Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 15, June 1971

by Jeff Poland

My earliest memory of old Junction Road is of going to meet my father "Henry Hill" who worked at Forrest's Mill down by the Soda-water Springs, and of finding him sitting on a big log deep in conversation with old Mr. Forrest. It was always a great joy to be allowed to meet Dad because he would hold my hand while I walked carefully on the remains of the old horse-tram-rails. Between 1894 and 1901 there had been a wharf on the site of an old landing near the junction of the Waihou and the Ohinemuri River and after boats could no longer negotiate the river to "Wharf Street" in Paeroa, this became the terminus. Hence the unmetalled Junction Road became a quagmire owing to heavy traffic, many tons of goods and mining machinery being transported. So wooden tram-rails were put down, parallel with the road with the idea of assisting horse drawn vehicles such as wagons in danger of becoming bogged in the mud. The work was carried out by the father of the late Mr. Mick Goonan, who had the honour of driving on the first trip. (His descendants still live in Waihi.) Passengers were conveyed on a horse drawn tram.

We lived in a four roomed cottage to which my father added two rooms and it is still there, occupied successively by Paltridge, Hamilton, Vercoe and now by Mr. and Mrs. R. Hughes. I was the eldest of 10 children, the others being Mick, Dudley, Amy, Pat, Kohi and Gerald, besides 3 who died in infancy. Our mother (nee Alice Shaw) was a member of the large family of Tom Shaw who with his brother Jim was a very early resident of Paeroa. Our Uncles were Tish, Ned, Chris, (the father of Les, Reg, Rita and Chris), Fred, Gene, Esmond and Gerald, while Minnie (Paeroa' s well known teacher), Amy and Ethel, (Mrs Phil Brenan) were our aunts. Grandfather's home, later owned by Mrs. Waines, was opposite to ours. It also is still there, square and neat and nicely painted, but for me it has lost its original charm.

I remember it surrounded by trees with the back yard landscaped half-way to the river, where the stop-bank is now It was a child's dream house with a dairy, pigeon-loft, a well, covered with a wooden platform, and a pump near which my young uncles used to clean all the boots on Saturday mornings. On Saturday nights the houses were all locked and bolted as the sailors were a gay lot who would go rollicking back to their boats, getting up to mischief on the way. I remember the shocked disgust of my Grandfather when he found two drowned hens in the milk-pans -- with their legs tied! The most historic house on the road is that now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Fathers. It was built for the Headmaster of the Paeroa School in the early eighties and later occupied by Hamilton's and Chamberlains. Mr. and Mrs. Jim Edwards live in a very old one at the far end of Junction Road. It was first owned by Mr. Moore, a builder and subsequently by McCarthy, Sheriff, Miss Dawber and Crosby.

Some of the most interesting old homes are gone. A picturesque two-storey one near the wharf was burned down about 1940 when Corbins lived there. It was first occupied by the Nicks family when George and Martha Dulcibel Nicks attended the Paeroa School. Their father died when they were very young and their mother later married Mr. Moore, and then Mr. Wick who owned much of Paeroa. Then Mr. Inglis, a bank-manager lived there, and was followed by my Uncle Ned Shaw, who died in 1927 after being County Engineer for a number of years. He was the father of the late well-known Ted and Harold.

The Kenny home was over the creek beyond the Mineral Spring. Mr. Nepean Kenny was County Clerk from 1887- 1908 and his sons Tom and Courtenay were well known Surveyors while his daughter Alice was our Paeroa Writer and Librarian. When I was 14 she gave me my first romantic novel - "Dermott McDermott" by Eleanor McArtney Lane, thereby opening the door to much future reading. Daisy Kenny (Mrs. Herman Bray) now lives in Auckland. (The family later moved to Bennett Street and we to Arney Road - just a stone's throw away.)

Junction Road children always made for the "Soda spring" in the Summer time and once when the late Courtenay Kenny found us dangling our dusty feet in the cool water, he told us a terrible tale of a little boy being drowned there, insisting that it wasn't a safe place for children to play when there were no grown up people about. The road had its share of tragedy, the worst being when my three young cousins, Mary, (14) Kenny (14) and Jack Shaw (8) were drowned one afternoon when boating while the river was partly in flood. Kenny belonged to the School Cadets and I can still see Alf Taylor tapping the black-draped drum. Life never seemed the same to the Hill and Shaw cousins after that - fun seemed to be gone from the old hay loft and farmlet. There was also a Diphtheria scare when a young cousin and Muriel Clarkin were among the victims. I have a horrible memory of the loaf sugar dipped in kerosene that my brothers and I had to suck at nights to keep us immune.

Old Junction Road with Willows by the River was a real Lovers' Lane in its heyday. The footpath was always kept white with shell and had cattle stops here and there breaking the tall Hawthorn hedges. But at the town end were Mr. Clarkin's paddocks for his numerous cart horses. We children loved one called Bess because she would come to the fence when we called her to partake of the scraps from our lunches. Mr. Clarkin's old home is now occupied by Mrs. Short (Sen.) another by Mrs. Sanderson and Mrs. Bert Neil is where Herman Kane used to live. About 50 years ago my cousin Ted Shaw built and occupied the house where my husband and I lived till recently, and it is now sold so we have at last left Junction Road.

NOTE: It is gratifying to find that an occasional old document has survived the years. The Paeroa Borough Council holds a leaflet that has a bearing on Mrs. Poland's charming article on Junction Road.

OHINEMURI TRAMWAY CO. (To be registered).

A call (the first) of one Halfpenny per Share is now Due and payable at the office of the Secretary, Paeroa. As you hold ..... Shares, kindly send the sum of £...... at earliest convenience.

Mr................ Paeroa, November 9th 1896.