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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)

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Petone Wharf

The following history of the wharves which have been built at Petone since 1840, has been kindly contributed by the General Manager of the Wellington Harbour Board, Mr. A. G. Barnett.
The Association of Petone with Wellington as a shipping port goes back to the first landing stage built on Petone beach in January, 1840. This was a simple structure built to allow the Surveyors of the Preliminary Expedition of the New Zealand Land Company to take their luggage, tools, and instruments ashore.
The first substantial wharf or jetty was built at Petone in 1883–1884, by the Gear Meat Company, under a fourteen years license from the Wellington Harbour Board, and was for the purpose of shipping meat to Wellington in the refrigerated hulk "Jubilee," and for landing coal for the same company. This wharf was built of black birch saplings and soon became eaten by marine life. Subsequently the seaward end was extended and strengthened, to enable the hulk "Jubilee" to lie at the wharf in safety.
On the termination of the Gear Company's license in 1898, this structure was leased for two years to the Petone Borough Council, and in 1900 a further two years extension was arranged. During this period quantities of frozen and preserved meats, coal, tallow, pelts, and timber passed over Petone Wharf.
About this time the Wellington Harbour Board completed the building of the Glasgow Wharf at Wellington, and, as this wharf had rail connection to provide particularly for exports, the volume of trade over the Petone Wharf was seriously affected.
At the same time the Harbour Board found that the approach to the Petone Wharf was in a dangerous condition and unsafe for use by the people of Petone, for school picnics and excursions, and this resulted in a decision being made to put the wharf up for auction for removal. No bid was received, and later the Petone Borough Council was asked if it would be prepared to take a further lease of the wharf on condition that it was put in repair for use by pedestrians. The Council was not prepared to expend the necessary money to make the structure safe and in 1901 the Board had the wharf removed by contract.
Although this wharf during its life handled many commodities, newspaper advertisements show that in 1890 a ferry service was run by the paddle steamer "Colleen," from Petone to Wellington on three days a week, making two trips a day, the return fare being 1/-. This ferry service was for the purpose of conveying residents and visitors to and from Petone, and was also used for picnics and pleasure parties.
With the removal of the wharf, various proposals were brought under the notice of the Harbour Board for wharf accommodation at Petone, and in 1892 legislation was passed to enable a joint cart and rail wharf to be built approximately in the vicinity of the old wharf. On account of difficulties that arose in regard to railway connections, the Board was later on asked to proceed with the construction of a wharf for road traffic only. Plans having been approved, the Board, in 1907, let a contract for the construction of the Petone Wharf as it stands to-day.
Hereunder are figures showing the number of vessels, total register tonnage, and class and volume of trade that has passed over the Petone Wharf during the last five years:—
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Shipping Arrivals:
Year No. of Vessels Total Net Tonnage
1934 — 1935 132 9,536
1935 — 1936 126 14,943
1936 — 1937 105 22,123
1937 — 1938 81 13,552
1938 — 1939 77 14,178
Cargo:
Discharged Shipped
Year live stock timber general general
Number Sup. Feet Tons Tons
1934 — 1935 4,127 1,174,793 3,091 3,969
1935 — 1936 16,034 2,143,706 2,038 3,428
1936 — 1937 19,157 2,377,914 1,444 4,237
1937 — 1938 8,441 1,026,375 2,331 4,209
1938 — 1939 3,398 1,571,500 2,673 4,105
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The Wharf, Petone.

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