Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

10 December 2009

N.Z. House & Cottage 19. Cobblestones Colonial Cottage, Greytown

I wrote and illustrated ‘New Zealand House and Cottage’. It was published in 1997. It’s a snapshot of some historic New Zealand homes - both grand and modest - as they were preserved at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.


COBBLESTONES MUSEUM COLONIAL COTTAGE, GREYTOWN

One thing’s certain: NZ Historic Places Trust’s Registered Building No. 4001 is a pretty piece of symmetry. Another certainty is that it was built by a Mr. Towsey and stood near the Anglican Church before it was removed in 1972 to its present site. Beyond that all facts are in dispute, little is known, and there’s much speculation. A notice beside the front door reads:


‘ONE OF THE FIRST COTTAGES ERECTED IN 1862 BY MR. TOWSEY OF GREYTOWN’

which might mean that Mr Towsey erected more than one cottage in 1862, not that it was one of Greytown’s first dwellings: which it certainly wasn’t.


Greytown had been set up as a ‘designer’ town six years earlier, in 1854, by the Small Farm Association whose objective was to help working class early settlers to gain proprietary access to land. Named after Governor Sir George Grey it was an important town (and might have remained so had the railway line laid in 1878 from Wellington not by-passed it). It started with 110, one acre sections and it’s obvious that even if only a few had had cottages built on them Mr Towsey’s wouldn’t have been among them.

In one of the back rooms of the cottage I found an old poster. I’m pleased somebody saved it. From it I deduce that they didn’t name the orchestra because they hadn’t yet hired one; that the difference between two shillings and half-a-crown was a sixpenny supper; that the ‘trophys’ (they couldn’t spell even then) were for the highest number of bulls scored with .22 rifles on a 25-yard range; and that ‘old time’ meant the polka and old fashioned waltz not those ghastly new-fangled things like the fox-trot and quickstep! Ah, happy days in Greytown.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
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Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan