A certain period early in the 20th century was remarkable for the construction of handsome hotels in Timaru, but this activity was preceded by the buildings that got Timaru working, so to speak. Brickworks at Makikihi, Timaru and Ashburton would have been inundated by the pressing demand for mills, warehouses, granaries and stores.
These buildings have set a unique tone and flavour to the Timaru waterfront, and some stand out as local landmarks, much loved by the wider community. Perhaps there are several threads to this love affair: the sheer strength of endeavour in constructing these big beauties; the association with grain growing as a key element of the local economy; the visual richness of handsome brickwork quite cleverly detailed; and the sense of security provided by these sentinels facing the ocean.
The Timaru Mill is one of those rarities, protected by Category I status under Heritage New Zealand's ranking system and Category A status under the Timaru District Plan. The mill was built for James Bruce and partner, later to be managed by the Timaru Milling Company. When opened in 1882 the mill was the first in New Zealand to use steel rollers rather than grindstones, setting a trend soon emulated by others.
Of the many fine small country churches in South Canterbury this is one of the most beautiful in both design and setting. This picturesque limestone church, prettily situated at the end of a generous driveway bordered with mature oak trees, has a tragic story attached to the origin of its construction on a low ridge overlooking Esk Valley.
In the 1870’s Mrs Ellen M. Meyer would take walks over the sloping ground where she lived on Blue Cliffs Station and view Esk Valley to the east and the Hunter Hills rising to the west. She had often expressed the wish to see a church on this site which was clearly visible from her home. Unfortunately the young woman was never to see her dream realised and died following an operation, on the 30th Jan 1878.
After her untimely death her husband, Mr Charles Meyer, returned to Scotland but before he did he made arrangements with his trustees to have the little stone church built to fulfil his wife's wish and to her memory. He left £6,000 as an endowment for the Waimate Parochial District and £1000 for the building of the church. Rather tragically he never had the chance to come back and view his gift to the district as he himself died in Scotland on 30th August 1878, the same year.
The church was designed by B.W. Mountfort, the architect responsible for the Canterbury Provincial Buildings. In 1879 the estate was sold to Robert Heaton Rhodes and he was appointed church warden along with John Bradshaw in 1880 when the church was consecrated by Bishop Harper and dedicated to St Mary. The Rev. Laurence C. Brady arrived soon after and served this parish for thirty-six years. These days it is part of a co-operating parish and services are held here fortnightly.
A simple and solidly constructed building, it was made using limestone from the Albury district and roofed with wood shingles - later replaced with iron. The interior is rich with colour from windows dedicated to members of some of the early settler families in the district. There is a small churchyard cemetery attached where many local families have their loved ones buried and remembered here.
It is very gratifying to see this Heritage 1 listed building in such great condition, it is obviously treasured and still has an active role within the community that surrounds it.
This week I thought I’d write about the The Temuka Court House.
I’ve always been curious about the very decorative little building you can see from the bypass so I thought I’d stop, take a photo and do some research……
It’s a small but spectacular little gem near the main street in Temuka. This amazingly ornate little building was constructed in 1900-01 and used up until as recently as 1979 as a functioning courthouse. Currently used as a museum, although it is only open to the public on Sunday afternoons from 2-4pm Oct through to June. It has a Historic Place Category 2 listing and is considered to be on of New Zealand’s finest small town public buildings.
A Government architect of the age, John Campbell designed many public buildings throughout the country during the time of his employment between 1890 and 1922. Campbell was a very busy character and often had little time to create new designs for such buildings so sometimes he approved transitional Baroque designs draughted in the late 1890’s to be erected again. Therefore the approved design for the Temuka Courthouse built in 1901 was redraughted in May 1903 and constructed in 1905 as the Bluff Court house….a twin? The authorship of the original design is uncertain. While the Temuka Court house has been credited to a George Schwartz, John Campbell's signature appears on the drawings for Bluff Court.
Regardless of the authorship the design the increasingly popular and more overt Baroque style of the court houses would no doubt have appealed to Campbell in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
The building is constructed completely of red brick. Many Baroque elements were incorporated in the design, such as the oversize keystones near the door. The gable capped with a scroll pediment and pierced by a finial. The curved aprons under the windows, the fanlight over the doorway and the reference to it in the impressed decoration in the design of the gable. The blind arcade incorporated in the parapet; and the ribbed chimney stacks with triangular pediments, testify to the growing Baroque eclecticism the Public Works Department's architecture.
It’s just lovely to see it there, well maintained and in good order, it has a purpose and is worth a look when you are passing through Temuka on your next trip.
Occupying its special site, right across the road from the Timaru Police Station, the Queen's Hotel dates from 1879 making it one of the older buildings in the CBD. Designed by Frederick Marchant it makes a bold statement, and not by its elevated name alone.
With the rich decoration of the Victorian era beginning to taper off, the Queens exploits its corner location with a subtle turret, flanked by smooth plastered walls that rely upon good proportions with minimal decoration. The only significant decoration is the grooving of the plasterwork on the ground floor to resemble pointed stonework. The distinctive turret originally contained a clock, with a flagstaff above.
Marchant went on to form a partnership with Herbert Hall, designing Timaru landmarks such as the Hydro Grand Hotel (1912) and the outstanding core building at Timaru Boys High School from the same time period.
Throughout the era of vigorous manual labouring work in the Timaru economy, the Queens was a popular watering hole at the end of a trying day, but the ground floor bar areas were not ever loudly promoted as in today's café scene. Rather they were discreetly located behind a restrained amount of glazing as was the custom throughout that period. The overall impression is one of permanence and composure, so well presented by the designer's hand.
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