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

Part Three Chapter Three
South-West Suburbs

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

Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.

Christina Rossetti.

THE SOUTH-WEST SUBURBS, the hilliest of the hill suburbs, which is saying a good deal, lie to the south-west of Lambton Harbour, and comprise Fitchett, Brooklyn, Vogeltown and Mornington, generally spoken of en masse as "Brooklyn."


Fitchett (not Fitchett Town), or Western Brooklyn, consisted of the well-known Ohiro Dairy Farm established in 1852 by John Fitchett, Senr., on his hundred-acre section on the south-west hills. To this was added the lease of the adjoining section owned by R. B. O. Todman of Adelaide, the latter having inherited the property from an uncle who had purchased it in London from the Company in 1840, but who had died before emigrating to New Zealand. Mr. Fitchett, who had reached Wellington in 1842 by the ship "London" on its second voyage, died in 1875, and in 1899 his son, A. B. Fitchett, and R. B. O. Todman decided to cut up the combined estate, to which the name of "Fitchett" was given. Two hundred and eight lots were accordingly offered for sale in that year, after which Mr. Fitchett bought out Mr. Todman's interest, and in 1902 sold thirty-seven additional lots. The following streets were formed and named:-

Mitchell Street, after Henry Mitchell of Mitchelltown, at his own request.
Todman Street, after R. B. O. Todman, part owner of the estate.
Bruce Avenue, after Bruce Fitchett, grandson of the pioneer, and still a resident of Fitchett.
Reuben Avenue, after Reuben Short, for many years an employee of Mr. John Fitchett.
Laura Avenue, after Mrs. A. B. Fitchett, née Miss Laura Walters.
Charlotte Avenue, after Mrs. Charlotte de Burgh of Adelaide, sister of R. B. O. Todman.
Helen Street, after the late Miss Helen Fitchett, eldest daughter of A. B. Fitchett.
Karepa Street, Apuka Street and Tanera Crescent, after three Maoris resident on the land and frequently employed by Mr. Fitchett.

Sugar Loaf Road led to a conical hill always called the Sugar Loaf by the Fitchett family. It has since been lowered and forms the centre of a small Public Reserve, on which is erected the Brooklyn War Memorial. In the adjoining Brooklyn estate, Mr. Fitchett, Senr., also possessed about an acre of land, and the street put through this was named by him Bretby Street, after his birth, place in Derbyshire.

It may be of interest to note that in 1884 A. B. Fitchett imported the first separator into New Zealand. Thirtyfive years later Wellington led the world by introducing a Municipal Milk Supply.


Brooklyn adjoins Fitchett, but climbs higher up the south-eastern hill-slopes. The northern portion, between Connaught Terrace and Central Park, was cut up by Alfred Henry Miles in 1888.

Like Fitchett, Brooklyn was in the early days just so many paddocks reached by a bullock track, which came from the Ohiro Road over the dip in the hills now followed by the tramway track, but after the construction of the Brooklyn Road through the Town Belt, and the extension of the tramway system, it went rapidly ahead. In 1906 the electric tramway was extended to Brooklyn.

The view of the city from these parts is superb. For tired folk who can snatch an interval to stand and stare, there is no better prescription than to take a tram section from Upper Willis Street to Brooklyn - a lovely ride along the fringe of Central Park - get out at the top, turn your face to the north, and stare! Total cost, tuppence! To follow up the treatment, find your way later to the National Gallery of the city and stare once again at the same lovely vista from the brush of Archibald Nicol. Which reminds one that, as a centenary city contribution in 1940, the Wellington Harbour Board put aside a most generous sum to be expended upon pictures of Wellington and its harbour, and thereupon commissioned canvases from three leading artists of the Dominion - Sydney Thompson, Archibald Nicol and Nugent Welch, all of whom depicted the city from a different view point. Which also goes to prove that Wellington has a permanent Art Galiery.

The main street names of Brooklyn are convenient to derive, as the plan of the promoters was to perpetuate the names of the Presidents of the United States.

Thus we have:-

President Date of office Street
George Washington.1789-1797.Washington Avenue.
Thos. Jefferson.1801-1805.Jefferson Street.
General W. H. Harrison.1841 (d. 1841).Harrison Street.
General J. A. Garfield.1881 (d. 1881).Garfield Street.
Abraham Lincoln.1861-1865.Lincoln Street.
Grover Cleveland.1885-1889.Cleveland Street.
W. McKinley.1897-1901.McKinley Cresent.
Wm. Taft.1909-1913.Taft Street.
Calvin Coolidge.1923-1929.Coolidge Street.

Heaton Terrace is named after John Henry Heaton, for many years member of the Harbour Board. He arrived in New Zealand in 1856 per "Lord Ashley," and after engaging for some years as a purser, established himself in Wellington as a customs, shipping and forwarding agent. Three times he was elected Mayor of Melrose, a borough incorporated in 1888 and comprising a very large area, practically all the environs of the city. Mr. Heaton was also a director of the Wellington Woollen Mills.

