Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

22 August 2009

Who Stole the Chimney Pots off Albert Park Lodge?

No. 33 Princes Street is the keeper’s lodge in Auckland’s Albert Park. It was built in 1882, at the same time as the park was laid out. It was deemed necessary to the well-being and upkeep of the park that a full time keeper should not only be in attendance at the park but should also be accommodated there because, at the time of the park’s inception, the area was subject to the delinquencies of prowling ‘larrikins’ and the depredations of roaming horses and cattle; also, according to contemporary reports in the New Zealand Herald, it was ill-used by people who would clamber over its railings rather than walk to its gates, who lay drunk under its trees, and who repeatedly stole the flowers.

One notable prosecution was that of Sir Charles Burdett, a military baronet from England, convicted of theft and imprisoned for fourteen days with hard labour. O, the joys of zero tolerance!

Some occupants of the lodge were: the City Librarian from 1886; the family of George Fillmore, Auckland City Council’s Superintendent of Parks and Reserves from 1930-1951, and Frank Fillmore, Assistant Director of Parks and Reserves. Indeed, the Fillmore family lived there for 35 years.

The ‘carpenter gothic’ cottage was designed by Auckland architect Henry Greensmith Wade and built by Wrigley and Hancock. It comprises a parlour, two bedrooms, kitchen, pantry and scullery and was, until, perhaps twenty years ago, graced by two elegant, moulded clay chimney pots of neo-Elizabethan design, probably sourced from a standard Victorian builders’ supply catalogue of the mid-nineteenth century.

The pots in place before they disappeared

Fortunately I photographed the lodge before these distinctive pots disappeared from the house. Despite my approaches to the Auckland City Council, the Historic Places Trust and the New Zealand Herald, I have been unable find out whether they were deliberately removed for safe-keeping or, perhaps stolen in a prank by students of the nearby Auckland university; I suspect the latter.

Or, perhaps, they were souvenired by the ghost of Sir Charles Burdett - who knows? If anybody does know I’d be pleased to hear from them.



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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.