Friday, February 23, 2024

Does it ring a bell?

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A 137-year-old Pakuranga College bell was recently discovered by head of technology faculty Gary Brinsden. Photos supplied.

It once rang loud and clear. The Pakuranga College School bell that dates back to 1881 was recently found covered in dirt, lying in a school shed.

The Head of Technology Faculty Gary Brinsden was intrigued and excited when he accidentally discovered a piece of precious history that had once commanded a lot of attention.

He immediately got in touch with local historian Alan La Roche before he restored the copper bell to its former glory.

It now has a place of pride in the College staff room.

“I have included on the plaque (placed below the bell) a very condensed version of the bell’s origin but I thought we should perhaps expand on this using the QR code. Being a technology teacher I couldn’t resist using a QR code, which is placed on the plaque,” he laughs.

“The school was built at the cost of $420. The bell was ordered previous to that and hung around September 1881,” he says.

When contacted by Brinsden, La Roche had an interesting story to tell about the bell which is more than 100 years old.

According to the historian, the bell started life at the original Pakuranga School site, which was originally standing at the current St John Ambulance Station.

The original building is now stationed at the Howick Historical Village, although Pakuranga College still has the headmaster’s house at its present location – now Wairoa House.

“The bell then travelled to the school’s temporary location in the Howick District High School buildings, where Howick Intermediate School is today,” says Brinsden.

“When the students moved to the new Pakuranga College campus at the end of Term 1 in 1960, they carried the bell with them.

Pakuranga College still has the headmaster’s house at its present location – now Wairoa House. Photo supplied.

An email from La Roche says the Pakuranga School’s headmaster’s house was built in about 1879 for William Woodward, the first headmaster in Pakuranga School.

“He and his wife Laura were teachers at the school. Their children are well known. Alice was the first woman doctor in Auckland. William became Chief Justice in Samoa, and Constance married Lloyd Mandeno who invented the modern hot water cylinder. A hydro dam on the Waikato is named after him,” says La Roche.

“William Green lived in the headmasters House 1893 to 1914. The house was donated to the Howick Historical Society and when our secretary, Mrs. Karen Mirams, also on Pakuranga College Board managed to get the college to take it, we were relieved as we did not want it for our Howick Historical Village.”


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