Site’s old se­crets

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

TALES of busi­ness busts and for­tunes lost are be­ing brought to light as the coun­try’s big­gest in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject pro­gresses.

A happy by-prod­uct of the mas­sive Water­view Con­nec­tion job un­der way now has been the un­earthing of arte­facts that help colour in the sketchy his­tory of the area.

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists must as­sess the pos­si­ble his­tor­i­cal val­ues of the land and look for signs of life left by pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pants be­fore work can progress to new phases.

Dig­gings have un­cov­ered his­tor­i­cally valu­able bounty of buried trea­sure on the north­ern end of the job along­side Oak­ley Creek.

The pro­ject’s res­i­dent ar­chae­ol­o­gist Glen Far­ley, from Clough and As­so­ciates, says the finds have helped fill in gaps in un­der­stand­ing the peo­ple and in­dus­tries that op­er­ated al­most 150 years ago, in what is now a busy thor­ough­fare.

Among the arte­facts found in a well on a prop­erty where work­ers’ hous­ing was are old shoes, a ce­ramic wa­ter pitcher, slates used as school tablets, a pot­tery smok­ing pipe and old bot­tles.

The items, and an­other few car­loads’ worth gath­ered from other sites, are thought to date from the 1870s.

‘‘Prior to progress be­gin­ning we did back­ground re­search to un­cover the his­tory of the area,’’ Mr Far­ley says.

‘‘We did a field sur­vey and we knew there were a few sites re­lat­ing to early in­dus­try along the creek.’’

Many of the bits and pieces found are linked with the old flour mill that used to op­er­ate next to where Great North Rd now runs.

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists have

also found ev­i­dence of a dam used to pro­vide power to the mill and an ac­cess road lead­ing to it, both of which help to ac­cu­rately lo­cate ex­actly where it was.

‘‘It puts things into con­text. Fig­ur­ing out how peo­ple mod­i­fied their en­vi­ron­ment is quite im­por­tant.’’

A brick fac­tory was also a fea­ture of the area and the rem­nants of the kiln used to make them has also been found.

‘‘That’s an in­ter­est­ing story,’’ Mr Far­ley says.

‘‘The owner of the prop­erty in 1864 won the con­tract to pro­vide the bricks for Car­ring­ton Hos­pi­tal, but be­fore he could ful­fil the con­tract he was con­scripted for the Land

Wars and then he was pe­nalised for not com­ing through.

‘‘He came back af­ter the war but died at age 35.

‘‘We don’t know much about his brick­works but we have man­aged to lo­cate the base of the kiln. It’s not spec­tac­u­lar look­ing, it’s the base course of bricks which had a house built over it in the 1950s.’’

The first flour mill be­gan op­er­a­tions in the area in 1860 but in 1873 the orig­i­nal mill burnt down and was re­placed by a five-storey build­ing.

Mr Far­ley says by 1876 the mill was strug­gling and it was sold to the Gar­rett broth­ers who were tan­ners and boot­mak­ers.

‘‘They would have used it for crush­ing up bark to make stain for the leather.’’

Mr Far­ley says there could yet be more finds.

‘‘There may well be, we’ve just started to go onto the north side of the creek where a quarry was so we’re keep­ing an eye on that.

‘‘Once we started do­ing more anal­y­sis and got finer de­tail of when some­thing was made and where and who that re­lated to, we re­ally started to build up the story.’’

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

Rich his­tory:

Water­view Con­nec­tion pro­ject ar­chae­ol­o­gist Glen Far­ley with a wa­ter pitcher found in a buried well dur­ing ex­ca­va­tions. The jug dates from the 1870s.

Links: The bowl of a smok­ing pipe from the 1870s.

Old boots. Footwear styles have changed since the 1870s.

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