Durie Hill

The Panoramic Photographer

Panorama of Wanganui N.Z. from Durie Hill, 1923 (2004.25)

Panorama of Wanganui N.Z. from Durie Hill, 1923 (2004.25)

The Panoramic Photographer – R P Moore Studio

From 1923 until 1931 the R P Moore studio operated from 80 Manners Street in Wellington and specialised in commissioned panoramic views of up to 200 degrees. R P Moore was, first and foremost, a commercial photographer. His undoubted success in business was not only the result of his ability to sell, but also due to the quality of the product. Sixty to seventy years later, many of his prints hang, still treasured, in the institutions, businesses and houses for which they were made.

The studio’s photographers traversed New Zealand on commissions from the Government Tourist Department. Before travelling to specific areas, they contacted the more established local firms, institutions and individual property owners, making their services known and thus securing further commissions.

Reception to Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke & Duchess of York, Wanganui, New Zealand, 1927 (1802.1611)

Reception to Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke & Duchess of York, Wanganui, New Zealand, 1927 (1802.1611)

The Camera and Negatives

The camera used by the Moore photographers was the most technologically superior available, the No. 10 Cirkut camera made by Graflex Inc., New York. By means of a clockwork motor, the camera traversed a circular track that gave a range of up to 360 degrees (although the Moore studio rarely exceeded 200 degrees). As the camera moved from one side to the other, taking up to a minute, the mechanism simultaneously unrolled the film, each exposure being the full height of the negative but only about 8mm wide. The photographer could only determine the direction and scope of the camera’s path. There was no viewfinder and the required exposure had to be guessed. The equipment included a tripod that could be extended up to almost five metres and which came with its own ladder.

The negatives, averaging a metre in width, generated seamless images of great clarity.  Because the extent of these views replicated the act of looking, the panorama prints were very saleable objects

Wanganui Swankers’ Club “Help the Blind” Appeal, 1923 (1802.4163)

Wanganui Swankers’ Club “Help the Blind” Appeal, 1923 (1802.4163)

R P Moore

Robert Percy Moore was born in Christchurch in 1881. Almost nothing is known of his early life, but he seems to have begun his photographic career in Australia. During World War I he was working in Queensland specialising in postcard views.

His earliest-known panoramas date from around 1919 when he had a studio in Sydney.  After eight years in Wellington from 1923 to 1931, he returned to Australia. He was back in New Zealand by 1936, because, from that year until 1941, he was based in Rotorua working in partnership with James Thompson at the Panora Studio. In 1941 he returned to Australia, and he died in Sydney seven years later.

Virgin Bush, Bushy Park Estate, Kai Iwi, 1923 (2006.37.1)

Virgin Bush, Bushy Park Estate, Kai Iwi, 1923 (2006.37.1)

The Panorama

We are so used to having pictures of landscapes around us it is hard to realise that such representations have been around for only the last 400 years. Until then landscape was used only as a background to stories about gods and goddesses or Christian stories. Pictures of landscape alone originated in 16th century Holland. The actual word “landscape”, as Simon Schama says in his recent book Landscape and Memory, “entered the English language, along with herring and bleached linen, as a Dutch import at the end of the sixteenth century.” Our experience of the landscape is of a big space, and consequently, over the past 400 years, landscape pictures have tried to get past the confines of the frame. It is the difference between looking at a view through a window and standing outside looking at the view.

By the beginning of the 18th century this had developed into a type of landscape picture known as “the view”. The aim was to show an actual place, in a way that created a sense of being there, by suggesting light and space. As the 18th century progressed “the view” picture developed into the panorama. This wider view had several origins. For instance, some of the earliest English examples were made by surveyors, and this practical charting of a real landscape is still part of the urge to make panoramas.

Panorama of Wanganui from Fire Brigade Tower on Bastia Hill, 1923 (1997.93)

Panorama of Wanganui from Fire Brigade Tower on Bastia Hill, 1923 (1997.93)

The panorama form developed further in the 19th century and became increasingly “photographic”. Although the processes of photography were not publicly announced until 1839, the earliest of them were discovered in the mid-1820s, and the first photographers automatically imitated the picture-making of the contemporary painters. From that time the panorama featured strongly in the history of photography right through to the end of the 1920s, and the work of the R P Moore studio represents a pinnacle of its achievement.  Since the mid-1980s, with a resurgence of interest in 19th century photographic forms and processes, the panorama has experienced a real revival.

By Peter Ireland

Peter Ireland is an artist and an independent curator with a special interest in photography

Location, Location, Location

INTRODUCING ……

From the Museum collection, we present a selection of land sale posters printed during the boom years of Whanganui. These posters illustrate the suburban development that was a feature of Whanganui from the 1890s to the 1920s.

