About the Street
Like many Wellington streets, Bidwill Street is in two parts – the main section of Bidwill Street is narrow and steep, while the lower part of Bidwill Street is flat and merges into Anderson Terrace.
Since the Inner City Bypass project, Bidwill Street has increasingly been used as a short-cut route from Karori and Aro Valley to Newtown. At peak times traffic is backed a long way up the street and has to wait for several traffic light phases before turning into Wallace Street. In the past, speeding drivers going up the street have on occasion missed the first tight uphill corner on Bidwill Street, broken through the wooden barrier, and landed at the beginning of Anderson Terrace, below. That issue has hopefully been addressed by the Council strengthening the retaining walls and fencing in the middle section of the street, partly shown in the photograph above.
At the top end of the street, one of the residents has developed a series of interesting garden plots on the Council reserve land adjoining the road, and is gradually planting the whole embankment in native trees and shrubs.
About the Street Name
“Bidwell” Street first appeared on maps in 1840 and 1841. The street name was correctly rendered on the District Plan as “Bidwill” in 1891. It is most likely named after John Carne Bidwill, an ardent botanist, businessman and adventurer who travelled around parts of New Zealand in search of botanical specimens to send back to Kew Garden in London. JC Bidwill spent time in Australia and from September 1847 he had a short stint as the first director of the Sydney Botanic Garden. John Carne Bidwill died in 1853, aged 38, following an expedition to mark out a new road in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Bidwill had become separated from the rest of the roading party, going without food for 8 days. He never fully recovered from having almost starved to death.
JC Bidwill had a younger brother, Charles Robert Bidwill, who brought 1600 sheep, cattle and brood mares from Sydney. Robert Bidwill took sheep to the Wairarapa and became one of the largest run-holders in the country.
A New Zealand cedar variety from the cypress family libocedrus bidwillii, is named after John Carne Bidwill. In te reo this cypress is named pāhautea, sometimes called kaikawaka.
For 50 years Bidwill Street was miscalled Bidwell Street on city maps and plans. This confusion would have been exacerbated by the street signs at each end of Bidwill Street, one saying “Bidwill” and the other saying “Bidwell”, for at least the last twenty years of the 20th century. Even today, Bidwill and Bidwell can still be heard used interchangeably.
Meet the Neighbours
Bidwill Street has a well-established street group, with both an e-mailing list to share information, and a community of neighbours who have become friends during their time as neighbours. New neighbours are welcome to join up to the email list.
To join the Bidwill Street email group, please click here to send a message to Ross.