Purple Orgy (1968) and Roger Wilco (1977) were situated at 57 Howe Street – later named Juice Box (2011) and more recently, Treasure Island (2016).
There nothing to verify the meaning of this name except for the purple paintwork.
See the flatties in 1977 along with their sign for the flat Roger Wilco (posted by Karin Williams).
May O’Hagan recalls living in Roger Wilco in 1978, “The huge sniff balls. The discussions on anarchy. And the green van inscribed with ‘I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-fontal lobotomy’.” On questioning her about the nature of sniff balls, she elucidated, “We saved our roaches, then cut them up into little pieces, then wrapped them into a ball in cigarette paper. Stuck a needle in the ball (about the size of a marble), put a match to it and passed it around and sniffed it.” (Facebook comments 17 July 2015).
Kate Ryan “The flat actually had a painted sign that ran like a ribbon on one weatherboard at the front…..it said “Play is better than work”, I wonder if it is still there under the present paintwork, it had been painted directly on the house” Lachy Paterson “I think Karin painted that slogan, also from a Kliban book.” (Facebook comments 18 July 2015).
The flat, Roger Wilco, spawned more named flats across the country: Gumboot Wilco (Invercargill), Cousin Wilco (Palmerton), Island Wilco (Rarotonga), Country Wilco, and Wilco National Park (Auckland).
The origin of the flat name Roger Wilco was a cartoon character created by the American B. Kliban who was particularly popular in the late 1970s. You can see a picture of the Roger Wilco character in the The Stanford Daily, Volume 172, Issue 18, 18 October 1977, this image was reproduced from his book, “Whack your Porcupine”, 1976. Roger Wilco has an other meaning, it’s roots are in radio communications lexicon, a hangover from WW11 – Roger (acknowledge) Wilco (Will comply). It has a particular connection with airmen. It’s not known if there is a connection between this and Kliban’s character.
Kliban describes himself as a beatnik in the 1960s, wearing black turtlenecks and drinking a lot, which I’m sure, along with his art, was a point of connection for many students at the time.
‘Get out of Mixed Flats’ demand [Critic, Vol XLIII, No. 8, July 4 1967]
“Otago students seethed last week when Falus, a campus broadsheet, revealed that Vice Chancellor R. Williams, had ordered a male student to leave a flat he shared with three girls.”
Source: OUSA Archives http://www.ousa.org.nz/history/archives/
Roger recalls a disastrous cooking/decorating experience at The Shambles. If you dare, here’s a recipe for ‘dough boys’ to try. No responsibility taken if they explode, of course.
Golden Dough Boys
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1 d butter
1 egg, beaten
Mix with enough milk to make a light dough and form into balls.
Put the following in a saucepan:
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 T golden syrup
1 T butter
Bring this to the boil and add the small balls of dough. Cook for 15 mins.
Where Scribes Bookshop is now, on the corner of Great King and St David Streets in Dunedin, there was once a notorious flat, called the Shambles. It was well known for it’s parties and as a location to go to continue drinking once the pubs had closed.
It’s not entirely clear from where the name of the flat originated: it may have been the shambolic nature of the place itself, or it may, as has been suggested by a former resident, been named for a place in Manchester of the same name.
Shambles is an old name and derives from Viking word Shamel apparently meaning ‘bench’, ‘booth’ or ‘shelf’ and the name is found in many places in the UK where there are market places.
This is a quintessential medieval street with upper storeys of buildings stretching out across the street precariously towards each other. The street was once a flesh market (hence also being known as Flesshamel) – that is, a street of butchers. Livestock were slaughtered in the streets and it’s been suggested that it is this resulting mess that provides the word shambles with its contemporary definition. In fact the OED gives three definitions: 1) a mess or muddle, 2) a butcher’s slaughterhouse, 3) a scene of carnage.
Reports about the Shambles in Dunedin, of parties and exploding pans of golden dough boys from the 1950s and 60s, suggest the OEDs third definition may be most approprite for explaining the name of our Great King Street residence.
This is relevant to the project for a couple of reasons: the project on named flats has it genesis in a print culture study, and therefore owes a great deal to the history and culture of print in New Zealand. Secondly, Baxter’s poem “A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting” was published at Caxton.
Of additional interest to me is mention of Caxton and other NZ presses preserving the craft of printing by continuing the work begun by William Morris at a time where in the UK, industrialisation of the printing industry was subsuming it’s craft history. ‘“I began printing books,” said Morris, “with the hope of producing something which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read and should not dazzle the eye or trouble the intellect …”
View the article here: The Caxton Press / Brian Bell, Home and Building, Vol 18 No.1 1955, p15f
Abbey College, hall of residence, was once Abbey Lodge, it’s a crazy rough cast Spanish styled motel. It doesn’t complement the Victorian and Edwardian architecture of the area.
Once upon a time in the 1970s there was a flat on Castle St, opposite Abbey College called Nightmare Abbey – did the name of the flat influence the name of the hotel???? Jim Mora, broadcaster and resident of Nightmare Abbey is convinced it did.
It’s amazing. I’m the grateful recipient of a growing treasure trove of stories, information and photos about past named flats in Dunedin – the stories are mostly coming arriving from alumni of the 1960s and 1970s and you’ll see a few posts below where I’ve started listing these names, and the addresses if I have them). There’s a few from the 1990s too.
820 members of the FB group.
Are any of these flat names familiar to you?
The Jam Factory (Filleul Street), Smerch HQ (Cumberland St), The Lunatic Fringe (Castle Street), Skid Row (London St), The Shambles (Great King Street), Peasmouldia (in an old shop near the staff club on Union St – named after an English folk club?), Brewer’s Elbow (Great King or Cumberland Streets?), The Shelf (North East Valley), Toad Hall (22 Pitt Street – had a BALL. With FIREWORKS!), The Manse (London St or Elder St), Ipanema, The Spanish Slum (London Street),
Free Latvia (Cumberland St?), Department of Slovenic Studies (72 St David Street), Nightmare Abbey (Castle Street)
Last night I read a short reminiscence by an alumnus of Otago’s mining school about his flat called The Shambles on the corner of St David and Great King Streets. He lived there during the early to mid 1960s. There were some very amusing recollections, including one about a large orange fungus growing in the bathroom.