STYLE ……

In the late nineteenth century Whanganui was a flourishing town with a growing population and excellent prospects in commerce, education, building and the finer things in life.  Prosperity created a demand for land on which to build houses and businesses. Landowners sold property to meet demand and turn a profit while auctioneers and estate agents provided a needed service and received a comfortable income.

CONVENIENCE ……

The tramways, the Castlecliff Railway and the building of the Dublin Street Bridge during the early 1900s provided easy access between town and suburb. The Wanganui Borough Council boundaries were extended throughout the first two and a half decades of the twentieth century to include suburbs that had grown haphazardly beyond the original town boundaries. The ever-increasing population in these new residential areas led to Whanganui being granted city status in 1924, when the population reached 24,740.

 THE MOST DESIRABLE ADDRESSES ……

As the stories of local subdivisions show, place names tell a lot about the people of the time, their personal histories and associations, what they treasured and whom they loved.

…… AT VERY REASONABLE PRICES!

 

1802.605.2.Hair Estate, 8 August 1891

After the death of William Hair in 1853, his property Virginia Farm was gradually sold off.  Governor Sir George Grey was among those who wanted to buy the Lake and some of the surrounding land to build a home on. In 1874, however, Hair’s widow, Jane Hair, sold Virginia Lake to the Borough Council for £500 for the town water supply. One of the first roads established in the area was Krull’s Lane (also shown on the 1903 poster as Krull’s Road).  This led to the home of Ferdinand Krull, former German Consul for New Zealand and partner in Freeman R Jackson and Co.  A burst of partriotism during World War I provoked the Council to change the German name of Krull to Oakland Avenue.

 

1802.605.1St John’s Hill, around 1903

The development and growth of public transport made outer suburbs such as St John’s Hill increasingly desirable. The sale of the Alexander Estate was followed by that of the Parkes family land, sold by Frank Parkes. He was the grandson of Samuel Parkes, who had bought 100 acres on the hill in 1841 and named it after his family’s London suburban home. In 1903 the first steps were taken to improve the appearance of the overgrown Virginia Lake, with a proposition for the creation of botanical gardens.

 

1802.605.5Walker Estate, Aramoho, date unknown

John Walker was the first proprietor of the Aramoho Hotel (established in 1866 in the Roberts Avenue area) and a keen supporter of horse racing. When his estate was sold, land developers hoped to attract buyers with promises of imminent borough status and amenities such as piped water and gas that such status would bring. Ultimately, Aramoho failed to become an independent borough and in 1910 it was absorbed into the town borough.

 

1802.605.8Township of Durie Vale, date unknown

In the area originally known as Purua Major David Stark Durie, Resident Magistrate during the 1850s and 60s, named his valley property Durie Vale. The homestead he built in the valley was given the name of Glen Durie. With the success of local rower William Webb in the World Sculling race in 1907, the Council named the only developed road in the area Webb Road. After the subdivision of the land by Whanganui businessmen John George Sharpe and William Bassett, the name of Durie Vale was restored for the winding road along the edge of the valley.

 

1802.605.9Durie Hill Garden Suburb, around 1919

Despite designer Samuel Hurst Seager’s grandiose plans, the Garden Suburb never quite eventuated. This Christchurch architect proposed a radical departure from the ordered lines of previous suburbs, with curving streets and areas reserved for gardens, orchards and bowling greens. Instead The Shrubbery became Tower Crescent, after the completion of the Memorial Tower in 1925, and The Rosary became Windsor Place, after resident Leslie Nott, a staunch Mason, objected to the name and requested the Council change it to a good British one. Only the East and West Ways survive.

 

1802.605.6Georgetti Estate, 28 January 1911

In 1896 Augustine Georgetti purchased 244 acres of Major John Nixon’s Sedgebrook Estate for £20 per acre. Georgetti named the area Bastia Hill after his birthplace, Bastia, the largest town on the island of Corsica. Like many of the early large estates, the Georgetti lands were gradually broken up and subdivided by succeeding generations of the family with the pressure of eager buyers wanting to build just outside the town boundaries to escape rate levies.

Durie Hill – The Garden Suburb

View from Victoria Avenue looking at Durie Hill, 1918

View from Victoria Avenue looking at Durie Hill, 1918

Durie Hill is named after Major David Stark Durie who arrived in New Zealand in March 1840. In the 1850s he was appointed Resident Magistrate in Whanganui. He built his home, Glen Durie, on the hill across the river from town.

Working Bee on Durie Hill Steps, 1910

Working Bee on Durie Hill Steps, 1910

In the early days of the settlement Durie Hill’s height was both its best and worst asset. Its wonderful views were a short but energetic journey from town. Even though the first town bridge was opened in 1871 it was not until the early twentieth century that the development of the suburb began to take hold.

