Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Hudson house – and now some early photographs

Since writing the last post about the Hudson house at 28 Tweed Street (currently for sale) I have been able to copy these wonderful images by photographer C.M. Collins, taken soon after the house was completed. Click on an image to enlarge it, and follow the arrows through the slideshow. Original descriptions from Stucco’s Evening Star articles are included in the captions underneath. I’ve also inserted them into the original post.

My thanks to Andrew and Denise Lane for allowing me to share this special record.

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

 

Hardwicke Knight: Through the Lens

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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.

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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.

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A Maclaggan Street vista

It can be interesting to look at some of the changed vistas along our city streets. Here is a Gary Blackman image of Maclaggan Street taken in August 1963, and an approximate comparison from February 2017. The silhouette of the First Church spire is prominent in the earlier picture, but obscured by Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (formerly Cargill House) in the later one. Philip Laing House on the right, opened in 1973, is the other large addition. The magnificent AMP Building designed by Louis Boldini was demolished in 1969. All of the buildings visible on the left and right hand sides of Maclaggan Street have been pulled down, with the exception of the Crown Hotel on the Rattray Street corner. These included the western end of the old Broadway Arcade, taken down in 1970. Today the realigned Broadway is a busy traffic route, and Harvey Norman (left) and The Warehouse (right) take up much of the remaining real estate. Notable survivors on Princes Street (seen here from behind) include the former Excelsior Hotel and Everybody’s Theatre with their fascinating roofscapes. The Calder Mackay building, covered in scaffolding in August 1963, is still standing, as is Speight’s Shamrock Building to its left. The telegraph poles and their busy wirescape have been removed. Of course one photograph was taken in winter and the other in summer, but the trees that now bring greenness for much of the year are another addition.

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Local body elections and common names

This is just a wee note to clarify that I am not the David Murray standing for election to the Dunedin City Council. It’s a common name and he is no relation (unless perhaps there’s some connection way back in Sutherlandshire). You can read his profile here. There doesn’t seem to have been too much confusion, but a few  comments have come my way, so I thought it might be a good idea to mention it.

David Murray
(the one who writes this blog)

Dunedin in Kodachrome 2

In an earlier post I touched on the colours and qualities of mid-century Kodachrome film, and the research value of old slides. I am always eager to find more images of Dunedin in Kodachrome, and over the past few years have spent a lot of time working through slides of the late Hardwicke Knight. More recently, well-known photographer Gary Blackman has introduced me to his own wonderful collection.

Any student of Dunedin architecture should be familiar with Ted McCoy and Gary Blackman’s Victorian City of New Zealand (1968). It was the first book dedicated to the subject of Dunedin’s historic buildings, and opened the eyes of many to the beauty and value of the city’s built heritage. A number of the buildings featured have since been destroyed.

During the period Gary was taking some of the black and white images shown in the book, and even much earlier, he was also shooting in colour.  The slides were primarily intended as documentary records, but naturally the photographer’s skill in composition, framing, and other technical and artistic elements, is ever apparent.

The passage of time has added further dimensions. Some images are evocative through their sense of oldness – of the kind sometimes mimicked through Instagram filters. Conversely, a sense of freshness is often even more striking. There can be something unsettling about an image that looks as though it might have been taken yesterday, but shows a scene that has undergone radical transformation. Scenes that have only undergone partial transformation can be the most disconcerting, as familiar points of reference hammer home that this really is the same place. In other cases, it is amazing how little a place has changed in fifty or sixty years.

With special thanks to Gary for sharing them, here is a group of his images taken in Great King Street, all in 1963:

The first looks east towards the Otago Museum. The building in the foreground was a Congregational church before it was purchased by the Catholic Church in 1932. It was demolished around 1971 to make way for the present Holy Name Church. Buildings and blossom are together the subjects. The gold of the museum’s masonry harmonises with the church’s timbers – a colour once ubiquitous for Dunedin buildings but relatively uncommon today. Motor cars (then older models) give a sense of period.

The second image looks south along Great King Street, and makes a study of telegraph poles and wires. Gary tells me that at first he avoided such infrastructure, before increasingly incorporating and sometimes even featuring it. This particular image was used in a talk in which he illustrated the ‘visual clutter imposed on our streets by poles and wirescape’.  The photograph was taken from a position approximately outside where Galaxy Books is today (just north of Moat Street), and the Wellingtonia in the distance, then already over a century old, is a familiar point of reference. In 1963 the one-way system was still five years away.

The final slide, taken in the mid-morning sun, shows a modest dwelling opposite the North Ground. It stood south of the Dundas Street corner, near where Coupland’s Bakeries is now situated. Unfortunately this charming little home with its pretty lacework was demolished long ago. It is contextualised in this image by the houses on the hillside, while the glimpse of the attached barber’s shop provides a delightful contrast.

All images in this post © Gary Blackman 1963

Dreaver’s Buildings

Built: 1878-1879
Address: 149-165 George Street
Designer: William Grasby
Builders: Finck & Grasby

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From the 1870s to the 1950s, the enterprising Dreaver family made George Street their place of business. Elizabeth Creilman McHoul was born in Glasgow, and worked as a domestic servant before migrating to Otago in 1870. In 1873 she married James Dreaver, who opened a toy and fancy goods store. Mrs Dreaver opened a second family business, the Red Flag Drapery, in June 1877.

In November 1878, a fire destroyed eight wooden buildings in George Street, including the Dreavers’ property. No time was wasted in erecting new premises, which opened for business on 22 February 1879. They were built by Finck & Grasby and designed by William Grasby of that firm. Constructed of brick, they comprised a block of three shops with living apartments above. All were owned by the Dreavers, who occupied the southernmost portion. Their first tenants were Miss Vaile, who ran a ‘Young Ladies’ Seminary’, and Hans Pauli, who purchased James Dreaver’s fancy goods business.

