Innovation can come in many forms. Take for example the old Timaru Garrison Hall. Designed in 1886 by the Dunedin architect R. A. Lawson (First Church Dunedin being his most famous building) it was originally designed with an elaborate facade facing High Street, but lack of Government funding meant the plan had to be simplified. The Government funding was £300, with the remaining £700 raised locally.
The builder was W. Hall-Jones, (later an Member of both Houses of Parliament and briefly the 16th Prime Minister of New Zealand).
The front lean-to part of the building held nine rooms, an orderly room and store room for each of the four military corps, and a general reading room. However the roof of the hall is the most innovative feature. Spanning 28 metres with a radius of 22.5 metres, it was the largest span in New Zealand at the time. Each of the main roof beams is an early example of timber lamination, twelve thicknesses of 6 x 1 inch timber laminated together with 38 kg worth of nails and bolts. Since it was calculated that the roof would expand and contract by up to 25mm across its width, one end of the beams are firmly fastened to the concrete piers, the other end resting on rollers that move with the roof. This was necessary as the weight of the original galvanised iron roof was 5 1/2 ton and that size of movement would have damaged any fastenings or the beams.
The Hall was opened on the 1st September 1886 with a two day military tattoo.
View by date