Surrey S. Alleman architectural drawings.

A mystery building, a pirate ship and other architectural treasures

The original 1928 drawings for the pirate ship-themed cabaret and tearooms, which once stood on Milford Beach, are among the gems contained in the newly processed Surrey S. Alleman architectural drawings collection.1

Surrey Sebastian Alleman (1901-1978) studied architecture under Professor C. R. Knight at Auckland University College in the mid-1920s before starting in sole practice in 1928.  He later worked in various partnerships, including Alleman, Land, Heaney, Verrall & Partners, until his retirement in 1967.  The collection of 55 sheets of drawings includes examples of the numerous private residences, small commercial and public buildings he designed.  And one pirate ship.

Ye Olde Pirate Shippe

This now seemingly whimsical project caused alarm for some residents who felt that the “pirate ship would lower the moral tone of Milford.”2 To appease their fears, the Takapuna Borough Council “prohibited dancing on Sundays, and also dancing in bathing costume.”3 Ye Olde Pirate Shippe opened in December 1928 with a gala evening featuring the latest dance music, two dance floors, one open-air, and “numerous novelties.”4 It was a popular attraction for several decades before its eventual demise and subsequent demolition in 1957. Its memory lingers on in Milford Reserve’s pirate ship playground on the same site.

Ye Olde Pirate Shippe seen from the air ca. 1930. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections FDM-0674-G.

Ye Olde Pirate Shippe seen from the air ca.1930. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections FDM-0674-G

Garden Court

Alleman’s 1935 Garden Court flats on Tamaki Drive have stood the test of time. These remain a highly desirable place to live, not solely because of their Mission Bay waterfront location. The drawings show the clever design of the block of one- and two-bedroom flats as all boast sea views towards Rangitoto Island.

Garden Court flats on Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1385-0570.

Garden Court flats on Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1385-0570

Olympia Stadium

Another noteworthy project documented in the collection failed to reach fruition, possibly a victim of the 1930s Depression. The 4,800 seated Olympia Stadium designed for the corner of Khyber Pass and Mountain Road was intended to provide Auckland with a large purpose-built venue for all kinds of events, including sports and theatre. The venue was to also include a basement gymnasium, fully-equipped kitchen and a sprung dance floor.5

Mystery apartment block

Watercolour showing view of building, street and surrounding grounds including a waterfront.

Can you identify this apartment building?

Mystery shrouds the watercolour perspective drawing of a multi-storey apartment block depicted in an urban location on the water’s edge. Where was the intended site, who was the client, and was it ever built?

One possibility is that the watercolour depicts an early design for the now Heritage New Zealand-listed Hampton Court, for which Alleman won the New Zealand Institute of Architects gold medal award in 1930. But that seems unlikely as Hampton Court is on the corner of Wellesley and Federal Streets, not near a tranquil body of water complete with dinghy.  Or is this watercolour setting a case of artistic licence? We welcome your suggestions.

Discover more

Sarah Cox, Special Collections


1. Surrey S. Alleman architectural drawings. MSS & Archives Arch 2020/3

2. “Milford’s Morals”. (1928, December 20). Auckland Star, p.12.

3. “Milford’s Morals”. (1928, December 20). Auckland Star, p.12.

4. “Dancing”. (1928, December 22). New Zealand Herald, p.18.

5. “Stadium theatre and dance hall”. (1929, November 20). Evening Star, p.3.

Feature image: Surrey S. Alleman architectural drawings.