Remember 80 years ago
On the 3rd July 1931 I was born in the house at 30 Church St, just down the road.
On the 21st November of that same year, the foundation stone of this building was laid.
On November 1st of that same year I was baptised in the old wooden building earlier on this site (by then shifted rearwards to about where unit 3 & 4 of Iona Close now stand). The records show the next baptism took place on 27th March 1932 so it appears I was the last baptism in the old wooden building.
My earliest memory of attending this church (still clearly with me) is of age about 3 at a Sunday School Anniversary Service when temporary sort of scaffold planking was erected in front of the high pulpit and the (then large) Sunday School contingent was arranged in the choir seats either side of the pulpit and the younger ones were stacked in front of the pulpit, high up on this scaffolding.
I was placed on the highest plank in the care of a couple of older children; and I can still picture that vast space below me and right down to the rear (now front) of this auditorium packed with beaming faces of the adults.
The height obviously impressed me – It was nearly up to the clouds – if heaven is “up above the bright blue sky” as were were taught to sing, then that is the nearest I have ever been to heaven!
Memories of St Aidans
We are gathered here today to celebrate the laying of the foundation of this church in November 1931.
Many people, here today, will have memories of St Aidans Church. Some of my memories are:
When the old church was moved back to allow the construction of this building, which became the Sunday School. Many concerts were held in the hall and of course we sang “Hear the Pennies Dropping” every Sunday.
The tennis court, at the back of the building, was a wonderful place to play, and I often think of the newspaper that lined the kitchen cupboards.
At the back of the new church were two rooms which were entered by climbing steep set of stairs. One of these rooms was used by the minister, and the other was used to assemble the choir members.
During my Bible Class years I can remember touring the district on Jordan’s truck singing Christmas Carols on Christmas Eve.
Sunday School Picnics were held annually and I can remember when one child fell into the creek, at Mairangi Bay. Bruce Hay and I had to jump in and rescue him. After than we never held a picnic at a beach that had a creek.
There must be several women in our congregation, today; who as Girl Guides, came to St Aidans to clean the brass vases, which are still in use today.
Alf Taylor’s Reflection, last week discussed the Aaronic Blessing. I can remember, as a Bible Class member, Bob McGhie who was Session Clerk, insisting that we sit in certain places in the church, so that we could help him with the singing of the “Blessing” during Baptism Services.
This building has lots of memories, for lots of people, and in our community we are well-known for our “Drop-In Morning”, for the elderly, our “Roast Meet Dinner” for those who live alone, and our “Floral Afternoon”, that has been held annually for 76 years.
Memories of this Church will be cherished forever.
Memories of St Aidans
I have chosen to pay tribute to a special group of people who have served Northcote Church – Management Committees, sessions, Parish Councils, and in particular, those of 1930/31/32. Unless you have served on such groups, you have no idea of the worry, the heart ache, planning month by month, year by year.
Four years before the foundation stone laying, 19 parishioners voted for a new church: 11 for restoration of the existing building.
Early in 1929, the decision was made to build a new church. The committee of those years were messrs Lockie, Fawsett, Munro, Robertson, McKinnon, Broady, Clarke, Hay. What a leap of faith! The cost was £1267.
In 1930/31, the government’s revenue fell by half. World finances fell apart. In the midst of this financial turmoil, Northcote parish embarked on a huge enterprise. January 1931, 11,000 men were registered as unemployed. June 1931 – 51,000, 1932/33 – 80,000 then 100,000.
Public Service wages were cut by 10%, then another 10%. Old Age, War Pensions reduced. Child allowance 2/- per week, abolished. 1931 – 7,000 building tradesmen unemployed. Usual wages £2 plus. Dole £1. 1. 0 per week for three weeks. Then 1 week, no work, no dole. Married men £1. The church debt must have seemed enormous, equal to about $260,000 today. The parish struggled into the 1950s to pay back a small ASB loan. We are the beneficiaries and custodians of the 1931 church, plus, now with large additions, insured for $1, 152,000 (annual premium $5000).
I have special sympathy for the many treasurers who have, over the years, sweated over monthly balance sheets. To the workmen who crafted this little gem of a building, our thanks. From the laying of the foundation stone, to the opening on March 2nd 1932, ten week’s employment in 1931/32 must have been a godsend to those artisans. To all who contributed to this building 80 years ago, our grateful thanks.