The poor clay soils in Albany were suitable for fruit growing, and this very quickly became an important
local industry. Albany became associated with farming innovations and new fruit varieties, such as the
famous Albany Beauty apple and Albany Surprise grape varieties. It was home to an experimental farm
established by central government in the early 20th century.Mark Phillips, the son of Matthew Phillips
who settled in Albany in 1856, is credited with the discovery of the Albany Beauty apple in about 1900,
at his family orchard in Gills Road. The Phillips family built a house and store and, later, a bakery near
Gills Park. The Phillips’ orchard is probably where the Albany Fruitgrowers’ Association was established.
The Albany Surprise grape was for decades was the most widely grown table grape in New Zealand.
Originating from Isabella, an American variety, it was selected and propagated by George Pannill around
1900. It is a prolific producer of large black berries with a sweet taste and tough skin.
Strawberry farming was most popular in Albany, particularly around Bush Road where there were many
strawberry beds and orchards. There were also many attempts to establish fruit processing businesses in
the area, with a canning factory run by Phillips and Legges operating in Gills Road for two years.
The explosion of growth in Albany over the last generation has seen the loss of most of the area’s
productive land to urban development, though evidence of farming activities can still be found in the
names of streets, such as Clemows Lane, and places, such as at Kell Park, where fruit bearing pear trees
Source: Auckland Council. North Shore Thematic Review – Albany and East Coast Bays