Monday, May 16, 2011

O'Neill's Esplanade or Tararu Road, Thames

A list of Thames street names has previously not covered an alternate name for Tararu Road, Thames. At Papers Past there is mention of O'Neill's Esplanade and it appears to run along the waterfront from the Brown Street area to Tararu. There was discussion in 1874 about extending this esplanade to Shortland Wharf.

Interestingly there is also mention of another esplanade called Brodie's Esplanade, part of the Waiotahi Road, just above the Golden Age Hotel.

In A M Isdale's unpublished notes on "Tararu and Tararu Valley" and "Dickson Park and its neighbourhood history" (1) (copies at The Treasury) there is more information on the esplanade, known as O'Neill's. Charles O'Neill was a Member of the House of representatives for Thames in 1871 and the esplanade was named after him. Tararu was at that time popular for pastimes such as race meetings, visiting the Tararu Gardens, as well as the busy Tararu Wharf.  Many houses began to be built at Tararu and there was increasing demands for a road connection  between Tararu and the town. "About 26th November, 1870, the Native owners granted...for the purpose of a road, a strip of land and sea beach from the Karaka Creek to Tararu some 66 feet wide...the road is too narrow even at 66 feet to accommodate footpath, roadway and Tramway, along O'Neill's Esplanade or Tararu Road." (1) It was finally noted that at the end of 1872 the road was completed. Part of this construction involved the rock wall just past the old Tararu School on Tararu Road (now the Arts Centre)

It was reported in the Thames Star 24 December 1892 that Charles Gordon O'Neill later moved to Sydney, Australia. There are several biographies on the internet, that expand on the life of O'Neill, including one on  the Encyclopedia of New Zealand site:

[Charles O'Neill] moved to the Thames district in 1868 where he was appointed a mining surveyor for the Thames goldfield and engineer-in-chief of railways, tramways and wharves. He designed the goldfields' tramline. In 1869 he was appointed provincial engineer and chief surveyor of the goldfield and the same year was made a justice of the peace. In 1871 he surveyed and reported on a proposed railway route across the Rimutaka Range. In 1874 he was a member of a royal commission which inquired into a boiler explosion at the Kurunui battery on the Thames goldfield in which three people were killed. From 1866 to 1870 O'Neill was MHR for Goldfields, Otago, and from 1871 to 1875 represented Thames. His main legislative concerns were the provision of reserves, the widening and regulation of streets, and that all plans of towns should be approved by the governor before land went up for sale.

The Fishing Rocks, just north of Tararu - a popular destination for early Thames-ites