Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

12 December 2009

N.Z. House & Cottage 20. Two Cottages on George Street, Dunedin

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.


It’s not the first time I’ve painted these mirror-image cottages in upper George Street; they fascinate me. They share the busy street with brick terraces and old villas with tiny gardens of high trees and enough vintage roses to grace all the cups and saucers ever created.

On advice from her son, Gerald, No. 1014 was rented in 1985 and purchased in 1988 by Mrs Geraldine Wilson who had lived next door for thirty-three years but, now widowed, needed less space. Her family’s connexions with Dunedin go back to the nineteenth century when her husband’s grandfather James Wilson owned a nearby brewery. His son, Charles, worked at the brewery as an industrial chemist and developed ‘Maltexo’, that panacea much loved by generations of New Zealand children. It is known that many of the brewery workers lived in the area but whether any occupied these cottages is unknown.

1008 belongs to Michael Sayers of Brockville, who owns and drives a Dunedin taxi. Neither he nor the Wilsons know much about the history of the two cottages but he has in his possession the original deed of land transfer: Grant No. 116387 of two roods (half an acre or 0.2 ha), assigned to Walter Day, gentleman, in 1870. Clearly the cottages were built later. They were almost derelict in 1983 but, thankfully, are now in good hands.


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By Don Donovan