Ross & Glendining, High Street factory

Built: 1900-1901 (incorporating 1875 fabric)
Address: 167 High Street
Architect/Designer: Charles Lomax
Builders: Day labour (under Lomax)

An image from ‘Beautiful Dunedin’ (1906), taken when the building was relatively new.

My last post looked at Ross & Glendining’s 1866 warehouse on Stafford Street, and its later redevelopment as a hat factory. I briefly mentioned the adjoining factory buildings facing High Street, and this post expands on that part of the complex. Perhaps another time I’ll look at the company’s large warehouse further down High Street, demolished in 1970.

The High Street factory’s origins go back to 1875, when a warehouse and bonded store was built on the site. The building was on two levels, including the bluestone basement. The structure above was brick, with a cemented front. The architect was N.Y.A. Wales of Mason & Wales, and plans still held by the firm show a tramway connecting the building with the Stafford Street warehouse behind. James Hood was the contractor and the building cost £4,274.

Part of an original drawing for the 1875 building, reproduced courtesy of Mason & Wales Architects.

Between 1900 and 1901 two new floors, with extensions over the right-of-way, were made to create a new clothing factory. The designer was Charles Lomax, Ross & Glendining’s Building Inspector, who also supervised the construction work. According to an obituary, Lomax was originally from Blackburn, Lancashire, and as well as building the Roslyn Woollen Mills ‘carried out the erection of every warehouse belonging to the firm in New Zealand, also preparing the plans’. This description was not quite accurate, as others were also involved with building and design work for the company, but it would probably be true to say that no other person had a greater hand in the design and construction of the company’s buildings.

The rebuilt High Street factory was described in the Evening Star:

The factory operations are at present carried on in the two-storeyed building next the warehouse, but this is found to be inadequate for the trade. The new building will cover an area with a frontage of 66ft and 115ft deep. Including a spacious basement, of a uniform height of 12ft, there will be four storeys, the ground and first floors being 14ft high and the top one 12ft. The basement is to have a limer rock floor, the material for which has been imported from France. This makes a damp-proof floor, which is easier on the feet than one made of wood. It is used for the basement in the present warehouse, and has given every satisfaction. In the basement the engine for driving the machinery used throughout the factory will be located. The floors are to be supported by iron columns and steel joists, the building to be of brick with cement facings and slate roof. On a projection from each floor the lavatories and other conveniences are arranged for. The first floor is divided off into apartments for the office, finishing room, cutting room, pressing room, and dining room. The second and third floors are to be devoted to the operative departments of the factory, the different machines being driven by steam-power. A lift will travel from top to bottom of the building, connecting with all the floors. As was to be expected in a building of this description, ample provision has been made for lighting. There are six large windows to each floor in the front, and an equal number at the back, and these will ensure splendid light throughout the rooms. The front has been designed in no particular set style, but it will have an attractive appearance, although not being profusely ornamental, and will be in keeping with the effectiveness of the general run of large buildings in Dunedin.

Stephen Jones (whose history of Ross & Glendining I highly recommend) states that a nine horsepower Campbell oil engine replaced the old factory’s three horsepower Otto gas engine. This allowed the number of sewing machines to be increased, ‘there being over sixty Wilson & Wheeler and almost thirty Singer machines of various types installed in the factory by January 1902’.

The yard space and outbuildings separating the main Stafford and High Street buildings were eventually redeveloped. Additions in 1930 housed the company’s boot factory, relocated from Princes Street South, and a further two further storeys were added between 1937 and 1938. The architects for both stages of this work were Miller & White, with Thomas Ferguson the contractor.

The first stage of the boot factory additions, designed by Miller & White in 1930. Further floors were added 1937-1938.

Ross & Glendining was acquired by UEB Industries Ltd in 1966, and subsequently merged into Mosgiel Woollens Ltd, which retained a knitwear division in the building until it went into receivership in 1980. Later occupants included J. McGrath & Co, and in more recent years the building has been known as South Pacific House. Current occupants include NZ Fight & Fitness Academy.

The facade remains much as it did in 1901, although looking naked at the top where the balustrade and central pediment were removed in 1937. The fire escape likely dates from the 1940s, and 1941 work included the installation of louvre windows and the relocation of the main door from the centre to the side of the frontage. Sam Lind tells me that you can still identify the location in the basement where the engine running the belts would have been, and there is some evidence of the tramway that ran between the buildings. Some of the ironwork of the overhead shafts survives. Though most old fittings have been removed, the old stairs, floors, and brickwork all remain appealing interior features.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times 20 April 1875 p.2 (description), 24 September 1906 p.4 (Lomax obituary); Evening Star 15 December 1900 p.1 (description of rebuilt premises)

Other references
Fahey, W.H. Beautiful Dunedin: its environs and the cold lakes of Otago (Dunedin: Evening Star Co., 1906)
Jones, S.R.H. Doing Well and Doing Good : Ross & Glendining, Scottish Enterprise in New Zealand (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2010)
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans

Thanks to Mason & Wales Architects for access to early plans, and to Sam Lind for more recent information about the building.

Ross & Glendining, Stafford Street

Built: 1866 / 1874 / 1919
Address: 8 Stafford Street
Architects: John McGregor / Mason & Wales / W.H. Dunning
Builders:  McKay & Goodfellow / H.C. McCormack / Fletcher Bros

The building in the late 1930s. Ref: Hocken Collections AG-512/288.

Ross & Glendining Ltd was at one time the largest manufacturing company in New Zealand, and part of a thriving domestic industry in textiles and clothing.

