Sunday, 31 August 2014

August 2014 Newsletter

Lecture Series: Sons of Empire

The lectures commence on Wednesday 17 September at 6.30 pm at the Bongard Centre, BOP Polytechnic, Cameron Road, and run every Wednesday for eight weeks. The introduction to the series will be by our President, Stephanie Smith, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Waikato, Alister Jones. The speaker on that night will be Dr Kirstine Moffat whose topic is “The Monstrous Anger of the Guns: Poetry, Protest, and WWI”. The regular Sunday meetings will not be held in September and October as we wish to support the lecture series.

17 Sept - Kirstine Moffat – “Poetry, Protest, and WW1”
24 Sept - Fiona Kean – “Public Opinion in Tauranga from ‘Letters to the Editor’”
1 Oct - Stephanie Smith – “The diary of a BOP Camelier”
8 Oct - Sue Baker Wilson – “NZ Engineers Tunnelling Company”
15 Oct - Dr Damien Fenton – “The Mundane Realities of Trench Warfare”
22 Oct - Dr Nathalie Philippe – “The Liberation of Le Quesnoy”
29 Oct - Dr Cliff Simons – “The Gallipoli Campaign”
5 Nov - Dr Mark Houlahan – “Kiwis and the Shakespeare Hut, London”

Bookings are ESSENTIAL. Please book early to ensure a seat at this free series. Email Enquiries phone 027 2867454.

Convalescent NZ soldiers on roof of Aotea Home in Egypt, 1918
Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery, France
Guides in Brain Watkins House

Please, please volunteer to be a Guide. With fewer than ten guides it is very difficult to provide a roster to open the house each Sunday. This winter has been quite busy with local and overseas visitors. Guiding is not a difficult task, and is an interesting way to spend a Sunday afternoon, for guides as well as visitors. It’s also a good way of reaching the young: we recently had visits from two classes from Matua School and found the children very interested in how people lived in the past. The theme they were studying was change and the contents of the house illustrate that well.

The Society has 132 members of whom ten are on the committee and ten are guides, with four being both committee members and guides. We need more. With more people helping, the roster will be less demanding on the loyal few. All new guides are trained then rostered with experienced guides.

Loss of Members

This year the Society has lost two of its significant members. Jinty Rorke, the well-known historian and former librarian, died after a short illness in February and is missed by those of us who respected her breadth of knowledge of local history. More recently Bryan Teasey died. A great-grandson of Joseph and Kate Brain, Bryan donated some family artefacts to the Society over the years and made generous monetary donations each year.

The Brain Watkins Hall

Our facility here is very useful for small groups to hire at a very reasonable cost. If you have connections with other groups interested in a central city venue please phone Meri Low on 578 4048 for further details.

Forthcoming Events

17 September – first Lecture in “Sons of Empire” series
2 November – Sunday meeting to discuss the Strategic Plan and agree on the subscription for 2015
7 December – the Society’s annual Christmas Luncheon – details available later
1 February 2015 – the Annual  General  Meeting. Please think about serving on the committee or standing as an officer of the Society.
1 March 2015 – Jazz in the Garden, our annual fundraiser.  We passed on all of our unsold books this year to another charity so will start our book stall afresh. So please put aside your surplus books for a good cause – the care and preservation of the Brain Watkins House.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Swimwear in the 1920s

Black woolen men's swimsuit, Pacific brand, c. 1920s-1930s
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
One of the items in the Katikati Heritage Museum's small collection of vintage clothing is this men's  swimsuit.  Branded with a green fern logo and the name "Pacific," it was probably made, and used, in the 1920s and 1930s.  One-piece "elastic" knitted wool suits became common after the Great War,  and the American Association of Park Superintendents' official 1917 Bathing Suit Regulations specified that men’s suits should have a skirt that covered the shorts.  By the mid-1930s they were being manufactured with Lastex, a woven satin finish elastic and silk material.  The Australian swimming team caused an uproar at the 1936 Olympics by wearing bare-chested Speedo shorts. (Vintage Mens Swimwear by Collector's Weekly)

Group at the beach, Lake Winnipeg, Canada, 1921
This photograph taken in 1921 shows a range of woolen swimming attire, including two men's one-piece costumes very similar to that in the museum's collection.  (The handsome man at the right with a cigarette hanging from his lips is the author's grandfather.)

