Saturday, February 28, 2009

Notable Celebrity Guests at the Hotel St George, Perretts Corner, Wellington

In addition to the Beatles, a range of notable guests stayed at the Hotel St George, Willis Street, at the Perrett's Corner intersection over the years - musicians and sportsmen among their number:

Violinists Yehudi and Hepzibah Menuhin stayed at the St George in July 1951. Here they autograph photos for fans. Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Members of the English cricket team "relax" (in suits!) in one of their rooms at the Hotel St George. In the 4 day test match against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, Wellington between 24 - 28 March, 1951, England won by six wickets. Spectators must have got a lot of sleep in during the match with an average run rate of 2 runs per over being posted by both sides.

Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

During their 1951 tour of New Zealand to play the New Zealand Maori team, the Fiji team stayed at the St George. Here, three team members display their mementos obtained on the tour.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Beatles at the Hotel St George July 1964, Perretts Corner

The Beatles on the upper balcony of the Hotel St George, Wellington, during their June 1964 tour of New Zealand. Photo Morrie Hill.
Alexander Turnbull Library.

Perhaps the most famous guests to stay at the Hotel St George in its more than 60 years as a public hotel were the Beatles, pictured here circa 20 June 1964 being greeted by a large crowd of their fans who have essentially shutdown traffic at Perrett's corner.

The Beatles gave two packed out concerts at the (old) Wellington Town Hall during their stay in the city.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison up front at the concert
at the Wellington Town Hall in 1964. Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, at the Wellington Town Hall, June 1964.
Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

The fans in a more restrained moment. To protect the reputations of aging Wellington Beatles fans some of the more hysterical fan photos have been withheld!
Photo: Morrie Hill. Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hotel St George - Perrett's Corner Wellington 1930s

The Hotel St George, circa 1930s.
Alexander Turnbull Library

The Art Deco style Hotel St George was constructed on the site of the Albert Hotel, the former Old Identities Hotel on the corner of Boulcott and Willis Streets opposite Perrett's corner in Wellington. It opened for business in 1931.

For over 60 years the hotel served as a high class hotel hosting some of Wellington's most notable visitors including the Beatles in 1964.

Now subject to Heritage protection, architect William Prouse's design is described by the Wellington City Council's Heritage site as "a three-storey "base" with a curved corner, and two shafts above, rising to eight storeys, which are divided by a deep bay with perforated balconies. There is a conscious (but not over-defined) vertical emphasis to the building consistent with the Art Deco influence.... It must have seemed the very epitome of the modern hotel when it opened in 1930. The construction, too, was advanced, consisting of reinforced concrete, cast in situ, and floors of Winflor reinforced concrete block."

The hotel under construction in 1930. The building immediately to its right is the Wellington YWCA:

Hotel St George under construction in 1930
Photo: William Hall Raine. Alexander Turnbull Library

The Hotel St George begins to overshadow Perrett's corner in 1930 as well as the Wellington YWCA in the right edge of the picture.

Hotel St George begins to take up some of Perrett's afternoon sun, a precious commodity in Wellington. Alexander Turnbull Library

Today the St George is used as a student hostel by the Victoria University of Wellington.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Misadventure By Automobile - Perrett's Corner circa 1928

Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

Misadventure by horseless carriage at Perrett's corner, circa 1928. The wreckage is at the Willis Street - Boulcott street corner with Perrett's corner the spot at which the photographer is positioned. One wonders what other tangles have occurred at this busy intersection between pedestrians, horse & cart, trams, cars, trucks, and buses.

The Old Identities Hotel, now the Albert Hotel, is lit up. In May 1929 it is demolished to make way for the new Hotel St George completed in 1931. The figures of the Old Identities of Wellington may be seen above the doors and windows.

Note the bricked or cobbled street that has replaced the dirt surface from the early 1900s.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Britannia - Roxy Theatre, Manners Street, Perrett's Corner

Britannia Theater, with arch entrance, opened Monday 15 December 1913.
M & M (Muir and Moodie?) postcard.

