Haven’t offered up a prize in a while so today is a goodie. Thanks to a Mitchell Hutchings fb post we get to share the two brilliant photos above of the St Mary’s Bay area. Mitchell commented that the photos were dated 1980 but he was not sure of the date. Neil Gillard also commented that the date was more like the 1960’s, as at that time he was serving his time at Chas Bailey’s yard and he recalls the boats (probably the ferries) being moored there then. 

This how the quiz will work – each launch you correctly ID, gives you one point – get all there right and you have 3 chances in the draw. ID only 1 = 1 chance. Launch (c) will be a challenge. 

Entries by email only – closes 7pm 29-08-22 Answers to

THE PRIZE: A copy of the Jenni Mence’s superb tome – ‘K-Class – The Hauraki Gulf’s Iconic Racer-Cruiser’ – 360 pages of photographs, illustrations and tales from the skippers and crew that sailed these stunning classic yachts.

Mystery Launch On Slip at St Mary’s Bay


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Mystery Launch On Slip at St Mary’s Bay
Today’s photo comes to us via Lew Redwood’s fb (probably taken by Radcliff) & shows an unidentified launch on a slip in the St Mary’s Bay area. The photo is captioned ‘Auckland Harbour From Ponsonby’.
Lew commented that the orientation of the photo is looking from St Mary’s Bay near Point Erin showing a boat slip, with the premises of JT Julian & Son Boat Builders on Wynyard Wharf in the mid ground (1910>1919)
Can anyone ID the launch?
Harold Kidd Input – Reverting to the postcard, I think Chas Collings’ house is the one to the right whose verandah is visible. As for the launch, her configuration was a common one at the time. Built c1910 + or – 2 or 3 years, flush decked, “schooner rigged” with auxiliary sails, tuck stern, nice lines, a typical Auckland-built launch of the time. I think the pic and the postcard are too early for TEINA (sp) which was launched in June 1922. I can’t see why TEINA would be pulled out in St. Mary’s Bay. She was a Bayswater boat.
If the image was clearer you could count the ports etc. I do have a copy of the postcard at home but have never attempted to identify the launch.
My guess is that she’s a Ponsonby-owned launch. My mind says the first Drayton a 27 footer built in 1912 by H.N. Burgess and owned by the Walker Brothers, members of the Ponsonby Cruising Club just to the right of frame. But it could be 30 others.
Also CYA Woody’s – Remember this weekend is the Annual CYA Patio Bay Yacht Race + Launch Cruise + Christmas Party
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Early St Marys Bay

Early St Marys Bay
photo ex Ron Wattam

The above photo was found in two pieces in a collection of old Collings & Bell photos, Ron joined the pieces up & with a little photoshop work we have today’s image.. Given the source of the photo we could assume that the location is St. Marys Bay / what is now the Westhaven area.

Can anyone confirm the location & any luck ID’ing the vessels?

Input from Barry Davis

This is St Marys Bay before St Marys Bay Road was extended down to the foreshore sometime in the 1930’s? Until then the steps to the right were the public access to the beach. The building to the far left looks like the old Ponsonby Cruising Club headquarters. With the road being extended down to the foreshore the club rooms were moved forward and onto piles with another level added.

Tides Out At Collings & Bell

Tides Out At Collings & Bell
photos & details ex Harold Kidd

When the Collings & Bell boat yard / shed in St Mary’s Bay was vacated due to the Harbour Bridge construction project, a lot of cool items were just left lying around, on a sneaky visit Barry Davis discovered a selection of Chas Collings’ glass photography quarter plates showing St Mary’s Bay during an ultra low tide in the 1930s. The photos show that in the days before dredging most of the launches and yachts are aground.
Even though the plates were cracked & damaged the detail is amazing & they could be blown up to view the boats in detail. To secure these negatives was a great find as most of the plates were tossed into the bay by the apprentices.

In photo #4 Harold’s father’s schooner TAHITIENNE is at right background out in the stream in RottenRow.


photo & details ex Harold Kidd

A new photo of Wenna has surfaced from Bob Wiley of Boat Haulage, whose father did a lot of cruising on Wenna when she was owned by Willie McWhirter during the 1950s and 1960s.
Willie McWhirter (1902-1983) was a long-term Auckland Harbour Board employee, son of Tom McWhirter, brother of Jack, of the well-known yachting family of St. Mary’s Bay.
He lived at 61 St. Mary’s Road. Dave Jackson knew him well.
When McWhirter owned Wenna he carried a food safe on the dodger which was most unusual and characteristic of the launch during his ownership.
Harold commented this is now a  a missing chunk of Wenna’s history accounted for.

Back then the crack was “Wenna you going to buy me a beer?” 🙂

ps excuse the fly poo on the photo – HDK was worried that cleaning it might have damaged the original print 🙂

To view more photos on Wenna old & current – enter Wenna in the ww search box.

