Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Warkworth Town Hall

Warkworth township was established in 1853 by John Anderson Brown, a businessman from Warkworth in Northumberland, England. The area reminded Brown so much of his hometown, that he gave it the same name. Brown purchased 153 acres and drew up a plan for subdivision of the area, which included land for the Anglican Church and its cemetery.

Ref: NZ Map 4498-26, map showing allotments for sale in Warkworth, 1864, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Farming along with fruit farming was important to the area, but key to the success of the town was kauri timber. Another major industry was the lime and cement works, which were established in 1865 and were successful up until the relocation of the business to Whangarei in 1928. Cement made in Warkworth was used in the construction of Auckland’s Grafton Bridge in 1910, which was the largest concrete bridge in the world at the time.

Ref: AWNS-18990915-8-1, view of Warkworth in 1899, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The town hall at 19 Neville Street in Warkworth is a registered Category 1 Historic Place under the Historic Places Act, as well as being a scheduled heritage item in the Auckland Council District Plan (Rodney Section) (Chapter 17, Ref: H085, p.49,). The Former Cement works Manager's House at 108 Wilson Road is also listed in the district plan (Chapter 17, Ref: H071, p.47)

Ref: AWNS-19111026-10-3, the new town hall at Warkworth, 26 October 1911, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The single storey town hall was commissioned by the Warkworth Town Board and built in 1911. The bricks used in its construction are actually quite unusual and rare. They are a well preserved example of glazed hollow stoneware bricks, which have an almost iridescent sheen. This sheen comes from salt-glazing, which is part of the patented manufacturing process developed by the innovative and pioneering ceramic company R.O. Clark Ltd. This is the only remaining civic building to have been made from these special bricks, hence its special status.

Ref: AWNS-19110629-4-2, the Mayor placing a memorial stone in the new town hall in Warkworth, 29 June 1911, Sir George Grey Special Collections

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