Saturday, 18 April 2015

K - Road Connections- Thomas Henry Keven and Emma Otto

Place names of Auckland streets are in the news as part of our 175 Anniversary. Today Karangahape Rd took centre stage. The image of our iconic street as it was in the 1870's reminded me of the Bartley connections there in St Keven's Arcade.

Edward Bartley's wife Elizabeth brought a wide social network with her to the marriage.  One of her aunts was Emma OTTO. Emma was born in Upper Chapman St, London and baptised at St George's Chapel there on 13 October 1822. Her parents brought her out to Port Jackson on the Bussorah Merchant in 1833. After the death of her father George, she came to New Zealand in 1838 accompanying her mother and sister. (see Early Settlers Roll p126)

In Auckland Emma married Thomas Henry KEVEN. The marriage was celebrated at the Wesleyan Chapel on 23 April 1845. The Otto's had met Thomas in Port Jackson. He was also a Londoner by birth and a good deal older than Emma, being born in 1807.

Thomas first came to New Zealand in 1839. Like the Otto's he found the Bay of Islands too unsettled to instil any confidence in business prospects. He returned two years later, arriving in Auckland by the Shamrock on 1 July 1841. He stayed first in lodgings at Epsom, but ran short of funds while waiting for cash to come from Sydney. This early pattern of financial highs and lows was to hold true throughout his career.

Daily Southern Cross 20 May 1843

Boots and shoes were the basis of Keven's business enterprise. In the early days of settlement good everyday footwear was essential and hard to come by. His warehouse was at 96 Queen St on the Shortland Crescent corner.

The New Zealander 25 July 1846

The couple rented a home in Shortland St near Emma's family. Their first two children George (1844-1908) and Alfred (1849) were born there. Business began well and continued as a successful enterprise in its own right.
Good accommodation was in short supply then too. Auckland buyers looking for a good family home in the 1840's faced a similar commitment to anyone buying there today.When the Government House was damaged by fire Sir George Grey stayed in Nathan's house on the north ridge of Karangahape Rd. Thomas purchased this property -allotments 28,29 and 30 of section 29- as soon as it became vacant, about 1852. This investment marked the start of his financial expansion.

Image Auckland Museum Inst C14 162


The baby Alfred died in April 1851, a sad circumstance shared by most households of the period.

New Zealander 12 April 1851

Emily arrived a few months later in June 1851. Rachel was born in September 1853.  Esther was born in 1856 and Elizabeth in 1858. The two boys Edward (1861) and Thomas Jnr (1862) completed the family.
Meanwhile Thomas was growing his business. He made regular trips back to Sydney, buying stock and seeing to his remaining property interests there. Melbourne was also on his regular itinerary.

Political and social organisation absorbed the attention of a good many settlers in these 'establishment' years. Thomas was active there too, being a foundation member of the Mechanics' Institute. He and Emma were also active supporters of the Sunday School movement, which may be where the epithet 'Saint Keven' came from.

The house was leased out when it burned to the ground in 1857. Although the property was uninsured it was reinstated after the fire.

Daily Southern Cross 22 Sept 1857


Years later this property became the site of St Keven's Arcade and it is still an intrinsic part of the K Rd lifestyle in the 21st Century.

Thomas Keven had good connections in Coromandel through Emma's family. The Otto's had a strong presence around the Cape Colville area. It is uncertain whether the land which revealed gold in 1856 was part of the original Otto holding or a block which Keven purchased subsequently. Either way he was in the thick of gold discoveries at Waiau Creek.
In 1857 he advertised the sale of sections in a new gold fields development Wynyardton.


Daily Southern Cross 15 December 1857
News of a commercial reef discovered was delivered to the public by Emma, who released Thomas' letter to her in June of 1862. Gold fever was endemic by this time but the Government had yet to declare the Coromandel a gold field. 

