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6 RODNEY TIMES, MARCH 20, 2012
Focus On: Wellsford & Port Albert
That's according to The Rock and the Sky by H. Mabbett.
In the early days of Albertland, Old Wellsford on the tidal creek the
Whakapirau was accessible mainly by water from Port Albert.
New Wellsford began when settlement spread eastward and the
railway station opened in 1909.
As a result, business activity increased and the population grew to 230 in 1930.
At the turn of the century, Wellsford was mostly farmland with a few roads and houses
scattered about. Most of the kauri had been felled.
"The years 1906 to 1909 were boom times, with over 500 men building the North
Railway from Kaipara Flats to the new terminus," H. Mabbett writes.
During this period the village hall, new roads, churches, and a school were built. Fertiliser
turned gumlands into good farmland. Wellsford butchery opened in 1924, and a smithy
and bakery in 1925. The first separate post office was opened in 1926.
Progress continued through the 1930s and 1940s with a district high school in 1938 and
public library in 1946. Fire destroyed five shops in Rodney St in December 1955.
"Wellsford's real progress began to show plainly in 1932. It became more truly the
service centre for hundreds of farms."
The town continues to be an agricultural service centre as well as a popular refreshment
stop for drivers on State Highway 1. Check out the town's Albertland museum at the
* The book Changing Times, a history of the Rodney Times, is available from Annette
Cook on (09) 425-8940.
There were two Wellsfords.
Banner pictures: Scupltural icons in Wellsford today. PHOTOS: Julie Hawkes
Service town: A sunny winter's day in Wellsford.
James Thomas Cocks
The first birth at Wharehine was
unfortunately linked to the first
settler death in the area.
According to The Albertlanders, Brave
Pioneers of the 1860s by Sir Henry Brett
and Henry Hook, a Mrs E. Marcroft went
into labour with her first child during Easter
Seventeen-year-old James Thomas Cocks,
a neighbour, volunteered to go for Dr Bell
who lived about 1km north-east of Pt
"A three-mile walk over a rough track to
the Oruawharo River and a five-mile pull
up the stream brought him to Dr Bell's
about midnight, and the return journey
was accomplished in the early hours before
dawn," Brett and Hook write.
It was a cold night and James caught a chill
and died 15 months later of consumption.
He was buried near his home.
The baby boy, William, was born safely. Fateful birth: The restored Wharehine
grave of settler James Cocks.
James Thomas Cocks
died aged 18 in June 6, 1865.
Photo courtsey of:
The Albertland and Districts
Port Albert went from subsistence living
to profitable dairy farming.
It was also the oldest commerical fruit area in the North Island. "A
visitor could drive from "New" Wellsford to Port Albert with orchards
in bloom on either hand for miles along the road," according to The
Rock and the Sky by H. Mabbett. The Becroft family grew apples and sold canned
goods, but the industry died after the
market was flooded with canned goods
after World War One.
It was commonly known as the Port, but
early predictions that it would be bigger
than Auckland never eventuated.
In the early 1860s Englishman William
Rawson Brame had a vision to establish
a non-conformist church settlement
in New Zealand. In 1862 the migrant
ships Matilda Wattenbach and Hanover
departed the London Docks bound for
Auckland with the first of more than
3000 settlers to arrive by 1865. They were destined to settle on land surveyed around the
Arapaoa, Otamatea and Oruawharo Rivers. But many never left Auckland after hearing stories
of extreme hardship suffered by those that had made it to Port Albert and beyond.
The settlers had to apply themselves daily to the tasks of survival, tree felling, fencing, building,
gum digging, growing crops and looking after livestock. Bush was burnt off for planting crops
and grass. It was a life of isolation and subsistence for many until more settlers arrived during
the 1870s. School started in 1867. There were about 10 houses, a sawmill and a store. During
the years after settlement the
area also had a public library,
boatbuilding yard, a post
office, butchery, boarding
house, hall and churches.
Felling native timber for
export, milling timber for
building houses, fences and
boats, and gum digging were
the main industries until the
In 1903, the Wayby Co-operative Dairy Company had a creamery at Port Albert.
It became independent that year and was called
the Port Albert Co-operative Dairy Co. By 1974
Albertland Co-operative Dairy Co amalgamated
with the Mid-Northland Co-operative Dairy Co.
After World War One commerical piggeries were
established at Port Albert. Electricity was switched on
from 1935 to 1937, a boost to the farming industry.
The Albertlanders 150th anniversary will be
celebrated from April 6-10 next Easter.
Visit www.albertland.co.nz for information.
Link to civilisation: The wharf at Port Albert. It was once a hive of
trade activity. PHOTO: Julie Hawkes
Abundant history: The Albertland Heritage Centre sign in Wellsford
Town Hall: Built in 1916.
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS 1862 -- 2012
Kindly sponsored by Hauora Trust and Albertland Museum
AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: www.albertland.co.nz or email-- firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBERTLAND MUSEUM-- Memorial Park, Port Albert Road, Wellsford Ph. 09 423 8181
2 Olympus Rd Wellsford (since August 2009)
Investing in local health Coast to Coast Hauora Charitable Trust 423 6006
WELLSFORD BIRTHING UNIT
One of NZ's first Birthing Units opened in 1993.
Now providing Full Delivery and Post Natal Care with Nurse on site during your stay.
• Midwife of your choice • Birthing Pool • Free Baby Car seat
Providing an Integrated Health Care Facility approach for community & local option of care
for our families.
220 Rodney Street co-located within the Wellsford Health Centre Bldg (Opened June 1991).
Older Villa style residence providing quality full residential
respite and daily options of care to meet needs of our local
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