Originally the plan was to have the main entrance at the northwest corner of the grounds onto Carrington Road (now Victoria Road) and run a path along the western bank of the stream down to Brooklands. From this a second path was to run at right angles across the valley past Breidecker’s vineyard (in what is now Stainton Dell) and exit at the racecourse. Unfortunately, it was difficult to proceed with the main entrance at that location as the Board did not own town sections 1084 and 1065. A decision was made to move the entrance to Liardet Street which at the time was the only reasonable alternative.

Although people could come up Liardet Street this was not ideal as a stream that crossed the street had to be bridged and a large hill outside the entrance to the grounds had to be surmounted. Take a step outside of the Liardet Street entrance and look at the cutting either side of the road, that cutting did not exist when the Recreation Grounds was officially opened in May 1876.

The first proper gates to be erected at the entrance were donated by George Rhind in 1885. They were built by blacksmith James Revell, were made of wrought iron, and hung on large iron posts. Unfortunately, the foundations were not built as solidly as the gates themselves and soon collapsed leaving the gates impassable.

In 1890, Robert Hughes Senior took it upon himself to fix the problem. He engaged Arthur Mofflin to design a new entrance which included rehanging the existing gates. A full width concrete foundation was laid with concrete pillars supporting the gates. On the west side a smaller wicket was added for foot traffic. What was described as a smaller wicket was an opening with a turnstile.

Liardet Street Gates circa 1900

(Puke Ariki ARC2003-859)

In 1936 a decision was made to replace the gates with something much more imposing. At the Park committee meeting in April 1937 Mr. Syme of Messrs. Syme & Griffiths presented a sketch of the proposed new gates. The following month it was resolved that the plans as submitted by Messrs. Griffiths & Syme be approved, that they be appointed architects to the Board for this work and that they be authorised to prepare specifications and call for tenders at their earliest convenience.

The pylons and walls were designed to be finished with Mount Somers Stone but the construction estimates using this material were far more than the committee could afford. The architects came back with an alternative, which was described as “water-proofed stone, tinted blocks marked out to represent stone courses.” The fake stone finish did not sit well with long time committee member William Short who was a stonemason. The lowest tender using Mount Somers Stone was £3,636 and the lowest tender using the alternative finish was £1575 by Boon Bros. Ltd., who were given the contract. The following month the architects came back with a finer finish which incorporated mica.

Sanders Memorial Gates (Puke Ariki ARC2011-083

The gates were advertised as being memorial gates, however, the names of the benefactors that should appear on the memorial plaques was not clear.  A marble tablet inscribed with the names of deceased benefactors including J. T. Davis, Martha King and others had been erected on the face of Cannon Hill in 1906. By 1937 the tablet had fallen into a state of disrepair and was removed. It was probably the intention to add all of the names from this tablet onto a plaque on the new gates, however, because the gates were being funded from the Sanders bequest it was felt it was only proper that his name alone should appear on the gates which is as it is today.

Sanders Memorial Gates

Auckland Weekly News , July 27, 1938

Sanders Memorial Gates

Auckland Weekly News , May 24, 1939

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The original Rhind gates were taken down and relocated to the Victoria Road entrance at the end of Gilbert Street where they still stand today.