Other Tenants

Another of the tenants to live in Braemar was Fred Batten, father of Jean Batten. The house is referred to in the book “Jean Batten: Garbo of the Skies”(47) as ‘Courtville Mansions’. Fred lived upstairs in Apartment 17 for about 40 years. The rent books of the time,(which in 1995 I personally viewed at the offices of Tanfield Potter in Queen Street) called Braemar “No. 3 House ” and listed the rent for Apt 17 in 1944 as being 28/- (twenty-eight shillings) per week. As a point of comparison it is interesting to note that the rent for Apartment 16 at that time was 40/- per week.

Retired GP Deryck Gallagher, who had lived with his parents in Apartment 19, wrote to me with his recollections of life in the “Courtville Annex in the 1930s………….

Dear Susan,

I have had it in mind for far too long to tell you some
Courtville tales of my primary school years when I lived in the entry level
rooms with my mother and father probably sharing kitchen and bathroom with
“father” Fred Batten dentist who had his own rooms up the stairs from the
hall.  I can remember the hall quite clearly with its settee where I would
entertain my unusual pet white rabbit with carrots and sweets, his name was
Fred, also next door was a grander corner block of flats where a playmate
had a marvellous meccano set housed in a cabinet with drawers for a generous
array of gears-I think it was a number 10!  Immediately next door was a
vacant section of summer perfumed fennel and loquat trees with summer fruit
accessible to a 10 year old Also up Waterloo Quadrant lived a boy Milsom who
had a pet tortoise who lived among his father’s prize dahlias. I think at
this time I was at Miss. Louche’s primary school just down the road behind
St. Andrews church.  Fred Batten was a shadowy figure who lived a bachelor’s
life apart from his wife, but became a key person when my mother was taken
to bed with a mysterious illness incorrectly attributed to a gastric upset
by a Symonds Street doctor, Fred suggested another opinion from a respected
surgeon named Casement Aicken to my father.  Mr. Aicken, a relation of Ken
Aicken from All Saints parish (Ponsonby) correctly diagnosed a life threatening
peritonitis from a ruptured appendix, admitted her to Mt. Pleasant Private
Hospital in Princes St. and saved her life by pre antibiotic surgical
drainage.  My father, a pharmacist, nevertheless needed a year to meet the
medical expenses. As a small child I was only just aware of what was
happening at this time.  Fred Batten’s two adult children, Jean the pioneer
aviator I remember as an occasional visitor of unusual beauty, and of
course her welcome at Mangere in 1936 at the end of her first ever flight
from England to New Zealand. I last saw Jean Batten in 1977 when she came to
visit her old music teacher in a hospital ward at Selwyn Village.  John
Batten was as handsome as his sister was beautiful, remembered as a dental
mechanic on the Achilles who survived a direct hit on a gun turret above
the dental surgery, an actor in the Noel Coward war time film “In Which We
Serve”, as a newly briefly married visitor to his father with his bride, a
beautiful English author of romantic novels named Madeline Murat ,and in
later years as a radio announcer on station 1ZB until he left New Zealand to
live the rest of his life in England.  Parliament Street was a fun place for
small boys, with lots of small parks for cowboys and indians, a villainous
bully, Lloyd Pritchard, who appropriately owned a pet white rat, a biscuit
factory where a penny would buy enough broken biscuits to ruin young teeth
forever, a fizzy drinks factory, and up the hill in Parnell, Heard’s lolly
factory. Life was good for a small boy.

The numbers 16 to 20 were painted on the entrance to indicate which apartments were in the house. These numbers continued on from the Middle Courtville apartments, which were numbered 1 to 15. In 1918, the Corner Courtville was built and the apartments in that building numbered 21 to 35.

During the time Braemar was owned by Potter and Stanton it was known variously as: “ The Annexe “ in Wises Post Street Directory

 Courtville 3 “ in Potter & Stantons rent books

 No 3 House ” also by Potter & Stanton

 Courtville Mansions ” in “Jean Batten – Garbo of the skies”

read more

and at other times as

 Courtville House “ see Womans Weekly December 1986

and  Little Courtville “ see NZ Herald ,Sep 21 1989.