DSC 6 June 1862

No prospecting license could be issued under those circumstances. He could not yet say he had a valid claim. Nevertheless Keven had an understandable sense of urgency and pressed ahead with his plans for a prospecting company. The Governor General wasted no time in getting to the Coromandel, arriving there on 22 June. In an attempt to establish order the public was advised to hold back from leaving home. The notices were not able to squash enthusiasm. The rush was on.

DSC 30 June 1862


Keven's Prospecting Company was launched and the family moved to Thames. Their fortunes as a family followed the peaks and troughs of Thomas' investments. At his peak he owned several mines and a multitude of other properties. Yet as he approached his late 60's he had over-reached. Despite his effort and good intentions he became unable to settle his accounts.


Thomas Keven died on 29 November 1877, aged 70, leaving Emma in some considerable financial difficulty. His career may have been characterised by extremes of  prosperity and poverty but he had tremendous energy and high hopes for the colony.
Emma died in 1908 at Devonport, close to her niece Elizabeth Bartley and extended family. She had moved there with her unmarried daughter Rachel. In addition to her own large family Emma also fostered another six youngsters into adulthood.

More detailed information on descendants of Thomas and Emma can be found here

Research by M Bartley

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Aickin's Pharmacy Queen St - Edward Bartley

Retailers provided a good proportion of Edward Bartley’s early work.
One early trend setting example was a design in 1879 for Graves Aickin, the pharmacist and entrepreneur.

Aickin came to Auckland via San Francisco. He arrived in 1863 already a qualified pharmacist. Within a couple of years he set up business in Karangahape Road.

Like many others Graves Aickin joined in the gold rush to Thames in 1870. He may have met with more success than the majority because he moved bigger premises in Queen St shortly after his return.
It is about this time that he began discussions with Edward Bartley about a possible expansion.

Edward’s cousin Julia was related to James Ferneyhough who owned a property on Queen St, near Vulcan Lane. Part of the site was leased to a hairdressers. Aickin negotiated to take the remainder for his pharmaceutical business.

Auckland Evening Star 19 April 1879


Edward Bartley trained as a cabinetmaker. He loved fine work in beautiful timber. After twenty years of no frills construction he now had the chance to share his passion for good cabinet work.
Here was his opportunity to design a spectacular retail experience.
Money was no object for Mr Aickin – he wanted the best.

Auckland Weekly News 4 June 1881



This two storey building, constructed on a site opposite the Bank of New Zealand in Queen St, had a highly ornamental front elevation. That alone was impressive for the times. Lower Queen St was not a sophisticated area in the 1870’s.
What sent the commentators into raptures was the interior. This was retail such as Auckland had never seen.
We can imagine the conversation at Mungo’s CafĂ© next door, discussing the sensory experience of visiting for Aickin’s new premises for the first time.

Edward had, in his brother in law John Harvey, a talented craftsman. Harvey was employed to fit out the interior in cedar and mahogany. Bespoke cabinets were designed for the vast miscellany of requisites and drugs stocked by a manufacturing pharmacist. These were finished with hand carving and mouldings on their upper portion.
Other cabinets were sourced and imported from England.
Showcases for retail items were ranged along the whole of the south wall of the shop space.

A self- acting fountain on a marble- topped case threw out jets of perfumed water. This luxurious ambience was completed by an ornate dispensing counter to the rear of the premises. Imagine coming in off poorly drained, unsealed Queen St to that environment.

Edward specified some state of the art technology to streamline the daily transactions.
Speaking tubes were installed in a similar way to modern intercom systems. Some connected the dispensary to the surgeons consulting rooms on the level above. Others allowed communication with the bottlers and storerooms on the lower level.
There was no change from £1000 for the interior fittings alone. Together Mr Aickin and Edward had set the standard for other retailers to match.

