Topic: Willow Street, Tauranga

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Willow Street runs through the centre of downtown Tauranga.

Looking wrong? Archived version here.

The early Willow Street years

In October of 1994, Jinty Rorke published in the Bay of Plenty Times that:

Only one of the street names in downtown Tauranga - Willow Street - gives us a hint of the natural features of the area in the late 1860s. As you might imagine, Willow Street was named after a group of willow trees growing nearby. From this original group of willows Thomas Wrigley planted some cuttings along the boundaries of his property fronting Hamilton and Willow Streets, thus giving Willow Street its name. These trees survived for many years, but the last remaining one was cut down in July 1882. The name, if not the tree, lives on.

According to Bellamy (1982) , the Willows growing had been planted by Mr Thomas Wrigley who owned property there. These were cut down on the July 27, 1882 (p. 66).

The Tauranga Historirical Society noted that Willow Street, and the streets around it, caused considerable angst in the proceeding decades as:

there was considerable difficulty in establishing accurate and workable road levels in the town centre. Willow Street caused particular problems, and there were many protests about changes in the flow of water as the road was formed. The Roads Board became ruthless. ‘We considered that the sanitary state of the town was even of greater importance than the formation of streets of an easy gradient, and this consideration more than any other decided us upon forming Willow street. The forming of this street to its proper level will necessitate property-holders in it to fill up their allotments or have them swamped’ (Bay of Plenty Times, 28 July 1877).

Willow Street circa 1880
Willow Street circa 1880 (Tauranga City Libraries (ref 99-729).

Other notable events

  1. The first hospital building in Tauranga was acquired when the military forces arrived in 1864. They took over the building then occupied as a missionary school near where the old Government Building in Willow Street stands (Bellamy, 1982 p. 146).
  2. In 1881, during the rebuilding of the Mechanic’s Institute, a room in the Government buildings was used as a temporary reading room and library (Bellamy, 1982 p. 83).
  3. The first meeting of the Borough Council was held in the old Council Chambers, Government Buildings, Willow Street on Friday, 17th March, 1882. These were the offices previously used by the old Tauranga North Township Highways Board. The Borough Council continued to use these offices until November, 1902 when the Government Buildings were destroyed by fire, including all the council records. After the fire the council shifted to temporary offices in Willow Street, practically opposite the present library buildings. These buildings were owned by the Town Clerk, Mr J.H. McCaw (Bellamy 1982 p.31).
  4. A new shed for the fire engines and equipment was built on the corner of Willow Street and Harington Street in 1897 (Bellamy 1982 p. 96).
  5. Economic circumstances in January, 1889 saw (the Bay of Plenty Times) once again revert to a twice weekly paper, namely Monday and Thursday evenings. In the February the office was removed from Harington Street to the Victoria Chambers in Willow Street, the proprietor saying that the landlord was charging too high a rent (Bellamy, 1982 p. 164).
  6. Records show that in April, 1908 Mr D. Hall, Inspector of Nuisances, fumigated temporary hospitals in Willow Street Bellamy 1982 p.148).
  7. In 1909, Willow street among others, were laid with gas mains (Bellamy, 1982 p.76).
  8. In February, 1911 it was reported that Mr W. West, who lived at the corner of Wharf and Willow Streets, had the name of the streets fixed to his property and the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times commenting on his initiative hoped that the Council would take the hint (to organise Street name plates) (Bellamy, 1982 p. 53).
  9. 1913 (August) New premises for Bank of Australasia commenced corner Wharf and Willow Streets (Bellamy, 1982 p. 270).
  10. “The discussion on the need for a new library kept coming up… Eventually in 1929, after a refusal in January, (the building of a library was) given the go-ahead in November and was triumphantly opened on 3rd December, 1930. The new building was shared with the Borough Electricity Department which occupied, the ground floor of the present library building in Willow Street while the library was upstairs” (Bellamy 1982, p 85).
  11. New building for Bank of New Zealand on corner Wharf and Willow Streets almost completed (Bellamy, 1982 p. 274).
  12. The Keene family continued as proprietors of the Gas Works, the local manager being Mr Clarence Keene, a son of the original proprietor, Mr Richard Keene. The office was moved to Willow Street in the early nineteen thirties. However, the works were still in Grey Street and they carried on until 1943 when the Gas Works were demolished (Bellamy, 1982 p. 76).
  13. The Bay of Plenty Times shifted from their premises in Willow Street to its .. Durham Street in 1955. It is unfortunate that they have had two serious fires since that date, one of which destroyed their records and early newspapers Bellamy, 1982 p. 165). Though in the 1980s, many photographs and negatives were gifted to the Tauranga City Libraries.

Government building, Willow Street Tauranga. Completed in 1906

Sources

Jinty Rorke, writing in the Bay of Plenty Times in 1994.
Tauranga Historical Society Blog
Bellamy A.C. (1982) Tauranga 1882-1982

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Willow Street, Tauranga


Year:1860 and 2015
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Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6836875,176.16907620000006

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