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Biography: William Ings

People: Diversity

'The Flat' was the most ethnically diverse area of Dunedin and has often been described as Dunedin's 'melting pot'. There were fewer Scottish migrants and more people of English origin than in other parts of Dunedin. Irish Roman Catholics were more numerous in South Dunedin than anywhere else in the city. There were also the 'Assyrians' -Lebanese - who formed a small but distinctive community. In addition, there were the Chinese market gardeners, a hard-working group who kept pretty much to themselves on their carefully cultivated vegetable plots at Forbury.

Some of Dunedin's poorest people lived on 'the Flat'. The miserable hovels of Mafeking Terrace and Maria Street (the poorest street in the Dunedin) were the worst side of the densely packed working class neighbourhoods of Kensington and South Dunedin. However, not everyone was poor. Caversham was a stronghold of skilled tradesmen and their families. At Kew and St Clair wealthy Dunedin merchants built their mansions, complete with orchards and tennis courts.

South DunedinThe South Dunedin 'Flat' was predominantly a working class area. It remained so throughout the period 1890-1940. But it was also socially mixed. Even in 'wealthy' St Clair, researchers have found at least one labourer living in most streets. This 1902 photograph shows three labourers' cottages built by William Ings behind his market garden along Forbury Road. They faced beautiful mansions on the hillside across the road. (Otago Setters Museum Collection)

KindergartenSouthern Dunedin abounded with children. In 1901-1904 Caversham Borough had one of the highest birth rates in greater Dunedin. These children were photographed at the Rachel Reynolds Kindergarten, the first purpose-built kindergarten in Dunedin. It opened in Macandrew Road in 1914. Another kindergarten was established at Rutherford Street in Caversham in 1926. (Otago Setters Museum Collection)

View of St KildaIn 1936 'the Flat' was the most densely populated urban area in New Zealand. This photograph illustrates the tightly packed housing areas of South Dunedin and St Kilda. Virtually all of the available land to the north and east had been developed. The remaining open spaces south towards St Clair were also rapidly filling up with housing. (Otago Setters Museum Collection)

Hillside WorkshopCaversham's male workforce was characterised by skilled tradesmen with British origins. They brought with them strong craft traditions and ideas about the organisation of work. There was a strong correlation between these skilled workers and Protestant religious identification. They played a major part in the development of unions and the rise of labour-oriented political parties on 'the Flat'. This photograph shows the tangled clutter of the south-west end of the Hillside Workshops machine shop in 1925. It was a dangerous place to work, because of the poor conditions. In addition, the turners faced the most serious threat as the years marched on. Although the muddle probably strengthened the turners' control of the shop floor - only those with an intimate knowledge of the workshop could find anything, new machines, together with the fact that a growing proportion of the turner's time was spent on simpler tasks, made it possible for semi-skilled men to challenge for control on the job. (Timeframes Online Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa)

St Clair BeachThe long beaches at St Clair and St Kilda were the playgrounds of the southern suburbs. People flocked to the seaside on summer weekends and public holidays. In the 1890s 'decency' laws prohibited bodily exposure. Swimmers were restricted to the St Clair baths, where men and women bathed at separate times. By the 1930s such modesty had disappeared. Men and women swam and sunbathed together while beauty contests were the latest fashion at the beach. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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