It is our loss that Aickin’s pharmacy was faced over many years ago. There is, however, a continuation of high end retailing in that part of Queen St. We have Mr Aickin to thank for pioneering smart shopping in what was once a rather ‘down market’ part of central Auckland.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Queen Victoria School for Girls, Parnell, Auckland by Edward Bartley


Entrance with foundation stone, Queen Victoria School for Maori Girls, Parnell, Auckland. Image BFA 2003

Through our heritage built environment we can reach the ideals and aspirations of our forebears. Sometimes it takes quite a leap. 
This is certainly the case when looking at educational buildings. The culture of 19th and early 20th century education is so far from our views today.

At an Anglican Diocesan Synod in October 1900 Rev Hare Maihi proposed the establishment of a school for Maori girls in Auckland. This proposal was unanimously approved. [i] In February 1901 the Synod conceived and discussed of the building of such a school as a permanent memorial to Queen Victoria.[ii] The suggestion was subsequently approved and a target for fundraising set at £10,000, to be solicited from the whole community. [iii]

A model for the school already existed in Napier. Hukarere School was founded ‘to give Christian education to Maori and half-caste girls and to train them to be good and useful women.’ When established in 1875 it was the only Protestant residential school for Maori girls in the country.[iv]

From its inception Queen Victoria's was to be a boarding school, drawing students from all around the region. It was intended to supplement the facilities in Napier, expanding the opportunity for higher education to include those centres of Maori population such as Tauranga and Whakatane. 

The discussion around the enterprise did not focus on the academic potential of young Maori women, but upon the ‘europeanising’ of a generation. For Sir Apirana Ngata, speaking at a conference of students of Te Aute Maori Boys’ College, the European concept of the Home as a civilising and educating social structure for future generations was the key benefit of higher schooling for Maori girls.[v] The special character of the school as a Christian establishment carried expectations of the inculcation of a ‘moral tone’ which was considered as a desirable influence on this rising generation of young mothers-to-be.

The site for the school was in Glanville Terrace, Parnell, opposite the existing St Stephen’s Maori Boys’ School. This land was a gift of Ngati Whatua. Given the royal associations of the project, the ceremony of laying the foundation stone was timed to coincide with the visit of the Duke of Cornwall and York with his Duchess in June 1901.[vi]

At this stage there were still insufficient funds to begin the building process. Edward Bartley began the design process, in his capacity as Diocesan Architect. Tenders were called In June 1902, after which the design was reworked to bring it more into line with the financial resources available. The intended capacity was for sixty boarders. This was halved and the plans altered so as to leave room on the site for an additional wing as and when funds became available. Tenders were then re-advertised in September of that year. This time J Davis’ tender of £2131 was accepted.[vii]

There was immense good will for the project from the majority of the community  with fundraising being undertaken as far south as Masterton and Wairarapa.. A stylish bazaar was held on the grounds behind Government House in March 1903. Well attended and hugely successful, this event met the cost of furnishing the school, but not more. 

The enterprise was always cash strapped. The school’s continued reliance on public generosity was stressed at the opening ceremony in May 1903.[viii]

Somehow Queen Victoria School survived until 2001, dogged by financial constraints all the way. Her sibling school of St Stephen’s had closed the previous year. 
The range of educational options in a changing world undoubtedly contributed in the drop in enrolments -back to the 60 girls envisaged in 1901. One hundred years later such a small role was no longer a viable proposition, placing an untenable pressure on families to meet the ever increasing fees. 
Image Jubilee booklet, Queen Victoria School Jubilee June 1953 p 59

The school is remembered with great fondness by past students and their families as a Spartan but happy place. It fulfilled its purpose well and in the early twentieth century was held in high esteem as an educational provider and  training establishment for community leaders.



[i] NZ Herald 12 Oct 1900 page 6 col 6
[ii] Ibid 12 Feb 1901 page 6
[iii] Ibid 20 Feb 1901 page 3
[iv] Ibid 21 May 1901 page 3
[v] Ibid 13 May 1901 page 6
[vi] Ibid 13 June 1901 page 5 col. 6, page 6 col. 6
[vii] Ibid 30 Sept 1902 page 4 col. 8
[viii] Ibid 23 May 1903 page 6 col 1 & 2