How we got here
Our Foundation Year - 1968
The Wainui Historical Society (Silverdale) Inc. was founded on Wednesday 5th June 1968 when about 40 people attended a meeting held in the Orewa Hall.
The aim of the society was to record the history of the then Wainui Riding and to collect memorabilia in the hope of establishing a local museum.
The first president was C E (Ted) Spencer. The first secretary was Margaret Stevenson.
In November 2005, since the Wainui Riding had disappeared and no longer had significance, the name of the society was changed to ‘Silverdale and Districts Historical Society’.
Within a fortnight of its election the committee had selected the old Silverdale Methodist chapel as the most promising building for the society’s headquarters. The Waitemata County Council offered the former Silverdale school grounds as a new site for it.
It took 18 months to complete negotiations and raise money for the chapel’s removal, but it was eventually shunted on to the former school tennis court just before Christmas 1969.
With limited funds and few workers, it was a further two years before renovation and redecoration of the chapel was complete. For several years it was used for exhibitions and meetings.
In 1980 it was refurnished as a place of worship. Since then it has become a popular place for weddings. Occasionally baptisms and funerals are also held there and it is available for the use of church groups and secular meetings.
In 1985 the society celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Chapel’s arrival at ‘the Wade’.
Pioneer Village Established 1971
In July 1971 a meeting was held in the chapel, chaired by Cr Stevens, to gauge the interest of other local organisations in the establishment of a Pioneer Village. Support was offered from groups as diverse as businessmen’s associations, service and youth clubs.
A plan was drawn up by Waitemata County Council officers and the council offered help in clearing, planting and maintaining the site.
In 1974 boundary realignment brought Silverdale into Rodney County. Gradually the original plan lapsed.
Parsonage - 1974
By the end of 1971 work on the chapel was virtually complete and the society began actively seeking other buildings for the proposed ‘village’.
Selwyn Lloyd offered a house which had once been the Methodist Parsonage, sited near the chapel in Wainui Rd.
There it had been rented for a number of years as a home for the District Nurse. It was then sold to Alistair Fennell and his wife and removed to Wainui. By the end of the 1960s it was being used as a haybarn.
The parsonage was brought back to Silverdale in March 1974. Restoration started immediately and by August the following year it was in use for meetings.
Since then it has been the focus of the society’s social activities. It houses a craft gallery as well as the tea room and over the years has been used by a diverse number of community groups.
Bushman's Hut 1978
This hut was brought from its original site near Albany while the society was still preoccupied with renovating the parsonage.
It required rebuilding, but was eventually completed and furnished as the home of a single man working alone in the latter part of the 19th century. Later it was moved to the top level where it forms an early feature of the Time Trail and has been used in several TV series and photo shoots.
Schoolmaster's House 1977
The third building brought to the village was the former Headmaster’s house, built across the road from the school in 1908. The society registered its interest in acquiring it as early as 1974 but it was not until the end of 1977 that it was bought from the Education Board, being no longer needed for school staff. It was moved to a position as close as possible to the original school, by now used as a Play Centre.
At first it housed the archives and craft shop but is now dedicated to women, children, school and domestic affairs, art, craft and music.
Public Access 1980
In 1980 the society felt that the village was sufficiently developed for it to be opened regularly to the public. It has been open every Saturday and Sunday since from 10am to 3pm. There is no entrance fee, but in recognition that the work is done by volunteers, visitors are asked for a donation.
For a number of years, thanks to an unusually dedicated committee, the village was opened up to six days a week throughout the summer and on both Saturday and Sunday during the rest of the year. This year, however, with volunteers succumbing to age and illness, the hours have had to be curtailed to weekends only.
H A S (Selwyn) Lloyd was a founding committee member and later patron of the society. His grandfather Henry was the original owner of the land on which the village stands, and donated it to the community to use for the first school.
After Selwyn’s sudden death in 1981, the society thought it appropriate to build a memorial to a highly respected local identity. The gazebo built at the heart of the village provides a focal point for the gardens and a popular venue for weddings.
Frith Cottage 1988
Once known locally as ‘The White House’, this little cottage stood just south of the junction of Millwater Parkway and the Hibiscus Coast Highway. It is typical of the simple farmhouses built by our earliest settlers.
The society was interested in acquiring it as far back as 1974 but it was another 14 years before it became available.
When established at the village it became the headquarters of the Pioneer Herb Society which established complementary gardens around it. Since it was once the home of the man who suggested the name of ‘Silverdale’ it now contains a pictorial history of this area.
Neville House 1990
Built as a villa probably about the end of the first world war opposite Curley Ave in the heart of Silverdale, this house was extensively altered when bought by Frank Neville at the time of his marriage to Rita Cooper in 1935 to resemble the more modern Californian bungalow.
For many years Frank had their office in this house. He and his brother ran a carrying business from it which was essential to local farmers.
After its removal to the Pioneer Village in 1990 the house was renovated using funds from the ASB Community Trust. It was slightly altered to better allow for displays relating to the twentieth century, in particular of communication and commerce.
As part of the Time Trail Alan Penney of Wainui built an early style cowshed near the Frith Cottage and with generous assistance from Redvale Lime and the Poleyard the area between them was levelled to become a farmyard. On the northern boundary a ‘forge’ - actually a shelter shed no longer needed by the Silverdale Tennis Club - holds agricultural and blacksmith equipment.
Post Office 1999
In the late 1970s the society became interested in the small building at Dairy Flat which had been used as the local Post Office. Its first attempts to acquire it were unsuccessful, but twenty years later the Dairy Flat Historical Society was more successful and with assistance from some Albany businesses it was moved to the Pioneer Village in late 1999.
Bayes Building 2000
In the early 1980s the society had looked for a barn suitable for displaying machinery. Nothing suitable could be found, so through the generosity of Nicks Timber, a large shed was built near the chapel.
As the society’s collection expanded the shed was used for display and became known as ‘the museum’.
In 1994 a lottery grant enabled the society to extend it, to provide for the first time proper workshop space and a storeroom, and simultaneously to improve conditions for the collection.
Six years later it was extended again, thanks to a further generous lottery grant, to provide for the first time archives and research facilities of a professional standard as well as further office and work space. The part visible from the farmyard was designed to resemble the sought after barn.
Several local businesses and individuals provided the funds for murals which give a colourful and interesting background.
It is now known as the Bayes Building in recognition of the late Cr Stan Bayes, who was a foundation member of the society, its president for nine years and later its patron.
The reading room has been named in honour of Margaret Stevenson, for many years the society’s archivist.
Sidwell Lean-to 2004
In 2004 the Sidwell family planned a reunion to celebrate nearly 150 years since their arrival in New Zealand. They provided funds for a lean-to below the school house to display tools and machinery, now known as ‘Grandpa Sidwell’s Shed’.
Upper Waiwera Schoolroom 2005
This was obtained when the Silverdale School was moving to Millwater and the building, which had been sited at the old Silverdale School site, was no longer needed.
The Gardens 1971 -
The Pioneer Village gardens have become a major attraction in a district not noted for garden parks.
Dora Hanna and Beryl Kirkwood were the principal architects, but were assisted in the early days by interested officers of the Waitemata County Council and later the Rodney District Council. The Auckland Council continues the tradition by mowing lawns and providing assistance with chores such as rubbish removal.
The garden features large oak trees, old roses, herb and cottage gardens.
In 1980 Beryl Kirkwood, then president of the society, and some of her friends started the Pioneer Herb Society with the intention of providing a maintenance corps for the gardens.
Its first president, Kath Brabbins, and her husband Len, became tireless workers for both societies.
The herb society has since developed a life of its own but retains close links with its parent group.