If you have been travelling near Three Kings, Auckland, lately, at the intersection where Mt Eden Road meets Mt Albert Road, you would have noticed a vision of historic gorgeousness appearing – the stunning, original, century-old 1903 Ranfurly Veterans Home which for decades has been hidden behind other far less attractive buildings. Over the past few months, the demolition work has revealed the house that had remained virtually hidden to most commuters along Mt Albert Road.
Originally known as the Auckland Veteran’s Home, the facility was the initiative of Lord Ranfurly (the same Ranfurly who gave us the Shield) and was inspired by London’s Chelsea Home to honour those who fought in the Boer War.
Those residents in the early years also included returned servicemen who had fought in both the Crimean and New Zealand Wars, and as a correspondent wrote in the Evening Post in 1926, the home was regarded with much respect. “As a frequent visitor in bygone years to the Veteran’s Home at Three Kings, Auckland, this institution has always appealed to me as one of the finest and noblest works ever achieved by any Governor of New Zealand…. . I had the privilege of being present when the late Lord Kitchener inspected the home and the resident veterans; it brings a lump to the throat now when I remember how smartly, yes smartly, though some of them were bowed with years, those veterans paraded, how intently they listened to Lord Kitchener’s brief address, and how spruce were their quarters.”
Lord Ranfurly himself was also viewed with great affection by the residents as this 1924 report says, “The Earl of Ranfurly who was governor of New Zealand from 1897 to 1904 was remembered with gratitude by the older inmates of the Veterans home on account of the keen interest which, during his residence in this country he displayed in their welfare. Last Christmas 20 inmates of the home sent to the Earl an original Christmas card designed by one of their outside friends Mr Payne and bearing the signature of each of the senders...”
If you suspect an ancestor may have been a resident of the home, there are records held by the Ranfurly Trust, including a list of those buried at Waikaraka cemetery, but these records have not been maintained over the years and are sparse. Your best bet is to contact the voluntary archivist at the Trust for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, if you can’t get along for a glimpse of the house in person, enjoy these glorious photos of this historic building. It appears that views of Lord Ranfurly’s most excellent vision may well be obscured again from street level once construction begins on the apartments of the new retirement complex.
|House with bare ground around it, 1905.|
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1241.
|House from a distance with trees around it, 1924.|
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1826.
|Photo of war memorial inside the Ranfurly Veteran's home, 1924.|
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1833.
|Photo showing interior view of the library and reading room, 1905. |
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1503.
|Photo of residents sitting on the steps of the building, 1924. |
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1828.