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Glenside Post Office

Researched by Claire Bibby, 22 April 2019.

The first Post Office and Telegraph Office in Glenside operated between 1928-1933 and the second between 1933 and 1950, with the Telegraph office closing in 1951.

The decision to rename the locality Glenside came about with Public Works establishing a railway camp at The Halfway for more than 300 men and the government opening the Post Office to provide them with a postal service.

1928 – 1933 Glenside General Store and first Post Office

The first Glenside Post office was situated on the corner of Stebbings Road (now Glenside Road) and on the north bound side of the main road (now Middleton Road).  It was opened on 23 July 1928 with Doris A Martin installed as postmistress.

The Post Office was in a small building attached to a general store, tearooms and a private residence. The general store had pumps, for petrol.

The building was owned by Phillip C Watt and situated across the main road from a Public Works camp, which housed nearly 300 people for the purpose of constructing the nearby railway tunnel. This Public Works camp was the main railway camp for married and single men. Outside the Public Works camp, further accommodation was provided for the railway men and their families beside the streams along the main road in Glenside. The primary purpose of the Glenside Post Office was to provide a postal service to the Public Works personnel and their families.

Up until this time, the locality was known as The Halfway, a name sourced from the former Halfway House’s which had provided accommodation for travellers on the Porirua Road between c1841 and c1885.

To ensure the post reached its destination, Public Works sought a name change from Halfway, as it was felt to be too similar in name to the Halfway Bush settlement in Dunedin.  A naming competition was held and the name Glenside was submitted by local resident Jean Watt, wife of Phillip Watt.  She won the competition and the area became known as Glenside.  It was recorded that the name was chosen as the valley was reminiscent of a Scottish glen.

The general store building, which housed the Post Office, was burned down on the morning of 12 January 1933.  At the time the fire was considered suspicious and police investigated.

Dog gives alarm. Fire at Glenside

 "The store and post office at Glenside, occupied by Mr. A. Davidson, was burnt to the ground this morning.  About 4 a.m. Mr. Davidson, who was sleeping on the premises, was wakened  by the barking of his dog, and he had only sufficient time to escape.  No water was available to extinguish the blaze, and the building was soon demolished.  It was owned by Mr. P. C. Watt, Wakefield Street, Wellington."

Source: Evening Post, Volume CXV, Issue 9, 12 January 1933.
Courtesy of Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

After the fire, a new Post Office was opened further north along the main road.

1933 - 1950 Second Glenside Post Office 

The second Glenside Post and Telegraph Office was located on the main road at the northern end of the Glenside village.

The managers for the Public Works lived along the main road and there was a second, smaller railway camp for single men between the addresses known today as 273 and 281 Middleton Road.

The Cookhouse for these single men was located at the address of present day 281 Middleton Road.  Mrs Lawrence and her daughter Jean Lawrence lived here and cooked for about 20 men in the single men’s bach’s built along the streamside.

When the Glenside Post Office and general store was burnt to the ground, The Cookhouse, as it was known, also became the Glenside Post Office.

In 1939 the Wellington Centre of the St. John Ambulance Association, in conjunction with the Wellington Automobile Association, established a first-aid depot at this Post Office.

First Aid Depot

"The Wellington Centre of the St. John Ambulance Association, in conjunction with the Wellington Automobile Association, has established a further first-aid depot at the Glenside Post Office, on the main north road.  This post is now available for attending to accidents that may occur in the vicinity."

Source: Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 13, 15 July 1939.
Courtesy Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand. 

When the railway tunnel and railway deviation was completed in 1935, many of the men left Glenside to work on the Homer Tunnel.  The advent of World War II resulted in a further reduction of the population.  The Post Office closed in 1950 and the Telegraph service closed in 1951.

The former Post Office is now a private residence.

Most of the farmland which housed the Public Works camp was incorporated into the Glenside Reserve in 1951.  The hillside part of the camp was later absorbed into the storage facility site at 196-230 Middleton Road.

