Welcome to our website dedicated to the suburb of
a farming district & nowadays a thriving suburb in Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand, that was previously part of the Stoney Creek district.
(Above) Kelvin Grove School in 1938 - a few months before it closed. It was replaced by nearby Roslyn School and the old site was sold, in 1953, as the new site was better suited to the needs of the many young children of the Roslyn suburb. Since the 1990s, a number of special interest schools and pre-schools have sprung up in Kelvin Grove, and these serve children from both the suburb and around the region. These include Cornerstone Christian School, Te Kura Kaupapa O Manawatu, Westmount School, and Kelvin Grove Kindergarten. However, a large percentage of Kelvin Grove children still attend Roslyn and Whakarongo Primary Schools just outside the suburb's borders.
This historical information website belongs to the
Kelvin Grove Community Association Inc.
(formerly called: Kelvin Grove Residents' Assn. Inc.(1987-2006); and before that: Kelvin Grove Progressive Assn. Inc. [est. informally 1967] (1975-1987); and also the direct successor of the Kelvin Grove Social Hall Society Inc. (1901-1984)
Kelvin Grove, for those who don't know it, is located on the 'right' side of the tracks alongside the city of Palmerston North, which in turn is located in Manawatu, a region in New Zealand's lower North Island. Needless to say everyone else in Palmerston North is geographically on the 'wrong' side of the tracks, but we don't (usually) hold that against them.
On the other hand, we have other thoughts for journalists of weekly tabloid newspapers, who describe Kelvin Grove as: "a humdrum lower-middle-class area of a dull provincial town", after 19 months of exploiting the suburb as a source of news - and profits. For a start, Palmerston North (about 75,000 pop.) has been a city since 1927. (Ref: Article by Anthony Hubbard, in the Sunday Star-Times, 24 March 2002, Section C2) Also, the suburb has grown significantly in recent years, and has become one of Palmerston North's most desirable suburbs - a situation that was predicted in the early 1900s.
The area that is now Kelvin Grove, was once a very small portion of land occupied by the Rangitane iwi (tribe). Little evidence remains now of their occupancy, but over the years local farmers have found a few adzes and what was probably once an eeling site. The area was included in the large block sold by Rangitane in 1865, and which includes much of upper Manawatu..
The area was first settled by Europeans in 1871, when a few dozen Scandinavian assisted immigrants were allotted small farms of around 20 acres each, in Roberts Line, James Line and Napier Road. The area - including present-day Whakarongo - became known as the Stoney Creek Scandinavian Block.
At that time, the district was covered in towering forest, known in New Zealand as 'bush', and before these immigrants could transform their land into farms, they first had to fell this bush. Many didn't bother, and these people - mostly unmarried young men - sought something slightly more closely resembling greener fields elsewhere. It was not until the mid-1870s that the remaining uncleared farmland found new owners, these being a mix of Scandinavian, German and British settlers.
The establishment of Kelvin Grove as a distinct district began with the opening on Kelvin Grove School in 1893, its name being drawn from the name of a sawmill that had opened in 1879 in the vicinity of the Kaimanawa Street-Bryce Place intersection. This status was solidified in 1901, with the building of the original Kelvin Grove Hall alongside the school in Kelvin Grove Road.
This first community reached its peak during the first two decades of the twentieth century, before gradually winding down as cars made distances to other schools and shops seem less of a problem. Also the hall burnt down in 1921, and was not replaced until 1935.
In 1950, the first portion of the Kelvin Grove area was brought inside the Palmerston North city boundary. However, it was not until 1966 that housing started to appear - this being in the Karamea Crescent-Mahia Place area, the first house being the one on the southern corner of that intersection.
The suburb developed quite slowly at first - this being attributed to the end of the Baby Boom coinciding with its establishment. It attracted young families building their first homes as economically as possible, before they often moved away as their financial situations improved. As such, Kelvin Grove was widely regarded for many years by those who chose to knock it, as a 'nappy valley'.
Those who loved the suburb noted that their children had to leave the suburb in order to be educated. They also had to buy their groceries outside the suburb - the first small shops finally appearing in 1981. Needless to say, assisted also by the limited bus access, the suburb had a high rate of car ownership. Ironically, while the city's fuel depots were then in the suburb (and had been since the 1920s), the actual service stations were also outside the suburb!
Despite these drawbacks, Kelvin Grove residents usually loved the advantages of peace, quiet, and the low crime rate that came with being able to own their own home in what was traditionally an unpopular corner of town.
The suburb has now matured, as has its population, and there are now a wide range of housing types and occupancies here. In fact, since about 2003-4 housing has absolutely boomed in the suburb, with whole streets of quality housing seemingly appearing overnight between Roberts Line and James Line. Furthermore, most of these are 'second homes' and above. It seems that the Baby Boomers who missed out on growing up here and/or raising their youngsters here, have now re-thought this and moved here - attracting their adult children and grandchildren en mass to do likewise.
Most of the district is now either housing subdivisions and lifestyle blocks, or was land originally set aside for light industry, much of which is now developed. Kelvin Grove Cemetery, which has served Palmerston North since 1927, is also a notable feature.
A notable omission is a primary school within the suburb, although Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Manawatu and the Cornerstone Christian School are now present and serve the city. Kelvin Grove School closed in 1939, as the larger Milson and Terrace End Schools were more attractive (and frequently closer) to parents. In 1953, the mothballed school was sold and the same year Roslyn School was opened about a kilometre down the road across the railway line, to serve the thriving Roslyn State Housing subdivision. The vast majority of Kelvin Grove's primary school age children attend Roslyn School, while an increasing number attend Whakarongo School in the opposite direction. Whakarongo School has grown as dramatically as the Kelvin Grove suburb since the mid-1990s, and has recently begun expanding over the fence into a neighbouring paddock.
Kelvin Grove Community Association Inc.
Goings-on in Kelvin Grove
© 2012 - Kelvin Grove Community Assn. Inc.
Visitors since 15/4/2001
This website was born on 15 April 2001 - to save emailing some photos to someone 100 metres down the road.