John Ross was born at Caithness in the north of Scotland, and Robert Glendining came from Dumfries in the south. Ross managed a drapery in his native country before coming to Dunedin in 1861, bringing with him thousands of pounds worth of stock. He became a partner in Begg, Christie & Co. and within a year bought out the firm. He went into business with the recently arrived Glendining in August 1862, just as the discovery of the Dunstan goldfield brought a fresh ‘rush’ to Otago.

The company moved from retail to wholesale trade, and in 1866 built a brick and stone warehouse, some of which survives within the present 8 Stafford Street. The builders were McKay & Goodfellow and the architect was John McGregor (I’ll return to the intriguing Mr McGregor and his other designs of the 1860s and 70s  in a later post). Elaborately decorated in the Venetian Gothic style, the Oamaru stone facade of the warehouse featured pairs of arched windows, and columns of Port Chalmers bluestone topped by carved capitals. Ornamental ironwork included an unusual parapet railing, and finials on the first-floor sills.

An illustration of the building from ‘Beautiful Dunedin’ (1906), taken not long after it was converted to a hat factory. The original portion is on the right (the entrance shown being at its centre).

HockenCollections_S09_529j

Looking down Stafford Street towards Princes Street around the 1880s. Ref: Hocken Collections S09-529j.

Ross & Glendining established the Roslyn Woollen Mill in Kaikorai Valley in 1879, and soon after went into manufacturing, opening branches throughout the colony. Extensive additions to the Stafford Street buildings were built in 1874, with Mason & Wales the architects and H.C. McCormack the contractor. The facade was extended further up the street and McGregor’s original details were carefully replicated, an Otago Daily Times report remarking that ‘instead of the patchwork appearance which generally characterises additions to buildings, the building, as complete, is carried out on one plan, and looks accordingly’.

The basement level was used for packing and record entry. The ground floor was fitted with counters and shelving for trading manchester, and offices were put in the front of the addition. The upper floor was used for warehouse purposes, and housed fancy goods, hosiery, and haberdashery departments. A hydraulic lift made by Frazer, Wishart, & Buchanan was capable of lifting weights of up to one and a-half tonnes. ‘Clarke’s patent self-acting steel shutters’ were the latest in fire protection measures, and a brick wall two feet thick separated the warehouse from neighbouring wooden buildings.

The building at 8 Stafford Street is best understood in relation to some of Ross & Glendining’s adjoining and nearby buildings. In 1875 a new bonded warehouse was built facing High Street, back-to-back with the original premises. The two buildings were connected by a tramway across a large yard, where there were stables and other outbuildings. In 1893 the company moved its offices and warehouse to an entirely new site further down High Street, opposite the end of Manse Street (where Broadway now begins). The clothing factory moved into adjoining premises.

The old Stafford-High complex remained in company ownership but was leased to tenants until about 1900, when major redevelopment began and the entire site was turned to factory use. This work was designed and overseen by Charles Lomax, the company’s Inspector of Works. The High Street clothing factory was completed in 1901, its almost entirely rebuilt structure including a further two storeys, with an 18 metre high chimney behind (to save confusion I’m saving full description of this building for another post).

Work on the Stafford Street portion began in 1902, and in January 1904 it reopened as a hat factory, where fur, wool, felt, and straw hats were produced. Two years later, the top floor was converted to a mantle and costume factory, but the major rebuilding came in 1919 when a new four-storey block was built at the rear, and two additional storeys were added to the front portion. This was when the Stafford Street building took on its current outward appearance.

A 1918 drawing shows the addition of just one floor and retention of the old facade below, however, a plan deposited in March 1919 shows a total of five floors (including basement) and an entirely remodelled facade in a transitional style reminiscent of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The designer was William H. Dunning, a Tasmanian-born architect whose other work in Dunedin included the National Bank in Princes Street, Ross Home in North East Valley, the RSA Buildings in Moray Place, and Barton’s Buildings. Fletcher Bros were the builders.

 

Plan lodged August 1918, showing the original proposal for one additional floor. Dunedin City Council Archives.

Plan lodged March 1919, showing the final design with two additional floors and an entirely new facade. Dunedin City Council Archives.

Large windows are a striking feature of the design, and a report in the Evening Star noted: ‘An important principle, copied from America, is as to the lighting. The whole front is practically a window, and in daytime the workers are getting the greatest amount of sunlight that is possible under a roof.’

About 110 young women were employed in the building. The hat factory remained on the first floor, and shirts were made on the second. The third floor housed the costume and mantle departments, and the Evening Star gave a full description of it:

There are 100 Singer machines in this room, electrically driven. The only foot action for the worker is the use of the treadle for regulating speed. The harder she presses the faster the machine runs. The presser-foot on each machine is operated by the knee, leaving both hands free for guiding. The installation of the electric iron saves gas fumes, and two electric cutters are able to save a lot of heavy work. The pressers’ room on the same floor is supplied with a steam press of the very latest type, saving a lot of time and labour. The making of dress buttons being forced on us as a result of the war, six machines are provided for that purpose. The woven material used in making the costumes and other goods is from the firm’s own Roslyn mills, so that the finished articles as sent to the shops are to all intents and purposes produced from our own resources except for linings and thread. This being the case, it is very gratifying that Mr C. W. L. King, the manager, is able to show a variety of goods that for material, style, and make can be put alongside the best productions of Australia or Europe. Consideration of this phase of the subject leads one to the belief that the diversity of design in such a factory is not only good for business but food for the workers, inasmuch as it must be much more interesting to be engaged on varied work that touches the domain of art, and has some individuality about it, than to stick for days and weeks at one mechanical operation of the prosaic and unromantic order.