11/11/14 – Harold Kidd Update

Jack Taylor has given me the good oil on WENNA. He used to work alongside Alf Bell of Collings & Bell and Alf told him some facts about WENNA.
1. She WAS built by Collings & Bell.
2. They took their time over construction so Eric O’Neill, who lived in Ring Terrace a few yards away, kept nagging them, ” When are you going to get my boat finished”, and the WENNA stuck.
3. Eric was known around the waterfront as “Peggy” O’Neill after the song. He was a cheerful bloke and everyone liked him.
4. He knew nothing about boating at the start. He brought WENNA back from Barrier through the bad February 1936 hurricane and complained to Alex Collings that she leaked. 40 boats were lost in Auckland in that blow.
5. However, he got to be good enough to skipper PAIKEA on occasion during her NAPS service.


Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder


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Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder

The story below on Charles Collings’ approach to design in the immediate post-WW1 period has been penned by Harold Kidd.

Charles Collings emerged from World War I with a massive reputation for fast craft. In late 1914, when the war was just a distant rumble in France, he had built the 21ft restricted racer FLEETWING with which he raced and beat the Christchurch boat DISTURBER on the Waitemata in April 1915 at exactly the time of the landings at Gallipoli. He developed his “concave-convex” hull design where the chine hull had a convex (hollow) entry and progressively transitioned though straight to convex at the stern. He was by no means the originator of the idea, but certainly grabbed it as his own through decades of successful planing hulls he built for racing, fast cruising and whale chasing.
There is no doubt that he was well ahead of his time in a local context, although Major Lane was close behind.
By war’s end in 1918 Charles Collings had been a notable war effort contributor as a pal of local motorboat guru Charles Palmer (see ADELAIDE on this site), had lost his partner Alf Bell who had gone to the Walsh Brothers helping them build flying boats at Kohimarama for their flying school (and did not welcome him back afterwards), and was preparing for the post-war boom in large launch building that was inevitably coming, during which he built MARGUERITE, PAIKEA and RUAMANO amongst many others.
I have had a chip at his aesthetics from time to time but, to be fair to the man, he did not have the hindsight we have on the way launch design went and could not know what looks good to us today.
Faced with the design of a fast cruiser, only 32ft loa by 8ft 6in beam, and the desire for headroom in the main cabin, he came up with his second motorboat called FLEETWING (by now a brand for him). She was an extension of the ideas in the 1915 ADELAIDE.
I think, with this second FLEETWING, Collings’ first training as a civil engineer shows through more than his secondary training with Robert Logan Sr. as a shipwright. To obtain headroom he carried the tramtop/clerestory concept to the point IMHO of ugliness, using the parameters of the railway carriage, the electric tram and the motor bus of the time, abandoning completely the parameters of the yacht, even a token attention to which had kept launches aesthetically pleasing until now.
Anyway, see what you think of this image of the second FLEETWING which I have taken from one of Collings’ own glass plates, very decayed, but an amazing insight into the goings on in St Mary’s Bay in late 1920. Collings & Bell’s yard is out of picture to the left, so we see the yards of Dick Lang and Leon Warne close up.
This launch was on TradeMe at Picton recently, erroneously called MISS FLEETWING.

Update: Charles Collings was a very good amateur photographer with excellent gear. After his death in 1946 his glass plates got scattered around in the workshop, many were used for skipping across the Bay, most were smashed one way or another. A very few survived, most cracked or with their emulsion badly decayed. I have a handful more of which a couple are excellent and the definitive shots of his 26ft mullet boat CORONA after her launching in 1936.

PS Leon Warne took over the shed on the right in 1916 from Henry Barton who left for the US with his family because of his anti-war convictions (and had a shocking time on the way). Warne had served his time with Collings & Bell. He painted up the shed very nicely as you can see but was building in St.Mary’s Bay only until c1924 when he and his brother set up in Russell, building and chartering game fishing launches.

St Marys Bay Auckland


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A view of St Marys Bay with the wharf (left), several boats and boatsheds, premises of Collings and Bell, boatbuilders in St Marys Bay Road (left) and residences in Ponsonby overlooking the bay. An interesting collection of photos, same area but taken at different times. The ‘aerial’ one of all the boats stowed in the valley is fun – last boat out is the first one in for the summer.

Input from Harold Kidd (to photo A)

At the end of the wharf is the Ponsonby Cruising Club’s premises before the second storey and balcony was added. Collings & Bell’s original shed is directly behind. To the left of the PCC is the small building in which various things happened like Collings had his test tank, George Murphy lived when he was fishing with ETHEL which tied up alongside the jetty, and Des Donovan did some clinker work post WW2 with Fred Steele as “20th Century Boats”. I may have conflated some of these functions.
To the right of C&B’s slipway is the shed of Peter A. Smith, the engineer who was agent for Alpha marine engines (Danish-made I think) and who commissioned many launches from people like Dick Lang and Tom Le Huquet for customers fitting Alphas. He also traded in boats. Next right is the yard of Peter Barton who did repairs and hired out small boats, later joined by his son Phil, a true gentleman. Dick Lang and later Sam Ford were here and I think used Smith’s premises. I was born in London Street, just out of frame to the left (not terribly much after this image!) by which time the PCC was fully built up and C&B had built a large half-round shed at the back.
It really was the centre of the known universe.