Heritage

Auckland's Heritage Festival was held in September 2009 and saw many areas of the city celebrating the historical significance of their particular neighbourhood. St Heliers was no exception, conducting heritage walks on Saturday 26 September. Around sixty walkers joined Colin Davis, Chairman of Eastern Bays Community Board, learning about the history of St Heliers and being updated with proposals for new developments. Many of the walkers reminisced about their memories and history of times gone by, adding great flavour to the day.

The St Heliers heritage walk took in some interesting aspects of the area, starting with the library. The building was converted to a library in 1931 after starting out in 1925 as the offices of the Tamaki West Road Board, and the local volunteer fire station.

The War Memorial Hall was opened in 1955 by the then Governor General Sir Willoughby Norrie. Down the road a little further are the three controversial art deco Spanish-style houses built in 1935 alongside the 1890 small villas that have become a commercial site at 14 and 16 Turua Street. Number 18 Turua was originally the bus depot.

The old private hotel built in the 1920s for holiday makers was demolished in 1991 but many still remember it. Along the road, the bus shelter made of Hinuera stone was a more recent addition, built in 1959 as a combined effort of a community group in tribute to the pioneers of the district. The Guyon Brookfield Memorial in the form of a stone drinking fountain is in the memory of an outstanding local scout leader who lost his life in World War One.

A 1500 foot long wharf was partly demolished in 1926 when it became unsafe - the stumps can often be seen at low tide.It had originally been built in 1882 to allow the steam ferry Tongariro to bring prospective purchasers to buy land in the bay.

A famous landmark in the Bay is the old St Heliers Bay Hotel on the corner of Tamaki Drive and St Heliers Bay Road. Opened in late 1889, it was popular with day trippers for many years. It also housed the first telephone exchange until destroyed by fire in 1913. The building presently on the site came from Onehunga and had operated as a boarding house and private hotel. It was extensively refurbished and rebuilt in 1997 and now houses a restaurant and offices.

Other points of interest include a marble drinking fountain celebrating the first piped water supply to the district, the two- way stone backed seat commemorating the Vellenoweth family, the two massive Moreton Bay fig trees planted in 1923, Captain Charles Spooner's "Anchorage" cottage at the bottom of Auckland Road, and the sports clubs established on Vellenoweth Green around 1913.