The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]
Devonport, on the North Shore, is a popular residential borough lying about two miles to the north of Auckland, and separated from the city by the Waitemata Harbour. Its progress is due to the untiring efforts and capability of its leading residents, and the efficient ferry service has helped in no small measure in this connection. Nature has been very kind to Auckland, and particularly so to Devonport, in giving the country a beautiful configuration, and dowering it with sandy beaches and rocky inlets, and has crowned her gifts with the noble Mount Victoria, whence a view of unsurpassed loveliness is obtainable. The panorama includes the whole of the borough in the surrounding foreground; Takapuna, Birkenhead, the upper reaches of the Waitemata; the whole of Auckland city with the commanding Mount Eden in the background; the Hauraki Gulf, with its many islands; the Coromandel Peninsula in the distant east, Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands near at hand; and, away to seaward, Tiritiri Island is plainly visible, while Kawau Island, the Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands may also be discerned. From the time the sun rises over the Coromandel Peninsula and disperses the shimmering haze on the Hauraki Gulf, until the bosom of the harbour reflects its evening glow in a million ruddy sparkles, Devonport is surrounded by a panorama unexcelled in beauty anywhere in the world. The Italian says, “See Naples and die,” but the New Zealander might add, “See the view from Mount Victoria, and live for ever.” Little wonder that Captain John Fisher, who watches all day in his cosy signal station house on the top of the Mount, wears an expression on which contentment is indelibly stamped.
Devonport may be termed the warrior warden or protector of Auckland, as there the three main forts are constructed, and deftly concealed from any outside enemy. The borough is a peninsula, bounded on the north by the Old Lake Road, but otherwise it is surrounded by the sea. Recreation and sport of all kinds are amply provided for, as the borough contains nine reserves of a total area of over 110 acres. These include the Domain, where separate portions of the ground are set apart for tennis, football, cricket and bowling; also Cheltenham Beach, facing the Island of Rangitoto, where, on sunny days, myriads of happy children may be seen merrily disporting themselves. The pretty Takapuna racecourse and the spacious Calliope Dock are also in the borough. The main residential streets, comprising Beach Road, Calliope Road, Vauxhall Road, Cheltenham Road and Victoria Road, contain many large and handsome residences, occupied chiefly by the families of city men who have made their homes there, as being entirely removed and differing in aspect from the scene of their labours.
The district was proclaimed a borough in 1886, and Mr. Malcolm Niccol, the present mayor, who is now completing his sixth term of office, was elected as the first occupant of the mayoral chair. Mr. E. W. Alison was Mayor for five consecutive years, and Mr. J. C. Macky, who succeeded him, remained in office for a similar period. These gentlemen have been well supported by their colleagues in the council, and, as showing their progressive spirit, it must be mentioned that Devonport has the honour of being the first borough in the provincial district of Auckland to adopt the principle of rating on unimproved values. This example was quickly followed by Grey Lynn and Hamilton, and the principle is likely soon to be in force throughout New Zealand.
An unfailing supply of pure water is pumped from Lake Takapuna into a large reservoir on Mount Victoria, capable of holding about 300,000 gallons, and an effective drainage scheme has recently been completed at a cost of about £23,500. With such a beginning, and with a promising future, Devonport cannot fail to maintain its position amongst the romantic suburbs of New Zealand.
His Worship The Mayor, Mr. Malcolm Niccol, who is now (July, 1901) completing his sixth term of office, is fully referred to on pages 139 and 140 of this volume, in an article on the Auckland Harbour Board.
Councillor Ewen William Alison, Member of the Devonport Borough Council, was for five consecutive years mayor of the borough. Mr. Alison is referred to elsewhere in this volume in an article on the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, and also on pages 145 and 146, as a member of the Waitemata County Council.
Mr. E. W. Alison.
Councillor Henry John Baulf was first elected to the Devonport Borough Council on the 18th of September, 1900, and was again returned at the election of April, 1901.
Councillor Robert H. Duder, the Senior Member of the Devonport Borough Council, is a Partner in the well-known firm of Messrs R. and R. Duder.
Councillor William Handley has been a Member of the Devonport Borough Council since 1897. Mr. Handley has, since 1889, carried on an ærated water factory in Wellington Lane, Auckland.
Councillor J. W. Harrison, Member of the Devonport Borough Council, is also the authorised surveyor of the borough. He is elsewhere referred to as a partner in the firm of Messrs Harrison and Foster, surveyors.
Councillor R. Logan, of the Devonport Borough Council, is a Partner in the well-known shipbuilding firm of Messrs Logan Brothers, and is referred to in that capacity.
Councillor Frank E. Mason was elected to the Devonport Borough Council in April, 1901. He was born in England, and came out to New Zealand in 1884. After spending ten years in the service of the New Zealand and River Plate Land Mortgage Company, he became accountant to the firm of Messrs Buddle and Button, solicitors.
Councillor John A. Walker, who became a Member of the Devonport Borough Council in September, 1900, was again returned in April, 1901. He is chairman of the Streets and Works Committee of the council.
Mr. John Croom Webster, Town Clerk and Treasurer of Devonport, has faithfully carried out the duties of his position since his appointment in 1898. He is a son of Mr. John Webster, of Opononi, one of the most noted pioneer colonists of New Zealand, and was born in Hokianga. After receiving a sound education in Auckland, he entered the service of the National Bank of New Zealand, with which he remained for sixteen yearrs, during three of which he was stationed at Tauranga. Just prior to the collapse of the Auckland mining boom, Mr. Webster started in business as a sharebroker in Auckland. He gained a practical acquaintance with municipal work during the eighteen months he was employed in the office of the Auckland City Council, and this experience, coupled with his natural ability, has been of considerable benefit to the borough of Devonport during his term of office. Mr. Webster is peculiarly fitted for a public position, on account of his frank cordiality and freedom from affectation.