In the early 1900s, Manners Street became the home of the continuous movie palaces of Wellington with such names as People's Picture Palace and The New Theatre appearing while nearby Shortt's Continuous Theatre on Willis St and West's The King's Theatre provided added competition.

On 15 December 1913 the Britannia Theatre opened across the street & a few doors down from Perrett's corner. The first feature to be shown was Adrift on Life's Tide, a British film, starring Alma Taylor, Flora Morris, Harry Royston, and Harry Gilbey.

Evening Post, 15 December 1913, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

A few days before the opening the Evening Post sent its reporter along to the theatre to inspect the premises. He was much impressed by the facilities, commenting upon the novelty of floor level lighting to guide patrons in the darkness. Click on the article to read:

Evening Post, 13 December 1913, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

The Britannia pictured sometime in the first half of the 1930s. Photographer unidentified. Alexander Turnbull Library.

In 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression the Britannia was re-opened as the Roxy under new ownership.

The Roxy lived on until 1974 when it was closed in the face of competition from television and other newer entertainments. It was demolished the same year to make way for a new high rise office tower.

A late night crowd leaves the Roxy after a festival of horror films on 31 July 1971 according to the notes with this photo, though the posters above the door advertise Frontier Uprising and MASH.

Ghoulish good times...

Monday, February 23, 2009

London Dental Institute - Manners Street - Perretts Corner 1908

The London Dental Institute occupied the first floor above Perrett's chemist at the corner of Manners and Willis streets in the early 1900s.

Evening Post, 25 August 1908, Papers Past, Alexander Turnbull Library

Kitty-corner, as the Americans say, or diagonally across the intersection from Perretts, the American Dental Institute operated commercial premises.

No account seems to survive of how the competition played out between these two brands - one appealing to the New Zealander colonists sentimental attachment to "Home" and loyalty to the British Empire; the other, presumably, to the latest in artificial dental aids and care from a rising industrial power.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Perrett's Chemists - Perrett's Corner, Manners Street, Wellington

Typical Chemist Shop in New Zealand, early 1900s. An unidentified chemists shop in Christchurch, NZ, Perrett's chemist shop would have looked similar with chemical compounds arrayed in neatly labeled bottles and most merchandise on the retailer's side of the counter.
Photo: Steffano Webb, Alexander Turnbull Library, ref.

Claude H Perrett and his brother Edwin established their chemist shop and mail order business at the corner of Manners and Willis streets some time after Turner's chemists vacated the premises. They had moved down to Wellington from Wanganui. Newspaper advertising of their various patent remedies - or what today we might refer to as quack medicines - appears in The Evening Post as early as 12 August 1908.

Soon the corner became known as Perrett's corner - and remained so long after the business was sold in 1964 and the building demolished in 1971. Indeed, although housed in a new building on the site, Perretts Corner lives on in the name of a cafe, Perretts Corner Cafe, at the spot.

Evening Post, 1909, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand

Wellington's population flocked by - and out of towners mailed in orders based on the mail catalogues the Perretts mailed around the country - to get such tonics as Vitalis, Guderin, and Microbin that would reinvigorate them, cure them of hysteria, fainting spells, and nervousness, or simply ensure good dental hygiene.

Evening Post, 1908, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand

Evening Post, 1913, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Manners Street - Perrett's Corner - 1905

Willis Street at Manners Street, looking north circa 1905.

The car had not yet arrived in such numbers to stage a takeover of Wellington streets by 1905. This view - looking north on Willis Street with Manners Street to the right - shows horsepower providing the main source of transport power in early 1905 (based on the postmark on the postcard, though the view itself may have been taken a few years earlier).

Perrett's chemist stands to the immediate right of the women crossing the street with a pram (short for perambulator or baby carriage) and close to the photographer's position. Perhaps the women have just purchased one of Mr Perrett's potions to cure their ailments or to restore their nerves.

A hansom cab stand existed just around the corner to the left on Boulcott street as pictured in the view below. Electric trams introduced to Wellington streets in 1904 were more affordable to the average citizen and a number of routes ran down Manners Street on to Willis Street. With the extension of tram service to outer parts of the city, faster subdivision for housing proceeded during the 1900s.

