Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thames (NZ): Burke Street Aquarium

Another 'Thames first' is that of the Burke Street Aquarium. The men responsible appear to be Messrs Steedman and Allom. The pair also had ponds at their respective Tararu and Parawai homes that were used in the experimental trout hatching activities. In October 1885, the young trout had grown sufficiently that Mr Steedman placed 1000 fish into his rearing ponds and Mr Allom took 750 to his home ponds.

Thames Star 9th Sept 1885
The trout ova it appears were given from the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. When the trout were about six months old they were placed in the various streams around the Thames area. During 1884-85 there are reports of two headed fish being seen in the Aquarium. They are described as an interesting stranger rather than undertaking any further analysis of the phenomena.
Thames Star 29th Sept 1884

 Mr Allom was an interesting figure at The Thames, a member of many committees and holding positions such as Clerk of the Court, JP and Registrar of Electorates. Residence was on Main Road, Parawai.
Biography at NZETC:
ALLOM, Albert James 1831–1909
Born in England, son of Thomas Allom who made plates for New Zealand Co. lithographs from Charles Heaphy's watercolours. Came to New Zealand as a survey cadet 1842, worked in Wellington, the Wairarapa district and Otago until 1845, then a partner in a run in the Wairarapa. Returned to England 1848, but came back to New Zealand 1861 as manager and agent of the Great Barrier Land, Harbour and Mining Co. Moved to Thames 1867, and there held various appointments. 1889–97 was in Tasmania but then returned to New Zealand. Watercolours are in the Bett Collection, Nelson.

 The above house is labelled as Parawai Court house, in the Auckland Libraries image collection, as part of the Allom Collection. The question remains was the house called the Court House because of Allom's occupation.

In 1889 Allom's Parawai residence was sold at auction, along with land near the Parawai recreation ground.