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Motorway project values Auckland’s heritage

Published: Wed 17 Dec 2003 08:43 AM
Motorway project values Auckland’s heritage
A historic flue, which has been rebuilt on the site of Auckland’s Grafton Gully motorway upgrading project, now serves as an archaeological reminder of the city’s early industrial heritage. It is part of one of the original furnaces of the 19th century Phoenix Foundry.
The flue has been rebuilt on the corner of Stanley Street and the new Grafton Road Bridge which is a section of the popular Coast-to-Coast walkway.
Providing a rare glimpse of early Auckland, the brick flue commemorates the city’s early industrial heritage which was primarily based around what was Mechanics Bay (bordered by Beach Rd and The Strand). The flue is a good example of late 19th century workmanship with its accurately bevelled arch bricks that allowed a curved construction.
The reconstruction of the flue was initiated and financed by the Freeflow Alliance, the delivery consortium of the Grafton Gully motorway project. Grafton Gully project manager, Kim Barrett, explains, “We wanted to preserve and share the local heritage, which we uncovered in the course of the project. By rebuilding the furnace we were able to honour the area’s heritage and make a lasting contribution to the public.”
Archaeological consultants, Clough & Associates Ltd were responsible for the excavation and documentation of all historic finds throughout the project. Rod Clough explains that the Phoenix Foundry played an important role in Grafton Gully from the 1860s through to the 1950s when it finally ceased operating. The flue was part of a furnace that was primarily used for melting down scrap metal.
“The foundry was a large operation that was spread over two acres. It was a major employer in the area and provided engineering equipment for many industries throughout the North Island such as flour milling, shipwrights and mineral extraction. The remains of the furnace also revealed that it was involved in recycling scrap metal,” he says.
“The remains of half molten objects such as plough shares were also recovered during the course of the project, along with cast ingots. From historical records there are references to the manufacture of a range of items including anchor chains and water wheels which they supplied to local industries.”
During the course of the project’s two-year construction period, a number of significant finds were uncovered on the site. “We found many industrial items, remains of wells relating to old breweries, bottling companies and engineering businesses all contributing to our knowledge of Auckland’s early history.” Many of the artefacts will be placed in a museum and a detailed report on the investigations is being prepared.
Earlier this year, the project was honoured with an award from the NZ Archaeological Association for “outstanding efforts in archaeology”. “The project serves as a model of how to go about urban development in a way which values our heritage,” says Rod Clough.
ABOUT THE GRAFTON GULLY PROJECT The Grafton Gully Project is an integral part of Transit New Zealand’s Central Motorway Improvements. Together with the other two key roading projects (Central Motorway Junction and Harbour Bridge to City) the Grafton Gully Project will play an important role in improving the central motorway network and reducing congestion in Auckland. The area is largely used for traffic between the Northwestern and Southern motorways, the Ports of Auckland and the lower CBD as well as for access to Auckland Hospital, Mission Bay and Parnell.
The project, which is nearly completed, has already relieved the local street network by: extending the motorway to pass under Grafton Road and into Stanley St, removing the dogleg manoeuvre from Grafton Rd off-ramp to Stanley St removing the dogleg intersection that connects Stanley St, Beach Road, Parnell Rise and The Strand, enabling direct access between Stanley Street and The Strand providing a new link from Wellesley St to Grafton Rd widening Stanley Street and improving the intersections at Alten Rd and Beach Road ends For further information contact Transit New Zealand Regional Manager Wayne McDonald tel 368 2000
www.transit.govt.nz

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