The Blockhouse Bay Improvement Association Club
Blockhouse Bay had very few services or amenities in the early to mid 1920’s. For example, there was a large area of land known as Block 76 that had no roads or postal service. Local people thought that services might develop more rapidly if the area became part of Auckland City, and so Philip Turner, an Avondale Borough councillor, was approached to try to bring this about.
However, in spite of his campaigning, very little district development took place under the City Council. The residents were becoming increasingly concerned, particularly about the rapid erosion that was occurring on the Blockhouse bay beach foreshore. So, on 23 April 1930 Philip Turner convened the first meeting of the Blockhouse Bay Improvement Association Club (the Association). Its first objectives were to protect the foreshore and improve the beach reserve.
The original committee members were: W Pendlebury, A. J. Thom, P. Turner, G. Rule, W. D. Kealey, J. Harrison, G. E. Skelton, J. W. Bissett, W. Hedges, D. Wilson and C. W. Gooderham. P .Turner was elected president.
The Association approached the Council and offered them not less than 200 pounds toward the cost of building a sea wall and filling in behind it to form a flat area. Fairs were held for fundraising and a small membership fee charged for those wishing to be members of the Association.
In turn the Council agreed to the proposal provided Harbour Board permission was granted. Approval was given and the Harbour Board also agreed to build a jetty at Te Whau Point when the wall was completed. However, while the work was in progress, local body elections took place and the new Council refused to honour the previous Council’s agreement to allocate 800 pounds to the project. The Association made repeated requests for the wall to be completed to the Point without success, and so the Harbour Board removed the jetty from their estimates.
The Association continued to fundraise and press for basic services, but progress was extremely slow. As an example, a pay telephone, originally requested in 1930, was finally promised in March 1936, provided that either the Association or the Council guaranteed to pay 83 pounds per year for the first three years to meet an expected shortfall!
In 1928 the hall on the site once occupied by St Andrews Church Hall was offered for sale. The Association decided to purchase it to enable community groups to have an affordable meeting place. This was done with the help of an interest-free loan.
The Blockhouse Bay Community Hall
Fundraising events continued to be held to maintain and improve the hall and it was used for many community purposes by the St John Ambulance Association, Scouts, Plunket, kindergarten, Sunday school, Guides and Brownies.
The Improvement Association, which changed its name to Progressive Association, continued to work for district improvements including better transport, a first aid post on the beach, better water supply, rubbish collection, a post office and provision of public toilets. Large sums of money were raised to purchase sand to improve the beach.
The Association also fought unsuccessfully to prevent power pylons being built across the bay and through local reserves.
Two neighbouring properties on the Exminster Street-side of the hall were purchased, and the community centre is today a significant testimonial to the Association’s activities.