Saturday, 28 March 2015

Auckland Savings Bank in Devonport - Edward Bartley

Front Elevation ASB Devonport

I hope readers will enjoy this set of plans for an ASB branch building, now demolished. 
The original site was on Victoria Road, Devonport, Auckland almost opposite the council chambers.

Edward Bartley had to wait until the end of his career to design a bank building for his home suburb of Devonport, on the North Shore of Auckland. 
Local residents were forced to petition and lobby in order to get a branch at all, coming in well behind Onehunga, Newmarket and Surrey Hills. Building began in Devonport in 1901.

At this time it was still traditional for the manager to live on the premises. It may seem strange to us now, but a practical set of apartments was an important aspect of the design of bank buildings.
At Devonport the ground floor of this brick building was divided into banking room, dining room and kitchen, with a connecting hall and side door. On the first floor four bedrooms supplied the sleeping accommodation.

Back Elevation ASB Devonport

First Floor Plan showing Manager's Accommodation

Cross Section ASB Devonport
Cross Section ASB Devonport
Fortunately a good number of the heritage buildings along Victoria Road are still used and maintained today. There is a special ambience to Devonport which greets the ferry traveller from central Auckland. Everything seems to slow down to the more leisurely pace of a gentler time. No bad thing is it?
Street frontages of heritage buildings on Victoria Rd Devonport. Image BFA

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

St Mary's Pokeno - Harriet Johnston makes her mark

St Mary's Pokeno Front Entrance. Image BFA

It is great to be back. Apologies to you all for the long break. 
Today’s post is about a Gothic Revival treasure in the Waikato. There is a lovely story with it too. I hope you enjoy sharing our research on St Mary’s.

Let us first travel back to the Waikato of the 1860’s. War scarred both the landscape and the communities of the region during that decade. This was followed by punitive confiscations of land. The Pokeno block was taken in this process.

The site of St Mary’s Church, near the junction of the route to Thames and the Great South Road, was originally part of that Pokeno block. It passed through several settler’s hands during the next thirty years until Mr Francis William PYNE bought it as part of a 700 acre parcel in 1890.[i]

Mr Pyne, son of the Rector at Oxted, Surrey, arrived in New Zealand the year before. He was a well educated man, unmarried at that time. In 1892 he welcomed 63 year old Harriet JOHNSTON to his home. Miss Johnston was a well to do lady from Devonshire. She may well have been a family connection of the Pynes.

Miss Johnston was to prove an asset to the Pokeno district. After Francis Pyne married in 1894[ii] she threw her considerable energy into improving amenities in the area. Amongst other projects she donated the cost of a community hall, oversaw the construction and donated the interior fittings, including a piano.

In similar style, Miss Johnston turned her attention to the spiritual welfare of the community. At this time services were conducted by an itinerant clergyman on a monthly rotation. She envisioned a new church and a resident clergyman for Pokeno.

Using her resources and her connections, the project was instigated and completed in short order. Mr Pyne was called upon to donate the land for a church complex, intended to include vicarage and school. Diocesan heads were advised of her intention.

Edward Bartley, as Diocesan Architect, was consulted and requested to draw up plans for the new St Mary’s. The result was a miniature masterpiece of Gothic Revival. This church, along with All Saint’s in Kamo, Whangarei, was one of the last in a long association with the Anglican Church. They are also generally the most admired, as work of a mature and confident hand. It is certain that Edward was required to work closely with Miss Johnston and her chosen Deacon/Curate Rev H WINGFIELD.

The foundation stone was laid on November 4, 1899[iii] and the church was consecrated on 25 March the following year.[iv] Under a deed of gift the church and grounds were vested in the Diocese. The Primate of New Zealand was officiating and present to accept the gift.
The footprint of the building is 60 x 20 feet. The transept, 27 feet wide and 9 foot square porch were completed with a tower offset to the north containing the vestry and belfry. There was, of course, a dainty spire. The gabled roof was shingled and supported on massive beams. These were left exposed and treated to enhance the beauty of the native kauri timbers.[v]

St Mary's Pokeno rear view. Image BFA

Miss Johnston was equally attentive to the interior fittings. At the time of the consecration the some of the windows were plain and some coloured. This was because the stained glass windows she had commissioned from England had not yet arrived. A further window was commissioned for the west wall in 1910.

 Draperies were worked by the St Mary’s Guild of Parnell, the chancel and pulpit steps were carpeted and an Oamaru stone font installed. Seating was provided for 150 worshippers, being beautifully proportioned kauri pews. The following year Miss Johnston accepted delivery of three bells for the tower. They were the product of Warner and Sons of Cripplegate, London’s foremost bell casters.

Harriet Johnston died in 1916, leaving all of her estate to Francis Pyne. St Mary’s was her most lasting legacy, though it is unlikely she envisaged how brief its active role in the community would be. 
Soon after her death Francis Pyne disagreed with the vicar over the matter of stipend. In 1920 the church closed as a result of this dispute. The vicarage was also repossessed about this time and the property was put up for sale. From the early 1920’s the parish was accommodated by clergy from Bombay.
Fortunately for us the people of Pokeno loved their Category II[vi] historic church and have resisted all proposals to move the building. Thanks to them, the building was also kept in good repair and is still serving a vibrant community.

Link to  St Mary’s Homepage at

[i] Cyclopaedia of NZ  1902 p 696 Pokeno
[ii] 24 January 1894 to Bertha PICKIN N Z Herald 23 Feb 1894 page 4, by his uncle Rev. KIRKBRIDE.
[iii] NZH 3 Nov 1899 page 3 col. 5
[iv] Anglican Church Gazette April 1900.
[v] Ibid May 1900; NZH 27 March 1900 page 3 col.7
[vi] Historic Places Trust List #695, Category 2