Hansom cab on Boulcott Street with the Manners Street, Perrett's corner intersection in the middle background, circa 1913.

The streets were not yet paved so in the summer Wellington's residents coped with the dust, horse manure, and flies as best they could. It was not unknown for horses to die on the streets on occasion requiring their owners or the council to remove them. In the winter, the rain turned the streets into mud baths with potholes and ruts thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Manners Street - Perrett's Corner - 1910s

Now "Perrett's Corner: Manners - Willis - Boulcott Streets intersection in the 1910s.
Source: AlexanderTurnbull Library

Although some sources suggest C H Perrett's chemist shop business was established in 1914, the above picture is dated by the Alexander Turnbull Library as circa 1905. Electric trams were introduced in Wellington in 1904 so these pictures are certainly after 1904. Perrett's chemist shop was in operation by early August 1908 because advertisements were appearing in the Evening Post offering various remedies to the public.

The building occupied by the Perrett Brothers was designed by the architect Thomas Turnbull in the 1870s. Turnbull, a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand from San Francisco after the 1868 earthquake, was a strong advocate of improving earthquake resistance of masonry buildings by the use of tensile reinforcing and iron supports. The Harding, then Perrett, building was a three story masonry building instead of the typical two story wooden building in Wellington in the 1870s. Its architecture would have been familiar to San Franciscans. More about Turnbull at the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

A similar view of Perrett's corner with streetcar & street vendor in view. Photo by Joseph Zachariah, well-known Wellington photographer of his day and well respected among New Zealand photo historians today.

Evening Post, 27 May 1908. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Turner's Chemist, Manners Street Corner, 1898-1900s

D L Turner announced the opening of his new premises - a chemist shop at the corner of Manners and Willis streets, Wellington - in the Evening Post of 3 March 1898.

In the picture postcard below, circa the mid 1900s, Turner's store sign can be seen.

Dr Harding's 3 storey building of the early 1870s has been modified by converting the bricked wall ground floor to a retail frontage that Mr Turner occupied in early 1898.

The electric tram suggests the picture dates from after 1904 when the electrics were introduced. The Duke of Edinburgh hotel on the left is now a significant three story masonry structure replacing the two storey affair of the 1870s.

Turner's Corner, Manners Street, Wellington, circa 1905.

It's unclear when Turner vacated the premises but by August 1908 Claude H Perrett was operating his chemist shop at the location.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Manners Street, Wellington - Ward Reception Parade, 1895

Joseph Ward, New Zealand's Colonial Treasurer in Seddon's Liberal Government of the 1890s, was dispatched to London to raise loan funds to finance land reform involving the closer settlement of farm land. The first loan of 1.5 million pounds floated in early 1895 at three percent interest was oversubscribed to the tune of 5.9 million pounds.

Upon his return to Wellington, Ward was honoured for raising so much money so cheaply by what was called the "Ward Reception" on 10 July 1895.

The idea of a reception generated public controversy for its alleged political partisanship in the months preceding Ward's return.

The Evening Post, no friend of the Seddon government, rather snippily reported the Ward Reception in Wellington and its correspondents to the letters to the editor pointed out that the funds expended on the reception and procession would be better spent providing aid to the poor and unemployed.

After noting that government offices were closed for the day and most warehouse and retail stores were closed at noon, the Evening Post reported in its edition that evening the SS Hinemoa carrying the Wards berthed at noon alongside Jervois Quay.

Sir Walter Buller for the Ward Reception Committee welcomed Ward who in turn replied expressing his gratitude. The Evening Post allowed that "a few cheers were then given".

"Ward Reception" car, Wellington, Ca 1890s. Tyree Bros., photo. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Photo is probably of what the Evening Post reports as a "floral display on a lorry, with a motto in white letters on a red ground - "A Hearty Welcome Home" ", a banner to that effect showing in the photo. It is likely taken on Jervois Quay as a tank locomotive can be seen in front of the shed on right near the bandstand or gazebo.

