to open the station in his new role when it was completed.

Railway3

Is this the version of the station that Troup preferred? The Gothic details now seem unconvincing compared to the Flemish Renaissance scheme that was finally built. Reference: Alexander Turnbull Library B-064-007.

Railway6

Sir Joseph Ward laying the foundation stone of the station on 3 June 1904. Photograph by William Williams.
Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-140194-G.

The Baroque variant, initially proposed in red brick, was selected and featured an asymmetrical composition with unequal height towers at both ends of long bays. A porte-cochere occupied the central section under a tall triangular pediment. Troup’s son Gordon in his biography suggests that the Scots Baronial or ‘Francois I’ style alternative was favoured by Troup himself. The reference to King Francis of France I refers to the Château de Chambord and the hunting lodges of the French Renaissance and implies a French Renaissance chateau style design.  This description may involve a misattribution as the only two drawings known to exist show stations of similar proportions and layout. One was in a Tuscan Gothic style and not at all like a Scots Baronial or French Renaissance design. The awkward peaked roof that replaced the expected campanile above the square clock tower showed Troup’s hesitancy about going the whole way towards Italian Gothic Revival. The final result suggests he was on safer ground with his alternative Flemish scheme.

So what was Troup intending by using such an exotic manner on what was to be the Government’s flagship building in Dunedin? Like many of his generation, Troup’s architectural taste was influenced by English seventeenth-century Baroque architecture, at that time being reevaluated positively by critics. Being an admirer of John Vanbrugh (1664–1726) stood both for loyalty to the British Empire and a more adventurous spirit that ranged further abroad for influence. Vanbrugh was of Flemish descent and part of an Anglo-Dutch network of Protestant reformists. He introduced the Baroque manner to England with Blenheim Palace (1705–1722) and Castle Howard (1699-1709). Troup also used ideas from Scottish architect James Gibbs (1682–1754) whose distinctive rusticated openings, known as the ‘Gibbs surround’, appear throughout the Dunedin station composition. As with Gibb (who was quietly Catholic), Troup was not strongly Anglophile and remained attached to the eclectic design principles that he applied with great character to his major buildings in Wellington and Dunedin. These models suggest that Troup was not completely convinced by the alternative ‘Wren-aissance’ direction that took a more academic approach to Neo-Renaissance architecture in the late nineteenth century. This involved close attention to the buildings of Christopher Wren (1632–1723), leading architecture towards a simplified and rational classicism.

The design of the Wellington office was broadly symmetrical in its massing, a treatment that suited its urban setting on Featherston Street. The irregular siting of the Dunedin station aligned to the railway line rather than the street grid itself suggests an opportunity for a building to be seen in the round and that allowed for more formal experimentation.  The definition of the Dunedin station design as Flemish Renaissance comes from Troup himself. Architects assisted journalists with these precise terms that went beyond the knowledge of an observer to deliver with any authority. Was Troup familiar with the Flanders area and its building styles? His other passion for breeding Friesian cattle suggests a connection, as does his support for the Dutch/New Zealand painter Petrus Van der Velden (1837–1913). Troup funded the purchase of nineteen of the Netherlander’s paintings for The New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in 1922. Anglo-Dutch style was popular in late nineteenth-century Britain, particularly in the London suburb of Kensington. Architects such as Richard Norman Shaw and Ernest George popularised tall red brick houses with elaborately shaped gables at the roofline and the style became known as Pont Street Dutch. Something similar was used at Olveston by Sir Ernest George who had introduced the style in London twenty years earlier. Troup’s reasons for using this particular architectural expression remain obscure but seem to be determined by personal choice rather than some random throwing together of architectural elements. Troup was striving after a distinctive local language for railways buildings in order to set them apart in the rapidly maturing streetscape.

Railway4

Petrus van der Velden. Burial in the Winter on the Island of Marken (The Dutch Funeral) 1875. Reference: Wikimedia Commons.

Revivals of past styles always involve a complex relationship with history. Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture itself began in Belgium during the later part of the nineteenth century. Belgium as a nation had only existed since the 1830s, absorbing part of Flanders and French speaking Wallonia. The search for a national style of architecture to express the rich cultural history of the region focussed on the successful trading cities of the Lowlands. Brussels as its major city was essentially rebuilt along French lines in the mid nineteenth century as the new commercial and political hub of the Belgian nation. In order that it did not appear as a clone of Baron Haussmann’s Paris, a form of local revivalism was used in preference to French Renaissance.

