THE destruction of much of Wellington city's architectural heritage was one of the driving forces behind The Compleat Cityscape.
Writer and publisher David McGill went to work in Government House, where he was appalled to find that behind the elegant facade an earlier tenant, the Health Department, had treated the building with contempt.
Walls had been removed and replaced with "budget, jerry-built" structures, and the many chimneys had been pushed down into their fireplaces and sealed off.
"It was the most appalling act of vandalism," McGill said.
"It always amazed me that you used to go through this doorway into almost the Third World."
McGill had returned from overseas to find that during his absence much of the Golden Mile had been demolished during Sir Michael Fowler's mayoralty. Heritage buildings had been replaced by Chase Corporation office towers and the motorway had advanced south up Shell Gully.
"I was shocked to see the motorway had cut through the old Bolton Street Cemetery," he said.
McGill had earlier cut his journalistic teeth working as a cadet at The Listener and it had been staff practice to take a bottle of bubbly to the cemetery for lunch.
"Things were more relaxed in those days," he said.
He then went to work at The Evening Post as investigations editor, in order to experience what daily journalism was like.
Editor Mike Robson wanted more from him, so he agreed to write two columns a week, and as a condition he demanded Grant Tilly illustrate them. "It was all memory lane stuff," he said.
McGill has compiled the columns into a book.
"Most of it has never been published, apart from in the newspaper," McGill said. "It had disappeared as a record except in old newspaper files."
Tilly's sketches have been scanned from fading yellow newsprint and carefully digitally restored.
St Mary of Angel's church was one of those projects. Despite not having much truck with organised religion, Tilly went to some lengths to do the old church proud.
He began his drawing from halfway up the St George Hotel building and continued it from three ground-level sites to take it all in.
Tilly's illustrations were all the more impressive considering that he was seriously sight-impaired when he drew them, McGill said.
Grant Tilly died in April this year, but McGill was able to take an advance copy of the book to him two weeks earlier.
- The Wellingtonian