NORTH SHORE HISTORY with David Verran
Takapuna in the 1950’s
A submitter to the Local Government Commission in July 1949 criticised Takapuna Borough’s allegedly ‘bad roads’ and one consequence was a Council initiated programme for both it and local residents to clean up the beaches and celebrate the best-kept gardens.
In the 1950s, the Council also turned to local architects to help it plan future developments in the rapidly growing Borough. The Council proposed an ambitious programme of new amenities, including women’s restrooms, public conveniences, bathing sheds and children’s playing areas. It was also an early adopter of new ideas in town planning and landscaping, the latter in developing beaches and foreshore area and Lake Pupuke as scenic playgrounds.
From 1895, Lake Pupuke became the main source of North Shore drinking water and all water sports were forbidden on the Lake. The Auckland City Council, which managed the North Shore’s water supply from 1941, continued that prohibition, wanting the lake to remain available as an emergency water supply. However, in 1959 the Auckland City Council decided to allow the lake to be again used for yachting and rowing.
By 1956 there were 18,724 people living in Takapuna Borough, which included Castor Bay, Milford, Takapuna, Belmont and Bayswater. At the 1951 population census, Takapuna had overtaken Devonport as the most populous Borough on the North Shore, and in April 1956, the Takapuna Borough Council had the temerity to offer to amalgamate with Devonport Borough Council. The offer was rejected.
Because of the increasing number of young families in the area, Westlake High School was opened in 1957, joining Takapuna Grammar to make two secondary schools in the Borough. The area to the west of Lake Pupuke also began to develop significantly in this period.
Planning was underway as to where the Northern Motorway leading from the Auckland Harbour Bridge would end. At that time, and well into the next decade and more, it ended at Northcote Road and plans were developed to develop the 30 acres in the Smale’s farm area as a major shopping centre.
Instead the Council decided that the existing shopping area in Lake and Hurstmere Roads should be developed and in 1955 the Council commenced planning for providing parking for 224 cars, the demolition of the old bus sheds, allowing consent for a two storey department store and other shops on the triangle formed between Hurstmere and Lake Roads and Anzac Street. In 1954, Milne & Choyce opened a branch in Hurstmere Road, and both Rendell’s and Woolworth’s joined it in November 1958. MacKenzie’s menswear shop arrived a little earlier in 1958, or possibly late 1957. To allow for even more shops, planning began to move St Peter’s Anglican Church from its long-time home in Anzac Street to the site of the old Brett homestead in Killarney Street. Takapuna was readying itself to become the main retail area on the North Shore, once the Auckland Harbour Bridge was opened on 30 May 1959.
“Ye Olde Pirate Shippe’ opened in Milford in 1929 and featured a dance hall, restaurant and tearooms. It survived as an icon of the North Shore beach and entertainment culture until the 1950s. In May 1957 the Council, which now owned the land, decided to demolish the old hall built in the shape of a ship and fill in the now derelict swimming pool nearby. The demolition provided much first class building timber, including cedar, pine and heart rimu.
Just as Devonport had two cinemas, so did Takapuna Borough. In 1954, the ‘Picturedrome’ cinema in Milford Road was upgraded to both ‘Wide Screen’ and a new sound system, while the ‘Gaiety’ in Takapuna was upgraded to ‘Cinemascope’ in 1956.
From the 1950s, the Wairau Valley was set aside for an industrial zone on the town plan, with both factories and warehouses starting to be sited there.
– David Verran.