Longest serving post-mistress

Mrs Mary Bernardine Ross managed the Glenside Post Office from 13 March 1933 until the telegraph office closed on 12 December 1951.  The Ross family are recorded on the electoral role as living in Shannon, before they relocated to Glenside in 1928.  It’s likely that Mrs Ross’s husband, Kenneth Alexander Ross, was employed on the Mangahao Dam Public Works project before moving to the Glenside railway project. They had one daughter, Hinemoa Miri Ross (born 26 December, 1899) who married William Alexander Couper in 1933.  The couple farmed at Otane in Hawkes Bay.  Hinemoa died 11 February, 1991, aged 91 and is buried in Havelock North Cemetery.

Memories of Len Stebbings, interview by Claire Bibby, December 2001, March 2004.
Memories of Win Wright, interview by Claire Bibby, June 2002.
Memories of Gwen Silvester, interview by Claire Bibby, April 2004.
Diane Flatman, nee Broderick, personal communication, e-mail, 21 April 2019.
The Press, Wedding, 12 July, 1933.

Letter from postal historian Robin Startup

25 November 2001
Dear Ms Bibby
Having been involved in the history of post offices and postal services for many years I was interested to see your piece in this morning’s Dominion.

In checking I do not have a photograph of the small building used for the Glenside post offices – it may have been included in one of the Johnsonville district histories as I am sure that I have seen it – so cannot help you with that.  However, a copy of the information I have on the post office itself, largely extracted from official records, may be of use.

Glenside WN Farming on Johnsonville – Porirua or Middleton Road 12 km north Wellington.
Original name Halfway. Earlier Pukehuia.  The local name was The Halfway as being a coach stopping place halfway between Johnsonville and Porirua on the main road north.  When Postal facilities were required for the tunnel workers camp the local name could not be used because there was already a Halfway Bush office in Dunedin.  Glenside, a descriptive name suggested by Mrs Watt, was then introduced.

23.7.1928 Post office opened.  Mrs Doris A Martin, postmistress, office said to be in small building attached to residence.  Main purpose of office was to provide facilities for then men working on the Wellington – Tawa Flat railway deviation. Mails from Wellington by road.

30.8.1928 Telephone office added to handle telegrams and telephone calls.

4.11.1929 Frank Dick.

2.3.1930 Alexander Davidson.

13.3.1933 Mrs Mary B Ross (to end).

24.7.1935 Wellington – Tawa Flat railway deviation opened for freight traffic and, with completion, railways workers camp removed from here.

1936 Population 57

1946 Population 127

8.9.1950 Post Office closed

12.12.1951 Telephone office closed.

1961 Population 214

With regards, Yours sincerely Robin Startup

Robin M Startup, RDP, FRPSNZ, FRPSL (1933 – 2012 )

Extract from an obituary written by David Beach sourced from the website, Philatelic Database. http://www.philatelicdatabase.com/new-zealand/robin-m-startup-rdp-frpsnz-frpsl/

"Robin was without any doubt one of the outstanding scholars of New Zealand philately and especially of New Zealand postal history; his knowledge and understanding was profound.  He was the author, or occasionally joint author, of over sixty books or monographs and over ninety other manuscripts or limited published works."

"In professional life he was Director of Administration of a public hospital in New Zealand before he retired.  While still at school he became interested in New Zealand postmarks and later the stories behind the post offices, their names, the carriage of mails and the postmasters."

"Robin over many years had built a major New Zealand postal history collection and has researched extensively in the subject and its background, recording a considerable amount of the history of the postal services. He has written widely in sharing his discoveries as may be seen from his publications.  He was Editor The Mail Coach, the journal of the Postal History Society of New Zealand, from 1964 to 1987, with over 2,000 articles published in this and many other publications."

"His work was recognised by a Special Award from the Postal History Society of New Zealand, the Harry Cope Memorial Medal from the Forces Postal History Society, the Collins Award from The Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Philatelic Federation’s Award of Honour and later a special award from the same organisation.  Robin was also awarded New Zealand 1990 Medal approved by Her Majesty The Queen, and at the 2000 FIP World Congress, Madrid was the recipient of the Research Medal of the Federation Internationale de Philatelie."

"Robin was elected to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 2009.  He was a Fellow of The Royal Philatelic Society London and of The Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand where he was the Honorary Archivist. For the Postal History Society of New Zealand, he was the Honorary Research Officer."

The Robin M Startup Archive of New Zealand Postal History is held by the Christchurch (N.Z.) Philatelic Society (Inc).