Street History: Bell Rd, Brooklyn

Last updated 09:56 22/02/2013

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Sir Francis Bell, one of Wellington's most distinguished citizens, has a rather ordinary street named after him.

Bell Rd, on the eastern slopes of Brooklyn, is named after the man who was Mayor of Wellington, Crown Solicitor and, briefly, Prime Minister.

Bell, a first-class cricketer in the 1870s, was mayor for one term in the 1890s, and had two stints as Crown Solicitor. He was Prime Minister for 16 days after William Massey's death in May 1925 but, when offered the chance to take the role more permanently, he declined.

He was a lawyer, and one of the people who formed the law firm Bell Gully Izard.

The 800-metre street winds through up the hills of Brooklyn, linking Bidwill St and Heaton Tce. It is like an oasis of Green Belt between two areas thick with houses and apartments.

Brooklyn was first settled in the 1840s with rapid growth from the 1880s, but Bell Rd remained in pristine condition, with virtually no buildings.

Brooklyn Northern United Football Club, which was formed in 1972 after the merger of Institute Old Boys and Northern United, had its clubrooms at No 2 Bell Rd, at the bottom of the road, until a couple of years ago.

The site was handy, being adjacent to Nairn St Park and near Prince of Wales Park, which is below Bell Rd.

The clubrooms fell into disrepair and rather than undertake an extensive redevelopment the club chose to move its base to Wakefield Park.

Brooklyn Smallbore Rifle Club took over the premises.

Bell Rd is the starting point for a city council walk and although largely overgrown with trees still offers some spectacular harbour views.

Near the bottom of Bell Rd on the left is a concrete slab about half a football field in size. It's the roof of the Bell Rd reservoir that supplies water to Mt Cook and the central business district.

The Bell Bus Company used to run sightseeing tours up the road between the world wars. It must have been a somewhat hazardous journey, given the narrow road and the buses of that era.

The bus company was sold to New Zealand Railway Road Services in 1936 and the tours ceased.

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- The Wellingtonian

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