The hightlight of Brooklyn pioneering relics is the old church clock of St. Peter's, brought to Wellington in 1849 and passed on to the Brooklyn Anglican Church in 1879, and "still going strong."

Vogeltown and Mornington

Still further among the hills, south from Brooklyn, lies Vogeltown, and still further south, Mornington. In 1878 John Portescue Evelyn Wright (1827 - 1891), who was in partnership with Mr. Jacob Joseph in the Happy Valley Estate and the Island Bay properties in 1881, laid off a portion of his land as Vogeltown. He came of a naval family of lengthy traditions, and after serving for some time in the navy, joined his brothers in the early fifties in Wellington, and acquired large land interests in the south-west of the city. The suburb of Vogeltown was named after Sir Julius Vogel, Premier of the Colony in the seventies, whilst its neighbour, Mornington, was named afte the Duke of Wellington's father, the Earl of Mornington. The original Mornington is in County Meath, and was the Irish seat of the Duke's father.

The early history of Mornington is associated with the well-known pioneering farming family of Wilton. Mr. Job Wilton farmed on the outskirts of Wadestown, on land now known as Wilton's Bush or the Otari Plant Reserve. His brother Nun farmed at Karori, but subsequently sold out and took up land next to a third brother Elijah at Mornington. After the death of Mr. Elijah Wilton in 1904, the two combined Mornington farms, about three hundred acres in extent, were acquired by the South Wellington Land Company and cut up - not a profitable venture for the shareholders, as the land was so steep that roading absorbed the bulk of the funds and the Company was forced to go into liquidation. Its southerly aspect, too, was not alluring. Mornington has always suffered from difficulty of access and lack of tram communication. It is best approached from Britomart Street in Wellington South.

Street names in these two suburbs have a variety of sources, though the nomenclature of the Wright family is largely discernible in the suburb of Vogeltown. Here is to be found Fortunatus Street, from a family name, Fortunatus Evelyn Wright being a brother of J. F. E. Wright; Mofitt Street, from Mrs. Mofitt of Masterton, née Miss Wright. Dorking Road takes its name from the Evelyn Estate, near Dorking in Surrey; Liardet Street from a relative, Captain Liardet, and Vennell Street from relations resident in Wellington. A family name is also commemorated in Evelyn Place (C.2), a daughter of Captain Fortunatus Wright, a privateer of the seventeenth century, having married CharIes Evelyn, and their daughter, her cousin, Lieutenant Fortescue Wright, R.N., while Mills Road takes its name from Mr. E. W. Mills, who married Miss Wright, and called his home "Sayes Court," after the family seat of the Evelyns. In the city Wright Street keeps alive the memory of J. F. E. Wright himself, who represented Wellington country districts in the Provincial Council in both the sixties and the seventies.

Besides the above streets we find in these parts Borlase Street, Dransfield Street, Krull Street, McColl Street, Bell Road, Travers Street, Stock Street, all named after city notables elsewhere dealt with. Butt Street and Hoggard Street commemorate former city Postmasters. The contribution of John Farr Hoggard (1815 - 1871) to city culture and development harks back to very early days. As early as 1844 he reached Wellington from Auckland under appointment, nominally as a collector of customs, but virtually as postmaster. In 1853 he received the official appointment of postmaster and held this position until his death. Finnimore Street is named for Major Finnimore, a former resident of this locality, who for a time was a city auctioneer in the seventies. Short Street is another of the city's auctioneer streets of which there is a good number. Mr. Short's business premises stood on the site of the present Tudor Picture Theatre in Willis Street. His favourite form of advertising was to placard all available spots with the notice "Send it to Shorts!" which became a well-known city gag, finding its way even into Varsity jingles:

Roman poets of old, by Jock Brown (1) we've been told,
Would cry, "Send it to Short's, or to Sidey's!"
If a verbum occurred, so uncouth, so absurd,
As argentumexterrabromides

Balfour Street and Asquith Street are after two English Prime Ministers; Wentworth Street, after Australia's G.O.M., founder of the University of New South Wales; Coleridge Street, after an early surveyor; while others, such as Mornington Road and Happy Valley Road, are self-evident. The only trace of the former Wilton ownership of Mornington is Priscilla Crescent, after Mrs. Elijah Wilton, the former Wilton Road having been changed to Havelock Street to avoid confusion with Wilton Road in the suburb of Wadestown. At one time Mr. Nun Wilton was a well, known nurseryman in Britomart Street.

1. Sir John Rankine Brown, M.A., LL.D., St. Andrews, late Professor of Classics, Victoria College.
Part Three : Chapter Four : Wellington South

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