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 The Old Waterfront, p 48 The Streets of my city, Wellington New Zealand,
by F. L. Irvine-Smith. (1948).

Part Two : Chapter Eight
Configuration Streets

Contents: a letter | Part One chapters: 1 | 2 | Part Two chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
Part Three chapters: Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Appendix

A shadowy highway cool and brown
Alluring up and enticing down.

Bliss Carman.

AS in most towns, some of our streets take their names from the configuration of the land or the presence of some notable building or striking characteristic.

"The Beach," an unofficial name for Lambton Quay, invariably so called by the Early Settlers, was due to the fact that before any Wellington reclamations were made, this thoroughfare was merely the high-water line of the foreshore. The sea lapped up to the shore edge of the street and sometimes rolled across the road and entered the shops on the opposite side. It is historically (and aesthetically) satisfying to reflect that at the present day, when so many lovely lines have been straightened out to save split seconds, Lambton Quay still retains its two sweeping curves fretted out by the waves, as the pioneers first saw it, though it somewhat taxes the imagination to realise that only a short century ago, dense bush in many parts covered the hillsides to the water's edge. Though never a sea-shore road like Lambton Quay, it was likewise the line of the harbour edge that gave the curved shape to the seaward side of Courtenay Place.

The southern end of Lambton Quay, now commonly referred to as "Stewart Dawson's Corner," was in the forties and fifties known as "Clay Point," or "Windy Point," a veritable cave of Eolus, one of early Wellington's most exposed corners, around which, in a tearing northerly or high sea, it was often impossible to pass, especially if encumbered with a crinoline. Between this corner and Plimmer's Steps was Wellington's earliest brick field, worked by Mr. Millar. The first Wellington Post Office, burnt down in 1842, stood where the citizens' memorial now stands, and the first daily mail from Thorndon to Pito-one was inaugurated on July 11th, 1840 - letters twopence, newspapers a penny.

To many, the gem of Lambton Quay, undoubtedly one of the finest structures the Dominion has to offer, is the Government Buildings, erected in 1876 to meet the needs of the rapidly growing civil service, a beautifully proportioned block somewhat resembling a wooden replica of Somerset House, and standing in grounds which, though limited, serve to enhance not only the building they surround but the whole northern end of the Quay. The building is constructed entirely of wood, and forms the largest permanent wooden structure in the world. And what wood! A list of the materials used - a million feet of them - sounds like a building contractor's dream. For the main block, the framework of Tasmanian hardwood, the weatherboards and interior of kauri. For the wings, added later, the framework of rimu, the piles of totara, the weatherboards and flooring of matai, the interior finishings of kauri - an epitome of all the most precious of New Zealand forest products. The thought comes uppermost: "What forests passed beneath the axe to rear its walls!'?. Such a building, if it could be raised today, would cost considerably over a quarter of a million sterling, but in 1876, "the booming seventies," the central block was erected for £40,000! The wings added in 1897 and 1907 for a total of £6,500! It stands on land reclaimed in 1874, now fifteen chains away from the nearest waterfront. And it endures! An exhaustive examination made in 1923 revealed not a sign of decay. Spare it a moment as you pass, if only to feel the beauty of ita ordered plan, of its kauri medallions and pediments, all handcarved, all carved in our midst.

Mr. Wm. Clayton, the government architect employed, was the father-in-law of Sir Julius Vogel, premier at the time. He subsequently built for himself in Hobson Street a most modem home, which had the distinction of being the first Wellington residence to have hot and cold water laid on. It was afterwards sold to Mr. T. C. Williams and is now Queen Margaret College.

Speaking of T. C. Williams, he might well be called an early pioneer, as he had been born at Paihia as long ago as 1825, two years after the arrival in those parts of his father, the early missionary, Archdeacon Henry Williams. In 1865 he came to Wellington where he acquired large interests in Wairarapa station properties, but took no part in public life. The grounds of this residence were very beautiful-and well used. The owner had thirteen children. One of his daughters married the brother of Sir Charles Fergusson, Governor of the Colony from 1924 to 1931.