Railway5

Émile Janlet. Rue des Nations la Belgique, Exposition Universelle 1878. Ernest Ziégler photographer. Reference: Early New Zealand Photographers

Flemish Revival architecture was shown off to the world at the Paris World Exhibition (1878) where the Belgian Pavilion designed by Emile Janlet gained favourable attention. Details of its facade relate closely to George Troup’s station and it is likely that Janlet’s pavilion was published in sources that Troup would have had access to. Albums of photographs of the pavilions were in circulation in New Zealand and have been reproduced in the excellent blog Early New Zealand Photographers and their Successors.  The main characteristic of Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture is the gable which took on a distinctive profile formed with curves and straight line sections. Tall square and octagonal towers offset from the centre of the compositions are also notable. Use was made of polychromatic contrasts of red brick and pale stone. Although a busy composition, Troup’s design pared Janlet’s decoration back to a smaller number of repeated elements able to be assembled from a regular set of parts for economy. Troup, for instance, used standard double hung sashes instead of the transomed multi-section windows used in the Belgian pavilion and elsewhere. There was also the example of the new city stations being built in Amsterdam and Amstel, carried out in a simplified red brick style that blended Gothic and northern Renaissance styles.

The visual height of these buildings was offset by strong horizontal banding. When red brick was combined with pale stone or plaster facings the effect was cheekily called ‘streaky bacon’ and can be seen in John Campbell’s police station and prison (1898) that faces the station across Anzac Square. This visual contrast of materials was accentuated in the railway station by the use of dark basalt stone and Oamaru limestone. Troup’s original brick proposal was closer to its Belgian and Dutch prototypes than the version that was finally built. Stone, particularly when extracted from the railways owned quarry at Kokonga, proved to be a cheaper building material than brick and gave an even more substantial appearance. Troup’s clever economies included using day labour to cut and finish the stone on site. This was then lifted into place by a mobile crane, enabling the building to rise very quickly. Rather than being anachronistic, Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture represented the freedom to experiment with a variety of materials and architectural types as well as signifying a progressive and technological approach.

Troup wanted to place his stamp in Dunedin with its most significant public building of the new century. While it was complementary to Campbell’s Norman Shaw-influenced prison and Gothic Revival law courts just across the road, it was also distinctively different to both, adding a liveliness to the new Government quarter of the city. Dunedin was particularly fortunate to benefit from the creative competition between Troup and Campbell and the interplay between the individual buildings in this key precinct should be the topic for another blog entry. This aspect of generosity and pleasure, if not frivolity, seems a better fit for Troup’s character than the overused sobriquet of ‘Gingerbread George’. We should really stop calling him that.

References:
‘1874 Troup, George’. Statutory registers Deaths 644/7 64.
Berry, Mary Helen. ‘Sir George Troup and the Dunedin Railway Station, 1903-1907: Edwardian Elegance or a Dilemma of Style’. BA (Hons) thesis, Department of History and Art History, University of Otago, 2005.
Irvine, Susan.’ Dunedin Prison (Former)’. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 6 January 2018 from http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/4035.
Troup, Gordon. George Troup: Architect and Engineer (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1982).
Van Santvoort, Linda. ‘Brussels Architecture in the Last Quarter of the 19th Century – the Search for National Identity Linked to the Desire of Architectural Innovation’. Ghent University Department of Art History.  Retrieved 6 January 2018 from http://www.artnouveau-net.eu/portals/0/data/PROCEEDINGS_DOWNLOAD/LJUBLJANA/LindaVSljubljana.pdf 
Whiffen, Marcus. American Architecture since 1780: A Guide to the Styles (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press: 1992).
Session Cases: Cases Decided in the Court of Session and Also in the Court of Justiciary and House of Lords. Volume 4, Scottish Council of Law Reporting, 1842. p.172

Silverwood Terrace

Built: 1902-1904
Address: 134-144 Albany Street
Builder: James Small

Image3_SilverwoodTerrace_2017

Silverwood Terrace is the almost forgotten name of a row of houses in Albany Street, close to the university campus. Still further lost in history is the large and sprawling wooden home this name came from. Silverwood stood behind the terrace until its demolition in 1923.

