Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Auckland Sailors Home 1887- designed by Edward Bartley

Auckland Sailors Home 1887 Image taken on completion by Richardson.From BFA collection

It is all about seafarers today.
The intention here to to answer some queries about the Auckland Sailors Home which used to stand at the bottom of Albert St. I confess to a second purpose though - to put in a plug for the Mission to Seafarers.
Marsden Point is our local port here in Ruakaka. It is growing at a tremendous rate with the opening of container facilities and increased shipping schedules. We have a seafarer's centre too, run by volunteers who also do ship visits. More help would be most appreciated - here and in all New Zealand ports.
The men and women who crew merchant ships ensure the transportation of fuels and goods which sustain our way of life -but they have a low profile. Their issues with working conditions and isolation seldom make the media.
On-board internet access while at sea is now available but it has brought about a lessening of actual engagement during voyages - according to the Crew Connectivity Report published this year.  Volunteer and community support from citizens of host ports is still essential to seamen. If you live in a port town anywhere in the world you have a Seafarer's Centre. Please consider how you may help out there. We are all international citizens aren't we?

Details of Seafarer's Centres in New Zealand today may be found here

Now let's take a look at a story of generosity to seafarers from the 1880's.

Edward Bartley designed the Sailors' Home in 1886 but a benefactor made it possible. This was Edward Costley who was a resident of Auckland. He had no dependants and lived very frugally. When he died in April 1883 the bulk of his estate was divided amongst seven public institutions: Auckland Hospital; the Old Peoples’ Home; the Parnell Orphan House; the Auckland Institute; the Auckland Free Public Library; the Sailors’ Home and the Boys Training Institute at Kohimarama.

Costley's memorial in Symond's St Cemetery erected by citizens of Auckland. Image BFA

The Government initially made a claim for the whole of the money left in the Costley legacy to be handed over. That  move met strong resistance. Both the Hospital Committee and the Trustees of Mr. Costley’s bequest knew local bodies would soon become responsible for the maintenance of their own hospitals and charitable institutions under the new Hospital and Charitable Boards Act. They fought hard and won. It took three years but at last the funds were paid out in  December 1886.

The bequest to the Sailors’ Home was £12,150 and, as a result of this gift, a non-profit making corporation was established to take over the functions of the Sailors’ Rest. 1
This new organisation was to erect the Auckland Sailors’ Home and to administer the funds supplied by the bequest. The Harbour Board granted a site at the foot of Albert St for the use of the new Home, in an exchange for the site of the old Sailors’ Rest.

Competitive designs were called for in April 1886, with Mr. Wade, president of the Institute of Architects appointed as judge.  Being successful, Edward prepared working plans in July for a three storey brick building with white stone facings. Tenders were called for in January 1887. The original design Edward  put forward was unacceptable on the grounds of expense. He was asked to rework his plans to meet the limit.

Following a fire testing demonstration, Edward argued strongly for a new product - Blaikie's fire resistant plastering system. He used his good rapport with the Press to emphasise the importance of fire safety. The Trustees accepted amended plans and the necessity for using the new system on the top two floors, bringing the total cost for building and foundations to £3135. Thomas Colebrook's was the winning tender for the work.2
The brief was to provide adequate accommodation and facilities for seamen without excessive expense or ornamentation. The result was a restrained and well-proportioned building on a corner site fronting both Albert and Quay Streets. It opened on 1 December 1887.3

The facilities included a social room, hall, dining room, library, chaplain’s room and management accommodation, apart from sleeping accommodation for seamen and officers. At the time the feature most commented on was the grand stairway to the upper floors. This rose from the centre of the building and was accessible from all parts. The most imposing view of the stairway was from the vestibule of the main Quay St entrance, giving a sense of heightened drama and upward movement as the centre of the building was approached.

This image from Auckland Museum's collection shows the lobby in the mid 20th century. Some remnants of the original architecture can still  be seen. 

A hall was later built alongside to seat 300 people. Religious services, musical evenings and socials attracted good attendance where mariners could mix comfortably with locals, supervised by an active management committee. A key philosophy of the institution was its 'open door' policy. All mariners were welcome regardless of race or creed. 
The building was demolished during the late 20th century redevelopment of Quay St.