Mr. Clayton is also remembered as the architect of the second Government House, occupied by successive Governors from Sir George Bowen to Lord Plunket, a stately wooden edifice, somewhat in Italian style, which occupies part of the site of the present Dominion Houses of Parliament. When it became necessary to erect a larger Parliament Buildings (burnt down in 1907) - a much debated question was a new site for the vice-regal residence. Choice fell upon a beautiful and commanding site at Wadestown, that of the Grange formerly built and occupied by the Hon. W. B. Rhodes. The widow of the former owner, however, demanded ten thousand pounds more than the Prime Minister, then Sir Joseph Ward, was prepared to pay, whereupon the Government decided to use the site of the old Mount View Mental Hospital. The first Governor to occupy the third Government House was Lord Islington, who arrived at Wellington, in 1910.

Wellington Terrace, now called "'The 'Terrace," is just what the name implies - a terrace along the ridge of hills at the back of Lambton Quay. The southern end, formerly called Woolcornbe Street, after a Director of the New Zealand Company, is now included in Wellington Terrace. This end contained until recently two of the city's most historic homes, "Dalmuir," and "St. Ruadhan" surrounded by the last two original town acres to be found in Wellington. "Dalmuir," was built by Mr. Robert Strang (1795-1874), solicitor to the New Zealand Company and Registrar of the first Scotch Church of the settlement, who arrived in the "Bengal Merchant," February, 1840. His daughter, Susan Douglas, in 1851 married Sir Donald McLean (1820-1877), one of the Colony's leading pioneer history makers and beloved of all Maoris, but she died in 1852 at the early age of twentyfour. Donald McLean Street is called after her husband. Sir Donald was born in the Island of Tiree, his mother being a daughter of the Rev. McColl, who succeeded in his living the Rev. Macaulay, great. grandfather of Lord Macaulay.

"St. Ruadhan" was originally owned by Mr. Robert Stokes, one of the Company's surveyors, who arrived in the "Cuba" January 3rd, 1840. Later on it was acquired by Sir Douglas McLean (1852-1929) the only son of Sir Donald, and used by him as his town house. It is to be regretted that some of the historical treasures of pioneering days, formerly contained in these two interesting homes, could not have found their way into a national collection to be a source of interest to future generations of New Zealanders. "Dalmuir" is now replaced by a block of flats. "St. Ruadhan" is put to more utilitarian uses. The lovely trees and gardens are mostly no more. Sic transit.

At No. 331 lived the notable surgeon, Ewart Gordon Anderson, whose short life of fiftyone years was brought to a close on September 3rd, 1942. At the time of his death he was the Senior Surgeon on the staff of the Wellington Hospital, and was regarded as the greatest thyroid surgeon in the Dominion. Apart from his profession, his life was a shining example of Christian service to his fellow-men.

Before the advent of the motor-car and the consequent development of the outlying suburbs, The Terrace was one of the favourite residential parts of Wellington, but following the usual transition, it is now largely a street of flats and apartment houses. The Synagogue was erected on The Terrace in 1870. The first Jewish service ever held in Wellington (Saturday, January 7th, 1843) was conducted by Mr. Abraham Hort who reached Port Nicholson in 1842, his son having arrived by the "Oriental" in 1840. Mr. Hort, Senr., was the grandfather of Sir Francis Dillon Bell, for the latter's father, Francis Dillon Bell, Senr., married Margaret, the third daughter of Abraham Hort, at that time the leading member of the Wellington Jewish congregation.

The Wellington Club (1877), St. Andrew's Church (1879) and the Congregational Church (1888) have long been located on The Terrace and at No. 114, now the offices of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, lived Sir Walter Buller, born in 1838 in the Auckland district, where his father, the Rev. Jas. Buller, a Wesleyan missionary, was stationed.

Buller Street and Little Buller Street are both called after Sir Walter Buller (1838-1906), K.C.M.G., P.R.S., a Judge of the Native Land Court, and one of the leading ornithologists of the Dominion. , He married Charlotte, the daughter of Gilbert Mair, Senr., who had settled in the Bay of Islands as long ago as 1823. Sir Walter was the last recipient to be personally invested with a tide by the Sovereign, and in 1886 visited England for the purpose. His sisterinlaw relates in her memoirs that following his investiture, he and Lady Buller were invited to breakfast by Queen Victoria. Her Majesty chanced to be in a somewhat communicative mood and informed her guests that she had recently received a letter from her grandson (George V), then at school, asking if she could possibly lend him a pound, as he had spent all his term's allowance. This was an opportunity too good for the Royal Grandmother to miss, and taking up her pen, she indited a truly Victorian sermon on the evils of overspending and the virtue of self-denial, calculated to reduce the most hardened spendthrift to abject remorse. Instead, however, of the penitent reply awaited, back came a most jubilant epistle, brief and to the point. "Dear Granny, never mind about the pound. The chap that sits next me gave me three pounds for your letter."

