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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


Petone Beautifying Society.

To old residents of Petone, the result of the efforts of the Beautifying Society are apparent, but mention at least should be made of the work done by other bodies prior to the Society's inception.
In the early days the beach was merely a range of sandhills, which, as development proceeded, were levelled and used for building operations. The first work to be carried out was done by the council, and consisted of the construction of the sea wall from the wharf. In this work, the council was assisted by a contribution of £50 from the Harbour Board, and the council's gas committee recommended a similar amount to help to finance the carrying of the wall the full length, in which the council co-operated and the Government supplied unemployed labour. This effort carried the work as far as Jessie Street.
Whilst mayor, Mr. J. W. McEwen suggested the formation of a Beautifying Society, and as a result of a Public Meeting held on 9th October, 1923, the society was inaugurated as follows; J. W. McEwen, President and Chairman; O. Silbery, Secretary: W. F. Sturman, Treasurer; and the following Committee, Mrs. Fuller; Messrs. R. A. Hartley; J. Kerr, Senr.; W. B. Gough; W. Bird; V. E. Jacobsen; G. London, Senr.; W. Ryan; W. B. Nicholson: W. Reesby; and W. Langridge.
A membership fee of 2/6 per annum was decided upon.
To raise funds, it was decided later to hold a Christmas and New Year carnival. With the aid of contributions from the business community, a very successful carnival was held, the proceeds of which amounted to approximately £300. The financial result of this first carnival was so gratifying that carnivals were held for a number of years.
Up to 1927, little had been done in the way of improvement to the beach, which is one of the best and safest beaches in New Zealand, and the society decided to make an effort to carry out several much wanted improvements. The first work was the formation of McEwan Park and the area on which now stand the boat sheds, the Society contributing £295. and collecting £500. The work was subsidised by the council £1 for £1, and by the Government £2 for £1. About 100 men were employed on the work in depression years. The result of this effort proved very successful indeed, providing a very fine sports ground for football and hockey, and incidentally bringing revenue to the council in the way of rents for boat-shed sites.
The next work undertaken was the paving of the beach promenade to Queen Street, and beyond that, the laying of the asphalt walk to Jessie Street; concrete kerbs on the beach; the brick wall and asphalt playground are at the foot of Richmond and Bay Streets; the extension of the sea wall from the wharf to
Queen Street: garden plots at the railway crossing and the railway station; improvements to the beach west of Victoria Street to the railway crossing. The society also presented to the council 74 seats for use on the Esplanade and other parts of the sea front, and planted trees in Graham, Bracken. North. William, and Udy Streets, and Kensington, Avenue. Much praise is due to the society for its labours in carrying out these improvements. Altogether, the society has contributed approximately £2,000 towards the improvement of the beach and the provision of various amenities throughout the town.
With the advent to the beach of the Centennial Memorial, the Petone Borough Council has carried out a large scheme of improvements, which will undoubtedly increase the popularity of this already popular beach.

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