Western Springs:<br>History

Western Springs:
History

The influx of migrants during the 19th century meant Auckland city quickly grew desperate for a supply of unpolluted water, so the government decided to knock on the door of a well-to-do Scotsman called William Motions.

Motions owned a block of land which included the area we now call Western Springs. Motions sold 120 acres of this land, including the springs, to the government in 1874.

A pump-house was built and Western Springs supplied Auckland with its water until the early 1900s, when large dams and reservoirs were constructed in the Waitakere Ranges.

Today the old pump-house can be seen at MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology which opened in 1964.

During the Second World War, Western Springs provided a camp for US soldiers. When the war ended, the camp became a cramped residence for families who had nowhere else to live, and partners and children often had to live separately. The 42 units closed down in 1959, when there was finally enough state housing to go around.

Times were often tough in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and many children were expected to contribute by helping out around the house or earning a bit of extra cash.

Local resident Bill Grieves recalls as a boy delivering the Herald in the morning and the Star at night for four shillings a week, and he would give most of the money to his mother.

But it wasn’t all toil and trouble. Many children would play in the springs in summer and catch tadpoles. A few enterprising kids would gather watercress and sell it later.

Today, Western Springs is less of a swimming destination; its prime attractions today are the surrounding parkland, zoo, stadium and MOTAT.

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Content updated: 20/06/2019 02:06

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