January 6, 2014 … remnants, memories and reminders of the old city

We seem to be playing meteorological Russian roulette.

Last year we rejoiced in what seemed to be an endless hot summer. It even turned into a drought. This year, we can’t count on being in the same season from day to day. In fact yesterday we swapped seasons twice during the day. It started with a Northerly howler, some fairly solid rain, and temperatures around 16°C. The Hutt River swelled, brown with mud, and Block Road which passes beside the river under Melling Bridge was closed due to flooding. In the mid afternoon, things seemed to be easing up, so I put my camera gear in my car and went into the city in the hope of finding something on the waterfront.  And suddenly, just like that, it was summer again.

Stewart Dawson's Corner

The intersection of Lambton Quay and Willis street … once a popular rendezvous point.

I needed to buy something from a shop on Lambton Quay, so paused there to capture some of the last of old Wellington’s architecture at Stewart Dawson Corner. Before the advent of universal mobile phones and SMS, people had to pre-identify landmark spots at which to meet up with friends and family. The two cliché spots were Stewart Dawson’s Corner or the James Smith Corner. Though the old buildings are pretty to look at from the outside, I can say from experience that they are not necessarily nice places to work in.

Clyde Quay Wharf apartments

The old Clyde Quay is too shallow for the giant cruise liners of today. Better to find a new use for it, I suppose.

Then I went to Oriental Bay where half the population of the city seemed to have heard about the sudden switch to summer, and parking was impossible. I came back to the old “Overseas Passenger Terminal” to get near the marina to see what views could be had from there. I said “old” because the Clyde Quay wharf, often abbreviated as OPT, is no longer a working wharf. It has mooring bollards and a modest sized ship could conceivably berth alongside, but there are no cargo handling facilities and it is now a construction site. Clyde Quay Wharf Apartments are being built where the original Michael Fowler designed terminal once was.  The architects of the new structure have attempted to maintain the look and feel of the old structure. However, I may have said before, the resemblance is a loose one, in much the same way that the BMW designed reincarnation of the “Mini” bears a passing resemblance to the genius of the original Issigonis designed car. It will look well enough when it’s done and the scaffolding removed, but it will have no history, at least not during my lifetime.

The old Herd Street Post Office Building

I have visions of hundreds of men in grey sleeveless pullovers, shorts, sandals and walk-socks with soldering irons, multi-meters or draughting boards

Another transformation which has at least retained its original skeleton, is the “Chaffers Dock Apartments”. This building was constructed in 1939 as the engineering headquarters for the Department of Post and Telegraph (universally known to oldsters as the P&T). It remained in use by the engineers of the post Office, and its privatised successor, Telecom until the late eighties. It sat empty for a while until its recent redevelopment as retail shops and luxury apartments. One of the apartments is currently on the market with an asking price of NZD$2.9 million.

Wellington skyline

Te Ahumairangi Hill (known for generations as Tinakori Hill) dominates the Western skyline

But I went looking for views, so I was on the outermost finger of the marina, looking around. Despite the now bright sunshine there was still a solid breeze, and the floating walkway was by no means still. I had reservations about attempting a panorama in these circumstances, but the four shots tied together quite well.

Back at the car, at around 5pm, the dashboard thermometer was telling me that the outside temperature was 27°C … not as hot as the temperatures across the Tasman where 41°C and even 46°C have been reported, but quite warm for Wellington especially in the wind, and in contrast to the wintry conditions earlier in the day.

Today is sunny but still windy. What will it bring, I wonder?



About wysiwygpurple

Retirement suits me well. I spend much of my time out making pictures, or at home organizing and refining my pictures. This blog provides me with a platform from which I can indulge my passion for improving my photography and at the same time analyze my thoughts about what I have seen, where I have been and what is happening in my life. My images set out to be honest, but that does not mean I have not adjusted them. I use software to display what I saw though the viewfinder to best advantage. My preference is for landscape and nature, and is mostly centred around my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.
This entry was posted in Architecture, harbour, Maritime, Weather, Wellington. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to January 6, 2014 … remnants, memories and reminders of the old city

  1. Peter Coleridge says:

    “reminders of the old city” – I note Stewart Dawson’s appears to no longer exist as a store.
    The corner used to be very congested with two tram lines , many more overhead wires, and little space for cars as the trams swung round the corner pinning the cars into the curb.

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