MVHS is occasionally contacted by people who want to share stories of their life here. In April 2013 we were contacted by John Westbrooke who now lives in the UK. He lived at 21 Paterson Street from the time he was born in 1950 until he was 12; his family rented the upper floor while two hairdressers, Miss Nairn and Miss Webb, lived downstairs. The house has since been removed by NZTA but this is how it looked at the time.
And here is a small extract from John’s recollections:
“The occasional new block of flats went up in the late 50s but the Mt Victoria I grew up in was almost all two-storey wooden villas like ours – very much as in Marianne Muggeridge’s picture, which you have on your website. The 50s have a bad reputation for dullness and conformity, but I don’t recall this at all. We didn’t have expensive clothes or toys – Dinky Toys and Meccano were about as fancy as it got – but nobody else did either, so we didn’t feel hard done by. At primary school we learnt to knit and sew – even the boys – and our teachers were forthright about, say, the wickedness of apartheid . . . Clyde Quay when I was there was very racially mixed: lots of postwar migrants from East and West Europe, English, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Yugoslav, Greek and even Egyptian kids were in my class, along with Indians, long-established Chinese and islanders from the Cooks and Samoa, and a few Maori. My favourite book was Our Street by Brian Sutton-Smith (he wrote a couple of sequels), which I gather was highly controversial when it was published in the School Journal (which had excellent writing and illustration). My copy of the book has so many apologias and explanations for its existence that it doesn’t start until page 23. It was set in Island Bay in the 30s, I believe, but is still a realistic picture of my own childhood on Mt Victoria in the 50s.”