Shale Chambers, Chair Waitemata Local Board
31 August 2011
Patient locals have waited over a year for the rebuilding and re-opening of Jacob’s Ladder – that wonderful conection between the heights of St Mary’s Bay and the western edge of the route into Viaduct and Harbour areas of Auckland City. The old wooden stairs have been well used by commuters walking to and from work in the City Centre and by runners and walkers – but there is also a lot of history behind them.
Pictured are Board Member Pippa Coom, Shale Chambers and Jacinda Ardern, MP at the foot of the new stairs.
For nearly 140 years Jacobs Ladder has been the wooden steps that connected Western Bays to our harbour foreshore and later Victoria Park. They were built in 1852 and were once the most direct route between Ponsonby and wharves in St Marys Bay. Jacobs Ladder would have been a route a lot quicker that the either walking or riding in horse-drawn carriages down the main roads to the ferries. During the last century, Jacobs Ladder was the main accessway to HMNZS Ngapona, base of the Navel Volunteer Reserve Unit until 2007.
When I stand here today I can visualize the landscape of 1852 with no bridges or motorways or cars. A few houses and commercial buildings dotted about and possibly sailing ships in the harbour, and certainly a lot more trees that we can see today. However the views of our wonderful natural harbours, and volcanoes and mountains are the very same views that bought settlers here to these suburbs.
Fast forward nearly 140 years to today and the new Jacobs Ladder will once again be used by recreational runners and commuters to the new businesses that have opened up already in the Wynyard Quarter and new businesses and apartments that will quickly follow over the next ten years. A parking time restriction trial is in place in St Mary’s Bay to manage locals’ priority to the all day use of their access and residential roads as a consequence.
In former years as today there are still many walkers who enjoy the climb down the cliffs, although the climb up is a different story.
This new ladder is made of sturdier and more durable materials than the wood it replaced although some would say not quite as environmentally friendly. The newly designed bridge that will soon open will be a real added asset both visually and practically and makes doubly certain that our communities’ connectedness is retained and enhanced.
Many thanks must go to NZTA for this community project, its planning, execution and funding. Thanks also to Council staff and planners who have assisted with the project throughout and to the work of the St Marys Bay Association over a long time. . A final thanks also goes to those patient locals who have waited over a year for this reconnection. You can now walk from the bottom of the steps through to Beaumont St (just as before the rebuilding).
On behalf of the Waitmeata Local Board and Auckland Council we welcome the re-opening of Jacobs Ladder and the beginnings of the bridge and the walkway back to Pt Erin, below.
Contact: Shale Chambers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 027 476 5284