On Sunday 30 March, Alberton opened it’s doors (well, it’s gate and charged half price ($5) to look around the historic house) to the public with some performances and a few stalls/activities on show and aptly called it a Gala. After hearing about this from a friend who frequently walks past it’s Mt Albert location, I decided to check it out.
It was such a beautiful summer-like day with lots of young families with dogs. My great stall-discovery of the day (because I’m allowed to name such discoveries) was that of a gentleman called Graham Lamont. Everyone, meet Graham.
Graham is a lovely man from the Shore who sells relishes, chutneys and lemon honey. He gets his fruit and veg from the local Asian supermarkets because of their high turnover of produce and has a great spice provider over the bridge also. Graham does not frequent markets because of their ‘ridiculously strict rules’ so he was unable to tell me where we could find him. This, I have found, is even more disappointing than once anticipated as I find myself already half way through my tomato relish and it’s only been two days…
While I was strolling around I also managed to pick up a copy of “In Old Mt Albert” by Dick Scott which looks at the comprehensive history of the area. All it cost me was a gold coin donation to the Mount Albert Historical Society – great investment right there! You can also go online and read their newsletters which have interesting snippets of history. It’s so great to see that they’ve got it all electronic for people to access – on to it.
Now, while I was visiting Alberton I did manage to get inside the place and have a nosey around, after paying my admission fee of course. It was quite busy so I did get a few elbows (one of the Sunday Star Times crossword clues that day) while reading info boards and became very conscious of how slow I am at reading, especially “under pressure”. Nevertheless I enjoyed my visit and urge you to go have a look when you’re in the area next. As I do want people to see the place for themselves, I thought I’d give you a bit of a look at some of the great wallpaper prints within (c1880). They had a massive restoration of their wallpaper recently with funding from the ASB Community Trust and it looks flawless!
While viewing the interior, I did learn a little bit of history too (how could you not…). So here’s a snippet:
Allan Kerr Taylor was born in Serinjpatam, India to two Scottish parents. Allan, his five brothers and their father traveled to NZ in 1849 where, soon after, three of his family members bought farms in Tamaki called Glen Innes, Glen Dowie and Glen Orchard whose name has disappeared over time and is now known as St. Heliers.
Allan built the ‘farmhouse’ (Alberton, and if that’s a farmhouse I want to live in one!) on his plot in Mt Albert in 1863 which was modified and extended over time. In 1872 architect Mathew Henderson designed the distinctive Indian inspired ogee domed towers, half doors and the wide veranda seen today. After Allan’s death in 1890 Sophia, his second wife, really came into her own. She was said to have been the family ‘letter writer’ (I love her already), poultry farmer, and made their ten children do housework with the older two preparing meals to help out their financial situation.
I think if Sophia were alive today, we could be friends.
The day, for me, also consisted of a few cultural performances which were vibrant and well received.
The best part of the day? Seeing all the young children engaged in conversations about the “olden days” and talking to their parents about the history of Alberton. Their glowing faces as they discovered new rooms and noted the different way of doing things before we had all the mod-cons of today.
So, there are some kids out there who you can still pull away from those beeping, swiping, handheld pieces of metal to learn about their local history… and some adults too! Check it out!