The fourth floor was an ‘up-to-date dining room on the restaurant model’, where morning tea was provided at 10 o’clock, and midday meals could be heated. Apparently it wouldn’t do for the male staff to eat with them, so the men had a separate dining room above. The flat roof was ‘available as a promenade for the girls’, and from it there were good views the harbour.

In 1924 a fire significantly damaged the top floor (32 firemen fought the blaze). In 1930 a new boot factory building of utilitarian design was erected on the middle of the site, between the two main buildings. Miller & White were the architects and Thomas Ferguson was the building contractor. The same architects and contractor were responsible for the addition of a further two storeys to this structure over the summer of 1937-1938.

Advertisement from the Northern Advocate, 22 June 1922 p.6 (Papers Past).

Ross & Glendining was acquired by UEB Industries Ltd in 1966, and subsequently merged into Mosgiel Woollens Ltd.  Mosgiel vacated the Stafford Street building in 1973, and Sew Hoy & Sons occupied it until about 1980. Mosgiel retained a knitwear division in the High Street building until it went into receivership in 1980.

A variety of businesses operated from 8 Stafford Street over the next three decades, and between 2010 and 2011 it was partially converted to apartments. Current redevelopment plans by owners Jason and Kate Lindsey will create a start-up and tech business hub, ‘for creatives, consultants and entrepreneurs alike’. This seems a fitting turn for the site of one of the most successful commercial enterprises ever to have come out of Dunedin.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 3 May 1866 p.3 (tender notice), 18 June 1866 p.5 (new Stafford Street building description), 27 October 1866 p.1 (advertisement), 1 April 1874 p.2 (Stafford Street additions description); 20 April 1875 (new High Street building description) p.2; 15 April 1893 p.3 (new warehouse) , 1 April 1901 p.1 (plumbing tenders – High Street), 15 June 1903 p.3 (‘an important industry), 23 July 1918 p.7 (Stafford Street additions description); Evening Star, 8 July 1919 p.3 (description of additions); New Zealand Herald, 28 April 1924 p.6 (fire).

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889].
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892].
Fahey, W.H. Beautiful Dunedin : its environs and the cold lakes of Otago. Dunedin: Evening Star Co., 1906.
Jones, S.R.H. Doing Well and Doing Good : Ross & Glendining, Scottish Enterprise in New Zealand. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2010.
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Dalziel Architects records, Hocken Collections (MS-2750/143 and MS-2758/272)
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Thanks to Peter Entwisle for pointing out the Mackintosh connection

Chapman’s Terrace

Address: 235-241 Stuart Street
Built: 1881-1882
Architect: David Ross
Builder: Jesse Millington

Terraced houses were rare in Victorian New Zealand despite being common the United Kingdom, where most settlers were born and from where so many building styles were transplanted. Types of terraces there included not only working-class rows of plain design, but also the stylish townhouses of affluent city dwellers. There wasn’t much demand for such buildings in New Zealand, the colony being less urbanised, but of those that could be found many were in Dunedin, the most industrial centre. More than twenty terraces built between 1875 and 1915 survive in the city today.

One row in Upper Stuart Street still announces its original name to the world in large letters: Chapman’s Terrace. It was built between 1881 and 1882 as an investment property for Robert Chapman, and remained in family hands until 1910.

Chapman (1812-1898) was one Dunedin’s earliest colonial settlers. Born at Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, he worked as a solicitor in Edinburgh before coming to Dunedin with his wife Christina on the Blundell in 1848. He served as Registrar of the Supreme Court and Clerk to the Provincial Council, but is probably most often recalled as the person who funded a memorial to Rev. Thomas Burns, built in the lower Octagon. Completed in 1892, it stood 19 metres tall and cost over £1,000 to build (as much as two ordinary houses). An immediate source of criticism and humour was that Chapman’s name was carved in the stonework in three places, at least as prominently as Burns’, but from what I can tell the donor was generally a quiet and unassuming sort of fellow and any lapse in modesty was uncharacteristic. The monument was demolished in 1948.

Robert Chapman

Robert Chapman (1812-1898)

The memorial to Rev. Dr Thomas Burns, which stood in the Octagon from 1892 to 1948 (ref: Te Papa O.000998)

Robert’s son Charles, a lawyer who was Mayor of Dunedin at the time the monument was built, managed the tenancies of Chapman’s Terrace from its earliest years, and likely also had a hand in the building project. The architect was David Ross, who had earlier designed the terrace at 107-111 York Place, completed in 1877. Ross had been engaged by Chapman before, having designed Dunottar House and another villa residence for him.

The terrace was built in the Renaissance Revival style, and small but prominent porticos made striking features. The parapet originally had a balustrade, and its loss has affected the balance and proportion of the composition. Pairs of round-headed windows echo other designs by Ross, including Fernhill (John Jones’s residence) and the Warden’s Court at Lawrence.

Tenders for the project were called in September 1881 and the contractor selected was Jesse Millington, who at around the same time built Stafford Terrace at 62-86 Dundas Street (now known as the ‘Coronation Street houses’). The Stuart Street building was complete by the end of June 1882, when it was described in the Otago Daily Times:

The houses…are of a very superior class, both as regards design and convenience. The block comprises three houses, each of which contains 10 rooms, exclusive of bathroom, storeroom, pantry, &c. Two flats are above the streetline, and two below. All the rooms are fitted up with gasaliers and electric bells of an improved type. The buildings are an ornament to the upper portion of Stuart street, for they are nicely designed, and considerable expense has been devoted to external as well as internal finish.