Post Script (31 Aug 2014):

Society member Shirley Arabin has sent in this snapshot of her father-in-law wearing a bathing suit on Mount Maunganui Main Beach.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Presbyterian Manse, Spring Street, Tauranga

St Peter's House, corner Spring/Selwyn Streets, Tauranga, April 2013
Courtesy of Google Earth
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The first Presbyterian service in the Tauranga district was held in 1868 and the first church, St. Peter’s, was built in 1878. The term ‘manse’ appears to be an exclusively Presbyterian name for the residence of a minister, as opposed to the Anglican vicarage, or the Catholic rectory. During the first years the congregation rented a house at £30 per annum for the minister and in 1881 the idea was raised to build a manse (1).  However, by 1883 opinion had changed and it appears that the church owned two sections, lots 389 and 390 and leased them to TR Gillman for 21 years because “after carefully considering the matter and the improbability of utilising them for Manse purposes …” they were not needed (2).  However, it was on lot 389 that the manse was eventually built.

The Tauranga newspaper must have raised interest again in the early 1890s when it became known that congregations looked towards building their own manses in Opotiki, Rotorua and Whangarei.
JW Gray gifted an allotment to the church and a serious effort commenced to raise funds and build a manse. By charging entry to a lecture on “Memory” and having a sale of work and produce more funds were raised (3).  At the sale of work a wood sawing competition for women and a hat trimming competition for men provided entertainment as well (4).  A lecture on”Japan and the Japanese” concluded with a collection for the manse fund (5).  E Mahoney & Sons of Auckland designed the church but it was G Arnold Ward, a Tauranga architect who called for tenders to the erect the manse. There was an existing building on the site that needed to be removed. As well as local fundraising a loan of £360 from the Century Fund of the Presbyterian Church enabled it to go ahead. John Conway, a Tauranga builder erected the house at a cost of £497.0.0.

A version of the popular gable- and verandah-fronted villa, the Presbyterian Manse still stands today on the corner of Spring and Selwyn Streets in Tauranga. Accounts at the time record it with eight, nine or ten rooms, but even so it was considerably larger than the average villa. The Rev. W Gillies was the first occupant and the last was Rev. Hooker. For the last five or six years the building has been used as a social work centre, St Peter's House. Although not registered with Heritage New Zealand (formerly NZ Historic Places Trust) the former manse is listed in the Tauranga City Council’s Annual Plan in the heritage section. This actually provides more protection for the building than registration with Heritage NZ.


(1) Bay of Plenty Times, 10 February 1881
(2) Bay of Plenty Times, 17 March 1883
(3) Bay of Plenty Times, 7 April 1901
(4) Bay of Plenty Times, 29 April 1901
(5) Bay of Plenty Times, 30 September 1901

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Shaving in the 20th century

Sunbeam Shavemaster Model "R" electric razor, possibly a demonstration model, c.1937-1945
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
Included within the Katikati Heritage Museum's collection are a huge number of household/domestic items.  This early men's Sunbeam Shavemaster electric dry razor from the 1940s (the first Sunbeam electric razor was released in 1937) appears to be a demonstration model, complete with instructional display.

Advertisement for Sunbeam Shavemaster, Life magazine, 23 October 1944
Magazine advertisements of the period, such as the one above from an October 1944 issue of Life, in particular targeted soldiers on service abroad.

Puma cut-throat razor
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
Leather sharpening strops
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
The standard alternative for those without either the means to purchase such a luxury, or access to an electrical socket, was of course the standard cut-throat razor, sharpened at frequent intervals on a leather strop.  This particular type was manufactured in Solingen, Germany by Puma-Werk, "knifemakers to the world since 1769."

Philips Ladyshave electric razor, c. 1980s
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
Philips still produce Ladyshave electric razors, the first models using this brand having been released by at least the late 1950s, but this version appears to be from a couple of decades later.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Art At Brain-Watkins House

"The New Pet"
Framed colour print of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Brain-Watkins House has two portraits by Arthur Elsley,  a well-known painter of children and animals in the late 19th century. Two prints of his works, "The New Pet" and "Out of Reach," as well as a copy of another “Don’t Tell” done in black pencil by Bessie Brain, decorate the wall of the Drawing room. Sadly “The New Pet” is beginning to deteriorate , but to date research to find a replacement has been unsuccessful.

Arthur Elsley was born in London in 1860. His father was a coachman and amateur artiest who had exhibited in the British Institute Exhibition in 1846, but subsequently developed tuberculosis, forcing his early retirement.

"Out of Reach"
Framed sepia-tinted black-and-white print of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Arthur became a probationer at the Royal Academy school in 1876. A large number of his works were influenced by the frequent cycle trips he made to the countryside. He exhibited his first picture in “Portrait of an Old Pony” at the Royal Academy in 1878.

In 1882 he left the Academy and accepted private commissions, painting mainly children and dogs, and the Bennett-Stratford family of politicians living at Preston Manor in Brighton were  the main subjects for his work at this time. His first known published work was a line engraving entitled “ April Floods in Eastern Counties” published in the “Young England” magazine in 1885.