Percival Clay Neill lived at the original Silverwood from 1872. His posthumous claim to fame is as the great-grandfather of actor Sam Neill, but in his own day he was one of Dunedin’s most successful merchants. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he founded Neill & Company, a firm that imported wines, spirits, and other goods. It later merged with R. Wilson & Co. to become Wilson Neill & Co. Neill was also the French Consul from 1873.

In 1877, Neill moved to Chingford, North East Valley. He subdivided the Silverwood property but kept the house as his town residence until 1882, when the solicitor Edward Chetham Strode purchased it. Around this time it was described as a thirteen-room house with ‘pantry, and cellar, stable, loose boxes, coach house, laundry, tool house, fowl house, and cow house. Water laid on to the house, stable, and garden’.

It was at Silverwood that Strode died of typhoid fever in 1886, at the age of 34. His wife, Jessie, left for England soon afterwards.

A view from about 1889, looking along Albany Street towards the harbour. The future Silverwood Terrace site is where the trees meet the road on the right-hand side. The old house is obscured. Image: Te Papa C.018395. Detail from Burton Bros photograph.

Later occupants of Silverwood included the warehouseman Allan Broad (1841-1930), who was manager of the Mutual Stores and a foundation member of the Hanover Street Baptist Church. He was followed by William Reid (c.1834-1909), a prosperous seed merchant turned florist, resident from about 1890 to 1898. Reid had worked at the Royal Norfolk Nurseries in England and had an international reputation as a collector of native ferns and shrub seeds, which he exported. His daughter, Annie Elsom, followed the same profession and became a successful businesswoman in Christchurch.

From 1898, Silverwood was the home of James and Elizabeth Small. Born in Forfar, Scotland, around 1843, James married the slightly older Elizabeth Gall at Dundee in 1873. The following year the couple arrived in Dunedin, where James became a successful building contractor. His first major project was the Dominican Priory in Smith Street, designed by Frank Petre and built between 1876 and 1877. The innovative use of poured concrete in this building is celebrated today, but Small’s contribution remains overlooked. Petre’s call for tenders specified a brick building, and Small submitted the only tender for concrete construction. This was identified as the more cost-effective option, and it seems likely concrete was Petre’s plan from the beginning, with the tenders for brick construction being called to determine an alternative price.

James Small (c.1843-1919). Image: DCC Archives

Small was the contractor for the Grand Hotel (1882-1883), designed by Louis Boldini. Image: Te Papa O.034103. Burton Bros photographers.

The collaboration continued. Other buildings designed by Petre and constructed by Small and his team included the Exchange Buildings on Liverpool Street (now Guardian Apartments), the Equitable Insurance buildings (Phoenix House), an office building for the Otago Harbour Board (Donald Reid Building), and the Catholic Basilica in Wellington.

Small was the main contractor for three buildings designed by Louis Boldini: the Grand Hotel, Butterworth Bros warehouse, and the AMP Society’s buildings. These were among the most impressive commercial buildings of Victorian Dunedin, each with an elaborate four-storey stone facade.  They were notable for extensive structural use of iron and concrete, including concrete floors on iron joists.

Small built the six Silverwood Terrace houses next to his own home between 1902 and 1904. It is likely he designed them himself, as I have found no record of an architect’s involvement and the surviving plans show only sketchy drafting. The first building permit, issued in November 1902, was for the two houses closest to Clyde Street. The permit for the middle two houses followed in April 1903, and the final two were approved in November 1903.

Detail from a Dunedin Drainage and Sewerage Board plan dated 1905. Albany Street runs across the bottom of the image. The large footprint of Silverwood can be seen at the centre, and the new terrace has only been pencilled in. Image: DCC Archives.

Terraces were not typical of New Zealand housing, but they were relatively numerous in the urbanised environment of central Dunedin. More than twenty historic examples stand in the city today. The earliest dates from the 1870s and the latest from about 1914, by which time public transport and private cars were providing easier access to the suburbs, and blocks of flats were beginning to find favour. Usually built as investment properties or speculative builds, the grandest terraces were handsomely finished for a market that included working professionals and the genteel. At the other end of the spectrum were rough wooden tenements rented to the poor.

Silverwood Terrace, though not among most expensive, is one of the better examples. Built in brick, it has a neatly cemented street front, with exposed brickwork at the back and sides. Its style is plain and unfussy, with simple cornices and other mouldings, and a touch of the Italianate about it. Variations in the design contribute to a pleasing rhythm: the middle two houses have faceted bays grouped together at the centre, while the outer houses have square bays with the balconies grouped together. The overall effect is approximately symmetrical, although the houses at the Clyde Street end are narrower than the rest. The cast iron balcony railings are excellent examples of their type, and provide the most ornate features.