ChapmansTerrace4

Detail from a Burton Bros photograph showing the intersection of Stuart Street and Moray Place in the 1880s. Chapman’s Terrace is just up from Trinity Wesleyan Church. (ref: Hardwicke Knight, Otago Early Photographs, third series)

The steep site falls sharply away from the street, and though the building appears only two storeys high from the front, four levels can be seen from behind. The lower ones were built with bluestone walls, the upper ones in brick with cemented fronts. Each street entrance is almost like a little drawbridge, and there is quite a drop behind the iron railings.

The houses were first advertised as ‘suitable for professional men’ and their central location was one of their best selling points. When Thomas Miller left the upper house in 1885, an auction advertisement gave some idea of the furnishings inside:

Magnificent piano (in walnut, trichord, trussed legs, and every modern improvement by Moore, London), walnut suite (in crimson silk rep), large gilt-frame pier-glass, mahogany table and cover, tapestry window curtains, circular fender and fireirons, chess table, whatnot, Brussels carpets, hearthrug, cedar chiffonier, curtains, pole and rings, couch (in hair), dining-room table, cane chairs, sofa, linoleum, cutlery, napery, china, earthenware, B.M. dish covers, double and single iron bedsteads, spring mattress, cheval dressing-glass, 3 chests of drawers, washstands and ware dressing-tables, bedroom carpets, bed linen, blankets, quilts, kitchen table, chairs, sofa, floorcloth, kitchen and cooking utensils, culinary appliances, mangle, hall table and linoleum, door scrapers, mats, etc., etc., etc.

For periods each house was run as a boarding house or lodgings, with those who took rooms including labourers, carpenters, clerks, salesmen, music teachers, a share broker, a chemist, a photographer, a journalist, a draper’s assistant, a dressmaker, and many others.

From about 1890 to 1902 the upper house was run by Annie Korwin, and around the turn of the century it was known as Stanford House. Those who followed included Eliza and Honor Pye, James McKechnie, Elizabeth Scott, and Margaret and Enid Simmonds.

Helen Nantes was the first to occupy the middle house, and from 1885 to 1902 it was the residence of John Macdonald, a medical practitioner and lecturer at the Otago Medical School. Constance Alene Elvine Hall, known as Madame Elvino, occupied it from 1904 to 1910. Originally from Ireland, she variously advertised as a professor of phrenology, world-famed psychometrist, medical clairvoyant, metaphysical healer, business medium, hair colourist, palmist, psychic seer, and scientific character reader. She travelled widely around the country, giving consultations and running popular stalls at carnivals and bazaars. She married John C. Paterson, a sawmill manager, and he joined her in the terrace.

Advertisement from the Evening Star, 16 March 1906 p.5 (courtesy of Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand).

In 1908 Madame Elvino was charged with fortune telling, an offence under the Crimes Act, but acquitted on the defence of the celebrated barrister Alfred Hanlon, on the grounds that she had only given a ‘character reading’. She was convicted on another occasion in Christchurch in the 1920s. In a New Zealand Truth report titled ‘Face Cream and Psychic Phenomena for Frivolous Flappers’, Elvino was described as a ‘short, dark, plainly-dressed little woman, with a pair of twinkling eyes peering out from behind rimmed spectacles, she looks the last person on earth from whom one would expect any striking occult manifestations’.

William and Mary Ann Barry took the house after Madame Elvino, living there from about 1911 to 1932. During that time the First World War affected the residents of Chapman’s Terrace as it did all of Dunedin, and the Barrys’ only son was killed in action in France just a month before the armistice in 1918.

Early tenants of the lower house included the prominent music teacher Edward Towsey, and George Bell jr, managing director of the Evening Star newspaper. Those who lived in it for the longest spells were Alice Vivian, Eliza Pye, Mary Hutchinson, Mary Martin, and Robina McMaster.

Chapman’s Terrace in the early 1960s. Hardwicke Knight photo.

Chapman’s Terrace in the early 1960s. The fire escape dates from around the 1940s. The balustrade railing is still in place but balusters have been removed, giving something of a gap-toothed look. Hardwicke Knight photo.

In 1951, then known as ‘Castlereagh’, the lower house at 235 Stuart Street was purchased by the Dunedin Branch of the New Zealand Institute for the Blind. The refurbished rooms were opened in July 1952 and later the institute also acquired the middle house. After extensive alterations in 1960 (including the removal of partitions) the top floor contained a social room, braille room, and cloak rooms, while on the ground floor were a lounge, therapy room, cutting-out room, and the manager’s office. A new stair was less steep than the old one. The institute (later Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind) remained in the building until new purpose-built premises on the corner of Law Street and Hillside Road opened in 1975.

The terrace has been home to a legal practice since 1975, when Sim McElrea O’Donnell Borick & Thomas moved in. McCrimmon Law is now based here and in 2013 one of the building owners, Fiona McCrimmon, oversaw the extensive refurbishment of the terrace.

The balustrade was removed in the 1960s, but other original facade features remain happily intact, including pilasters with Corinthian capitals, square columns, quoins, and a dentil cornice. Some internal features that survived twentieth century alterations have also been preserved, including beautiful kauri floors, turned newel posts, ceiling roses and other plasterwork, and a few of the fireplace surrounds.

As someone who lived in the terrace for two years as student, I am delighted to see it so well looked after. I wonder if my old room was Madame Elvino’s…

The terrace as it appeared in 2012, immediately prior to renovations.

