Friday, 25 December 2015

The Spring Street Ladies’ Rest Room

Corner of Willow and Spring Streets, c.1940s
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library Ref. 99-807
The Women’s Representative Committee had agitated for a rest room for a number of years without success: there was difficulty in agreeing on a site. It was not until 1936 that the committee obtained a loan of £593 from the Borough Council so that building could commence. Work began on the rest room in Spring Street on 1 June 1937, the Foresters’ Hall having been shifted to allow for construction.

Post Office, corner of Grey and Spring Streets, c.1940
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library Ref. 99-1287
Harry Leslie Daniel West (c.1887-1937) was the Borough Architect at the time. He started in partnership with his father in Timaru, but moved to Opotiki in about 1914, to Whakatane in 1921, and finally to Tauranga in about 1934, just three years before his death. Many of his buildings in the Bay of Plenty still stand; sadly the Ladies’ Rest Room is not among the survivors.

The rest room kept a visitors’ book, now in the archives of Tauranga Library. If this book is to be believed, the Rest Room had some famous visitors. Miss G. Garbo, of Hollywood, pronounced it “stunning”, and Miss D. Durbin was similarly impressed.

Note: Stephanie Smith has been unable to locate a photograph of the Ladies' Rest Room itself and would be delighted to hear from any readers who know of one.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Mount Surf Club

The first Mount Surf Club, c. late 1930s
This is a really interesting photograph of the main Mount Beach. It was taken in the late 1930s and I found it in an old copy of the Auckland Weekly News. Lots of people will recognise the Oceanside Hotel. I did a story about it a while ago. The little building on the sand in front of the hotel is also really interesting. It is the first Mount Surf Club. The Club started in the 1920s. All they had was this building and a rescue reel!

Mount Surf Club, 22 June 2013
This is what the Mount Surf Clubrooms looks like now.  They really have got a lot bigger. I imagine the Mount beach is much busier than used to be and there are a lot of people who need watching!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Woodhill, Grange Road

Woodhill, Postcard, undated postcard
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library
Woodhill in Grange Road, Tauranga is the second house built on his farm for Henry Stainforth Brabant, the first being Maungawhare. Fitzgibbon Louch, an Irish architect and Katikati settler designed the ‘domestic Gothic’ style house and David Lundon built it in 1885. Kauri logs from the Coromandel were milled on the site. The house had an imposing position on a ridge looking across the Waikareao estuary to what was then the small town of Tauranga. The whole building is cladded with timber weatherboards and has a corrugated iron roof. The original block of land is much reduced and there is just a few metres to the boundary hedge on the east side.

Woodhill from the East, 23 July 2002
Photo by Shirley Arabin, Courtesy of Heritage New Zealand
The house is large with a frontage of over twenty four metres. Originally there stood a three storey tower at the south end with a copper roof but an owner removed the top storey some years ago. The present function of the house is as a venue for funerals and rooms at the north end have been modified to provide a large room for services.  Otherwise much is original like the timber panelled wainscoting in the hall and the door and window joinery. The first front door is on the east wall that is now the back wall of the house. The ceilings are made of panelled kauri. Fire surrounds are original although repairs have been made at times to the brick fireplaces.

Woodhill, view of front, August 2002
Photo by Shirley Arabin, Courtesy of Heritage New Zealand
The elaborate barge boards on each gable are crowned by a finial which is itself braced by a scroll. The Italianate splayed bay window by the original front door is surmounted with embrasures and cappings. The label mould above the windows diverts water away from the windows while the verandah posts and barge boards demonstrate the elaborate styles popular in their day.

There were several owners between the Brabants and Legacy Funerals who have owned the house since the founder Greg Brownless bought it in 1993. During this time the grounds have reduced to half an acre and the driveway brings visitors to the west side that has become the main entrance to the house.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Commercial Hotel, The Strand

Strand, Tauranga, c.1910
Image courtesy of Justine Neal
Building of the Commercial Hotel began July 1876 on the site previously occupied as a timber yard. The hotel was built for Mr. Joseph Ellis, the first proprietor. On 24 July 1900 the Commercial Hotel was lit up in front with hydron carbon gas, being reported as the first installation of gas in Tauranga. At one stage it seemed to fashionable for policemen to resign from the force and take over as licensees of hotels. 1911 saw Constable Quirk resign to take over the Commercial. In November 1916 the hotel, along with several other buildings on The Strand, was destroyed by fire. A new hotel built on the site opened 2 September 1918.