Tag Archives: Kodachrome

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.

firstchurchfrommaclagganstreetaug1963_fb

maclagganvista

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

Dunedin in Kodachrome

I love mid-century Kodachrome film – the colours are so vibrant that the images often seem to have a slight filter of fantasy applied to them. This view of George Street is one of my favourite examples. It was captured in 1957 by Ray Hargreaves and is copied from a collection of 35mm slides he donated to the Hocken Collections last year. I was going to use it as an illustration for a building story but it really deserves a post of its own.

Photographs of George Street in the 1950s are hard to find and usually black and white, so when a rare colour one turns up the different way of looking at the scene can be startling. This image shows familiar facades, including what are now the Golden Centre and Meridian Mall sites on the right. The spot is today one of the busiest in Dunedin, but it bustled even before the northward drift of the shopping area. Further along are buildings demolished in the late 1960s to make way for a Woolworths (later DEKA) store, which was in turn replaced by the Wall Street complex (opened 2009).

The facades have the warm yellow-cream finish that was once common, with typical green trim to go with it. The old finish is quite different from the gloss paint on these facades today, although they don’t yet have those battleship-grey colour schemes that have become the fashion over the past decade or so. The Municipal Chambers tower is now obscured by the Civic Administration Building, but here it adds a delightful contrast to the streetscape, and you can also use it tell the time: about 9.40 a.m.

The tree plantings and wider bricked pavements of today are noticeably absent, but flower boxes enliven the verandah and first-floor frontage of the Arthur Barnett store. It’s quiet and there are plenty of empty parking spaces (is it a weekend?) and the one-armed bandit parking meters stand out. They were among the first in Dunedin, installed between 1955 and 1956, the first in New Zealand having been installed in Auckland in 1953. The cars have the Venetian red number plates of the time, and on the right are two matching Vauxhalls in front of a Standard Vanguard. There are a few pedestrian shoppers, with hats, gloves, bag trousers, a bow tie, and a cigarette all in evidence.

The Arthur Barnett building was erected in 1925 and designed by one of Dunedin’s best-known architects, Edmund Anscombe. Additions were made from 1952 and the store reopened in 1954 with the original facade extended from five to eight bays.  This image predates a major fire in 1959 that led to further rebuilding, and when the Meridian Mall was constructed between 1995 and 1997 a further two bays were added to the facade. These expertly matched the original in design and materials, but perhaps lengthened it a bit beyond good proportion. The much-loved neon horse and clock are out of view here.

Further to the south are the old Southampton Buildings, now part of the Golden Centre. This block was designed and built in 1877 by its original owner, the iron founder William Wilson. It was renamed Stafford House in the twentieth century but the original name can still be see in decorative ironwork below the central window on the first floor. The image shows a bay window that was not part of the original design and which was later removed. A prominent sign advertises Islip & Watt. Harry Islip opened his boot and shoe shop in George Street in August 1898, and in 1909 went into partnership with H.L. Watt to form Islip & Watt. The business continued till 1962.

If anyone has other 1950s-1970s slides showing Dunedin buildings and street scenes I’d be very interested to hear about them. I hope to share more here from time to time, including some I have scanned from originals by Hardwicke Knight (see also the Upright! Exploring Dunedin’s Built Heritage facebook page). Scanning technology can now get very good results from small transparencies, and if more of these images can be preserved they will be a valuable resource for the future. Experiencing Dunedin in Kodachrome is quite delightful!

Acknowledgments:
Thanks to Ray Hargreaves and the Hocken Collections for the image scanned from a 35mm Kodachrome transparency (ref: S13-127a), and to Peter Entwisle for details relating to the Southampton and Arthur Barnett buildings.