Hanna, photo. Mr. J. C. Webster.
Mr. James Mays served as one of the early members on the Devonport Road Board, and, after the road district was merged into the borough, he occupied a seat on the council for some years. He then resigned, and was valuator for the Borough Council for several years. As such he gave great satisfaction, and barely one per cent, of the properties dealt with by him came in for re-valuation. Mr. Mays also accepted the position, of assessor for the Government under the Land and Income Tax Department. He was born In 1850 and came to New Zealand in 1860 with his parents, who settled in Devonport, where he was educated and has resided ever since. After a five years' apprenticeship to Mr. F. F. Gilbert, builder, Mr. Mays started in business on the North Shore in 1870, and carried on till 1887, when he made way for others to take his place. He has not only been successful as a builder and contractor, but fortunate in mining speculations, and is, therefore, in a position of independence. Mr. Mays helped to start the Good Templar Lodge in Devonport, and is a Past Master amongst the Masons. He was one of the first committee of the Takapuna Jockey Club, and in his younger days he held an almost unbeaten record as an untrained runner. Mrs. Mays is a daughter of the late Mr. Henry Thode, of Coromandel.
Mr. J. Mays.
Mr. Willam Hoile Brown was for fifteen years a Member of the Devonport Highway Board, and when that body merged into the Devonport Borough Council, he was elected as one of its first members. Mr. Brown also represented the Council on the Harbour Board for several years. Owing to pressure of business, he resigned his seat in the Council in 1894, but is still a member of the Devonport Domain Board. He took an active interest in the water scheme, which was carried out whilst he was in the Council. Mr. Brown is referred to elsewhere, under his business notice.
Mr. W. H. Brown.
Wesleyan Church, Church Street, Devonport. This church originally stood upon page 532 the Beach Road, and was moved to its present site in 1885, when it was enlarged; the outlay for land, removal, and enlargement being £1450. In 1894 a schoolroom was built at a cost of £209. The church holds 400 worshippers, and the school 200 scholars. There is an efficient choir under the leadership of Mr. Broughton, The Sunday school, with its 170 children, is conducted by Mr. J. W. Fordham and Mr. E. R. Jones, with whom are associated sixteen teachers. The Rev. J. S. Rishworth, as pastor of the church and superintendent of the circuit, is assisted by the Rev. A. B. Chappell, who resides at Birkenhead, and by the Rev. J. G. Chapman.
The Devonport Congregational Church is a spacious wooden building, on a concrete foundation. It was erected about fifteen years ago, and occupies the back portion of a halfacre allotment, bounded in front by the Victoria Road, and overlooked by Mount Victoria. The church will accommodate about 150 persons, and is so arranged as to be available as a Sunday school class room.
The Rev. Benjamin Lewis Thomas formerly Paster of the Devonport Congregational Church, was born at Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and is the eldest son of Mr. David Thomas, farmer. Mr. Thomas received his primary education in his native town, and his secondary and ministerial training at the Memorial College, Brecon, Wales In 1882, he entered the ministry and was ordained to the pastoral charge of the English Congregational Church at Glamorgan Street, Brecon, where he ministered for four years. In 1886, he left for Auckland, New Zealand, and on his arrival was appointed to the pastorate of the Thames Church, where he remained for twelve months. He then became pastor of the Mount Eden Church, at which he ministered for eleven years; namely, from 1887 to 1898. In 1895, Mr. Thomas was appointed chairman of the Congregational Union of New Zealand, and retained the position for the usual term. His pastorate at Devonport, the picturesque suburb of Auckland, commenced in 1898. Mr. Thomas has been transferred to Wellington, and his successor has not yet (July, 1901) been appointed.
Hanna, photo. Rev. B. L. Thomas.
Johnston, George, Baker and Confectioner, Victoria Road, Devonport. Mr. Johnston is a native of Edinburgh, and came to this Colony in the ill-fated “Halcione.” After his arrival in Auckland he was for some time with his brother, who is in business in Parnell, and in 1883 he commenced in Karangahape Road, Auckland, as a baker and confectioner. After remaining there about six years he bought out the old-established business of Mr. Oliver Mays, Devonport, and has increased the business threefold. He employs a good many hands, and has two carts delivering bread over Devonport and the Lakeside. One of his carts carried off the first prize for the best “turn-out” at one of the recent shows of the Auckland Agricultural Society. Mr. Johnston is one of the few who make hand-made biscuits. He is a Forester and a Freemason.
Brown, William Hoile, Ship and Boatbuilder, Devonport. Mr. Brown was born in Kent in 1838, and went to California in 1855 in company with his father. At Samoa he was wrecked on the American barque “Elvira,” and taken on to Sydney by a son of the missionary, Mr. John Williams He then crossed over to New Zealand by the brig “Moa,” and landed in Auckland towards the end of 1855. Mr. Brown served in the Maori war as a volunteer. For more than thirty years he has resided at the North Shore, where he has carried on the occupation of a ship-builder. In his time he has built nearly fifty vessels, all turned out to the satisfaction of the owners. The barquentine “Falcon,” built for Messrs Watt Bros., of Napier, is worthy of special mention, and for his latest success, the “Manaroa,” built for Captain Cross, he received very flattering notices from the Press. Mr. Brown was a part owner of the “Leading Wind,” and assisted materially in the regattas of bygone days for schooners and cutters. He is a Past Master of the order of Freemasons, and has been for over thirty years superintendent of the Devonport Sunday school of the Church of England. Mrs Brown is a daughter of Mr. Binns.