Recently an unpleasant odour closed off the Royal Arcade and part of Stafford Street. Unlike the mystery smell the occasionally hits central Timaru, this disruption was traced back to the Arcade.
It is not the first time such an event like this has happened and in the same location. During the construction of the Priest and Holdgate new building and the extension to the Timaru Herald building in 1906 various problems were encountered. As the Arcade was built over a filled in gully, the foundations for each building had to be sunk 20 feet, and the workmen struck the roots of the peach trees from the original orchard on the site. They also struck the concrete foundations of an old blacksmith’s shop. The concrete aggregate included whole and broken glass bottles which lacerated the contractors hands, and necessitated the use of heavy leather gloves.
However the public problems happened when the contractors tried to make the connection with the main sewer line. During the third (and final) exploration pit, they hit the sewer main at a depth of twelve feet. According to the Timaru Herald (whose building was on the Arcade) “The pit promptly served as a ventilating pipe, the effluvium that arose through it was decidedly strong.”
By a week later the whole of the Arcade roadway opposite the pits has subsided slightly due to the softer infill that was used to cover the trenches once the sewer lines had been connected. With a gas main being laid through the Arcade two years later and the ground asphalted, the early underground problems were well and truly sealed over.
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