Beatrice > Edna > Lola – A Waiheke Story
Story & photo ex Joyce Fairgray, input from Harold Kidd
Today’s photo & story was prompted by the recent ww post / movie ‘Beautiful Waiheke’. The launch Beatrice was built in 1909 by Bailey & Lowe for Jas, Gordon – I’ll let Joyce tell the story.
“When the Lambournes and other city folk holidayed on Waiheke in the 1920s, they were welcomed by other young ones growing up there, who joined in the fun and friendship.
One was my father Selwyn Pegler (born 1903), son of John and Nell Pegler of Orapiu. Nell was daughter of Martin and Mary Ann Day of Days Bay; her sister Annie married John’s brother George and they lived not far away at Omaru Bay. Both families were large – double first cousins – so there was always a big crowd ready for fun. Numbers were further swollen by more cousins, because another sister, Jane married Will Connell, and brother Ted Day married Mercie Connell. Ted and Mercie’s daughter-in-law, Dixie Day, was author of “Waiheke Pioneers”.
Grandfather John Pegler farmed at Orapiu, and he and Granny Nell leased the boarding house from William McIntosh. It was a family enterprise with parents and children working together to run the place. All had their jobs, cooking, milking cows, cutting firewood, growing vegetables, caring for poultry and much more.
When Dad was in his teens, his father bought the launch from the Gordon family of Awaawaroa. There were a large number of Gordon girls, (yes, one married a Day!) and the launch was named for one – Beatrice. I think.
When Peglers became owners, the name was changed to that of Pegler daughter Edna, and when eventually it was sold to Connells it was named for Connell daughter Lola.
Teenage Dad was told to learn all about the boat from Mr Gordon, and take over the responsibility of launchman for the boarding house, providing guests with fishing, picnics and other excursions. It was also used for transport to and from the island for the holidaymakers. The Fuller family was often among them, and they and others would want to see any shows that were on at His Majesty’s so Dad would get them to the city. He was given a ticket to see the show, and afterwards would take them all back to Orapiu. There were few lights to be seen round the gulf, but one landmark to watch for was a lone house light at Beachlands. Weather deteriorated one night and Dad decided they would have to sleep on the boat at the launch steps, and wait until morning. One lady was very cross about it.
In 1924 the lease was due for renewal. The two oldest girls had gone nursing, other children were reaching adulthood, and my grandparents decided Waiheke could not provide adequate livelihoods for all. The launch and other possessions were sold; they moved to a dairy farm at Paerata, and Dad’s days as a responsible young skipper were over”.
More details & photos of Lola here https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/08/27/mystery-launch-2708/
Input from Peter Stein
The above article brought back many fond memories. When our launch “Waitangi” was laid up during the war because of the petrol shortage we relied very much on the “Lola”. Our only access to Arran Bay was by the Auckland-Cowes Bay ferry. The usual ferry was the “MV Baroona” but sometimes the “TSS Tangaroa” and “Onewa” were used on the run. The ferry would stop off at Connell’s Bay and Mr WJ Connell (we knew him as “John Willie”) would bring the Lola alongside for the passengers to board. He owned the store in the bay named after him. He usually had one of his two sons with him. The elder Eric took over the store after his father died. The younger son Les managed the farm which included the land behind the houses in Arran Bay.
If my memory serves me correctly the Lola was driven by a two cylinder Lister motor.
During the summer when I was a young boy the family would visit the Pegler’s in Omaru Bay. It was an opportunity for my father to renew his acquaintance with Mr Pegler and for us to gather fruit from the fine orchard they had.
From the 1920s to the 1980s there would be few boaties that did not visit Connell’s Store for fuel and stores. My father bought Arran House from WJ Connell in 1924. Below is a copy of the first account my father received from Mr Connell.