The history of Worser Bay

Last updated 14:36 14/06/2014
Marine Parade seatoun
Marine Parade, Seatoun, Wellington, looking towards the wharf and to the hills. Houses can be seen along Marine Parade, and in the background.

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The sea off Marine Pde in Seatoun has been the site of several shipwrecks, the grimmest of which was the Wahine Disaster, on April 10, 1968.

When the Wahine foundered, with the eventual loss of 53 lives, rescue crews rushed to Seatoun beach where several lifeboats washed up.

Churchill Park, at the eastern tip of Marine Pde, was named after city councillor J G Churchill, who was chairman of the Reserves Committee. Since the 1990s, the park has also included a memorial to the passengers who died in the Wahine disaster.

Designed by Peter Kundycki, the memorial includes a plaque, replica ventilators and the ship's anchor and chain.

Marine Pde stretches from Worser Bay to Seatoun Wharf.

In its early days, the Worser Bay end of Marine Pde was home to a pilot station that was moved from Tarakena Bay in 1860.

The station, now at 229 Marine Pde, was home to Captain Lancelot Holmes, the pilot in command during the 1870s and 1880s.

The "exotic" Worser Bay soon became a holiday destination when, in the mid- 1890s, Robert Hearn created a seaside resort along Marine Pde.

City residents arriving on coach services visited the store and beach cottages dotted along the bay on weekends and holidays.

The Seatoun end of the parade is home to one of the suburb's most notable landmarks, Seatoun wharf.

Built by the Seatoun Roads Board in 1901, the wharf was a much-needed port of access to Wellington City, and to Days Bay across the harbour.

The cost of a return fare was one shilling, but much like today, residents were often unable to travel on the little steamers because of bad weather.

The popularity of Seatoun wharf did not last long. When the tramway tunnel was opened in 1907, the service quickly became a redundant form of travel.

The regular ferry service was discontinued in 1913.

However, a ferry service has operated at Seatoun wharf since 2006 as part of the Days Bay service.

During the wharf's peak, the house almost directly opposite was a tearoom and accommodation house run by Margaret Annis for more than 20 years.

The tearooms were perhaps the first commercial enterprise in Seatoun.

Opposite the old tearooms, on the corner of Marine Pde and Ferry St, a two-storey building built by McGrath and Cahill once stood.

There were several owners associated with a general store in this location, including Tulip and Warren Harding, who operated the shop from the mid-1950s.

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Residents recall the store's bicycle service and chill-box used for home deliveries. The building was demolished and replaced with flats in the mid-1970s.

- The Wellingtonian


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