Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Thames (NZ): Forgotten Roads at Thames - a closer look at Keddell Street

There are an abundance of postcards that showcase the northern end of Pollen Street, the area that today has adopted (and relishes) the heritage nature of their buildings. After all the majority of them are at least 120 years old.

Recently on an online auction site appeared one of these postcards. Taken from the Fire Brigade bell tower, the view shows the Pollen Street shops and the hills to the east above the Waiokaraka School.

Postcard showing Pollen Street (section between Cochrane & Pahau Streets)

Isn't it a beauty? So much to see, the men gathered outside the King's Theatre (opened 1913) are  no doubt curious about the photograph being taken or could be deliberately posed for the shot. 

The Junction Hotel is far right, then working back left, the King's Theatre, J Bate's The Elite Dress Shop, Battson's Plumbing shop, the building with the four curves on the top facade is Wood's Grocery Store. Can you see the Waiokaraka School (Cochrane Street) over the roof of Wood's shop? 

When was the postcard photo taken and when was the postcard sent?  The back of the card is below. The card was written 30 June 1914 and posted to Mrs Church in Canada.

The hidden treasure in the postcard photo is the c1913 view of Keddell Street. To the left of the wording 'Keddell Street' it may just look like a dirt track but that is Keddell Street. Remember many of the streets that were planned on the first maps of the town were either not all constructed, or were shorter than intended.

From the booklet, Streets of Thames:

Above: Far right, Keddell Street runs between Campbell and Princes Street.
Below: The Street marked on Robert Graham's First map of Grahamstown, with Duke and Sophy Street branching off to the right along the length of Keddell Street.

Keddell Street news in the local paper:
1878: The Council decided to cut some steps and a footpath up Keddell Street.
1878: 18th August Mary Ann Connon died at her residence in Keddell Street.
1879: 31st January, William the infant son of Nicholas Dunstan died.
1881: Residents pleaded to the council to improve the state of their street. This is a continuing theme over the years that followed, resident not happy with the state of the road or footpath up Keddell Street.
1891: Mrs Chas Stevens solder her three bedroom house, as she was leaving the colony.
1895: Miss Geary of Keddell Street married John Hatton of Waihi. Later in the year, Miss Geary's father had a bad fall from his horse.
1900: September, poor,little Alf Newdick cut himself badly with a spade, he needed stitches!
1903: The handrails at the side of the footpath leading up Keddell Street were rotten and urgently needed replacement. You could buy a small three bedroomed house on a freehold section in the street for 25 pounds.
1906: Water running down Keddell Street was causing problems during heavy rain, the culvert needed improvements.
1909: The handrail along Keddell Street again needed repair. This is a situation that kept recurring every couple of years.
1911: Mr W Cropp, had approval from Council to make improvements to his house in Keddell Street.
1914: 10 August, water cut off all day for repairs.
1923: Still more repairs to handrails, plus some of the steps up the street.
1930: The 10 foot culvert in Keddell Street was replaced.

In the early 1900s, the residents in the street were:
Mrs Barker, Mrs Bunting, James Neary, P Dewdick (??Newdick), and Barney Donnelly.
By 1923, the two named residents in the Directory were: Henry Brackenridge (a Fitter) and Leslie Thomas White (Blacksmith).

So how does the street look now? As stated above, it took until the 1980s for the road to be formally closed, so now a private driveway winds up the steep hill of old Keddell Street.

Above: The old location of Keddell Street, north of the Waiokaraka Road (visible to the right) 
by the Bella Street Pumphouse.
Source: Google maps