The terrace in 2015. The former Trinity Methodist Church on the corner is now the Fortune Theatre.

Rear view, showing the full height of the building, and the stone and brickwork (first painted over many years ago).

Basement detail

Facade detail

Lettering detail

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 1 September 1881, p.3 (call for tenders), 27 June 1882, p.4 (description), 29 August 1882, p.1 (to let), 7 October 1882, p.1 (board), 4 November 1885, p.4 (sale of furniture – Millar), 26 December 1885, p.4 (sale of furniture – Macleod), 4 April 1898, p.3 (Stanford House advertisement), 12 September 1898, p.3 (obituary for Robert Chapman), 18 July 1902 p.8 (Stanford House), 20 April 1951 p.6 (purchase by Institute for Blind), 22 July 1952 p.6 (official opening), 28 October 1960 p.5 (alterations), 8 April 1975 p.13 (new premises for Foundation for the Blind); Evening Star, 3 October 1891 p.2 (Burns Memorial – foundation stone), 30 April 1892 p.2 (Burns Memorial – handing over ceremony); Otago Witness, 17 October 1895 p.4 (Men of Note in Otago – Robert Chapman, Citizen and Solicitor), 15 September 1898 p.7 (obituary for Robert Chapman)

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol.4 (Otago and Southland Provincial Districts), 1905, p.379
Plans for alterations, Salmond Anderson Architects records, Hocken Collections (MS-3821/2581)

Thanks to Fiona McCrimmon for showing me around the property 

Albyn House

Built: 1861
Address: 558 Great King Street
Architect: Not identified
Builder: Not identified

Albyn House as it appeared around 1960. Hardwicke Knight photo.

A magnificent Wellingtonia, thought to be more than 140 years old, stands opposite the North Ground on Great King Street. Its great height gives context to the even older wooden building behind it: Albyn House. Built as the Albion Hotel, it predates the Otago Gold Rush, and might be the oldest surviving building in North Dunedin.

An early photograph shows the hotel set back from a roughly formed street, in almost rural isolation. In 1861, a traveller whose observations were published in the Lyttelton Times found just two buildings of note in North Dunedin. One was the original Knox Church and the other was the Albion, which he thought ‘for external appearance and internal comfort is superior to any in Canterbury’.

The two-storeyed structure appears modest now, but it was impressive in newly-hatched Dunedin, and a storekeeper in Great King Street advertised his business as ‘nearly opposite that magnificent building, The Albion Hotel’. The architecture drew from the Georgian tradition, and with its small central bay and pediment was similar to George Greenfield’s design for the custom house (built 1862, demolished 1973) in High Street. Where the custom house was stone and brick with a portico, timber materials and a verandah gave the Albion a more Colonial look. Arches and six-pointed stars were striking features of the entrance porch. The building was also reminiscent of the brick Linwood House in Christchurch (1857, demolished 2011).

The first proprietors, John Henry Noding and Ernest Cleland Mais, were granted a license in April 1861, but by October Noding was the sole proprietor. Like many advertisers he indulged in a little exaggeration, claiming that accommodation was ‘unsurpassed in the Colony, combining the freedom of a Hotel, with the comforts of an English Home.’ Robert Ellis opened livery and bait stables in connection with the hotel.

Advertisement from Otago Daily Times, 25 November 1861. Ref: Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

An advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 25 November 1861. Ref: Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

A wee kerfuffle made the papers at the end of 1861. Noding claimed that one of his guests, Captain Peter Greig, had demanded alcohol after hours and been very noisy, ‘playing leap frog and other improper games in the parlour’. Greig was asked to leave, but refused and threatened to horsewhip his landlord. On Noding’s instructions the housemaid turned out the captain’s belongings and locked his bedroom, but he broke down the door. Greig was prosecuted, and following his spirited defence the magistrate remarked that he was obviously still under the effects of excitement. Greig apologised, explaining that he was not well, his feet were damp, and he had on a pair of new boots, which hurt his feet! He was ordered to pay damages, but fellow guests claimed he had done nothing wrong and criticised Noding as a poor host and a difficult man to live with. Five of them left the hotel in solidarity with the captain, and signed a letter in support, published in the Otago Daily Times.

John McNeill bought the Albion at the end of 1862, and soon altered and reopened it, advertising ‘delightfully airy’ bedrooms, private sitting rooms for ladies, and all the comforts of home. The table, he boasted, was ‘daily furnished with every variety and luxury of the season, and the very best wines’. Within months the hotel changed hands again, with John Flanagan the new publican.

Members of the North Dunedin Cricket Club held meetings in the building, including one on 6 February 1864, the day they officially opened the North Ground. On one occasion a perambulator was stolen from the verandah and taken on a little adventure as a ‘lark’ – evidence, should it be needed, that alcohol-influenced pranks in the area predate the university and its students by some years. Flannagan failed to make a success of the business and the hotel closed in 1865. After being bought by the mortagees, John McNeill and James Finch, it was sold to Daniel Campbell in 1866.

Detail from a late 1860s photograph showing the building from the rear (at centre). All Saints' Church is also prominent. Ref: Hocken Photographs Album 073.

Detail from a late 1860s photograph showing the building from the rear (at centre). All Saints’ Church is also prominent. Ref: Hocken Photographs Album 073.

An early 1880s view showing Albion House (as it was then known) at the centre right. Detail from Burton Bros photograph. Ref: Te Papa C.012457.

An early 1880s view showing Albion House (as it was then known) at the centre right. Note the size of the tree. Detail from Burton Bros photograph. Ref: Te Papa C.012457.