This mid 20th century image shows the two frontages, here looking up Albert St from Quay St. Image APL 020-15

1. Refer NZH 5 April 1886 page 3
2. Ibid 7 April 1887 laying of the foundation stone, 1 Dec 1887 completion
3. Ibid 2 Dec 1887 opening ceremony

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

1ZB Broadcasting House Durham St Auckland by Alva Bartley

Broadcasting House, this and all promotional images shown here 1941 probably by Doree & Sache
 SGGSC 915 Album  148.0003
Today we explore a building designed by Alva Bartley, son of Clement Bartley. This is not one we can visit today. We do have some wonderful images though. Auckland Public Libraries Special Collections has digitised images from the agency Doree & Sache.

Alva Bartley and Norman Wade were in partnership from 1920 until 1935.  More information on Alva's early career is available here.
When Norman Wade set up on his own he retained the Auckland Harbour Board as a client. Alva Bartley retained the broadcasting business. This was now under the National Broadcasting Service, established in 1936. Both men continued to explore the potential of the Modern Style which was such a feature of their work together.

In 1939 Alva designed Auckland's second purpose built broadcasting building. In partnership with Norman Wade he had already completed the 1YA building in Shortland St. This brief was for a much grander affair.

The Government purchased land in Durham St, behind His Majesty's Theatre. The site was being used as a car park. It offered a street frontage of about 42 metres ( 139 ft) and a depth of 18.6 m (61 ft).
The site of Broadcasting House crner Durham St West and Durham lane AWN 1 Sep 1939

 The contract price of £70, 000 was confirmed just two months into the Second World War, in November 1939.1 N Cole Ltd of Auckland secured the building contract.
Construction began in 1940. By October 1941 the building was open and operational.2

Front Entrance SGGSC 915 Album  148.0002

Two views of the central stairwell, from above and below 

Alva had some interesting talent working with him on this project.
Imi Porsolt, a talented European emigree, was one. His contribution to New Zealand art and architecture was later profoundly influential, both as a teacher and as a practitioner. 3
Raymond Thorpe, later of Cutter Thorpe, was another. He had worked with Lippencott previously.
These men, with their associates such as Ralph Pickmere, would take a lead role in shaping art, design and architecture in post-war New Zealand.
The staircase from the entrance way.
The same staircase from the first floor foyer

This design has been described as New Zealand's first truly modernist building. That may be so. It must have look extremely luxurious to war-time Auckland. The style was glamorous and confident- both qualities associated with broadcasting technology. The new broadcasting theatre it contained was highly praised. Big bands played here before live audiences. It remained an important contributor to New Zealand music in many genres.
The building was removed in 1990 about the same time as its neighbour His Majesty's Theatre.

The Theo Walter Band performing in the live broadcasting theatre. 1941 SGGSC 915 Album  148.0019
A close up of the Art Deco styling details on the theatre stage SGGSC 915 Album  148.0021

Enjoy the rest of the images - our thanks to APL
Inside one of the recording studios. SGGSC 915 Album  148.0035

An interior and exterior view of a studio SGGSC 915 Album  148.0029 & 31
Control room, recording studio SGGSC 915 Album  148.0033
Studio reception area SGGSC 915 Album  148.0025

Executive offices SGGSC 915 Album  148.0038

Office area SGGSC 915 Album  148.0026
First Floor Foyer SGGSC 915 Album  148.0012

1. Ref NZH 3 Nov 1939
2. Ref AS 7 Oct 1941
3. See University of Auckland Architecture Archive Porsolt entries

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Elam and the arts

Why closing the art libraries at Auckland University is a really big deal

Our forebears would no doubt be dismayed. Their efforts to establish a rich cultural expression in music, art, theatre and literature provided us with a privileged environment. 120 years later that legacy is in dire straits.

The original intention of Dr Elam was for a free public art school for the citizens of Auckland. It opened in 1889 with Mr Payton appointed as the first teaching master.
The actual words of the bequest make clear the intention was not for profit. The intention was to enrich the lives of individuals in the community.

NZH 29 June 1886

It was not the first such initiative. Dr Logan Campbell’s Free School of Art opened 2 November 1878 (NZH 31.12.1889). Dr Campbell closed his establishment in 1889 because the Elam School of Art was ready to open, thus ensuring the continued art education of the public.
Let’s be clear – the Elam bequest was no aberration. Those who established this city envisioned a rich cultural expression supported by shared values of equity. Commerce was the means supporting community – not the rationale for dismantling it.

The library that developed with the Elam School of Art now constitutes a resource of more than regional significance – there is no other like it in our part of the world.

Closing the Elam library and other arts libraries at University of Auckland is symptomatic of a wider pattern. We inherited institutions ensuring the arts were available to all. What have we built for those who come after? What are they to inherit from us?