Way back in the 1870s the settlers of the Wade (now Silverdale) built a small school for their children on land donated by the Lloyd family.
The school had an enthusiastic committee including Chairman Major Stoney of the Stoney Homestead (now part of the Millwater subdivision). On one occasion the committee censured him for spending five pounds on a picnic for the children. He had also spent money on planting trees in the grounds.
As the population grew, the school building became too small and a new school was built in what is now the Silverdale industrial park. The original school was finally vacated in 1954. It was used by various youth groups, including the Playcentre, but the grounds were left untended. By 1968 the price of land was escalating and buildings in Silverdale and Orewa were being demolished to make way for infill housing.
The Wainui Historical Society (now the Silverdale & Districts Historical Society) was formed with the idea of preserving some of the buildings to show future generations what the area had once looked like. A lease of the school grounds was granted by the former Rodney District Council.
The first building acquired by the Society was the Wesleyan Methodist chapel which had been in Silverdale since 1860 and was no longer in use. This was followed by the 1877 Parsonage and the 1907 Schoolmaster’s house from Silverdale Street. Neville Brothers donated their original house, built around the time of WW1 and converted to a Californian Bungalow in the 1930s. The little Frith Cottage, Dairy Flat Post Office, school shelter shed (now set up as a forge) a bushman’s hut and the Upper Waiwera school building (closed in the 1970s) were also acquired by the Society.
Today these buildings, surrounded by colourful gardens and containing various fascinating collections and furnishings from the late 1800s to the 1930s, form the Silverdale Pioneer Village. The one modern building is a museum showing the development of the area. It also contains our large collection of local archives and photos. (If anyone has old photos of the area which we can copy and add to the collection that would be much appreciated).
In December, the gardens are ablaze with colour and the buildings are decorated for Christmas. Come and visit.
After eight years, this is my final column and I would like to thank readers for all the feedback I have received and a special thank you to all the wonderful people who came up to me and said that they had enjoyed my history column. Your support has been more important to me than you could possibly have known.
1860s Chapel and gardens available for weddings, christenings and other functions. Pioneer Village open 10am–3pm every day except Tuesdays.
December 5–24 Traditional Christmas decorations in heritage houses • Christmas gifts for sale in the craft shop • For sale: Makers of the Wade by Robin Grover • Saturday, February 20 – Garage Sale
Hibiscus Matters can’t thank Ruth enough for her valuable contributions over the years.