Albert Barracks

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Albert Barracks
Albert Barracks Wall 020.JPG
Albert Barracks wall remnant in 2016
General information
  • Alfred Street
  • Auckland
  • New Zealand
Coordinates 36°51′4.21″S174°46′11.24″E / 36.8511694°S 174.7697889°E / -36.8511694; 174.7697889 Coordinates: 36°51′4.21″S174°46′11.24″E / 36.8511694°S 174.7697889°E / -36.8511694; 174.7697889
Completed 1850
Designated 23 June 1983 [1]
Reference no. 12

The Albert Barracks was a major British military installation that overlooked Auckland, New Zealand, from the mid-1840s to 1870, during the city's early colonial period. The perimeter wall was built between 1846 and the early 1850s, [1] in the area now bounded by Kitchener Street, Waterloo Quadrant, Symonds Street, and Wellesley Street East, according to Colonel T R Mould's 1860 map of Defensible Works round Auckland. The site is now mostly occupied by Albert Park and the University of Auckland's City Campus, and Princes Street runs through the centre of it. All that remains of the barracks structures is part of the perimeter wall, which is on the university campus.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest urban area in the country, with an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

Thomas Rawlings Mould Soldier, engineer

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Rawlings Mould was a notable English soldier and engineer.

Albert Park, Auckland

Albert Park is a public park in central Auckland, bounded by Wellesley Street East, Princes Street, Bowen Avenue and Kitchener Street. From the entrance at the corner of Bowen Ave and Kitchener St, sealed footpaths climb steeply through native trees to the large flat area at the summit, where a formal layout of paths and flower gardens encircle a fountain.



The fortification was built to reassure the people of Auckland following the 1845–1846 Flagstaff War in the Bay of Islands; at the time, Auckland was the capital of New Zealand. [1]

Flagstaff War

The Flagstaff War – also known as Hōne Heke's Rebellion, the Northern War and the First Māori War – was fought between 11 March 1845 and 11 January 1846 in and around the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. The conflict is best remembered for the actions of Hōne Heke who challenged the authority of the British by cutting down the flagstaff on Flagstaff Hill at Kororāreka, now Russell. The flagstaff had been a gift from Hōne Heke to James Busby, the first British Resident. The Northern War involved many major actions, including the Battle of Kororāreka on 11 March 1845, the Battle of Ohaeawai on 23 June 1845 and the siege of Ruapekapeka Pā from 27 December 1845 to 11 January 1846.

Capital of New Zealand

Wellington has been the capital of New Zealand since 1865. New Zealand's first capital city was Old Russell (Okiato) in 1840–41. Auckland was the second capital from 1841 until 1865, when Parliament was permanently moved to Wellington after an argument that persisted for a decade. As the members of parliament could not agree on the location of a more central capital, Wellington was decided on by three Australian commissioners.

Tenders were called for construction of the perimeter wall on 18 December 1846. [2] The wall was built under the supervision of George Graham and enclosed the 22 acres (8.9 ha) site. Construction of the scoria wall with stone quarried from Engineer Quarry in Mount Eden was undertaken by both Europeans and local Maori under Graham's supervision. As this type of construction was new to Maori, training was given to them, with the result that "it would be difficult to point out any marked difference between them and the work performed by the Europeans". [3] The speed and quality of the work encouraged the Europeans employing Maori to set up a night school to provide them with additional training. In addition, a skills based pay structure was introduced for them with three steps from entrance class at two shillings per day, 2nd class at two shillings and six pence, and those who were proficient three shillings and six pence per day. [4] European stonemasons earned between six and eight shillings per day. [5]

George Graham was a 19th-century Member of Parliament in the Auckland, New Zealand.

Mount Eden mountain and suburb of Auckland

Mount Eden is a suburb in Auckland, New Zealand whose name honours George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. It is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the Central Business District (CBD). Mt Eden Road winds its way around the side of Mount Eden Domain and continues to weave back and forth as it descends into the valley; it runs south from Eden Terrace to Three Kings. Mt Eden village centre is located roughly between Valley Road and Grange Road. The domain is accessible on foot from many of the surrounding streets, and by vehicle from Mt Eden Road. The central focus of the suburb is Maungawhau / Mount Eden, a dormant volcano whose summit is the highest natural point on the Auckland isthmus.

A night school is an adult learning school that holds classes in the evening or at night to accommodate people who work during the day. A community college or university may hold night school classes that admit undergraduates.

During the same period, a number of buildings were constructed inside the wall, including ordinance halls, hospital, theatre, a magazine for storing powder and a military reading room. There was also a large parade ground. The original hospital was a single-story building constructed from stone blocks, similar to those used for the barracks wall. It accommodated about 50 patients in six wards. With the Invasion of the Waikato in 1863 the hospital could not cope with demand and several wooden houses were used as temporary hospitals for the overflow. The hospital buildings included a medical store and a kitchen block. [6]

Gunpowder explosive most commonly used as propellant in firearms

Gunpowder, also known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), charcoal (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Because of its incendiary properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms, artillery, rockets, and fireworks, and as a blasting powder in quarrying, mining, and road building.