Sir Walter Buller's country estate near Levin contained Lake Papaitonga (125 ac.), a bird sanctuary for all kinds of wild fowl, native and introduced.

The usual way of reaching the hill suburb of Kelburn is by means of the cable car, starting from Kelburn Avenue, an offshoot of Lambton Quay, but on foot it may best be reached from Wellington Terrace via Mount Street, a short street whose grade does not belie its name. Here, in the old Catholic Cemetery, surely one of the most beautifully placed God's Acres in the land, is to be found the tomb of Father Jeremiah Joseph Purcell O'Reily, O.S.F. (1799-1880), one of the spiritual stalwarts of the early days, and along with Sir William Fox, an ardent crusader for temperance. Battling our way through fern and fennel, chindhigh, we reach the summit of the knoll where rest the mortal remains of this Good Shepherd, whose Christianity, judging by memoirs and memories, far out-stripped his creed. The view is breath-taking. In one vast panoramic sweep the whole of Port Nicholson lies at our feet, an inland lake, as it were, of majestic compass, ringed with its encircling hills, range upon range of cerulean blue, which melt in the north into the snow-crested peaks of the Tararuas, and in the south into the blue waters of Cook Strait, to reappear on the other side as the snow-topped Kaikouras of the South Island, crowned with their loftiest and loveliest peak-Tapuaenuku, "Footsteps of the Rainbow." And climbing, ever climbing the surrounding harbour hills, rises the city, that year by year has grown greater and nearer to the hearts of its makers, its ships gliding in to busy wharves, like homing birds to their sunset rest, its houses nesting and perching in every gully and hill-face, like colonies of happy gannets basking in the sun, its water-front pulsing with life and trade. Small wonder that as the years roll by, English ties have loosened, or crystallised into a desire to revisit the Homeland just once more and then return to this haven of health and beauty to end one's days.

Father O'Reily, the pioneer Roman Catholic priest of Wellington, arrived in 1843 as chaplain to the son of Lord Petre. In the same year he secured a site in Boulcott Street, where he erected the first Roman Catholic Church(1) of the settlement, and on the site of St. Mary's Presbytery built in 1846, the first Roman Catholic School. From 1843 to 1850 he was the sole Roman Catholic priest in the settlement, and ministered to the needs of his flock, not only at Wellington and the Hutt, but also across Cook Strait at Port Underwood and Nelson. His death, July 21st, 1880, was mourned by the whole community of every denomination, whose loss found expression in the lofty Celtic cross which dominates the little cemetery and informs the rare intruder:

Another grave in sight is that of Captain O'Connell, died August 18th, 1850. He arrived in 1846 with the 65th Regiment, and took part in the operations in the Horokiwi Valley. The very name of Wellington must have been fraught with memories to the gallant captain, for had he not fought with the Duke's forces at Badajoz, at Vittoria, and at the Pyrenees? So much to remember. There was that friend and fellow officer, for instance, Lieutenant Smith, who as an interlude had rescued in Spain a "lovely Spanish lady" and married her. Later he was to become the Governor of Cape Town and give his name to Harrismith (Orange River Colony) and that of the "lovely lady" to Ladysmith.

Debonair Captain O'Connell! He gave a dash of colour to those early days when he whirled around in his bright yellow dogcart with its high steppers, the smartest equipage in the district. Do the echoes of College choruses ever come drifting over the fence to that forgotten grave?

When I ride out each day in my little coupe, I tell you I'm something to see.
The wife of the Colonel of the 65th, Mrs. Gold, went one better. She had a sedan chair - and eight little sovereigns - all minted in less than as many years.