"Don't Tell"
Framed pencil copy by Bessie Brain of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Elsley was awarded a silver medal at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1891 for his painting "The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington." In 1992 his painting "The Biggest" depicting a young girl measuring her height against a St. Bernard, and later was engraved to satisfy public demand.

Elsely married in Emily Tesedale 1893 and they had one daughter – Marjorie – born in 1903. She became the subject of many of her father’s paintings. During the first World War he produced only four paintings, one of which features Marjorie and was exhibited in the Royal Academy. He died at home in Tunbridge Wells in 1952.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Meccano and Fun Ho Toys

Meccano Model 7.2 Steam Roller, c. 1950s
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
Included in the Katikati Heritage Museum's small collection of toys is this steam roller constructed entirely of Meccano parts.

Diagram of Steam Roller 1948 Model 7 from Meccano manual
Comparison with photographs of a similar model put together by Meccano afficionado Alan Esplen suggest that it was made to the design of a Model 7.2 Steam Roller included in the official Meccano manuals from 1948 to 1953.  There are a few small differences or modifications, necessitated no doubt by the absence of specific parts from the maker's collection, but the basics are almost identical.

Fun Ho die-cast toy Steam Roller
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
Although Meccano also manufactured die-cast steam rollers under the Dinky brand, this particular toy steam roller was produced by the well known New Zealand firm Fun Ho based Inglewood from 1935 to 1982.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Tauranga Railway Bridge and Yacht Club

Images and text kindly contributed by Ken Morris of Queensland, former Tauranga resident.

Image courtesy of Ken Morris
This picture is of my mother and me on the beach between the yacht club/railway bridge and what were the sea water baths.  I can remember swimming in them and there were big holes where the railway irons that formed the “pen” to keep out sharks had rusted away.

Image courtesy of Ken Morris
We used to swim in and out. For swimming races, one lap swum with the tide, the other lap against, they had to put boards against the rail irons because of the barnacles when turning at end of the lap.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blue Bath, Rotorua

Unidentified group at the Blue Bath, Rotorua, c. 1930s
Quarter-plate glass negative by unknown amateur photographer
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
These two amateur snapshots are images scanned from a small box of quarter-plate glass negatives of unknown provenance in the Katikati Heritage Collection.  They depict an unidentified group - three women, a man and a young girl - standing on the front steps of the Blue Bath in Rotorua.

Unidentified group at the Blue Bath, Rotorua, c. 1930s
Quarter-plate glass negative by unknown amateur photographer
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
The Blue Baths, housed in a stunning art deco/Spanish Mission-style building, opened in 1933 and offered mixed bathing for the first time in New Zealand.  Perhaps this family was visiting to see what all the fuss was about.

Blue Baths, Rotorua, October 2010
Photograph by Brett Payne
After being closed for 17 years the Blue Baths were restored to their former glory and reopened in 1999.

Friday, 1 August 2014

John Ellison

A photograph of Jack Ellison from the Auckland Weekly News
John Ellison, known as Jack to his friends in Tauranga, had been resident in New Zealand for 10 years having emigrated from England in 1906, when 25 years of age. In 1913 he found work as a bushman at Gamman’s Mill operating at Omanawa Falls and quickly became part of that community. Jack enlisted in October of 1916, as part of the 22nd Reinforcements with friends Charles and Bert Lilley. Before departing for Trentham a social at the Omanawa school house was held in their honour. A large crowd gathered and enjoyed music and dancing until midnight. Presentations were made at supper with each man receiving a watch and hearty applause.

Jack’s Memorial Plaque. These are also known as a ‘Dead Man’s Penny.’
Made of bronze, the soldier’s rank is not recorded, thus acknowledging that in death all men are equal.
On 3 January 1917 during Jack’s final leave in Tauranga he married Florence Lilley. A month later he sailed for England. After a brief period at Sling Camp he joined the 1st Battalion of the Auckland Regiment in the field in France and was killed in action on 26-27 March 1918. The sad news was delivered to Florence a few weeks later. Tragically for Florence her brother, Charles Lilley, was also killed later that year.  As Jack’s wife at the time of his death Florence was entitled to receive his medals, scroll and plaque and they were sent to her in 1921 and 1922. However, having remarried in 1920 their arrival must have been a sad and perhaps even awkward reminder of Jack. No doubt this led to the decision to send the items to Jack’s mother in England. This is where they surfaced several years ago and have now been returned to Tauranga. As part of Tauranga’s museum collection they will remain as a memorial to Jack and a reminder of the sacrifices of Tauranga’s men.