Invasion of the Waikato

The Invasion of the Waikato was the biggest and most important campaign of the 19th century New Zealand Wars, fought in the North Island of New Zealand between the military forces of the colonial government and a federation of Māori tribes known as the "Kingitanga Movement". The Waikato is a territorial region with a northern boundary somewhat south of the city of Auckland. Hostilities lasted for nine months, from July 1863 to April 1864. The invasion was aimed at crushing Kingite power, which was seen as a threat to British authority, and also at driving Waikato Māori from their territory in readiness for occupation and settlement by Europeans. The campaign was fought by a peak of about 14,000 Imperial and colonial troops and about 4,000 Māori warriors drawn from more than half the major North Island tribal groups.

In 1866 the magazine was moved to Mount Eden stockade, beside Mount Eden Prison. [7]

Mount Eden Prisons

Mount Eden Prisons consists of two separate facilities in the Auckland, New Zealand suburb of Mount Eden — the Mount Eden Prison and the Mount Eden Corrections Facility.

Military units

58th Regiment NCOs NCO's-of-the-58th.jpg
58th Regiment NCOs

Troops of the 65th Regiment were the first stationed at Albert Barracks. In 1849 they were replaced by the 58th Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Wynyard. [8] In August 1855 a detachment of the 58th Regiment (273 troops) under Major Charles Nugent was sent to Taranaki on the Duke of Portland. Tensions had been growing there over land sales and New Plymouth was deemed vulnerable to attack by local Maori. [9]

The 65th Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1756 as the 2nd Battalion, 12th Regiment of Foot. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 84th Regiment of Foot to become the 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment in 1881.

The 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot was a British Army line infantry regiment, raised in 1755. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Northamptonshire Regiment in 1881.

Robert Wynyard British politician

Robert Henry Wynyard was a New Zealand colonial administrator, serving at various times as Lieutenant Governor of New Ulster Province, Administrator of the Government, and was the first Superintendent of Auckland Province.

The Auckland Volunteer Rifles were formed in 1858 and used the Albert Barracks for training. [10] In October 1858 the 65th Regiment under Colonel Charles E Gold returned to Auckland from Wellington. The 58th Regiment departed for England on the Mary Ann in November. In March 1860, 200 men of the 65th Regiment were transferred on the steamer Airdale to Taranaki to reinforce the garrison there. The troops' arrival and occupation of the Waitara block became the commencement of the First Taranaki War. [11] On 1 May 1860 the Auckland Militia were called to assemble at Albert Barracks. [12] The Auckland Militia Regiment consisted of four Battalions, one based in Auckland, one at Onehunga, one at Otahuhu, and one on the North Shore. The Auckland Battalion was based at Albert Barracks and consisted of five companies. [13] In June 1860 more troops from the 65th Regiment and a party of Royal Engineers arrived from Sydney on the Nugget. In November 1860 the 65th Regiment departed and was replaced by the 2nd Battalion of 14th Regiment, who arrived on the steam ship Robert Lowe and the Boanerges. [14] They were joined in 22 January 1861 by a detachment from the 57th Regiment who had arrived from Bombay on the Castilian. The remainder of the 57th from the Castilian had been dispatched to New Plymouth on HM steam sloop Cordelia from Onehunga. [15] The 65th returned to Albert Barracks from Waitara in April 1861. By May they numbered 800 men under Colonel Alfred F W Wyatt, along with some 200 men of the Royal Artillery and about 50 men from the Royal Engineers. The Royal Artillery had stables constructed either in or near the Barracks. [16] These units remained until February 1862 when the barracks were guarded by the local militia. In 1863, 340 soldiers of the 40th Regiment were housed at the barracks. They in turn were replaced by two companies (120 men) of the 65th in May 1863. In November the 50th Regiment was at the barracks, having followed the 18th Regiment to New Zealand. Almost all the troops were deployed to areas of conflict during the Waikato invasion, Tauranga Campaign, and the Second Taranaki War, with various units coming and going as they were redeployed to other areas.

From 1865 the various Imperial forces began to leave New Zealand, its defense being completely placed in the hands of the local militias by July/August 1867. [17] The final Imperial Troops stationed in New Zealand were the 2nd Battalion of the 18th Regiment. They were housed at the Barracks until their departure in February 1870 on SS Hero, [18] the land and buildings being gifted to the New Zealand Government by the British government. [19]


Colonel Thomas Mould Thomas R Mould.jpg
Colonel Thomas Mould

In 1849 the crew of the shipwrecked French National Corvette L Alceme were housed at the barracks for seven weeks while awaiting repatriation. [20]

The grounds were used a cricket venue in 1850 and the buildings, at various times from 1849, for balls and theatrical performances.

