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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



Birkenhead is a large residential suburb situated about three miles to the north-west of Auckland, across the Waitemata Harbour. The first settlers established themselves there over fifty years ago, and one of these hardy pioneers, Mr. Henry Hawkins, who has resided in the district for over half a century, is still alive, though now (July, 1901) over ninety years of age. Birkenhead is a large tract of undulating country, well wooded, and dotted with pretty patches of native bush. Although the land is unsuitable for growing grain, it is unsurpassed for fruit growing, and this industry is cultivated by over 200 settlers, strawberries being raised in large quantities. In order to encourage fruit culture, and successfully export the produce, a canning factory has been established near the Birkenhead wharf. At the present time (1901) apples, plums, pears, quinces, and tomatoes are being canned and sent all over the colony, and very shortly peaches will be similarly treated. Some years ago the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Limited, established large sugar works at Birkenhead, and the rapid development of the industry has materially helped the progress of the district, as the majority of the persons employed at the works are residents of the borough.

Birkenhead is bounded on the east by the district of Northcote, and on the north-east by the outlying district of Birkenhead; otherwise it is surrounded by the Waitemata Harbour, where it is indented with charming little bays. The main public school of the district is situated on the boundary of Birkenhead and Northcote, and is attended by an average of over 250 scholars. Birkdale, the north-western portion of the borough, over which wild cattle were running a few years ago, has a public school, attended by about seventy scholars, under the tuition of Miss Bowen; and the Mayfield public school is outside the borough boundary, in the outlying district of Birkenhead. There is a Wesleyan church in Birkenhead, and the Church of England and Presbyterian page 527 denominations have places of worship in the adjoining district of Northcote. The only public halls in the district at present are the Gladstone Hall and Tarry's Hall, both of which are in Northcote; but the Birkenhead Borough Council has purchased a site for a town hall, council chambers, and public library, and the buildings will be put up in due course. Mr. Witheford, M.H.R., the Mayor of Birkenhead, has recently given a grant towards the library. There is a post and telegraph office in both Birkenhead and Northcote.

Near the Ferry Wharf, and on the surrounding high land, many of Auckland's business men have large and handsome residences, surrounded by well laid out gardens, and this portion of the borough commands a magnificent view of Auckland and the whole of the Waitemata Harbour. The Devonport Ferry Company maintains an efficient and continuous service, from early morning to nearly midnight, with Northcote and Birkenhead.

Birkenhead was proclaimed a borough in 1887, and Mr. C. E. Button, who was elected the first mayor, occupied that position until November, 1900, when Mr. J. H. Witheford, M.H.R., the present mayor, succeeded him. The Council is moving in the matter of a more efficient water supply, and is endeavouring to bring the water from Lake Takapuna. It is also considering the establishment of borough gas works, which would also supply Northcote. One important feature that reflects great credit on the council, and cannot escape the attention of strangers, is that throughout the whole of the borough well formed footpaths have been constructed; and, there being no hard metal in the district, the council employs scows to bring this necessary material from Rangitoto Island for the roads.

Near the landing wharf there is a large boardinghouse where visitors are hospitably received; but there is no hotel in the borough, though there is one at Northcote. There are three stores doing business in Birkenhead.

Birkenhead is a borough with an area of 2697 acres. It contains 278 ratable properties, owned by 252 ratepayers. The rates levied by the Council consist of a general rate of 1s 3d in the £, a special rate of 3d in the £, and a separate rate of 2 1/4d, and the annual value of ratable property is £7312. The Borough has a population of 1087 persons.

His Worship The Mayor, Mr. Joseph H. Witheford, M.H.R., succeeded Mr. C. E. Button as Mayor of Birkenhead in November, 1900, and through his intimate knowledge of public affairs he has been enabled to render valuable assistance to this progressive borough. Prior to the mayoral election in Auckland, in April, 1901, he was requisitioned to stand as mayor of the city, but he courteously retired in favour of Dr. J. Logan Campbell—an act which enhanced his popularity. Mr. Witheford is referred to in other parts of this volume as a member of the House of Representatives, and as a member of the Auckland Harbour Board.

Councillor Patrick Donahoe was elected a Member of the Birkenhead Borough Council in September, 1900, and re-elected in April, 1901.

Councillor John Hadfield, the Senior Member of the Birkenhead Borough Council, was born in Lancashire, England, and came out to the colonies in 1882.

Councillor Tom Hadfield was a Member of the first Borough Council of Birkenhead in 1887. He has not been continuously a member, but was re-elected in April, 1901.

Councillor John G. Kay is well known as a progressive Member of the Birkenhead Borough Council, and has been repeatedly elected by the ratepayers on account of his public spirit and valuable services. Mr. Kay is a native of Lancashire, England, and came out to New Zealand in 1880. Shortly after his arrival he went to Birkenhead, where he quickly discerned the natural suitability of the soil for the successful growth of fruit, and immediately set up as an orchardist. His untiring energy and practical knowledge of fruit growing have made him supremely successful in business.

