Friday, 18 October 2019

Alf Baikie

Alf Baikie, c. 1970s
Photograph courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 06-145
Born in the Orkney Islands, Alf Baikie came to Tauranga in 1909 with his family when he was four years of age. He had five brothers, Peter, George, Tom, Jim and Bob, plus one sister. Apparently there was also an older brother John who passed away aged eighteen back in the Orkneys, and two sisters who remained there - perhaps they married locals.

Possibly the first Baikie home in New Zealand. Alf (behind) and youngest brother Tom are the blonde boys in the gig.
Photograph courtesy of Bils Family Collection
Their first New Zealand home was on the corner of 9th Avenue and Edgecumbe Road. It was originally built around 1869 for John Butler, who had joined the 1st Waikato Militia in Melbourne, arrived in Auckland in 1863, and settled in Tauranga after the Wars. Butler died in 1902 and it became the Baikie home from 1911. They had a large block of land that included a home orchard and grazing for the house cow. Some of the land had belonged to a foreign unmarried neighbour who left it to them in gratitude for Mrs Baikie’s kind care for him.

When Alf left school he worked for the  New Zealand Post Office but later trained as a blacksmith and worked for Sam Snowden among others.

In 1923 his brother George gave him a Model T truck and he entered the cartage business. Changing tyres was no problem, he would just lift the side after asking a local lad - Alf Rendell - to place the prop under the axle. He also carried full wool bales on his back from the landing of some wool sheds to the truck. During the depression from 1929, he earned better money working in a quarry and assisting brother Tom in his Elizabeth Street bakery.

Jack Heaton and his Diamond T truck beside the 8th Avenue house, c. 1940
Photograph courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 09-008
Alf joined the firm of Heaton’s Transport in 1932 as a driver, became a shareholder in 1948, Managing Director in 1955 and continued to live in the next family home built by his father and brothers with homemade concrete blocks in Eighth Avenue until his death in 1990 aged 85. At one stage the company employed 150 people, and he was known to be extremely generous to many people, especially his employees.

Alf Baikie in front of his daughter's 9th Avenue cottage
Photograph courtesy of Bils Family Collection
He married his housekeeper Eva later in life and had a step-daughter June, step-son Bob and two grandsons. One of them, Julian, still lives in a cottage nearby.

Sources

Tauranga 1882-1982, Centennial of Gazetting of Tauranga as a Borough.
Alf Rendell — former neighbour
John Green — employee for 18 years
Julian Bils — grandson

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