View of Manners Street, south from Perrett's Corner, Ca 1890s.
Tyree Bros., photo. Alexander Turnbull Library

Following Ward's reply, a procession of carriages was formed accompanied by the Garrison and Jupp bands, a floral float, fire engines, and members of the Tailors and Bakers Unions bearing their banners. The Evening Post observed that "in the streets were many spectators, but little enthusiasm was shown."

The procession, "not so long as had been expected," according to the Post, proceeded up Cuba Street to Manners Street, turned right, proceeded to Willis Street thence Lambton and Thorndon Quays to the Thorndon Esplanade where Seddon and the Wards each planted a pohutukawa tree as part of the reception and Arbor day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Old Identities Hotel - Perrett's Corner - Manners Street, Wellington

Old Identities (Albert) Hotel, on the corner of Boulcott and Willis Streets, Wellington
photo: Tyree Brothers, circa 1900.
Alexander Turnbull Library

The Old Identities (Albert) Hotel, technically neither on Perrett's corner nor Manners Street but on the the southwest corner of Willis and Boulcott streets facing Perrett's. It was on the site later occupied by the Hotel St George from the early 1930s.

John Plimmer built the hotel in 1879, dedicating it to "the old identities" of the city and colony.

A sculptured head of an old identity sits above each window, looking down on those passing through Perrett's corner. On the skyline to the left, on the hotel roof, can be seen a statue of Edward Gibbon Wakefield instrumental in the establishment of the New Zealand Company that organised the European settlement of Wellington and other cities in New Zealand in the 1850s.

The Old Identities hotel was demolished in 1929 to make way for the new Hotel St George. Some of the sculptured heads of the old identities are today held by Te Papa, the national museum.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Manners Street, Wellington - 1880

The recently completed 1878 surgery and home of Dr Robert Harding stands on what is to later become known as Perrett's Corner at the intersection of Manners, Willis, and Boulcott streets, Wellington. Harding's building would be converted into a pharmacy by the early 1900s.

Street lights have arrived in Wellington, presumably fueled by gas, and one occupies the near left corner. No tram tracks as yet, the tram's arrival is still a decade or more away.

What lies behind the photographer? A view from a hundred metres or so behind the first photographer up Boulcott Street looking back down to Perrett's corner and Manners Street.

Boulcott Street, Wellington, [1880?], Alexander Turnbull Library

St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church is in the right near foreground while the building with the central tower in the centre of the photo is what will become the YWCA building.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Waitangi Day 6 February 2009

The official New Zealand flag

Introduced in 1869, adopted as the official flag in 1902. British blue ensign with a stylised Southern Cross representing Aotearoa-New Zealand's place in the Southern Pacific.
Modern New Zealanders with few if any ties to Britain other than lingering sentimental ones for a few should surely throw away the Union Jack in the top left corner or completely redesign the flag.

Tino rangatiratanga flag

A 1990 competition for a new flag design for New Zealand failed to generate entries with Maori themes or identity. Maori then started their own flag competition and the result was the Tino rangatiratanga flag which for some within Maoridom has come to represent the aspirations for greater Maori sovereignty in contemporary New Zealand.

Black represents Te Korekore the realm of Potential Being, the long darkness from whence the world emerged. White represents Te Ao Marama the realm of and light. It is the physical world, which symbolises purity, harmony and enlightment.

Red represents Te Whei Ao, the realm of Coming into being. It symbolises female, active, flashing, south, yelling, forests, gestation and spirals. Red is Papatuanuku, Earth Mother, the sustainer of all living things. Red is the colour of earth from which the first humans was made.

The Koru, curling frond shape, represents the unfolding of new life, that everything is reborn and continues. It represents renewal and hope for the future.

Flag of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand
Shaw Savill Line postcard depicting the United Tribes Ensign, [19--],
Alexander Turnbull Library

The flag of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand, first raised in 1834 and gazetted in the New South Wales Gazette on 19 August 1835 as the flag of The United Tribes of New Zealand or Te Wakaminenga o¯ nga¯ Hapu o¯ Nu Tireni. It was New Zealand's official flag until the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 replaced it with the British Union Jack. Some within Maoridom want this flag to represent Maori aspirations today rather than the Tino rangatiratanga flag.

