Friday, January 2, 2015

Thames (NZ): Then & Now - Pollen Street, Shortland (west)

Keep reminding yourself, just how busy the Shortland end of Pollen Street was!!

Initially shops were little more than tents and shack like structures, that needed to be erected quickly after August 1867 to meet the needs of the 1000s of miners and their families. The initial shops were very primitive, often just with a fa├žade, and inner walls may have been merely canvas dividers between the next shop.

Within months more substantial buildings were built as traders flooded from Auckland to cash-in on the riches to be gained, not just in gold!
Western side of Pollen Street, just past the Grey Street intersect c1868
Photo courtesy of J Vedder-Price

A previous blog entry, mentioned a 1917 report by Matthias Whitehead, who recounted what the early shops were like.  From this we know that the shops on the west side of the street in 1868 were in the words of M Whitehead: The writer turns the corner of Grey Street into Pollen Street, past ADLAM's Store, then takes us north past RENSHAW's, BARNETT's DINING ROOMS, FORD's Hotel, BNZ, Bootstore, Mr OTTO's BOARDING House & Restaurant, SHUTLTZ's Auction Mart, Bootstore, Jewellery shop, Bowling alley, PEAK's Butchery, LICHFIELD, OSBORNE & Co Grocery.

There was nothing our early Thamesites liked more than posing for a photo if given the opportunity. No doubt the novelty of photography, still a delight to many to record their lives, and they would buy the postcards to send back to family overseas. The shops in the enlargement above: are Renshaws, Barnetts and the Victoria Hotel.

 Fires would devastate this side of the street, and wipe many of the early buildings out of existence. None so deadly as the fire of 1872, where the people of Thames feared the whole town would burn down.  
The 1947 aerial below shows the empty lots where one can only ponder the hive of activity that this block of Thames' main street once knew.  In the lower photo, the side of Pollen Street as it is today, a new lease of life has been found.
1947 view looking south along Pollen Street. The shops above would have been on the right side of the photo.
Source: V C Browne photograph
View from of Pollen street (west/sea side) from the Grey Street intersect
Source: Google maps - street view

Further information: See Street Directories available for free at

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