For the next eighteen years the building was Campbell’s private residence, and was known as Albion House. Campbell had arrived from Edinburgh in 1851, and was the first printer and manager of the Otago Witness, and later Managing Director of the Otago Daily Times. His daughters Maggie and Nellie were each married at Albion House by Rev. Dr Donald Stuart.

Campbell left Dunedin in 1883, and in 1884 a boarding house was established in the building by Mrs Susan James. She initially leased the property before purchasing it in 1888, when she changed the name from Albion House to Albyn House. Albion is the oldest known name for the island of Great Britain, and Albyn is a variant with romantic literary associations. It is not known why Mrs James changed the name, but it may have been to avoid confusion with another Albion House, or the Albion Hotel in Maclaggan Street.

Susan James ran Albyn House until 1901, and after leasing it to other operators returned to a hands-on role from 1908 to 1914. It was briefly run by J.A. Goodman, and his sale notice in 1916 gives an interesting list of some of the furnishings: ‘Walnut sideboard, leather suite, dining table, fenders and brasses, occasional tables, poles and curtains, pictures, linoleums, Axminster carpet, carpet runners, wicker chairs, hall stand, overmantel, ornaments, china and crystal, double and single bedsteads, bedroom suite, wardrobes, duchesse chests, washstands, ware, toilet glasses, bedding, blankets, napery, kitchen furniture, utensils, garden tools, furniture of 20 rooms’.

An advertisement from the Otago Motor Club annual, 1930.

An advertisement from the Otago Motor Club annual, 1930. The verandah was still open at this time.

Later proprietors included Margaret Durrand, Jane McIvor (c.1919-1932), Annie Christeson (1936-1960), Ivy Harborne (1960-1973), and A.P. Sutherland (1973-1987). Residents in the early years included clergy, medical students, clerks, and music teachers. Notable individuals included W.H. Trimble, who became the first Hocken Librarian, and Whampoa Fraser, the first principal of what is now Fraser High School in Hamilton. Albyn House was also used by tourists and travellers, and increasingly by single men looking for low-cost accommodation. In 1970 it was converted from a boarding house to bedsits.

Simon Rae remembers living there in 1960, when he was a student in his first year at the University of Otago. ‘Mrs Chris’ was the landlady and the boarders were ‘all younger single men, a wonderful mix, workers and students’. They knew the times when Sputnik could be observed and would go over to the North Ground to spot it in the night sky.

Some additions to the building appear to have been removed, as have the brick chimneys that were attached to the external walls. A stair mysteriously leads up to the attic space. Decorative ironwork that once graced the frontage has gone, as have four finials from the parapet, and aluminium-framed windows make incongruous replacements for the original double-hung sashes. The verandah was partially closed in during the mid-twentieth century. After 154 years however, however, the building retains the essentials of its original character. The buff colour scheme, of a type once common, adds to its old-fashioned charm.

Albyn House is not only possibly the oldest building in North Dunedin, but also likely Dunedin’s oldest remaining hotel building. It survives as one of the few built links to the city’s early pioneer days.

Newspaper references:
Otago Witness, 20 April 1861 p.5 (license granted), 8 June 1861 p.5 (cook, housemaid, waiter), 27 April 1861 p.3 (‘magnificent building’), 20 July 1861 p.4 (Ellis’ stables), 26 October 1861 p.4 (partnership dissolved), 20 Feb 1864 p.14 (perambulator); Otago Daily Times, 7 December 1861 p.2 (Noding and Grieg), 8 December 1862 p.2 (sale notice), 20 January 1863 p.3 (advertisement), 16 June 1866 p.5 (disputed settlement), 19 June 1866 p.5 (disputed settlement), 6 February 1864 p.4 (opening North Ground), 29 January 1878 p.2 (wedding), 25 November 1879 p.2 (wedding), 31 March 1884 p.3 (boarding and accommodation house established), 23 July 1885 p.1 (advertisement), 26 October 1888 p.3 (purchase by Mrs James), 1 April 1889 p.1 (Albyn House), 4 August 1908 p.8, (departure of Mrs Heatley), 26 October 1908 p.2 (return of Mrs James), 21 February 1914 p.12 (for lease), 12 February 1916 p.14 (A. Goodman); Lyttelton Times, 4 January 1862 p.9 (description of Dunedin).

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Certificate of title, vol.71 fol.123
Deeds indexes, Archives New Zealand, Dunedin Regional Office (with thanks to Amy Coleman)

Thanks to William Duncan for his help when I visited the site.

Sutton Brothers Store

Built: 1874-1875
Address: 21 George Street, Port Chalmers
Architects: Mason & Wales
Builders: Lambeth & Findlay, Kent & Brown

When I’m in Port Chalmers I often admire the distinctive Tiger tea, ‘It’s so good it goes further’, advertising on the front of this building. I’m sure many have a similar fondness for it – Tiger signs were once seen on so many southern dairies and grocery stores, but they’re now relatively scarce.

The building was a general store, with a residence above, for 110 years. It was built between 1874 and 1875 as an investment for John Thomson, whose name has come up on this blog before. Thomson (1813-1895) was born at Dewartown, near Dalkeith in Scotland, and after working in coal mining had charge of a sawmill on the estate of the Duke of Buccleugh. He arrived at Port Chalmers in 1848 and worked saw milling and then managing the Government stores, before briefly going to the goldfields. He was afterwards a sheep and cattle inspector, and his Otago Witness obituary stated that he was ‘greatly respected for his sterling manliness of character’. He had established the Dalkeith subdivision in the 1860s, and owned various adjoining properties on the eastern side of George Street.

