The Coal Yard & other stories (Part 5)

Fraser’s Gully

Fraser’s Road went up Fraser’s Gully from the Kaikorai Valley and tracks lead on up to Halfway Bush and Wakari Hospital area.

Frederick James Still lived not far from the cable car sheds in Fraser’s Road and had a good garden there. Earle (a grandson) said that on Saturdays the old man would spend nearly an hour shaving in the garden before cleaning out his blue peter and then catch the tramcar to town to get the jar filled with beer. If Jock and Earle had managed to catch any eels or trout in the stream Granny Still would cook them for tea, which they would have before Grandad got back. They had to be fast as Frederick was actually a ranger and they did not want to be caught with the trout.

Frasers Road Public Baths which closed in September 1950

Frasers Road Public Baths
which closed in September 1950

Further up the road were the swimming baths that were under the care of Johny Fraser who perhaps the area was named after. Johny lived above the road on the Wakari side and grew Damson plums and apples by his hut. The pool was quite large, as photographs show canoes being used on the water. This water came from Fraser’s Stream and was diverted by a metal plate at a weir. Around the pool, which was opened on 26th April 1912 was a high-corrugated fence to keep trespassers out. This was not entirely successful as Norman and Kelso Ellis along with Bill Barrow and Harry Stoddart had sometimes slid under the fence for a swim. Another person who looked after the baths was Ted Millin who lived up in Greenock Street but could come down through to the paddocks to get to work. Ted had no fingers on one hand and used that arm to rest the long pole that assisted swimmers when in trouble. Admission was 1 penny and Ted sold chocolate fish to the kids for ½ a penny. Ted was a great gardener who loved Polyanthus, and tended to many people’s gardens.

Up the road a little further was a zig zag track that took pedestrians up the north side to Helensburgh Road and just near the foot of this track was a sand hill or cliff made from sand. The sand was very fine and was sent away for testing as a possible source of face powder. Bill Ellis did the carting of it but the test results were not satisfactory. On the left a bit further up from the sand hill was a picnic place that was accessed by a wooden bridge from the road. This was a popular site for not only the Sunday school picnics but for family gatherings also. My Uncle Jim Still taught his nephew Cliff to do head stands while the family was visiting this place, and Kathleen Mahon recalls the times when they caught freshwater lobsters and boiled them in a billy over a stream side fire.

Frasers Road Swimming Pool [Closed in 1950]

Frasers Road Swimming Pool [Closed in 1950]

Other residents in the valley were the Venables family who grew grapes and tomatoes there. They used a hydraulic ram to pump water from the stream to the house. The click clack of the water driven device could be heard for some distance, and often-mystified people as to its reason.

Kaikorai Memories

In Nairn Street Kaikorai was an old picture theatre known as the ‘Moulin Rouge’ it was popular for many years and the boys loved to go upstairs into the gallery. Later it was used for roller-skating and also many dances were held there. Earle Still recalled coming up from the city on the tramcar and calling in with his friends to watch the dancing. Time went by very quickly and near midnight the boys set off for home. Halfway up the road they were met by Earl’s father Jim carrying a hurricane lantern. He had been sent out by his wife Jessie to look for Earle as it was so late. Just along from the Theatre was Blacklow’s fruit shop. Freddie Blacklow was the local blacksmith. Jock Still (Edward Gilbert Still) and Earle were great cobbers and they spent a lot of time together. On one occasion Earle climbed up a big Macrocarpa tree to look for bird eggs. Jock encouraged him to go further out on the branches to reach a nest when the branch gave way. Earle was sent plunging down through the tree and plummeted 20 feet to the ground. Jock carried his unconscious cousin to the house where he recovered as they entered the door. Of course Jock being the older of the two received a real telling off for not looking after his junior.

Jim and Jessie Still with Earle, Connie and Nita.

Jim and Jessie Still with Earle, Connie and Nita.

Earle’s father Jim kept pigeons and hens, and had many Prize-winners. One of his racing pigeons named Queenie took the record for flying from Hicks Bay, East Cape in the North Island 600 miles to Dunedin. I believe the record is unbroken to this very day. Earle won some bantam roosters in a raffle or contest. This one is a fighting rooster he was told. Some of his mates did not believe this and asked Earle to put it in with his Father Jim’s roosters to see what would happen. Earle popped it in with a champion Leghorn rooster and oh what a mess. Father was not amused at the outcome and the bantams went into the pot for Sunday dinner.

Jim’s brother Cliff married Elsie Ellis and her father William (coal merchant) helped them start a fruit and veggie shop in Kaikorai Valley Road. Cliff had a covered cart in which he made deliveries around the district. Their horse was kept in a paddock in Mount Street. A billiard hall was another thing that Cliff was involved with. In those days horse and cart was used for all sorts of things and a Mr. Angelo started a carrying business in Kaikorai (after he finished at Wardells) and charged 1/- to deliver a parcel. Welham and Bilsons took over his business later on.

(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)

Ross

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