The Otago Daily Times reported that ‘seldom, indeed, are blocks of buildings turned out in such a complete manner’. The flats each had coal ranges in the kitchens, fireplaces in the bedrooms, and gas and water connections. Workrooms for the drapery were built behind the shop, and there were brick washhouses and other outbuildings.  The shops had tongue-and-groove linings and were fronted with large plate-glass windows. The cemented facade above was in the simple Revived Renaissance style favoured for commercial buildings at the time. After 137 years the first floor still outwardly looks much the same, though missing are a string course below the dentil cornice, and a modest arched pediment at the centre of the parapet.

Elizabeth Dreaver’s early advertisements offered costumes to fit at a few hours’ notice and described the firm as the cheapest house in the city. The Red Flag name was not used after the rebuilding, and the business became popularly known as Mrs Dreaver’s. Stock included dresses, jackets, skirts, mackintoshes, children’s wear, and feather boas. Dreaver’s had its own dressmaking department and became well-known for a parcel post service (with money back guarantee) offered to country customers.

Mrs Dreaver was an expert milliner and at a carnival at the Columbia Rink she won first prize from about 100 entries for the most original hat, with a design representing a pair of roller skates. She also won the prize for the smallest hat. Other milliners who worked for her included Miss Graham, formerly head milliner to Mrs W.A. Jenkins, and Mrs Mitchell, who had worked at Madame Louise’s in London’s Regent Street.

In 1885 Elizabeth left Dunedin for Scotland, she said due to bad health, and after five months returned with a stock of purchases made in London and Paris.  In the following years she vigorously promoted the ‘scientific’ method of pattern cutting that was revolutionising sewing around the world. She was one of the first in New Zealand to import the pattern books of the Butterick Publishing Company, which then had over 1,000 agencies throughout the United States and Canada. She became Otago’s sole agent for American Scientific System of Dresscutting, gave lessons at Otago Girls’ High School, and offered board to out-of-town pupils. By 1893 she had taught the system to 700 people.

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A Muir & Moodie postcard showing George Street from St Andrew Street. Dreavers is on the right, below the tower.

Hans Pauli remained in the northern shop until 1892. His name became familiar to the public through his outspoken opposition to the organised movement for early shop closing. From 1883 to 1903 ‘Professor and Madame’ McQueen ran one of Dunedin’s leading hairdressing establishments from the middle shop, to which they added the Bon Marche children’s clothing shop in 1898.

The drapery expanded to take over all three shops in 1904, not long before the death of James Dreaver on New Year’s Day 1905. In the first decades of the twentieth century Elizabeth Dreaver continued to manage the business, which some advertisements described as the ‘Shrine of Fashion’. A hairdressing and beauty salon became part of the operation.

In 1920 a new company was formed, Dreavers Ltd, with Elizabeth Dreaver holding 73% the shares and her children Hugh, James, and Catherine, each holding 9%. Additions were made at the back of the property in 1909, and in 1925 Mandeno & Fraser designed stylish new shop fronts, with arches over recessed entrances, and decorative tiles and glass. Fletcher Construction were the builders. A section of this work survives in altered form as the front of the northern shop, where the name ‘Dreavers Ltd’ can still be seen in the mosaic floor.

Further rearward additions were carried out in 1944, leading to the saddest event found in researching this story. A shopper named Alice McMillan (58) was killed when a beam fell through a skylight into the mantle department.

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A 1945 advertisement

Elizabeth Creilman Dreaver died at her home in Clyde Street on 30 November 1934, aged 86. Dreavers continued to trade until 1952, its old premises afterwards becoming the Bruce Shop, a retail store for Bruce Woollens. This closed in the mid-1960s, when the name of the block was changed from Bruce Buildings to Perth Buildings.

Other businesses to occupy the buildings have included the Otago Sports Depot, a Queen Anne Chocolate (Ernest Adams) shop, Ace Alterations, Martins Art Furnishers, and Don Kindley Real Estate. One shop is currently vacant, while another is taken by Brent Weatherall Jewellers. The third contains the $ n’ Sense bargain shop, which harks back nicely to the toys and fancy goods shop at the beginning of the Dreaver’s story in George Street.

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A 1925 shop front, surviving in altered form. Decorative windows were removed and original timber window joinery (with more slender profiles than shown here) replaced in 2012.

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‘Dreavers Ltd’ mosaic tiles

Newspaper references:
Evening Star, 16 June 1877 p.3 (Red Flag Drapery), 29 November 1878 p2 (fire), 27 December 1920 p.3 (registration of company); Otago Witness, 10 August 1878 p.21 (advertisement), 6 September 1879, p.3 (advertisement), 29 April 1887 p.9 (sole rights), 4 January 1905 p.47 (death of James Dreaver); Otago Daily Times, 22 December 1874 p1 (toy shop advertisement), 15 January 1879 p.1 (description of buildings), 4 June 1879 p.3 (description following completion), 29 December 1884 p.3 (advertisement), 26 March 1887 p.3 (advertisement), 29 August 1944, p.6 (inquest into the death of Alice McMillan), 19 March 2011 p.46 (‘Stories in Stone’); North Otago Times 3 May 1890 p.4 (lessons at Otago Girls’ High School).

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889].
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892].
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans
Dunedin City Council cemeteries database

Shipping list for Robert Henderson, 1870 (Otago Gazette)
Register of Otago and Southland Marriages 1848 to 1920 (St Andrew’s Parish)
Death registration for Elizabeth Dreaver (1934/10770)