Whichever flag you wish to fly this Waitangi Day, celebrate New Zealand - Aotearoa and commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, the foundation document for contemporary New Zealand.

May tangata whenua (first peoples) and pakeha continue to improve their lot and better understand one another in the year ahead.

As the late John A Lee once remarked: "New Zealand is an easy place to love."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Manners Street, Wellington - 1870s

Manners Street, Wellington, [ca 1870]
Alexander Turnbull Library

Perrett's corner as it was later to be known, circa 1870. The Duke of Edinburgh hotel stands on the northeast corner of the Willis, Manners, Boulcott street intersection.

The wooden house on "Perrett's corner" opposite the Duke to the right appears to be the predecessor to the building built for Dr. Harding in 1878 on that spot to serve both as his surgery and home. Horse & cab teams appear to be posed for this picture.

The old Wesleyan Church lies in the middle background down Manners Street while the Bank hotel lies in between the Duke and Wesleyan.

No doubt Wesleyan parishioners did their share to entreat patrons of the Duke and Banks hotels to abandon their ways and join the congregation as the temperance movement gained strength against the growing problems associated with alcoholism in the colony during the 1870s through to the early 1900s.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Manners Street, Wellington - 1840s

Brees, Samuel Charles] 1810-1865 :Catholic chapel, Wellington [Between 1842 and 1845] [Engraved by H Melville from an original by S C Brees. 1847. Alexander Turnbull Library.

The intersection of Manners, Willis, and Boulcott streets in Wellington has been an important, busy place for generations and one that Wellingtonians have a certain fondness for.

This is the first of a series of posts on that intersection from the early days of colonial settlement down to the present which after 1914 became known as "Perrett’s Corner" for the two chemists, Edwin and Claude Perrett, who ran a pharmacy on the south-east corner. The business closed in 1964.

But the place had a history well before 1914. The 1847 view pictured above shows Samuel Charles Brees' depiction of the crossroads in the new European settlement that were to form into the Manners-Willis-Boulcott intersection. A religious procession heads down Willis street going north from the chapel, the later site of St Mary of the Angels on Boulcott Street. The road in front of it (Boulcott) heads up to the Terrace.

The building at left with barrels in front of it is the approximate site of what was to become Perrett's Corner.

RMA Resource Management Act Reform

The National government has announced plans to streamline the Resource Management Act to achieve efficiency gains in the resource consent process.

Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, identified key elements of the reform package as:

• Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections
• Streamlining processes for projects of national significance
• Creating an Environmental Protection Authority
• Improving plan development and plan change processes
• Improving resource consent processes
• Streamlining decision making
• Improving workability and compliance
• Improving national instruments

The Government has backed off its election promise to remove references to the Treaty of Waitangi in the legislation because of opposition by the Maori Party - which is in a confidence and supply agreement with National - as well as claiming such removal was no longer needed because of existing case law and improved practices.

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be created to achieve national environmental goals. The government will use this agency to get around the appeals process to the Environment Court for proposals of "national significance".

An EPA board of inquiry will be the vehicle for fast-tracking these nationally significant projects so that board decisions are made within a 9 month time frame. The effect for major projects will be that the EPA board process will re-centralise decision-making, effectively removing local authority decision-making over such projects and subjecting decisions to more political interference at the level of national government.

As emphasized in earlier posts on the RMA, the late Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister of the National government in the last 1970s-early 1980s, can be heard cackling from the grave that his late 1970s fast track proposal to bulldoze through projects despite environmental issues is about to come to fruition.

While some environmental organisations such as the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), concede the need to improve the speed of the appeals process, they point to the narrowing of appeals to points of law as a mischaracterisation of the role of the Environment Court as a judicial tribunal rather than its true function as an expert tribunal.

More fundamentally, environmental groups such as the EDS and Greenpeace are concerned that the proposed RMA changes, yet to be enacted, effectively strengthen the hand of large developers and undermine public participation and environmental sustainability. With the RMA's fundamental principle of a "balancing test" that is readily interpreted to weigh more heavily in favour of commercial over environmental interests it is hard not to be persuaded that the revised RMA will result in a backsliding in New Zealand's efforts to move towards environmental sustainability.