Glenbrook since 1900 by C.J.T. Hodgkinson


Retold in 1957 by C.J.T. Hodgkinson commemorating the 80th Anniversary of Glenbrook (Brookside) School. Since he knew it (1900)

When I arrived here nearly 50 years ago this district was not called Glenbrook. Every part and organization had a different name. The Maori name was just impossible to either spell or pronounce. The hall was called Pakington as also was the number of large sections surveyed near the Manukau Creek at the start of the Tramway Road. The creamery was called Waiuku East, the Post Office Rua Kohua , The school was known as Brookside and a wharf down at Keyte’s Point was called Woodwards. When I entered Glenbrook houses and farms were few and far between. I came by road, having ridden through from Onehunga leading two farm horses. Everybody in those days and for twenty years after remembered my hack named Berlin. I also had a fox terrier named Sooner. Sooner, Berlin and I ran the first daily mail paper and delivery at Glenbrook. 

More about this later. The road from Onehunga was via Mangere, Papakura, Drury and Karaka (no Papakura bridge then). From about three miles from Drury until I got to the Mauku bridge the country was all fern and ti tree except a block on the left which was used as an ostrich farm.  I was a bit scared as I got near the birds but they were more scared of me because they ran off.  The Mauku bridge which is the oldest bridge in the Franklin County, was even then an old structure.  First farm i came to was Tim Conroy, sen., then Smeetons.  Following is a list of Glenbrook farms those days: T. Conroy now J. Conroy, Smeetons now Kayes, Gearons still Gearons, Frank Henry now Chalmers, A. Hodgkinson, now Schlup, Morley now Mitchell, Knight now Bellingham, Eickler now Singh, C. Dromgool now Case’s cottage, Goodwin now S. Case; E. Dromgool and mother, now Ross, M. Dromgool now our place, Lockie now Appleby, F. West now Sharp, C. West now Margetts.  T.D. Reid owner all the land from School to Waitangi, now 15 farms.  Jim Lowe had Rudhead’s place.  McElwain owned the present McCrystal farm.  J. Whitham where Mac Wright lives and Albreck owned the present Williams farm.  Mail was collected twice a week from Waiuku, the local Post Office was opened in the morning when suppliers were at the creamery.  When my mother was appointed Post Mistress the tiny office was shifted up to near our house and a telephone was installed with extension bells in our house.  When the phone rang someone had to run about 50 yards to the office to answer.  This did not happen very often, only when telegrams arrived.  I used to get 6d for delivering these if over a mile, if urgent, if not the telegrams were collected when people got their mail.  I used to hate delivering telegrams if they contained bad news.  I once took a telegram down the run for a gum digger.  I found him down a hole over 20ft. deep.

Soon after we took over the Post Office my father started an agitation for a daily mail service.  The P.O. people granted this if Glenbrook could get someone to ride up to Ti Ti corner each day and meet the Pukekohe-Waiuku mail coach at an annual fee of    c12.  The scheme looked like falling through as no carrier could be found, but my father, but my father put me on the job.  I could do this during school lunch hour if the coach ran up to time, but the coach driver liked a spot or two at Patumahoe and was usually late.  On one occasion he was very late and very full.  He went hell for leather past my corner without stopping.  I got on my horse and chased him and with the assistance of a passenger I got him stopped near Pukeoware.  I delivered the N.Z. Herald on my ride home so several Glenbrook people got their morning paper before even the Waiuku people.  My horse for this job was Berlin, a hack we bred in Taranaki.  Sooner, my fox terrier, always came riding at the back of the saddle.  Wet or fine Sooner never missed.  We were the local Herald agents then and when the Herald had their Jubilee in 1913 they gave us a paper knife which I still have.  We in Glenbrook had our daily mail and paper service years before any of the other districts round Waiuku.  The same with the Hall, no other districts had a hall.

The next to report re Post Office when we moved to live at the other end of farm we gave up the P.O. and Mr. Sargood took over the mail carrying and the office was shifted up to his place.  Mr. Sargood carried the mail for several years in a sulky.  When he sold out Mrs. Rothery took over and the office was shifted again.  It was at this time that my father and I started an agitation for a Rural Mail Service.  We took round a petition, having been told by the Auckland Postmaster that if we could get 50% of the residents to sign they would close the P.O. and start a R.M.D. from Waiuku.  We got over 50% signatures but a counter petition also got over 50% (several people signing both).  We had several heated meetings and excitement was high. We won the battle for rural mail when I pointed out to a Post Office official who was sent down to investigate that the leader of the counter petition and chief organiser of the opposition was a share-milker and not likely to be a permanent resident of Glenbrook.  Finally the R.M.D. was starter for those who wanted it and the local P.O. was also kept open but soon died out as more and more took the R.M.D.  The late Mr. E. Dromgool got the contract to deliver the mail and a remarkable thing about the whole business was that one of the chief opponents was the first person to cadge a ride with the Rural Mail Carrier.  Glenbrook again led the way, we had our daily R.M.D. several years before other districts served from the Waiuku P.O.  Telephones were established in Glenbrook very early. The party line linking up the P.O. with settlers on the Main Road and McCrystal’s Road being first.