Early in 1925, the good folks at Blockhouse Bay asked the Avondale Borough Council for a public hall. After all, Avondale had just swished up the Town Hall by finishing the 1915 part and shifting the old wooden hall to the side - why not treat Avondale South to a hall as well? No, said the Council, we'd rather sort out your water, roads etc.
During 1925, three immigrants arrived from England -- carpenter Ole August Guttormsen and his sisters Helga and Annie. Ole purchased the corner section of Donovan and Blockhouse Bay Road (that part then called Wynyard Road) and by early 1926 he was in the process of building the hall on his land, fronting Donovan. Maybe he thought he'd try running the hall, earn money, then reinvest in building shops along the rest of the frontage, as a lot of spec-builders did in those days? Who knows? It ended up, though, that he only did the hall, and it opened on 12 June 1926 as the Blockhouse Bay Hall, a dance venue featuring a "perfect floor" and jazz music until 11pm on Saturday nights.
Another proprietor took over in 1928, by which time Guttormsen had arranged a projector for the hall, and was showing silent movies, at least now and then (these weren't advertised in the papers as the dances were). Guttormsen moved to Te Awamutu, but retained ownership until 1935. By which time, after two more proprietors, sound equipment was installed for the movies, but the dances held sway until the late 1930s or so. The hall was also used for community meetings, like those of the Avondale Women’s Group, political speeches during elections, and as a polling place.
Real Estate agent Douglas Fleming purchased the property and the hall in 1944, and the little cinema was finally given its own name, the Beverley, at least until 1953 when there was a further sale, to Frederick Ofsoske. Now, a further and last renaming, to the Kosy Theatre, and alterations to the front which added a new entry, and two shops either side, a hairdresser and a dairy. It was here that Jan Grefstad worked, rising to manager of the cinema, before he headed north to Avondale and his fame with the Hollywood from 1966.
They say TV doomed the Kosy. Just as Blockhouse Bay began to truly boom in terms of urban population, the business had a harder and harder time attracting customers. The cinema itself closed in the late 1960s, the building used for other purposes for a while, then it was demolished in January 1973. The site today is part of the car park in front of Countdown Supermarket.
I'd love to see any readers' memories of the hall/cinema.
“View of Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, looking across the tidal mudflats and mangroves towards the bush-covered land near the bay. On the right, near to the foreshore, is a tent with three girls sitting nearby. A dinghy is anchored in the bay. On the left two boys can be seen standing by the fence which runs up the hill.”
In the immediate foreground is a wooden hut (possibly `the smokehouse’).
Photographed by William Price between 1900 – 1930
Ref: 1/2-000505-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Sir George Grey Collection, Auckland Libraries, 4-8434
Church of the Saviour celebrated its “100 plus 18th” birthday last month. Over 100 people came along to enjoy an internationally-themed party which included samba dancing (with Rio in mind), a quiz, and an amazing selection of food from around the globe.
The Chinese Church of the Saviour sang a hymn in Mandarin with trumpet accompaniment, and the evening closed very appropriately by singing God of Nations!
There were around 15 different nationalities represented at the party reflecting the multi-cultural nature of Blockhouse Bay.
In the late 1850s, a Mr. Stark drew up his "East Whau" subdivision in what is now Blockhouse Bay. What we now know as Blockhouse Bay Road from Terry Street down to Donovan Street had two names completely forgotten by the 1880s -- Commercial Road (to the Taylor Street intersection) and Sewell Street (to Donovan Street). Donovan Street itself was then White Swan Road.
The only survivors from Stark’s plan today are: Blockhouse Bay Road, Donovan Street, Whitney Street (Whitaker), Terry Street (Thomas) and Exminster Street (Exeter). The vanished paper roads are: Gore Street, Browne Street, Steward Street, Ayr Street, Railway Road, Wynyard Street, Richmond Street, and Clifford Street.
Speaking of lost paper roads: the oddest mystery still unsolved in Avondale's and Blockhouse Bay’s history continues -- why, in early references, does it seem that Taylor Street and St Georges Road were the same and linked together as one, even as late as 1931, when discussion was held regarding the renaming of our streets? The Ambulance Station (misnamed New Lynn Station, although it is really in Avondale) sits right where the paper road part of Taylor Street once extended. Ulster Street also extended over present day Wolverton Street, meeting Taylor Street at an angle. Neither of them joined up with the line of St Georges Road, but there is a suggestion that old walking tracks between them, the most direct way between Blockhouse Bay and Avondale until the late 19th century, may have led people to think there was a connection. What I do know is when you visit Olympic Park today you're also visiting some of the now unseen paper roads of our past.
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“Sir, — I thank you for your invitation for me to join the illustrious band of ‘Mothers of Five’, ‘Constant Readers’, ‘Pro Bono Publicans’ and their numerous kin. I am not normally a writer of letters to the editor, but this is a special occasion for the district, this appearance of a reliable newspaper of our own; and as it happens, I do have a little peculiarity that I might well get off my chest. I have Klaxonitis. I cannot bear the driver who uses his horn as a drover uses his stockwhip, to make pedestrians leap for safety whether they have the right of way or not.
“A pedestrian has as much right to the road as any motorist, perhaps more right, for the public roads are the Queen’s highways whereon her subjects have the right to come and go on their lawful occasions without let or hindrance—or noisy threats. To be blasted at by the arrogant Klaxon of some lout of a motorist makes me furious, and gives me that defenceless feeling.
“One of these days I am going to equip myself with a pocket electric horn of considerable power, so that when an unwarranted beep! beep! challenges my right to walk the streets in safety I shall be able to beep! beep! lustily back — and carry on.”
Image: Judd’s Four Square Store, 1935, photo in Avondale-Waterview Historical Society collection, via Ron Oates and Sylvia Thomas.
The Judd family bought a grocery business opposite the New Windsor Road and Bollard Ave junction in 1933. The late Sylvia Thomas née Judd recalled, in an article published in 2010 in the Avondale Historical Journal:
“If you stood on the front step of the shop, you looked down Bollard Avenue, across the houses of Mt Albert to the Waitemata Harbour and the Chelsea Sugar Works. If the weather was doubtful, you looked down New Windsor Road to the Waitakere Ranges in the distance and judged whether it was going to rain or not. Looking up the road, you couldn’t see past the bend in the road; the tar seal ended at Batkin Road and the metal and scoria began and continued all the way to Blockhouse Bay or Mt Roskill.
“It was one of those small shops with living quarters, two bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and kitchenette. There was a garden at the back, the same size as the neighbour’s, and a corrugated iron fowl house across the top of the section.
“House and shop were leased at first, but after a few years became our own. We were there for ten years, eventually moving in turn to two other houses across the road where the family lived until the 1980s.”
Judd’s Store is still there as the local dairy, after remaining as a Four Square for a time, although today it has changed from the simple shop Sylvia’s family used to own.