Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The attraction of Maryhill

I was walking my dog around the streets of Maryhill tonight, the suburb in which I live, and it occurred to me just how tied to this suburb my family has been. I mean, my extended family: my grandparents and my mother, her brothers and sisters and their children.
I don't know enough about my great-grandparents places of abode to include them, so I'll start with my grandparents on my mother's side (my father's family lived in the UK all their lives).
My grandparents bought their first house in Elgin Rd, about five minutes' walk away from where I now live. At some point early in their marriage they moved to a second house, in Stanley St, also about five minutes away from where I live. They stayed there until they died.
Meanwhile, my mother, who was brought up in the Stanley St house, went to Australia for a few years, married, had me (her only child), separated from her husband and came back...to Stanley St, the house where my grandparents and two uncles lived, and where I was then brought up.
I'm trying to keep this simple, but I can see someone saying it's really complicated....hopefully it won't be.
My mother stayed on in Stanley St until she was 68. By this time, of course, I'd been away from there for a long time. I'd left that house in the mid-sixties (though I'd already been living briefly in a couple of other New Zealand cities). I went to England for six years, met my wife, and we came back here (supposedly for a couple of years, but ultimately, as children arrived, we stayed here).
We came back to Stanley St for a few months, and then got a flat in Maitland St - which is not in Maryhill. But then the landlord said we had to move. He was dividing the flat in two, which was a pity, as it had a lovely large room downstairs.
We began to rent a new place, not in Maryhill, but in the bigger suburb of Mornington that is alongside Maryhill. It was still less than ten minutes' walk to Stanley St. And then, after two and a half years, we moved...to Maryhill. In fact almost on the corner of Maryhill Terrace. Our house was, and of course still is, in Glenpark Avenue.
Glenpark Avenue is about five minutes' walk from Stanley St. In fact the cable car used to stop outside our door in Glenpark Ave, and I fell off it once when I was a child because I was in a rush to disembark.
In due course the Stanley St house, which was deteriorating, was sold, and my mother moved into a newly-built second storey on our house. She was now about five minutes away from both the two homes she'd lived in.
When I was child, one of my uncles and his family lived in Crosby St, about three minutes' walk away from our current house. One of my other uncles and his family lived about two minutes from Stanley St for a time. A third uncle, after starting off in Kaikorai Valley Rd - on the land, incidentally, where my great-grandfather once had a farm (so I'm told) - moved to a another house...in Maryhill Terrace, two or three minutes' walk away from where I now live. This uncle, after his children grew up, moved with my aunt to another house, about two minutes' walk from...Stanley St.
But while he was in Maryhill Terrace, the uncle who'd been in Crosby St, moved next door to him. These were all maternal uncles; my maternal aunts were a bit more adventurous, one winding up in Mosgiel, less than fifteen minutes' drive away, another went to the Wellington area, and a third, the eldest, after moving around various places in the North Island, settled in Wellington city.
What about my cousins? Around twelve of them (out of twenty-five) grew up in Maryhill, or on the fringe of Mornington. One still lives up the road in Benhar St, less than five minutes' walk away, next to the school I attended as a small child. One of her sisters, for a time, was in a house further down the hill, but still in Maryhill.
I think that's the sum of all those who've lived here.
What was the attraction? Maryhill is a lovely area, with wonderful views of the sea and the harbour, and quite a few hills, varying from moderate to steep. It's well-established, and there are some houses that go way back (ours is getting on for a hundred years old) and some streets that go way back to the origins of the suburb - one is like a terrace on the side of a hill, and narrow.
I don't know why my family was so attracted to this area, but they were, and in considerable numbers....