Councillor Alexander Keyes was elected to the Birkenhead Borough Council in September, 1898, and has ever since been the advocate of many necessary public works, such as the introduction of an efficient water supply, the establishment of gasworks, and the improvement of main roads. Mr. Keyes was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1859. He was educated at the High School of Castlefen, and at the age of seventeen went to Glasgow, where he spent two years studying the profession of engineering. In 1878 he embarked for New Zealand, and since his arrival in the Colony he has been very successful as a builder and contractor.

Hanna, photo. Councillor A. Keyes.

Hanna, photo. Councillor A. Keyes.

Councillor Harry Percival Taylor, the youngest Member, was first elected at the head of the poll, to the Birkenhead Borough Council in September, 1900, and returned again at the election of April, 1901. During his short term of office Mr. Taylor has evinced considerable activity in supporting such improvements as the proposed water scheme, the introduction of gas, and an improved ferry service, in addition to giving attention to the general requirements of the borough, and anything likely to make it a favourite suburban residential district. Mr. Taylor was born in Auckland on the 4th of February, 1869, and educated at the public schools, at which he gained a district scholarship, entitling him to three years' free tuition at the Auckland College and Grammar School. On leaving college in 1887 he entered a lawyer's office, with the intention of following
Hanna, photo.Councillor H. P. Taylor.

Hanna, photo.Councillor H. P. Taylor.

page 528 the legal profession, but after an experience of eighteen months he decided to go into business, and entered the service of Messrs John Burns and Co., Auckland. He has been with that firm ever since, and has, in connection with his duties, represented it in Australia on several occasions.

Councillor William Thompson was a Member of the original county council, which included Birkenhead within its sphere of operations. He has not been continuously a member of the Borough Council, but has always watched with keen interest the development of his district. He landed on the broken shore of the district in 1871, in a rowing boat—the only means by which he then could reach his adopted home. Beginning at once as a market gardener, Mr. Thompson gradually extended his business, first to that of a nurseryman, and, finally, when the making of roads and bridges facilitated the carriage of fruit, he set up as an orchardist, and has met with great success. In 1899 he established a canning factory, in which he preserves about twelve tons of choice fruit from his own well-known orchard, together with about twenty tons obtained from neighbouring sources. Mr. Thompson thus affords an admirable outlet for the staple product of the district, and has established an industry, for which Birkenhead, as a fruitgrowing centre, promises ample and increasing scope. Mr. Thompson is certainly a man who deserves well of the community, for whose municipal management and industrial progress he has done so much.

Hanna, photo. Councillor W. Thompson.

Hanna, photo. Councillor W. Thompson.

Councillor William Wallace, of the Birkenhead Borough Council, was elected at the head of the poll in 1899. He is a native of Armagh, Ireland, came out to New Zealand in 1879, and has resided in Auckland since that date.

Councillor Edward James White, who had been for some years a Member of the Birkenhead Road Board, was elected a member of the Borough Council in 1886, when the council superseded the road board. Councillor White has witnessed and contributed to the borough's development, from a place of fern-clad ridges and undrained valleys to the cultivated and settled seaside resort of to-day. Mr. White held office continuously till 1898, when he retired for a time, but in April, 1901, he was again elected to his old seat in the council. He has always been a consistent advocate of road-making and of other improvements, which have made and are making Birkenhead so pleasant a place. Mr. White was born in Auckland on the 3rd of June, 1855, and educated at the Western Academy and at Dr. Kidd's Collegiate School. When fifteen years of age he entered the drapery firm of Mr. Richard Hobbs, with whom he remained for seven years, when he joined his brothers, Messrs F. A. and A. L. White, in a mining agency business, which then assumed the style of F. A. White and Bros. On the dissolution of the partnership, some years later, Mr. Edward White started for himself as an accountant and financial agent, and still carries on business as such in a convenient and neatly arranged office in the Colonial Bank Buildings, Queen Street, Auckland.

Hanna, photo. Councillor E. J. White.

Hanna, photo. Councillor E. J. White.