The terrace is sympathetic to the slightly older semi-detached houses next door, which date from about 1896. On the corner of Clyde Street a slightly later house with exposed brickwork, built in 1907, is also in harmony.

Each of the Smalls’ houses had a conventional floor plan. The two largest rooms were on the ground floor, with the one facing the street presumably intended as a parlour. A long hallway ran through to a single-storey extension at the rear, housing the kitchen and scullery. Stairs were at the centre and at right angles to the hall, due to the narrowness of the buildings. On the first floor were four bedrooms and a small bathroom. There were five fireplaces in each house. Toilets were in outhouses.

The houses remained in the ownership of the Smalls for nearly twenty years, and were sometimes referred to as Small’s Terrace. Neither this nor the Silverwood name appears to have remained in use for long.  Street directories give some insight into the backgrounds of the Smalls’ first tenants. The heads of the households were two widows, a mechanical engineer, a storeman, a bootmaker with his own business, and a retired seedsman. Most stayed only a few years, but after her husband’s death Margaret Buchanan remained at no.136 until her passing in 1923, and John and Catherine Mitchell lived at no.140 until 1930.

Elected to the Dunedin City Council in 1905, James Small served as a councillor for thirteen years, as Chairman of the finance committee, and as an elected member of the Dunedin Drainage Board. He died at Silverwood on 3 March 1919, aged 75.  The following day the flag of the Grand Hotel flew at half-mast, as a mark of respect to its builder. Obituaries describe Small as an unassuming, unostentatious, and capable man, who ‘worked hard and keenly in his own quiet way for the good of Dunedin as a whole’.

Elizabeth Small gave ‘unostentatiously to the poor and needy of the neighbourhood’ until her health declined. She died on 24 July 1923. The couple had no children and Elizabeth’s estate, with the exception of a few bequests to friends, was left to charity. Silverwood was demolished later that year, the Otago Daily Times recording that in the early days ‘it was among the most handsome residences in the city. But it did not escape the changes of time, and, after a period of retiring shabbiness, the last straw has been placed on the camel’s back and tenders for removal have been called.’

The Silverwood Terrace houses went to auction in 1925. Notices described them as being of superior construction, and no.134 as a ‘splendid double-storey brick residence, containing 7 commodious rooms, bathroom, hot and cold water, washhouse, copper and tubs, and conveniences; handsome appearance; freehold section’.

The main outward change in recent years has been the replacement of wood-framed sash windows with aluminium framed ones, but the original style and glass remains on one of the houses. A uniform colour scheme helps to show off the architecture. The houses are now student flats, and according to the Dunedin Flat Names Project, no.138 has been known as both ‘Wards Manor’ and ‘Mope on in’. Perhaps the old name ‘Silverwood’ might again become familiar.

Image6_SilverwoodView

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times 2 February 1872 p.2 (birth of Neill’s daughter), 5 November 1874 p.1 (reference to house as ‘Silverwood’), 16 March 1897 p.4 (Reid’s advertisement), 4 March 1919 p.6 (James Small obituary), 6 March 1919 p.5 (appreciation of Small); Evening Star 10 January 1873 p.2 (Mrs Neill’s advertisement),), 27 February 1878 p.3 (subdivision), 2 March 1882 p.3 (sale of Silverwood), 15 March 1886 p.3 (Mrs Strode), 27 February 1906 p.5 (reference to Small’s Terrace), 18 October 1909 p.4 (death of William Reid), 4 March 1919 p.6 (James Small obituary), 6 March 1919 p.5 (appreciation of James Small), 10 March 1919 p.6 (tribute to Small), 23 July 1923 p.8 (Elizabeth Small obituary), 4 September 1923 p.6 (demolition of Silverwood), 5 September 1925 p.24 (sale of properties), 23 April 1930 p.7 (Allan Broad obituary); Lyttelton Times 6 January 1886 p.4 (Strode obituary); Otago Witness 28 December 1920 p.53 (correction).

Other sources:
Directories (Stone’s, Wises, and telephone)
Dunedin City Council Archives, including building register, permit plans, and drainage records
Death registration of James Small