With exterior renovation work under way at Elloughton Grange it is appropriate to acknowledge the contribution of Flemish architect Maurice Duval. Duval arrived in Timaru in 1876, with his fiancée soon to follow. Over the next 18 years he immersed himself in local cultural groups and his church. Above all however he produced some outstanding buildings.
At times Duval's work is quite highly worked in the French decorative style, as seen at Elloughton Grange (pictured) and at Centrewood homestead, Waimate. Elsewhere his buildings can be sensitively restrained using simple plastered surfaces with very little decoration. The interior of St Mark's church at Otipua is a fine example.
Duval's houses are quite timeless. A typical two-storeyed house will have comfortable box-like rooms grouped around a central stairwell. Room functions might change through the generations – a quiet reading room originally, today might be the home entertainment area. Some houses are large in scale, while others are humble and quietly crafted. Local materials were used: bluestone, brick, plaster and our lustrous native timbers kauri, matai and rimu. They make a fine collection throughout this region. Duval designed some of the first school buildings including involvement at Waimataitai and Main. He produced a host of commercial and public buildings – several still standing in the CBD.
In a period of economic depression and following an emotional public farewell Duval took his family back to Europe in 1894. He died in Naples in 1920.
A local researcher has recorded his life and work in detail and the Civic Trust is helping to bring this story to publication. The elaborate scaffolding shown here confirms the community's pride in preserving the work of the super talented M. Duval.
A drive down to the port takes you past the front of ‘Seafarers’ building. A hip gabled rectangular building with the original front verandah now enclosed. Its red corrugated iron roof is a little shabby these days but still features a central hipped dormer window and two pent windows on either side.
The Original South Canterbury Sailors' Rest came into existence about 1880. It was run by an ‘energetic committee of ladies’ with the object of providing entertainment and attending to the welfare of overseas and coastal sailors! After a recorded public meeting, it was felt that the old building had more than served its time, and it was decided that the matter of erecting a new and up-to-date building should be put in hand. Messrs Walter Panton and Son, well known and well regarded Timaru architects of the time, generously provided their services to the committee free of charge. The Harbour Board gave a site for the building, in addition to £100 in cash, an additional £100 was given by The Borough Council. This left a remaining sum of £3000 to be raised for the completion of the proposed replacement, the greater part of it was quickly raised by subscriptions.
Early in 1924 the work of erecting the Hew building, that we see today, was commenced. The building consists of two storeys, on the ground floor being the seamen's quarters. The building was completed a few months later, and was officially opened by the then Governor-General, Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe, on October 15th, 1921, in the presence of several thousand spectators. Mr P. J. Rolleston, M.P., speaking at the opening ceremony, remarked that it was ‘singularly appropriate that one of the last official acts performed by the Governor- General before his retirement should be the opening of an institution for the benefit of the sailors he loved so well’. He hoped that the men who used the Sailors' Rest would remember with pride that it had been opened by the greatest sailor of modern times.
The all-star line-up of architects in the foundation years of Timaru contains some great talents. Herbert Hall was one of several to build a strong practice.
Using simple materials of local brick, timber and plaster, with roofs of clay tiles or corrugated steel, Hall developed a unique and picturesque vision for a city by the sea.
In recent times Bayview Properties from Singapore purchased not only the Wairakei Resort at Taupo with its splendid golf course but also the Chateau Tongariro designed by Hall in 1928. In adding on a complete new wing at the Chateau – shown below in this photo – every detail of Hall's original building was followed. This is a clever enhancement of a national treasure. The owners enquired as to what measures are in place in Timaru to preserve the work of Herbert Hall? Sadly very few. In recent times two magnificent houses in Sealy St have been lost – one to a suspected arson attack; the other to allow the expansion of the supermarket adjacent.
Both the Caroline Bay Hall and the Hydro Grand hotel have suffered from crude renovations and neglect, although their essential character survives.
Hall & Marchant designed the original core building at Timaru Boys' High School surely the most complete education building that one could ever imagine, brilliantly planned. Shortly after its demolition forty years ago, the Ministry changed tack and chose to strengthen anchor buildings at Southland Boys' High School and Waitaki Boys'. Timaru's loss was the turning point.
In the porch of St David's, the little stone church near Cave, one will find the gold medal of the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded to Herbert Hall in 1935 for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand architecture.
Known as the Gleniti School Library, this little cutie sits comfortably under the trees along the roadside in the Gleniti Reserve.
In those days, the small rural community 3 miles inland from Timaru, was called Wai-iti but the name was changed in the 1880's when the Post Office was established there. As there was already an existing Wai-iti Post Office in Nelson District it was decided to give the locality a combined Gaelic and Maori name, hence Gleniti.
The larger school building on the site was opened in 1887 with 26 pupils in attendance. The community decided a public library was needed. Stone was donated by David Fyffe, a member of the school committee. Mr Rhodes from the nearby Hadlow Estate had plans done and the building was constructed and presented to the community the same year as the school, 1887. With 28 subscribers and 300 volumes for lending, newspapers and magazines provided in the reading room and frequently held lectures it was a welcome addition the area.
The building is a single storied, gable roofed structure with a small separately roofed entrance porch which faces the street. The structure was constructed of Bluestone with limestone dressings and a corrugated iron roof. The buildings corners feature limestone quoins and the window surrounds and base structure are made of limestone blocks. There is a pretty single sash window in the entrance porch and two windows on each side of the main body of the building.
In the 1960's times had changed and Gleniti was becoming part of the city. The library committee handed over the building to the school in 1961 and for a short time it was used as a classroom. As new schools were built and the site was vacated, ownership of the two buildings was transferred to the Timaru District Council. Since then the South Canterbury Arts Society has leased the buildings.
The library, in particular, is a perfect example of a miniature Bluestone building. Listed with the Historic Places Trust and in fantastic condition, it's a curiosity to wonder about on your journey along Gleniti Road.
In his heyday as editor of Metro magazine, Warwick Roger delighted in using the phrase “small but perfectly formed”. This was often delivered with a touch of irony – with reference to his choice of vehicle for example.
Putting irony aside, this same expression could be fairly applied to the building established for the Gladstone Board of Works, a forerunner to the Timaru Borough Council. This building represents the establishment of an initial local authority for the Timaru district. For that reason together with the skilful design, Category 1 protection has been imposed by Heritage New Zealand, citing the building as “probably the most historically significant structure in the city”. From the research material available, the identity of the architect is ambiguous.
Constructed in 1874 the building is neo-Georgian in style, seeking perfection in its classical, ordered use of symmetry and balance.
In general the walls contain quite rough bluestone blocks laid in an ashlar pattern but the openings to the street façade have received exceptional treatment. They have very deep reveals in stone, all hand worked with a scutching chisel, while various stone facings have framed panels of heavy texture again achieved with hand tools. This surface treatment is a variation on traditional “vermiculated work” – after the Latin vermiculus meaning worm, with the stone appearing to have been infested by such creatures. A small oculus motif, being a perfect concave hemisphere cut in to the stone, forms a line of three along each window head - another example of the stonemasons’ showmanship on display.
View by date