Petone’s Udy Family and Street

Udy Street, Petone, is named after early Cornish settler Hart Udy, who acquired two acres of land in the area of the street. Hart and Jane Udy arrived on the Duke of Roxburgh in 1840 and lived first on the banks of the Hutt River. When flooded out (soon after arriving) they moved to the flax and toi toi cottages of ‘Cornish Row’ but these 16 flax cottages burned down several months later. Soon after, there was also a large earthquake. Jane gave birth to their fifth child, Thomas, under an awning on the beach.

Cornish Row, in Lance Hall’s map of the Hutt Valley 1840-1940 showing historical places, Lower Hutt Past and Present.

In 1840 the NZ Company settlement of ‘Britannia’ officially moved to Thorndon, Wellington. Hart was a builder and with plenty of work in Thorndon he travelled daily by boat from Petone to work before the 1841 road was built between the two places. The family then moved to Thorndon for several years.

Hart worked for one of the new settlement’s leading figures, Sir Francis Molesworth. Hart Udy built the first house in the area made of New Zealand wood.

In 1843 the Udy family moved to Waiwhetu in Lower Hutt and ran a small farm while Hart continued working as a builder. Hart junior (born in Cornwall in 1835) was the first son of Hart and Jane’s large family. In 1844, at 9-years-old, he started building work with his father.

Although prospering as a builder and farmer, for Hart and his family living in the Hutt Valley was challenging. There were skirmishes with local Maori iwi and the 1846 Boulcott Farm incident.

In 1848 the Udy’s 2-year-old son Joseph drowned in the Awamutu (‘end of river’), also known as the Third River.

New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 273, 11 March 1848, Page 2. Papers Past.

Hart built the second St James’ Anglican church in Lower Hutt in 1848 and also built several houses in Victoria Street, Petone, assuming it would become the main street of Petone. His houses at numbers 29 and 31 Victoria Street were demolished in the late 1970s and the land is now part of Petone Pak’n’Save carpark.

Aerial photo of Victoria Street, Petone, 1941. Hutt City Council Historic Aerials.

In 1852 Hart Udy gained a Crown Grant of a town section on the corner of Molesworth and Little Pipitea Streets, Wellington. He also owned two country sections in the Hutt Valley. Hart and family moved in 1853 to newly acquired land in Stokes Valley (57 acres, part section 65) where he built the first sawmill. They were the first pakeha settlers to live in Stokes Valley.

Moving to Wairarapa

In 1855 Hart obtained 600 acres of bush-clad land at Matarawa in the Wairarapa – earlier the same year there was a violent earthquake that uplifted land on the coastline by several metres.

Hart sold his Crown Grant lands and the family moved to the Wairarapa in 1857 where they prospered. Hart worked farming, building, as a wheelwright, and also on his sawmilling business in the Wairarapa until he retired in 1865. He left his sawmilling business to his sons.

From Udy: the New Zealand perspective by Anne E. Folkema.

Hart (junior) also successfully applied for an acre block in the Wairarapa in 1855, the same year he married Elizabeth Hollard. As well as sawmilling, Hart Udy (junior) was a blacksmith and had his own premises in Greytown by 1860.

Hart Udy (junior), in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District], 1899. New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.
The Hart Udy family pictured in 1890. Hart Udy (senior) and Jane with their four sons and three daughters. New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.

Petone again

In c1880 Hart (senior) and Jane Udy returned to Petone to live in one of the Victoria Street houses he had built. He was a member of the first Petone Town Board, established in 1882. Hart (senior) supplied the timber for the Nelson Street, Petone, Wesleyan (Methodist) Church and Edwin Jackson supplied the land. The Nelson Street Church was opened in late 1883.

Opening of the Petone Methodist Church. Evening Post
13 December, 1883. Papers Past.

Hart Udy (senior) was also a lay preacher for the Church in the Wairarapa and in 1885 Jane and Hart went back to live in Greytown. Hart died in 1890 and Jane in 1896.

