Street history: Weld St

MARY BAINES
Last updated 10:15 30/11/2012

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Wadestown's grid pattern, reputed to have been created in London, takes no notice of the nature of the terrain - and the results are streets like Weld St.

One of Wellington's steepest streets, it begins as road, then turns into steps when it becomes too steep.

It then reverts to road, more steps, another short section of road, then to a very steep path until Weld St finally ends at a cliff-face.

It runs in a straight line from the top of Tinakori Hill towards the Ngaio Gorge, stretching 1.2 kilometres. The top of Weld St marks Wadestown's most southern boundary.

The street is named after Sir Frederick Weld, who arrived in Wellington in 1844, aged 20.

Ten years later, he entered Parliament and was New Zealand's sixth Premier from 1864 till 1865. There he stirred controversy by facilitating the capital's move from Auckland to Wellington, withdrawing British troops from New Zealand, and setting up the Native Land Court.

After Weld had been Premier for one year, the government resigned with the financial situation precarious and Weld pleading ill-health.

After two years recuperating in Britain, Weld served as Governor of South Australia, Governor of Tasmania, and Governor of the Straits Settlements of Malaya. He died in 1891.

The area has been lived in by several notable identities, ranging from Gustav Hohberg, who owned a popular repair business at No 77, to former Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, who worked just down the street at a store as a young boy.

The last tram to Weld Street was in 1949, when the Wadestown tramline was shut down. The stop was used mainly by Wadestown Side School students and their parents.

The school is still on its original site, towards the top end of the steep street.

Opened in 1881, it was one of the earliest schools in Wellington. It was built as a single classroom schoolhouse, but by 1896 had been extended twice. The original school building was demolished after World War II and rebuilt in 1946.

Today, the street is a mix of modern and colonial houses, surrounded by bush. The school is a popular primary school and the Wadestown Kitchen, on the corner of Weld St and Wadestown Rd, is a popular cafe for locals.

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