Topic: High Street (TDN 20/10/2018)

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High Street 

In 1996, the New Zealand Geographic published an article exploring the most common and the more unusual street names in the country. High Street was one of the most popular, appearing 80 times on maps of New Zealand towns and cities. 

New Plymouth’s High Street probably rates as one of the shortest and quietest ‘High Streets’ in the country. Many local residents would probably struggle to locate it on a map. The short street runs between Molesworth and Gill Streets. Plumbing World is on the Gill Street corner and the entrance to Spotlight is on the other side of the road.

When Frederic Carrington first surveyed New Plymouth he marked out an area spanning two blocks from High Street west across Eliot Street to Davidson Street and named it St German’s Square. This was to be the centre of town and High Street was so named to reflect the status of the location.

Before long however the town oriented itself to the mouth of the Huatoki Stream and lower Brougham Street. Eventually, St German’s Square was cut in half, leaving just the eastern block intact. A mistake by London lithographers on a very early map - an ‘i’ inserted in German– persisted, and more often than not it has been written as ‘St Germain’s Square’.

In 1875 the square passed into the ownership of the Taranaki Agricultural Society. The first building on the site was the King George Coronation Agricultural Hall which opened in 1912.

During World War One the name changed to one that will be more familiar to older residents, the Army Hall. It was destroyed in 1989 when a fierce blaze engulfed the building.

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