History & Heritage

Kilbirnie's History & Heritage

Kilbirnie is named after a Scottish town in Ayrshire, by the farmer James Coutts Crawford, who also gave the streets Scottish names. Crawford owned the land together with the sites of Miramar, Melrose. Kilbirnie remained part of Crawford’s extensive estate until the 1870s when it was sold for housing.

 evans bay area map 

In the early 1900’s land was reclaimed from the harbour. This picture is looking over Kilbirnie with Evans Bay on the right, it marks out the Kilbirnie Reserve reclamation area. Duncan Terrace and the houses in Naughton Terrace are in the foreground; Evans Bay extends as far as Kilbirne Crescent.

 Kilbirnie land reclamation 
Ref: Aldersley, David James, 1862-1928. Kilbirnie and Evans Bay, Wellington.

Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 15. Ref: PAColl-7081-56. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23053646

 

Tramways were once an integral part of the area. Here we see workers at the Kilbirnie workshops, alongside the last tram to be built in Wellington.

 

 last tram 

Taken by an unidentified photographer, circa December 1952.
Ref: Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper.

Ref: 1/2-129288-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23073640


This picture shows part of Kilbirnie, taken from a hilltop, looking over houses and towards the tram depot (now the bus depot) on Onepu Road.

 Old kilbirnie aerial 

Ref: Kilbirnie, Wellington. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888-1972 :Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-045873-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22897944


Before the Haowhenua earthquake (around 1460), Miramar Peninsula was an island, and the land now occupied by Lyall Bay and Rongotai lay beneath the sea. The earthquake raised the seabed, creating an isthmus linking Miramar with Kilbirnie.

In 1928, relief workers levelled nearby sand dunes to make an airfield. Later the ridge and the airfield became part of Wellington International Airport.