In July 1919 Samuel Hurst Seager, an acknowledged expert in town planning and garden cities, was in Whanganui. He had been engaged to lay out the site of a garden suburb on Durie Hill. At the time there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the idea of garden suburbs throughout New Zealand.

View from Victoria Avenue to Durie Hill under snow, 1901

View from Victoria Avenue to Durie Hill under snow, 1901

Seager said the sixty two acre site on Durie Hill was ideal for the purpose. The estate was to be developed on true garden suburb lines “not only must the site be subdivided for the houses, but there must be a good proportion laid out for the amenities of life.” There were to be recreation grounds with children’s play areas, croquet lawns, tennis courts, and bowling greens, and also quiet places, well planted with shrubs and flowers.

Paramount to the design was the idea that the houses would be sited in such a way that the greatest possible number would be able to enjoy the view. He also remarked that Durie Hill would be an ideal site for a residential college or other similar educational facility.

Access to the top of the hill had been a problem for many decades and even improved roads only made the journey tolerable. The opening of the new elevator on 2 August 1919 by Mrs W. Polson greatly assisted the growth and development of the new garden suburb.

The views from Durie Hill, now officially a suburb of Whanganui, was just a pleasant ten minute walk and a short elevator ride from the Central Post Office.

View from Durie Hill overlooking Whanganui town

View from Durie Hill overlooking Whanganui town

Monuments and Memorials

The Whanganui district has over 25 monuments and memorials dedicated to those who have served in the military services and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our country.

PR-007 Moutoa Memorial

Moutoa Memorial in around 1866 facing north-west

New Zealand’s first war memorial stands in Moutoa Gardens/Pākaitore. The Moutoa Memorial, a weeping woman as the personification of grief, commemorates the fifteen kūpapa and one European who were killed at Moutoa Island, 80 kilometres up the Whanganui River, on 14 May 1864.

The Superintendent of Wellington Province, Dr Isaac Featherston, unveiled the memorial on 26 December 1865. Some 500 to 600 Māori, representing iwi from Whanganui to Wellington, and many Pākehā attended the ceremony. Unlike many later war memorials, it was not made to order, and was in fact purchased from Huxley & Parker of Melbourne by Featherston during a visit to Australia in early 1865.

The Moutoa Flag features a Union Jack, a crown surrounded by laurel leaves and the word “Moutoa” with a Māori and a European hand clasped in friendship. The original flag was subscribed for and made by the women of Whanganui, Rangitīkei and Manawatū to their own design, and gifted to local iwi. The sewing group was led by Mrs Logan, the wife of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Abraham Logan, the commander of the imperial troops based in Whanganui.

Queens Park School with the entrance gates, which still stand today

Queens Park School with the entrance gates, which still stand today

There are also other obvious memorials. The Queens Park School Gates are a memorial to pupils from the school that died while serving during World War I. The Queens Park School Roll of Honour is located in the entrance to the Wanganui District Library in Queens Park.

Model of the proposed Durie Hill Tower with pointed top

Model of the proposed Durie Hill Tower with pointed top

Proposed plan for a Wanganui District Soldiers’ Memorial, incorporating a hall of memories

Proposed plan for a Wanganui District Soldiers’ Memorial, incorporating a hall of memories

The Durie Hill Tower just after completion

The Durie Hill Tower just after completion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Durie Hill Tower was built as a war memorial to commemorate more than 500 servicemen from Whanganui who died in World War I. There was some disagreement about where to build the memorial. Some wanted a cenotaph in Queens Park while others wanted a lookout tower on Durie Hill. In the end both were built. The Wanganui Borough Council built the Cenotaph and the Wanganui County memorial was the tower. There were several plans for the Durie Hill Tower. One showed the tower with a point at the top and a perpetual light while another included a hall of memories. A lack of funding meant that a simplified version of the tower was eventually built. The Durie Hill Tower was unveiled on Anzac Day 1925.

The Wanganui Drill Hall April 1954

The Wanganui Drill Hall April 1954

The Whanganui Cenotaph in around 1924 with a group of people inspecting the wreaths laid for the Dawn Service

The Whanganui Cenotaph in around 1924 with a group of people inspecting the wreaths laid for the Dawn Service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1936 Whanganui was the first city in New Zealand to hold a Dawn Service. The Wanganui Chronicle tells us that over 100 former servicemen gathered before dawn outside the Drill Hall in Maria Place. Once formed up they marched to the Cenotaph in Queens Park where Padre W H Austin conducted the service before Bugler Alex Bogle played Reveille. As the sun began to rise the men placed poppies on the Cenotaph before marching back to the Drill Hall and then returning home.

Kyle Dalton is the External Relations Officer at Whanganui