The insanely interesting story of Morningside
The Visionary & Local Squire: Allan Kerr Taylor
Young pioneer Allan Kerr Taylor was told he was crazy to invest in the rock strewn swampy land that he later developed into the industrious suburb of Morningside.
Of Scottish and Indian descent, Allan Taylor was born in India in 1832 and schooled in Edinburgh, Scotland. With abundant opportunities in the expanding colonies, Allan’s father gave each of his four sons money and sent them off to New Zealand in invest in land. Allan’s older brothers bought sensible farmland in Auckland’s East – Glen Innes, Glen Dowie and Glen Orchard (now St Heliers) and at 16 years old Allan purchased his first 270 acres “Alberton” on the northern slopes of Mt Albert.
But the rocky, volcanic land was unproductive and the surrounding Cabbage Tree Swamp (Gribblehurst Park to Eden Park) flooded for five months of the year.
Allan’s brothers thought he had gone around the bend, telling him he must be ‘mad’ to buy the land. In jest they nicknamed Allan “Morningside” after an Edinburgh suburb known for its then prominent Lunatic Asylum.
Determined to prove that fortune favours the brave, Allan expanded his property to 500 acres. He invested in timber and was an elected councilman and chairman, forging rail and roads through the area. In 1865, he successfully subdivided and sold his first 120 villa lots, officially naming the popular suburb Morningside.
Sophia Kerr Taylor
Sadly Allan Kerr Taylor lost his first wife and two children, but remarried Sophia Davis, mother to their four daughters & six sons. She was a staunch feminist, suffragette and market farmer known for her produce & prized poultry. Together they were an industrious and influential couple.