We struggle back to the entrance, taking our way down the wellworn track of Mount Street, wellworn with the footsteps of thousands of students who for the past forty years have made their way up by this short cut to the University. "The Old Clay Patch!" So much to say, it were best in better hands. As we continue down, we pass on our right the entrance of McKenzie Terrace, known to an older generation as "Graveyard Lane," and on our left Salamanca Road, giving a welcome stretch of level footway among those hill-begotten heights, and skirting as it does, the head of a gully where the native flora that once massed its forces to the very harbour rim, is making a last stand. Hills and more hills with incomparably beautiful vistas of the distant sea between. Memory recalls that veteran professor of the Old World, Sir John Adams, who in 1924 paid a visit to the Antipodes in the sunset of his days, remarking that parts of Kelburn (The Glen) reminded him closely of Assisi - "Just a few flat-hatted cures needed to complete the illusion." Equally so might parts recall many a hill town of the Peninsular, and the similarity is heightened by the Spanish names at hand - Salamanca Road, Talavera Terrace, San Sebastian Road. These are on ground cut up and named by William Thomas Locke Travers, F.L.S. (1819-1903), a former city solicitor, who had himself been a Spanish legionnaire in the Carlist War. Again a touch of that surprise that constantly assails the wayfarer venturing to dip below the surface of these pioneering lives. William Travers - author and jurist, botanist and ornithologist, geologist and ethnologist, and withal an ardent and selfless worker for the progress and enlightenment of the city of his adoption. So many more. A passionate lover of trees was he as well - by no means a general Wellington trait - and along with Sir James Hector, and Messrs. Mantell and Ludlam, was instrumental in getting the public reserve set aside for the Botanical Gardens. Travers Street is named after him. Mr. Travers was to a large extent the tree arbiter of his day, and on the opening of Wellington Boys' College, 1874, of which he was a member of the Board of Governors, he supervised the planting of the College Reserve, six hundred trees being distributed throughout the lower area. On April 26th, 1903, he was killed at the Hutt Railway Station by falling between the train and the platform.

Sir James Hector needs no encomium-an explorer and geologist of world,wide reputation. Mr. Mantell also had scientific proclivities. He was one of the first to send moa bones to the British Museum to Professor Owen, the leading anatomist of his day and a fellow geologist and colleague of Mantell's own distinguished father, Dr. Gideon Mantell. Mr. Ludlam (1810-1877), one of the earliest Speakers of the Provincial Council, was another dryad. His wonderful garden, a veritable plant museum of the rare and the beautiful, was situated at the Hutt, and after his death became known, from the new proprietor, as McNab's Gardens, later Bellevue Gardens. In the comparatively new layout of Seatoun (E.5), all three are commemorated - Hector Street, Mantell Street, Ludlam Street.

Nor have we exhausted all the reminders of the Great Duke. We find in South Wellington Corunna Avenue, Douro Avenue, Blucher Avenue, all part of the Wellesley Block between Constable and Mein Streets and once known as Howe's Farm. This was cut up in 1893 by Mr. Walter Turnbull and appropriately named to correlate with the ducal activities, while along the water-front, from Aotea Quay to Customhouse Quay, extends the busy stretch of Waterloo Quay.

The higher upland levels of Kelburn are traversed by Upland Road, which takes its name from Upland Farm (113 ac.) , formerly the property of William Moxham who came to New Zealand by the "Montmorency" in 1858. In 1860 Mr. Moxham started in dairy business, acquiring first the Upland Farm and later, another farm at North Makara. He sold his dairying interests in 1896 and retired to McDonald Crescent. Fifty years later his daughter-in-law, Rosetta Moxham, died in Wellington in her ninetysecond year. The lower part of Kelburn, a typical Scotch glen in appearance, is reached by the thoroughfare so named - The Glen, though the name is sometimes regarded as "an ingenious combination of the glen into which it runs and the name of the gardener (Mr. Glen), whose exertions have done so much to transform the neighbouring gardens into a beauty spot." South Terrace in the south now changed (January 16th, 1911) to Hadfield Terrace; Garden Road leads to the Botanical Gardens; Grove Road, named from the plantations that existed there; Terrace Gardens, a residential area off the Terrace; Parliament Street runs behind the Parliament grounds; Hospital Road leads to the Public Hospital; the Bridle Track, a pedestrian route, one of the city's most delightful scenic walks, girdling the hill face from Kaiwarra to Khandallah, and many more.

The boat harbour etching from page 126

1. This was replaced in 1874 by St. Mary of the Angels, destroyed by fire in 1918 and replaced by the present Cathedral.
2. N.Z. "Times," July, 1905.
Part Two : Chapter Nine : Governor Streets

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