Auckland Central Community Shed is located in Gribblehirst Park, a suburban park in the heart of Sandringham. The local Iwi named the area Nga Anawai, the ‘watery caves’, which were the lava caves created during the eruption of Ōwairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura (Mount Albert) and then Maungawhau (Mount Eden). The lava flows channelled the water flowing down from Maungawhau into the low lying land which would often flood the area, creating a large swampy environment.
The early European settlers referred to the area as Cabbage Tree Swamp, and Sandringham Road's first name was Cabbage Tree Swamp Road. This was changed three times until finally being named Sandringham Road in 1928, in reference to Sandringham (a royal residence in England), most probably reflecting real estate developers desires as those of the local community.
Lacking water, gas and electric supplies, land in the Sandringham area was mostly used for dairy and produce farming so it remained sparsely populated until late the 1900s. The area where the park is located was referred to as Gribbles Swamp. The Gribbles and Hirsts were two families among the early settlers of Sandringham who owned large blocks of land, and later intermarried.
In 1925 a tramline was built along Sandringham Road from Kingsland. This led to its suburban development starting in the 1920s. Gribblehirst park was established in 1928 when the Gribble and Hirst families donated the land to the Mt Albert Borough Council in 1928. The park was officially opened in 1931, the site having been drained and developed as public works during the 1930s depression era.
The Bowling Club Years
During 1938 and 1939 the council formed two bowling greens and built an adjoining pavilion in the south-western part of the reserve. This was leased to the Edendale Bowling Club. In it’s later years, Membership of the Bowling Club declined and consequently it’s Clubhouse became run down. Unable to continue, Edendale Bowling Club left the site in 2013 and gave up the lease in 2014.
Possibly the last time a picture was taken of the Edendale Club before it was disbanded in 2013.
Review by Steven M ( 3 Dec 2013)
“I feel a bit guilty reviewing Edendale ... like I'm giving away my best friend's closest held secret. This is more of a 'drinking club' than a 'bowling club.' The first time I went , on a Sunday, there was four guys drinking big bottles of Woodstock and listening to classic polynesian reggae. Not to be held back, we played a game of bowls out on the (slightly uneven) turf. After observing our efforts, one of the guys inside came out and showed us some techniques. After a bit of gentle prodding, it turns out he is a New Zealand representative. I think this is really the perfect game for our generation - you don't have to move around much, you can drink while playing it (in fact, it seems almost mandatory.) This club itself is steeped in history, surrounded by pictures of former greats. It may have fallen on hard times recently, but all it would take is regular attendance from a younger generation and it could be restored to a semblance of its former glory. I'll give it 3 stars, but it could be 5 based on the cheap beers alone.”
The Shed took occupancy of the ground floor and the Hub the first floor. Both parties took occupancy at the beginning of 2016, leasing it from the Council under the one entity The Gribblehirst Community Hub Trust. The joint trust continued until 2017 when it was decided to separate out. The Shed then became an incorporated society to be known as the Auckland Central Community Shed. The Shed and the Hub now both hold separate leases with council. The Hub later also acquired the lease for the commons (also known as ‘the greens’).
When the Shed took over the ground floor members immediately began making it fit for purpose. This meant knocking through walls and removing unwanted fixtures and fittings like the bar, cool store, bowling ball lockers, urinals in the now unisex toilet and carpet, etc. As more members joined, and relationships with suppliers were established, the refit gained more momentum. The Local Board also began supporting the Shed with grants.
Initially remedial measures such as extra power points on the building were needed fairly regularly but with water entering the building through walls and roof after heavy rain the Auckland Council carried out a major building upgrade in February 2019. This included a new roof, new windows, improved drainage and an external repaint. The Shed re-opened its doors in June although it took several more months to get it back into some sort of working order.
From the Past to the Future
Membership has grown steadily to around 100 members since the doors of the Shed first opened. Many of the original Members still remain and form an integral part of its success. From helping new Members to find their feet to sharing their wealth of experience and knowledge, not just in the areas of woodworking and engineering but general life skills too such as interpersonal communication, decision making skills and, of course, problem solving and creative thinking. The Shed is a place that enables social connectedness; it supports communication and sharing of information; and it allows for civic participation and employment in an intergenerational environment. As a space within Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), a city working towards being Age Friendly, it can only become more important for its community.