Monday, December 9, 2013

A 30 Year Old Mystery Solved

Well, is my name Sherlock or what? I’ve had this photo forever it seems although it’s probably only since my mother died in 1983 when I inherited a lot of her candid photographs, most of them not named or dated!


As I mentioned yesterday, I had only recently found that my father was living at 8 Margaret St in Dec 1940 and sometime before I was 6 mths old we had moved to Grafton Rd. Over the years whenever I came across this photo I had thought it was of Grafton Rd because I had another one very similar that did have ‘Grafton Rd’ written on the back.

For some reason I’d really like to know where I was living when I was born, I don’t know why. So today I spent all day pouring over hundreds of photographs in the Sir George Grey Special Collections on the Auckland Libraries website looking for anything that compared with the above photo, no luck at all. Until all of a sudden as I was looking at it through a magnifying glass I spied two words on a sign on the building on the extreme right with the row of six windows – it said ‘Suffolk Hotel’.

Hello Google and Wikipedia!

  • 1865-68 The Suffolk Hotel (now the Cavalier Tavern) is built on College Hill.

Lo and behold I found a few photos of the Suffolk Hotel, this one was taken about 1895:-

suffolk-hotel-blog 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A4941'

If you compare the top six windows in this photo with my photo you’ll see they are the same, there’s a shorter distance between the first two windows than the rest of them and the last window is not as high as the other five, the same in both photos. And this one taken on 25 Mar 1904:-

suffolk-hotel-25-3-1904 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1106’

In this one the hotel is obscured by the trees but you can see that it’s on College Hill Road as you come down the hill from the Three Lamps Corner at Ponsonby. When I saw this I knew I was onto something, because back up the hill on the right just out of the picture is Margaret St. Thanks to Google Maps I was able to finally work it out, I’m about 99% sure that my photo was taken from 8 Margaret St. This is the Hotel as it was in 2012 & the four houses next door:-cavalier-tavern-blog college-hill-blog

There is a service lane that runs up behind these houses but Google didn’t go up it so I could only get a photo of the back of the first house (far left):-


And finally a photo from Google taken from above that shows the back of the houses today, the left arrow points to 8 Margaret St and the right arrow to the Suffolk Hotel/Cavalier Tavern:-


This photo is probably a bit small for you to compare properly but although the houses have changed considerably you can see by the shape that the rooves on at least three of them haven’t changed much at all:-


So, at least now I know where the photo was taken and why it was in my mother or father’s possession, surely it must have been taken when they were living there? The one problem I have now is that the photo of me taken at 3 weeks with Dad outside the house I thought might be 8 Margaret St doesn’t look like it was that house after all! I was having another look at it today and found another view (in Google) that I hadn’t noticed yesterday, this one:-


This time it’s Mum with me, it’s definitely not the same house is it, I guess it could have been changed since 1940 but it still looks very old and to me it looks original, but then what would I know, I don’t even know where we were living when I was born!

My theory now is that they were living at 8 Margaret St before I was born but by the time this photo was taken they were in Grafton Rd and that the address the ballot gave for Dad in Dec 1940 was an old one that hadn’t been changed since he signed up. Or else it was just where Dad lived before they were married. There’s no-one left who would remember now so it’s just going to have to be one of those unanswered questions or is it? I still have the house in Grafton Rd to find a photo of, that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but hey stranger things have happened!

  • I noticed that my spell-checker was telling me that ‘rooves’ was wrong so I looked it up and found that more commonly today the word ‘roofs’ is used. Apparently ‘rooves’ is the archaic version, so be it, I’m archaic!

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