Topic: "Overdale" Carrington Street (1889)

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Hidden from view in Vogeltown is one of New Plymouth's oldest surviving grand villas. "Overdale" was designed by prominent New Plymouth architect James Sanderson for well-known New Plymouth resident and former Mayor Richard Cock Jnr in 1889


2017 View: By Ron Lambert

"Overdale" occupies a prominent position overlooking the lower Huatoki Valley - an area once part of the original 82 acre property. The property has been progressively subdivided since the 1930s, and all that is left is a small amount of land surrounding the house - the beautiful garden and orchards long since gone.

Richard Cock Jnr (1851-1936), the son of Richard Cock Snr (former signal master), was a sucessful pioneer in the butter industry. He was New Plymouth Mayor 1903-1906, Chairman of the Taranaki Harbour Board, A director of the New Plymouth Sash and Door Company, and trustee for a number of other organisations. 

Overdale was designed by prominent New Plymouth architect James Sanderson, who placed an advert in the Taranaki Herald of 30 May 1889 seeking builders for "the erection of villa residence for Mr R. Cock". "Overdale" appears to have been completed by 1890 when Mrs R. Cock placed an advert in the Taranaki Herald seeking a "general servant"  for "Overdale", Carrington Street, Vogeltown. In the image below, the home bears the date of 1889.

Tenders fo Overdale, TH 30 May 1889 

Taranaki Herald 30 May 1889

In 1894 the Taranaki Herald published a column detailing the life of Richard Cock Jnr, including a rich description of "Overdale":

"Entering the gate the visitor passes through a literal parterre and then comes to as pretty a lawn as was ever seen. Facing the lawn a structure in the Neapolitin Villa style, with summer houses and ferneries as outposts, gives one an idea of Utopia..."

At the base of an "ampitheatrical hill" was an artificial pond, and above, an orchard with "plums, peaches, apricots, apples, guavas, citrons, lemons, cherries, oranges and other fruit..." behind the villa were "exceptionally well-built stables" and a dairy.

Overdale, Auckland Weekly News, 26 February 1914

Circa 1914 View, Auckland Weekly News

It appears the villa also hosted a good number of parties for the citizens of New Plymouth, with the Taranaki Herald reporting in 1891 that:

On the invitation of Mr and Mrs Cock a large number of friends assembled at "Overdale" the pretty villa residence on the Carrington Road, in order to spend a social evening on Thursday last. The host and hostess entertained their visitors, who numbered about fifty, in a manner that left nothing to be desired. Dancing and other indoor amusements were kept up with unabated vigor till an advanced hour in the morning.

The garden also played host to a number of concerts well into the Twentieth Century, including in 1901, when a concert was held to raise funds for the New Plymouth Museum, and in 1916 where a patriotic band recital was held by the Citizens Band. 

Now hidden from view behind a row of shops, "Overdale" is currently divided into a number of flats -  the once pretty gardens "full of foxgloves" have been replaced with an area of cracked asphalt.

As a pre-1900 building, any alterations to the villa, or earthworks on the property, may require archaeological authority from Heritage New Zealand.

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"Overdale" Carrington Street (1889)

City:New Plymouth