Udy House, Nelson Street, Petone, 1904. Built earlier by Hart Udy for employees of his Timberyard.
Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Nelson Street church c1900. Upper Hutt City Libraries Heritage Collection.
Wesley Methodist church in Nelson Street, Petone, 1978. Built in 1883 with timber supplied by Hart Udy. Photographer Charles Fearnley. Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Opening of the Petone Methodist Church. Evening Post,
13 December, 1883. Papers Past.
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Hart Udy (senior)’s obituary, NZ Times 23 Dec 1890. Papers Past.

In 1879 Hart Udy (junior) and Mr. Gallon formed ‘Udy and Gallon’ sawmilling business which operated till 1893, when Mr. Gallon took over the business and Hart (junior) started his own sawmill. Udy (junior) built the large house at 25 Udy Street, Petone on the 2 acres he inherited from his father. He died in 1904 but his widow Elizabeth lived at the house until she died in 1925, age 91 years.

Elizabeth Udy’s obituary, New Zealand Times, Volume LIII, Issue 12389, 8 March 1926. Papers Past.

Eva Udy was one of Hart (senior) and Elizabeth’s children. Eva married Thomas J Rowse in 1900 and one of their sons, Noel, inherited the house and lived there for 25 years until its demolition.

Probably Eva Rowse, nee Udy, and the house at Udy Street, Petone, c1910. The house was built in 1899. Welch and Gallon family: Photographs (17-123) Collection at the Wairarapa Archive. Digital New Zealand.

The land was rezoned commercial and the warehouse and offices of Foodstuffs NZ were built on the site.

Udy homestead at 25 Udy Street, being demolished in 1976. The factory of W. D. & H. O Wills is in the background. Hutt News, 7 Sept 1976. Hutt City Libraries Collection.

Walter James Udy was one of Hart Udy (junior) and Elizabeth’s sons. He was born in Greytown in 1865 and married Annie Judd. After farming on the family land at Mataroa and Hukanui in the Wairarapa he moved to Petone in 1901. He was a timber merchant and had his yard on the corner of Hutt Road and Udy Street. The family home was at 57 Britannia Street, adjoining Udy Street, built in 1908.

Udy family home, 57 Britannia Street. The Dowse Art Museum collection.

Walter Udy sold his timber business and retired in 1917. He died in 1932 and his wife Annie and family continued to live at 57 Britannia Street until the 1940s. Annie died in January 1950 and is buried in Taita Old Cemetery, along with Walter and their daughter Joyce.

Walter Udy Obituary. Evening Post, 16 June 1932. Papers Past.
Gravestone at Taita Old Cemetery. Find a grave.
57 Britannia Street, 2021.

The changing face of Udy Street

Recent changes in Udy Street include four adjoining properties a developer bought in early 2021 and intends to build 30 townhouses on the sections. The single storey bungalows on the sections are for sale and removal. The two storey house at 50 Udy Street was advertised in May 2021 as free to take away and relocate. Built in 1908 it is a typical stately villa of its vintage.

1979 photo of 50 Udy Street. Photographer C Fearnley. Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Nick Miller recently sold his Lower Hutt property to a developer and is giving his two-storey villa away for free to save it from demolition.
50 Udy Street, Petone. Matthew Tso, Stuff.co.nz.

Bibliography

Udy: the New Zealand perspective, by Anne E. Folkema

The Evening Post, January 20, 1990. Available on microfilm at Petone Library & Heritage Centre.

Elizabeth Udy, obituary, 1926. Papers Past.

Hart Udy, senior, obituary, 1890. Papers Past.

Walter J Udy, obituary, 1932. Papers Past.

Nelson Street Petone Wesley Methodist church:
Huge expense to save Petone Methodist Church, 11 December 2012, stuff.co.nz
Divine alterations: 135-year-old church to become luxury apartments, 23 February 2018, stuff.co.nz

Heritage church reborn, Hutt City Council.

The history of Methodism in New Zealand, by William Morley, c1900

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