The architect was N.Y.A. Wales of Mason & Wales. The carpenters were Lambeth & Findlay, the stonemasons Kent & Brown, and the plasterer Edwin Philp. The cost was £898. The building was completed in March 1875, but just seven months later was damaged in a fire that destroyed buildings on its north side. The first storekeepers were Sutton Brothers. The business was managed by Edward Sutton to 1891, then by William Sutton to about 1903.

Detail from an 1870s photograph showing the building as it appeared when new. Ref: D.A. De Maus Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-003211-G.

Detail from another D.A. De Maus photograph, taken in the 1880s. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library 1/1-002569-G.

The store as it appeared in the 1890s or early 1900s. Ref: Port Chalmers Museum. D.A. De Maus photographer.

The store was run by Jonathan Emerson as Emerson’s Store from about 1903 to 1931, when it became MP Stores. The original MP Stores had been established in Timaru in 1913 as ‘a cash store, with minimum deliveries, in order to enable the proprietors to only charge the public for the goods bought by the individual customer, and not for the bad debts of the non-payer, and also to keep running expenses to a minimum’. MP might have stood for ‘minimum purchase’ but I’m not sure about that, and if there was a direct business link between the Timaru stores and the Port Chalmers one I haven’t discovered it. The name was changed to MP Foodmarket around 1963 and the business continued under that name until it closed around 1985. Since about 1986 Koputai Manufacturing Jewellers have occupied the ground floor.

The style of the architecture is Renaissance Revival. Originally, rusticated pilasters topped by corbels flanked the shopfront, with quoins above on the first floor. The composition was topped by a bracketed cornice, and a blind parapet with a modest pediment, small urns, and finials. The principal change to the outward appearance of the building has been the replastering of the facade in the 1950s. This involved the removal of original mouldings such as the cornice, quoins etc., and the filling in of the centre window on the first floor. Other changes included the addition of a suspended verandah, and the replacement of the shopfront. The side elevations are in a more original state, and the exposed breccia stonework is a delight – well worth searching out if you’re not familiar with it already. Just look for Mr Tiger.

Newspaper sources:
Otago Daily Times, 4 October 1875 p.3 (fire); Timaru Herald 11 August 1913 p.1, 17 July 1920 p.9 (MP Stores).

Other sources:
Stone’s, Wise’s, and telephone directories
Church, Ian. Some Early People and Ships of Port Chalmers. Dunedin: New Zealand Society of Genealogists, c.1990. pp.784-5.
Port Chalmers rates records (with thanks to Chris Scott, DCC Archives)
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)

Cavendish Chambers

Built: 1926-1927
Address: 211 High Street
Architect: Eric Miller  
Builder: George H. McGregor

High Street’s association with the medical profession dates back to at least the 1880s, when the Mornington cable car started running and some impressive new houses were built along its route. In 1920 there were no fewer than ten doctors among the residents, many with surgeries attached to their homes, and the street was a logical location for what might be considered one of Dunedin’s first medical centres.

The company behind the venture, Medical Buildings Ltd, was incorporated on 1 March 1926, and the shareholders all took professional rooms in the new property.  The first occupants were James Alfred Jenkins (surgeon and urologist), John Finlayson Cardno (radiographer), William Elliott Carswell (ophthalmologist), Cecil Haden Tait (dentist), and Charles Ritchie Burns (cardiologist and medical administrator). The architect was Eric Miller and the builder George H. McGregor. A contract for £3,590 was signed in May 1926 and the building was completed in 1927.

‘Medical Buildings’ is the name that appears on the plans, but the one ultimately chosen was ‘Cavendish Chambers’. This was presumably taken from Cavendish Square, well known as a site of medical practices in London.

The main portion of the new building was two storeys high. It contained five suites of professional rooms set up as appropriate with consulting rooms, examination rooms, and laboratories, and with an x-ray room and a dark room for the radiologist. There were waiting rooms on each floor and a system of electric bells for communication. Nurses’ accommodation was in a single-storey portion at the rear, with bedrooms, dining room, kitchenette, and bathroom. I hope someone might have more information about the nurses, as I imagine their life in the building was one of the most interesting parts of its history.

Hocken Collections ref: MS-2758/209

Hocken Collections ref: MS-2758/209

Hocken Collections ref: MS-2758/209

Hocken Collections ref: MS-2758/209

Detail from plan

The construction was cavity brick, with rimu floors and green concrete roof tiles. Garden walls to the street were finished with Moeraki gravel and clinker brick. The style drew from Revived Georgian and English Domestic influences, both popular in the 1920s and favoured by Miller in his residential and commercial work (which included the Irvine & Stevenson building featured on this blog previously). The steel-framed windows facing the street are mullioned and surrounded by subtly varied brickwork. Other features include corbels, a cornice, and brick quoins, while coloured terracotta tiles are a feature of the entrance porch. Metal letters above an entrance arch read ‘Cavendish Chambers’ and below these is a large electric lamp . Features inside the reception hall include rimu arches with mitred moulded architraves, panelling in oak and rimu, and parquet flooring. A skylight effectively lights the central stairwell.

So who were these doctors and others who based their private practices in the building?

James Alfred Jenkins (1892-1976) occupied rooms from 1927 to 1952. A surgeon and urologist, he was lecturer in clinical surgery at the Otago Medical School. During the Second World War he was head of the medical section of the Emergency Precautions Services in Dunedin.