Up to 1857 Auckland had relied on septic tanks for sewage disposal, but these were no longer suitable given the growing population. Albert Barracks with its 1,000 residents compounded the problem, with heavy rain causing its septic tanks to overflow and the effluent to run down through the lower city areas. The Provincial Council raised the issue with the military, Colonel Thomas Mould of the Royal Engineers, who advised that they were prepared to deal with the problem if the Council were prepared to install sewer mains. [21] A sewer main was not installed until 1863 after several outbreaks of typhoid fever in the city.

Also in 1863, a large fire passed through the central city near the barracks. Concerns were raised that had the wind veered, the fire could have set alight the powder magazines at the barracks. There was about 100 tons of powder stored there. [22] This fire was then followed in March 1863 by a series of fires at the barracks, which were suspected to be the work of an arsonist. [23] The fires stopped after the military imposed a curfew at the barracks.

Demolition and transformation

Albert Park Albert Park From Lumley Centre Building.jpg
Albert Park
University of Auckland clock tower building viewed from Albert Park UoA-ClockTower.jpg
University of Auckland clock tower building viewed from Albert Park

With the departure of the 18th Regiment in 1870 some of the buildings were auctioned for removal. The site continued to be used as a cricket ground and parade ground for the local militia while its future was debated. In 1871 Auckland Grammar School under Farquhar Macrae, Head Master, began to use a building on the site. [24] The Government transferred the Albert Barracks land was declared Crown land under The Public Domains Act 1860 by the Auckland Military Reserves Act 1871. This clause of the Act was repealed and replaced by the Auckland Improvement (Albert Barrack Reserves) Act 1872 which vested the land in the Superintendent of the Province of Auckland. The Act set up the Auckland Improvement Commissioners to manage and dispose of the land in terms of the Act. The Act enabled them to remove the wall and buildings from the site, with the exception of the Militia Store. In 1873 the Militia Store was moved to the former hospital building on the site and vested in the Governor.

Present time

The barracks were in the area now bounded by Kitchener Street, Waterloo Quadrant, Symonds Street, and Wellesley Street East, according to Colonel T R Mould's 1860 map of Defensible Works round Auckland. Princes Street runs through the centre of the site, with Albert Park on the western portion and the University of Auckland on the eastern side. [25] A synagogue was built on a section at the corner of Princes Street and Bowen Avenue in 1884–1885; it is now leased by the University and called University House.

All that remains of the barracks structures is 85 metres (279 ft) of the perimeter wall. The remnant is the oldest surviving piece of British military infrastructure in New Zealand. On 23 June 1983, the Albert Barracks Wall was registered by Heritage New Zealand as a Category I structure, with registration number 12. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Albert Barracks Wall". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand . Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  2. "Tenders ...". New Zealander, Volume 2, Issue 81, 19 December 1846. P. 1, column 4.
  3. "Native labour". New Zealander. Volume 2, Issue 96, 3 April 1847, page 3.
  4. Native labour, New Zealander, Volume 3, Issue 107, 9 June 1847, page 2
  5. Page 1, Advertisements, Column 2, Daily Southern Cross, 12 February 1848
  6. "The hospitals at the Albert Barracks". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XX, Issue 2100, 13 April 1864
  7. New powder magazine - addition to the stockade, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXII, Issue 2761, 31 May 1866, page 4
  8. The New-Zealander, Volume 4, Issue 312, 26 May 1849, page 2
  9. The Troops For Taranaki, New Zealander, Volume 11, Issue 973, 11 AUGUST 1855, page 2
  10. Auckland Coal and limestone, New Zealander, Volume XIV, Issue 1295, 15 September 1858
  11. Departure of Troops for Taranaki, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XVII, Issue 12, 27 March 1860
  12. Militia, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XVII, Issue 1290, 1 May 1860
  13. The New Zealand Gazette, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XVII, Issue 1290, 1 May 1860
  14. Maritime and Military Record, New Zealander, Volume XVI, Issue 1526, 1 December 1860
  15. Monthly local epitome, New Zealander, Volume XVII, Issue 1544, 2 February 1861
  16. Monthly maritime and military record, New Zealander, Volume XVII, Issue 1579, 5 June 1861
  17. James Cowan, The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Vol II, Chapter 5, 1922
  18. Departure of the troops, New Zealand Herald, Volume VII, Issue 1903, 21 February 1870, page 4
  19. "Thursday, December 30, 1869". New Zealand Herald. Volume VII, Issue 1858, 30 December 1969, page 4
  20. Melencholy shipwreck, Maori Messenger : Te Karere Maori, Volume 4, Issue 65, 19 June 1851, page 2
  21. The Sanitary State of Auckland, New Zealander, Volume 13, Issue 1157, 20 May 1857, page 3
  22. "Auckland. Great fire in Queen-street". Taranaki Herald. Volume XI, Issue 549, 7 February 1863
  23. Incendiary fires in the Albert barracks, New Zealander, Volume XIX, Issue 1829, 27 March 1863
  24. The Grammar School, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVII, Issue 4265, 15 April 1871, page 2
  25. Fortifications of the New Zealand Wars, Nigel Prickett, May 2016, New Zealand Department of Conservation, page 25, ISBN   978-0-478-15069-8