Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 4, September 1965
(continued from Journal 3. Go)
By E.R. SILCOCK
(The final paragraph of Mrs. Silcock's article in our last Journal referred to a tall building where the Bank of N.Z. now stands. It was first occupied by Mr. Harry Moore, Tobacconist, as depicted in the Photograph we published. Since then, a most interesting painting of it has come to hand, a large work done in 1897 by a strolling Artist, "C. Aubrey". It shows more of the whole corner and business premises than the photo did, and in Princess St. we see a butcher's cart and the Firebell mounted high on its belfry, while in Wharf St. a horse drawn brake load of people are obviously en route from a steamer. We are indebted to the Moore family for this painting which will certainly be treasured by the Historical Society. Ed.)
Mrs. Silcock continues:- The Kennedy family owned most of this block of land, having bought it when Paeroa was auctioned. Mr. John Kennedy was a carrier and first lived in Buchanan's original house on the Waihi Rd., but in 1891 the family moved to Princess St., their home being the premises now used by Dr. Hall as his surgery. They had a business nearby and were closely associated with this area till they bought a farm in Thames Rd. There were four sons, Jack who was a railway worker and butcher; Harold, Claud and Ivan who were later partners in a Milk Run for many years. Mr Claud Kennedy, the only remaining one has returned to Wharf St. He began work as a telegram boy, spent 3 years at the Gas works and later learned plumbing with Charlie Taylor at Karangahake. Finally he was Caretaker at Paeroa College for 7 years before retiring. Mrs. Ivan Kennedy and her daughter Edith (Ministry of Works) live in Wood St.
I would like to mention other families who lived in the vicinity of Wharf St. Just over the river were the Goonans, Mick the eldest, now in Waihi, Lily who died recently, Nelly (Mrs. G. Collins), Henry and Jack. I believe the house still standing across the river is their original home. Then, near the railway bridge where the poplars stand, lived the McGeehans, Jack, Nellie (Mrs. E. Collins) Barney, Eddie, Mary (Mrs. P. Clarkin) and Mandy. The Quinlivans, two brothers Jack and Bill, who were carters and their sister lived at the lower corner of Hughenden St. (nearly opposite to the large building which was once the timber and joinery mill built by James McAndrew, later burnt down, rebuilt and subsequently owned and operated by Le Mauquais, Lamb & Co.) This house still stands in good repair. Another home nearby was the Graydons. (Nellie, Jack and Annie whose father was a cripple). Still standing is a small square cottage with no verandah, just next to St. John Ambulance quarters. Here two sisters - Cora and Clara - used to exhibit sweets in one of the small windows and many changing balls, honeycomb squares and liquorice sticks we purchased with our infrequent pennies. Another family were the Coulsons and one member, Maria, attended the 80th Anniversary of the Paeroa School held ten years ago.
Mr. Asher Cassrels built the present "Criterion Hotel" where it now stands and James Coote built his "Commercial Hotel" - now "Fathers" - also where it now stands. Mrs. Mahoney came down to the "Royal Mail". Opposite Coote's Hotel and on the same side of Normanby Rd., there was another large hotel built by Maurice Power. This was burnt down on the night Prohibition was carried in 1908.
The Royal Mail Hotel was the rendezvous and starting point of the many coaches and horses travelling to Karangahake and Waihi - it was a very busy corner and we children often clambered on to the back step of a departing coach for a ride to school, always in some trepidation as to whether our vehicle would be collecting mail at the Post Office in Willoughby St. (near where the Police Station is) or proceeding straight on to Karangahake - sometimes we were unlucky!
Next to the Royal Mail Hotel was Chas. Short's livery and bait stable (forerunner of Brenan & Co.) where horses and gigs could be hired. Later this business was taken over by William Medhurst and subsequently by Brenan & Co. who still occupy the premises.
Across the pedestrian crossing from the Royal Mail there was Spry's Stationer's shop - this was on a corner with no buildings up to the National Bank corner - only an area of briars and swamp right across the Domain to Station Road. There was a hill in the town from Spry's up, called "Fisher's Hill" extending across to where the Post Office is now situated - this hill was cut away the width of the street and I can well remember the yellow clay mud we ploughed through in wet weather extending from the Post Office corner to Fathers Hotel on the one side and from the National Bank to the Farmers' Trading corner on the other. This was Normanby Road. On the Post Office side of the street there was nothing but a paddock of scrub and bluegum trees gradually rising to where the Ohinemuri Club and the baths now are - still slightly elevated. On the other side there was nothing but briars extending across and beyond the Domain to where Station Road now is. It is difficult to picture that scene now as we see the unbroken line of modern shops which have risen the length of the street, the sealed road and footpaths which replace the mud - the modern Post Office and Telephone Exchange from which we can put in a ring for Britain and be through in ten minutes!
Who then dreamt of the beautiful Domain with its stately trees, planted with such foresight by one who loved them, replacing the swampy area? Who of us dreamt of electricity and all its labour saving devices in the home, the industrial field, radio reception, television, stainless steel, plastics, textiles, motor vehicles, air and space travel, medical discoveries and achievements. Little we dreamed, walking along that muddy road, that all these wonders would come to us in the space of one lifetime. Truly we were born to an age wherein we cannot cope with all that science has given us and the brain reels with the thought of all that is still to come.