Victoria Park itself is built on reclaimed land during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. But the Bay itself was used for fishing prior to that. Point Acheron at the western side of the Bay on the original coastline is the probable location of Te Tou Pa.
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Land speculation and development has always been one of the major commercial activities in Auckland. The very act of reclamation was partly speculative, with blocks of land being sold well in advance of the reclamation. As the city grew, the increasing pressure on land and the need for improved harbour facilities resulted in a series of reclamations which gradually in-filled several of Auckland’s bays - Mechanics Bay, Commercial Bay and Freeman’s Bay among others.
The reclamation process began in 1859 with the area between Fort St and Customs St East and was still an ongoing process well into the 20th century with the Bledisloe Stage 2 reclamation as late as 1983-5. Reclamation in Freemans Bay, was partially reclaimed around 1873-4 on the eastern shoreline probably for basic shipping facilities, but the main process that filled the Bay, including what is now Victoria Park, started in 1885 and finished by 1901. Reclamations continued through the 20th Century with the new Freemans Bay is located about 550m north of its original location. Victoria Park itself was formerly opened to the public in 1905 and is currently used for sports and a playground.
In 1900 the Auckland City Council, concerned about inadequate refuse disposal arrangements and the threat of bubonic plague, considered erecting a refuse destructor where rubbish would be sorted and disposed of. The council subsequently settled on a site opposite the recently opened Victoria Park and the destructor was completed in 1905. In 1908 a boiler room, generator room and battery house were added and it began generating electricity. By 1910 it was consuming 10,000 tons of rubbish per year. Stables were added in 1915 and depot buildings facing the Victoria Street frontage were added in 1918. In 1972 the destructor was closed and was later redeveloped as Victoria Park Market.
The double barrelled pistol was recovered from the bottom layer of a 19th century well located near Napier Street, in association with other artefacts such as the remains of a bucket, leather shoes, and a stoneware Blacking jar. The pistol was double triggered, one of which appears to have been fired with the firing pin engaged, while the remaining trigger had not been fired. The pistol handle has not survived, with only the metal section remaining. The pistol is currently with a conservator who will x-ray it to expose any production marks and makers name, and it will then be conserved to prevent any further corrosion.
The pistol is quite small and may have been bought by its owner for personal safety as robberies and muggings did occur in new colonial settlements. However, it may also have been used for criminal purposes, and the fact that the pistol had been discarded in the well certainly raises questions regarding its use.
As the pistol was recovered directly from the base of the well, this indicates that the well was still open and in use when it was discarded. After the well ceased to be used for drawing water, it would have been used as a refuse dump, and the large amount of organic materials such as seeds, grass and garden waster located about 1m above the base of the well, along with numerous tins, shoes, jars and ceramics, indicates it was used for dumping rubbish at this time.
- Clough, R. E & Mace, T. August 2001. Harbour Bridge to City: Heritage Assessment. Unpublished report prepared for Transit New Zealand and Beca Carter.
- Bickler, S. and R. Clough. 2004. Victoria Park, Auckland, Anode Bed Replacement Project Archaeological Assessment. Unpublished report for Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and Vector Ltd