Mr. Alfred Lovell White, Town Clerk, Valuator, Treasurer, and Rate Collector, for the Birkenhead Borough Council, was appointed to these positions by a unanimous vote of the council on the 7th of June, 1900, as successor to Mr. George Johnston, who resigned his position in that year. During his brief term of office, Mr. White has done much, by dint of hard labour, to further the best interests of the Council, and at the present time (June, 1901) enjoys the full confidence of all concerned. He was born at Auckland in 1859, and was educated under the Rev. Peter Mason, of the Auckland Western Academy. On leaving school at the age of fifteen years, he was apprenticed to the drapery trade, which he followed until 1880, when he entered the employment of his brother, Mr. F. A. White, who occupied offices in Queen Street as a legal manager and general agent. In 1892 Messrs A. L. and F. A. White and other brothers entered into partnership and carried on the business, which Mr F. A. White had founded, under the style of F. A. White and Bros. The firm was dissolved in 1897, and Mr. A. L. White then went into business on his own account as legal manager and general agent. In 1896 the borough of Birkenhead had a population of 690, which has now (1901) increased to 1087, and it has also advanced in other ways; and since his appointment, Mr. White has done much by the application of untiring energy and marked ability to keep its municipal administration abreast with the times.

Hanna, photo. Councillor A. L. White.

Hanna, photo. Councillor A. L. White.

Mr. C. E. Button, Solicitor to the Birkenhead Borough Council, is a partner in the well-known firm of Messrs Buddle, Button, and Co., barristers and solicitors, referred to in another section of this volume.

Mr. Walter Thomas Bagot, formerly of the Birkenhead Borough Council, is a native of Tipperary, Ireland, and arrived in New Zealand in August, 1875. Three years later he purchased land at Birkenhead, where he has ever since resided.

page 529
Mr. W. T. Bagot.

Mr. W. T. Bagot. [gap — reason: illegible]

Mr. Clement Bartley was elected to the Birkenhead Borough Council in September, 1893, and represented the Birkdale District till September, 1869. He was born in Auckland in 1862, is a son of Mr. Robert Bartley, retired builder, of Devonport, and was educated at the Grammar School and at Mr. Josiah Martin's Training College. After four years of clerical experience in Mr. F. G. Ewington's office, Mr. Bartley entered the Auckland Savings Bank, at the head office in Queen Street. Five year later he was appointed to his present position of manager of the Newton branch of the savings Bank, Mr. Bartley has conducted the choir of St. John's Wesleyan Church, and afforded ample assistance at the Zion Church Sunday School, Birkenhead. He was a founder of the Auckland Bicycle Club, and imported one of the first high machines which came to Auckland. As a fowl fancier, Mr. Bartley has repeatedly won trophies at the annual shows with his Minorca, and he periodically imports the best birds from Great Britain. Close to his residence he has a fine paddock, fitted up for breeding on a large scale. Mr. Bartley is also in amateur photographer.

Mr. C. Bartley.

Mr. C. Bartley.

Clow Bros. (John Clow and Laurence Mitchell Clow), Bakers, Confectioners, and Caterers, Northcote. Established in 1884. Messrs Clow Bros, have rapidly increased their business, and now have the leading bakery in Northcote. They have an output of 300 loaves per week, have two carts constantly going, and keep five hands employed. An important branch of the business is catering. Mr. John Clow, who has charge of the bakehouse, was born in Glasgow, in 1867, and came to the Colony to 1883. He learned his business with Messrs Gee and Rowlinson, of Auckland, and seven years later he left them to enter the employment of Mr. J. Davis, of Eden Terrace. In 1893 he and his brother commenced business in the city, but afterwards opened at Northcote. Mr. L. M. Clow has charge of the outside work.

Mr. J. Clow.

Mr. J. Clow.

Mr. L. M. Clow.

Mr. L. M. Clow.

Parrish, Mark, Horticultures t and Fruitgrower, Northcote. Mr. Parrish has long been known as a most progressive resident of the district. His garden, and especially the large strawberry beds, in which long experience and practical knowledge are well displayed, may be said to be features in the landscape. The fruit from his orchard, consisting chiefly of strawberries, lemons, apples, peaches, and plums, has long found favour with buyers in the city marts. Mr. Parish was born in 1832, in Lincolnshire, England, and arrived in Auckland at the latter end of 1876. He quickly discerned the suitability of Northcote for the successful growth of fruit, and, with that end in view, he purchased ten acres on the summit of one of the district's undulating hills. The result is his very fine and prolific orchard. Mr. Parrish has many times been elected a member of local governing bodies, and his familiarity with the needs of the district has enabled him to contribute intelligently to the work of its development.

Wilson Bros. (William Wilson and Charles Wilson), Fruitgrowers, “Betsland,”
Hanna, photo.Messrs. Wilson Bros.

Hanna, photo.
Messrs. Wilson Bros.

page 530 Birkenhead. The Messrs Wilson have overten acres of land which they devote to fruit growing. Their original stock was carefully selected from the leading Auckland nurseries. Peaches and plums are extensively grown; a large patch of land is devoted to lemon cultivation, and two acres are used for strawberries, which thrive exceedingly well at “Bestsland.” A large glass-house is used entirely in the production of tomatoes. Both brothers have been for the greater part of their lives on the farm, and they are sons of Mr. Alexander Wilson. They are non-smokers, and take great interest in the Birkenhead Temperance Society.