On the edge of the massive 1800 household unit development West Edge, New Lynn, is the historic St Andrews Hall on Margan Ave. It was knocked up in true kiwi DIY style by the vicar W P Rankin (Rankin Ave anyone?) who laid an estimated 90,000 bricks, donated from by Gardner Brothers and Parker. Despite the incredible efforts of the vicar to bring an education space to the area, it looks like it is going full cycle from dust to dust and ashes to ashes. In 2016 earthquake protection is paramount and a brick building is most at risk. One has to wonder how much of New Zealand's build heritage will be left standing in a decade or two. Here is some history:
The Auckland Star reported from 1928:
""Yes, that's my name," said one of three men in a wet trench this morning at New Lynn,when a "Star" reporter asked if the Rev W P Rankin happened to be about. New Lynn mud has a decidedly clinging nature, especially after a rainy night. Mr Rankin had quite a lot of it on his bluchers, and as he was without a coat and the usual identifying collar, it was no wonder he was difficult to sort out.
The wet trench, which was being filled with rough concrete, was the start of the foundations of a school room which will surely merit that much-abused word "unique." The parson intends to lay every one of the 90,000 bricks himself. Mr. Rankin said he noticed that in the Old Country a Minister of theCrown (Mr Winstone [sic] Churchill) had taken to brick-laying, and there was no reason why a minister of another kind should not do something in the same way. During the two years he has been in charge of the Presbyterian church at New Lynn, that rapidly-expanding suburb, which some of us remember only the other day as a tea-tree waste, synonymous with bricks and tiles and nothing else. Mr Rankin has done a lot for the social welfare of the rising generation, and now he is going to see that his over-crowded Sunday School children have a bit more room. At present they are taught in the church and are as crowded as sheep.
Fortunately there are generous people in New Lynn. The New Zealand Brick and Tile Company, which had previously given the minister five acres for a football ground, presented him with a fine bit of land just opposite the present little brick church. On this new section there is to be built a brick schoolroom 60 feet by 34 feet, with additional classrooms at the side. In addition to having got the land as gift, Mr. Rankin was presented with 90,000 bricks by Gardner Brothers and Parker. Cement, timber and iron, and other incidentals are expected to cost about £1000, and for that sum the congregation will have a building estimated to be worth something over £4000 when it is completed.
Mr H Clinton Savage has drawn the plans of a neat building, and as soon as the foundations are in Mr Rankin will start on his lone-hand job of building. He is not without some knowledge of the craft. When he was a young man attending university classes in Scotland there was talk of him going out to China as a missionary, and he used to put in his spare time looking after building jobs which were undertaken by some of his family, who were all in the building business. That is how it comes about that New Lynn's Presbyterian minister can and will build his own schoolroom. If somebody comes along and lends a helping hand he will be all the more pleased, but if not he is not a bit dismayed by having to lay 90,000 bricks. He says it will probably take him about six months, as he has to carry on his other duties as well. "We are not rich out this way," he said this morning, "and if I don't build the place myself I don't see how we are going to get it. I don't mind the job at all. We must get more room for our scholars. All I want is to leave something for the young people of the district, and this Sunday School is the most pressing need at the present time." "All right, I will give him a hearty welcome," remarked Mr. Rankin, when it was suggested that when people read of his courageous effort a helper might be found. And the parson at the bottom of the trench picked up his spade and went on with the job of levelling concrete.”
"The result of the article in the 'Star' concerning my endeavour to build a hall for theSunday school at New Lynn," writes the Rev W R Rankin, "brought me two letters. One, signed by 'Good Luck,' enclosed £1, and the other came from a gentleman in Herne Bay offering me two doors. I wish to thank both friends for the practical and generous donations. I accept most gratefully in the name of the children." It will be remembered that the "Star" gave an account of the self-imposed task of Mr Rankin, Presbyterian minister at New Lynn, who intends to do the brickwork of the new building himself, as the funds will not run to employing labour. Mr. Rankin adds facetiously: "I have been fortunate enough to escape the fees necessary to join the Bricklayers' Union. How would it be if some of the union bricklayers came out to New Lynn and joined me, even if it were only for a day?"
Thanks to Timespanner for bring this to our attention. Read more from Lisa J Truttman, October 2012 here>>