Updated: Mar 9
Up to the advent of the Harbour Bridge, the lifeline of the North Shore was without doubt the Ferry Boats. On every trip to the City children paid 3d. and for 2/- one had a weekly ticket to travel to work as there was very little employment on the Shore. The population was sparse and most people worked in town. On a Monday morning you showed your card to the ticket collector who punched it and that lasted the whole week. Each week was different combination of colours and one could travel to the City as many times as they liked with that one ticket. Later the Ferry Company produced a 12 trip ticket and that allowed the passenger six return trips for 1/9d.
Everyone had their own special seats on the morning 7:15am and afternoon 5:15pm trips just as if there were reserves on them and heaven help the housewives who caught the worker’s boat home. Comments would be heard such as “ Frying pan tea for the old man tonight”.
There were the very foggy mornings when the old fog horn could be heard bleating in the murk guiding the boats to the wharf. Then the days when the porpoises jumped alongside of the ferry and other mornings, always at the same time, when the Matson Line ships Monterey, Mariposa and Lurline stopped us going into the wharf while the tug berthed the ships. They were passenger ships and they looked very elegant in their white coats – no planes in those days.
Then there were the buses. There was no connection with land transport between Northcote and Birkenhead or Northcote with Takapuna-Milford area – each suburb had different bus companies. Northcote buses ran up Queen Street to Onewa Road as far as Calliope Road – now Wernham Place – until better buses were purchased and they were able to go up Zion Hill. But few people used the buses as we had two legs in those days and we were not motorised and I think we were much healthier using our own steam.
There were only two secondary schools on the Shore, Northcote District High School and Takapuna Grammar. Pupils to Northcote School came from Northcote, Birkenhead, Birkdale, Glenfield, Greenhithe, Albany and Coatesville – so we knew boys and girls from a wide area and indeed I still meet up with these people who are still settled on the shore. Indeed some are still living in the same road as they have been all their lives.
Yes, we have seen the Shore grow especially since the bridge was built – it was a gradual process but suddenly it was like an explosion and we had to accept the new bridge. But to all those who have joined us I think you will agree it’s a good place to live.
So welcome everyone.
- Betty Durham, 1991