LAMBTON QUAY, Wellington - 1840
the following from NZETC was written about 1928
... Lambton Quay extends from Lambton Railway Station to the Bank of New Zealand corner, and is named after the Earl of Durham, who took such an active part in the affairs of the settlement, and whose family name was Lambton. Lambton Quay, or “The Beach,” or Strand, was the high water mark. Along this portion of the beach was a Maori Pa called Kumutoto (now Woodward Street). Canoes were drawn up on the beach and bullock teams traversed its length. The late Mr. John Plimmer, senior, referring to the beach in the early forties, states: “The first time I came up the beach, I overtook a poor woman carrying a bed. There was a heavy wash on the beach which prevented her passage with her load, so I carried her bed on my back through the water, she following in the best way she could; but we both got very wet.”
Mr. Samuel Revans, in a letter written in Captain Smith's tent at Pito-one, to Mr. H. S. Chapman (Mr. Justice) dated 6th April, 1840, mentions: “The surveyors go to survey the Lambton site to-morrow, and hope will be enabled to give out the town acres in about three months. I am so enthusiastic about the place that I am almost afraid of being guilty of apparent absurdity in my statements.”
The Cyclopedia of N.Z., Vol. I., p. 240, mentions that Mr. John Thompson, solicitor, has in his possession a plan of Wellington, dated the 14th August, 1840, printed for the New Zealand Company by Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co., of London. The township bore the name of “Britannia” for some three months after that date. The plan shows the whole of the eleven hundred acres, each section branded with an additional number indicating the order of choice allotted to the selection by ballot in England. These numbers are very interesting, as indicating the opinions of the early settlers as to the probable whereabouts of the future town. The public wharf is marked off at the bottom of Taranaki Street, and the acres chosen by the first and second selectors were those extending along Taranaki Street from the foreshore to Manners Street. The third choice was Manners and Willis Street, down as far as the Old Customhouse Street. The opposite corners were about the fiftieth choice. Fitzgerald's Corner (1896), now Stewart Dawson's, was the eighty-eighth, while some of the acres having extensive frontage to Lambton Quay were only just within the first fifty chosen.
Wakefield, in his “Adventure in N.Z.,” p. 146, comparing the site of the first town (Pito-one or Petone), where the anchorage was exposed to a strong sea from the Heads when the winds were southerly, and the long shoal beach, was in that case lined by an inconvenient surf, which interfered with the dry landing of goods, remarked: “At Thorndon, on the contrary, the anchorage was land locked, and the largest long boats might run their noses on to a beach on which no surf could ever break, opposite the spot of which a town could be built. Looking forward to future times, it became evident that Lambton Harbour would become the seat of commerce by means of its natural capabilities.”
All along Lambton Quay and Willis Street, as far as the present “Evening Post” office, the bush covered the hillsides down to the water's edge. The reader may easily see, by looking along the alleyways in the Quay, and Willis Street, the second growth on the cuttings made for the various reclamations.
In the 'forties and 'fifties. Clay Point (Stewart Dawson corner) was in the teeth of the wind, and the wind loved to bite. The wild northerly howled around the promontory by the cheerless sea. Sometimes it was totally impossible for ladies to work a passage round that forbidding headland; it was the day of crinolines.
The first notable use of the land from the Dawson corner towards Plimmer's Steps was by a Mr. Millar. He had a brick field there, and made some playthings for the great earthquake of 1855. The bricks were all right, the “cement” was the culprit. The bricks were stuck together with moist clay or a mixture of clay and sand, and they gaily parted company at the jovial earthquake's command. In time the brick works had to shift, but before they departed they had done some valuable clearing work along the front of the hills. A track sufficient for a cart along the foot of the hills, and a temporary wooden breastwork was formed to make the road, by Mr. James Brown and others.
The Early Settlers' Journal, January 1923, p. 7, gives the particulars of the first businesses established on the Beach (now Lambton Quay) in 1840. These were
* Harvie's Caledonian Tavern and Stores, (choice wines and spirits, groceries, pit and other saws, slates and slate pencils, steel and brass pens, regatta white and striped shirts, linen and calicoes, red fustian and cord jackets and trousers, dress coats, and stocks of candle and lamp cotton), also a “canteen” complete, containing every requisite for an exploring party.
The advertisement was dated 16/5/1840. J. J. Taine—Whale oil, “go-ashores,” Negro head tobacco etc. 9/5/1840.
* W. Karey and W. Nicholls, coopers; 23/5/1840.
* A. Anderson, wines and spirits, etc., 8/7/1840.
* Dr. Johnston, chemists and druggists store, wholesale and retail, 28/5/40.
The Post Office advertisement that “a mail between Thorndon and Pito-one will be made up for the first time on Monday next at 8 o'clock a.m., and a return one from this place to Thorndon at 1 o'clock. Rate is 2d. for letters and 1d. for newspapers. Mr. Paton to superintend at Thorndon.” (11/7/1840.)
The panoramic sketches known as Nattrass' and reproduced by McKee and Gamble about 1900, shows the raupo houses, stores and frame buildings existing in 1840 and 1841. These are numbered 1 to 52, copies of which may be seen in the Dominion Museum and Turnbull Library. Mr. H. W. Preston has a copy hanging up in his office in Stout Street. The line of buildings extends from Oriental Bay to Bellsize Point (corner of Davis Street and Thorndon Quay). The writer has classified the portions of the sketch to coincide with the arrangement of the streets. Commencing from Hay and Co.'s stores, near where a boat is hauled up, at the corner of Mulgrave Street and opposite the Thistle Inn, we see Barrett's Hotel.