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How Did Auckland City - NZ Look in 1882?

Ever wonder what the wharf and streets looked like over a century ago? These were from when the Ashmore arrived on 2nd September 1882.

Auckland Wharf


Victoria Street

Shortland Street

Wellesley Street


Albert Park


Albert Park Tunnels

Middle-aged men who were unfit for war dug the tunnels under Albert Park.

Image: Albert Park Tunnels Facebook

Albert Park Tunnels - Map

Image: Auckland City Centre Residents Group

Image: Albert Park Tunnels Facebook

Image: Albert Park Tunnels Facebook

Albert Park

The Park was created in the 1880s where the Albert Barracks military fortifications were located. It had incredible views over the city and harbour. Now the view is of office blocks, except where hidden by mature trees. The Park contains a number of interesting specimen trees dating from the 1880s to the first World War.

The design of the park was the result of a public competition, with a formal layout with a main north-south axis. A large cast-iron fountain imported from Great Britain in 1881 forms the centrepiece of the park. The fountain is distinguished by statues of dolphins ridden by cherubs blowing horns which spout water. The fountain is surmounted by a female figure with a horn also spouting water. Under the park are tunnels were dug for air raid shelters during the second world war. Afterwards, they were sealed off.

There are more than 3.5 kilometres of tunnels reaching from Constitution Hill to Wellesley Street. There are a network of shelters, sanitation facilities and first-aid posts, all ventilated by airshafts. There are a total of nine entrances. The tunnels run through sandstone and volcanic rock. They were mostly dug by hand by a team of 114 council workers, most of whom were unfit for war. Over 975km of native timber lined the tunnels. That included Kauri, Heart Rimu, Larch and New Zealand Stringy Bark.

A total of 315 people were involved. The centre arched access tunnels were 3,700 ft long, 9 ft high, 15 ft wide. There is a grid of accommodation galleries – totalling 6,000 ft,  7 ft square with wooden seating. The floors were covered with scoria. The tunnel complex, unlike many other air raid shelter complexes, had baffles, not blast doors. The baffle is a block in a tunnel constructed from wood, lead and stone to absorb the shock wave in the event of a bomb blast. The small tunnels around them allowed passage and reduced the shock with perpendicular reflections.

Built in 1941, they were to be used as air-raid shelters but were sealed up before the end of World War II. Most people aren't aware they are there, but there have been requests to open them up over the last few decades. So far this has been to no avail.

There were large tunnel entrances at the top of Victoria Street, on Wellesley Street adjacent to the Art Gallery and on Constitution Hill. If you want to see one, explore between the Courthouse and Bacons Lane on Kitchener Street.

Image: Constitution Hill - Albert Park Tunnels Facebook

Other Photos: Courtesy of Auckland City Centre Residents

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