WIlliam Elliott Carswell (1882-1958) kept rooms from 1927 to 1958. He worked as an ophthalmologist and lecturer at the Medical School, and during the First World War had been instrumental in founding a physiotherapeutic department for the rehabilitation of ex-soldiers. He became head of the ear, nose and throat department at Dunedin Hospital, and was later chief of the eye department. Carswell was first local president of the Hard of Hearing League, and served as national president of the Ophthalmological Society.

Charles Ritchie Burns (1898-1985) was a cardiologist and medical administrator. His rooms, which he occupied from 1927 to 1939, contained an early example of an ECG machine. Burns was later director of medicine at Auckland Hospital, head of cardiology at Wellington Hospital, and a specialist in alcohol addiction (he was Medical Officer at Queen Mary Hospital, Hanmer Springs). He served on hospital ships and in Italy during the Second World War.

Cecil Haden Tait (1896-1983) was the only dentist to have rooms, which he occupied from 1927 to 1960. Although he remained in general practice all his life, he practised oral surgery extensively.

John Finlayson Cardno (1888-1966) was a radiographer. He kept rooms from 1927 until his death in 1958, and was the only long-term occupant who was not a shareholder in Medical Buildings Ltd. He was one of the first radiographers in private practice in Dunedin, and the first associated with the Dental School. Cardno served in both world wars. He had been with the Second Field Ambulance at Gallipoli and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Jack Dinham Cottrell (1903-1989) occupied rooms from 1939 to 1945. He worked at Dunedin Hospital as medical registrar, honorary assistant anaesthetist, and honorary assistant physician. He served in the New Zealand Army Medical Corps during the Second World War and was awarded an OBE for gallant and distinguished service in the field. He was later a leading figure in the World Health Organisation in Europe.

Denholm Carncross Cuddie (1915-1986), a general practitioner, kept rooms from 1945 to 1986 (those previously occupied by Burns). He had served with fighter squadrons in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the Second World War. Cuddie was president of the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Medical Association and was medical examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority.

Victor Tomlinson Pearse (1913-1995) had a suite from 1952 to 1988. A surgeon, during the Second World War he served as Senior Medical Officer, New Zealand Division, and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in action during the battles for Sangro River and Monte Cassino. Pearse was Senior Registrar at Dunedin Hospital from 1951, and was the first to concentrate on paediatric surgery at Wakari Hospital. He also practised widely in general surgery.

Charles Wynn Squire (Peter) Jerram (1908-1986) was a radiotherapist who kept rooms from 1952 to 1963. During the Second World War he served as a medical officer with the Royal Air Force in North Africa. He was Director of Radiotherapy Services at Dunedin Hospital from 1945, and launched the appeal which raised funds for a new unit at Wakari, opened in 1958.

Norris Roy (Norrie) Jefferson (1914-2013) occupied rooms from 1959 to 1970. A radiologist, he was founding president of the New Zealand Sports Medicine Federation and was described as the ‘Father of New Zealand Sports Medicine’. In 1979 he was awarded an OBE for his services to disabled sports and sports medicine.

The final partner to join Medical Buildings Ltd was the diagnostic radiologist Ross Smith, in 1960. He remained until his practice was sold in 1988, and the building company was wound up.

From 1988 to 1995 Cavendish Chambers was occupied by Faris Marlow Associates, mechanical services consultants. In 2002 the building was purchased by Elizabeth and Michael Nidd, and it has since been used as the central office of Nidd Realty (initially associated with Bayleys Realty Group).

The building has seen some major physical changes. The single storey portion was extended in 1952, and other additions included a garage built in 1962, and a deck added in 1991. Elzabeth kindly showed me around the building and talked about some of the more recent changes. In 2004 the single-storey portion and the deck were demolished and a new auction room was built on a similar footprint. The building was earthquake strengthened in 2012, improving its compliance from 15% to 67% of the New Building Standard. Though some original features were sacrificed in modernisation, Miller’s charming façade and much of the internal timberwork have been preserved, and delightful details such as old handles and a ‘Briton’ door closer can still be found. Importantly, the building is fit for purpose and in good shape for the future.

Cavendish6

Acknowledgment:
My thanks to Elizabeth Nidd for providing access to the building and showing me around

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 20 September 1958 p.4 (Carswell obituary), 30 March 1976 p.11 (Jenkins), 15 July 1986 p.16 (Cuddie), 26 November 1986 p.3 (Jerram), 8 June 1995 p.5 (Pearse), 26 April 2014 p.32 (Jefferson).

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s,and telephone directories
Permit records and deposited plans, Dunedin City Council (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Building plans, Dalziel Architects Records, Hocken Collections MS-2758/0209
Original building specification (supplied by Elizabeth Nidd)
‘Medical Buildings Limited’, defunct company file, Archives New Zealand Dunedin Regional Office, R2352822, R2352823.
New Zealand Dental Journal vol.80 (1984) p.59
New Zealand Journal of Sports Medicine vol.41 no.1 (2014) p.1
New Zealand Medical Journal, vol.57 (1958) pp.638-639, vol.83 (1976) pp.284-5, vol.98 (1985) pp.405-7, vol.100 (1987) p.91, vol.108 (1995) p.303
Beasley, A.W. ‘Burns, Charles Ritchie’ in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Polaschek, Alan J. The Complete New Zealand Distinguished Conduct Medal (Christchurch: Whitcoulls, 1983)
Wright-St Clair, Rex. Medical Practitioners in New Zealand 1840-1930 (Hamilton: the author, 2003)

Whitcombe & Tombs Building

Built: 1915
Address: 168-174 Princes Street
Architect: Edward Walter Walden (after Collins & Harman)
Builders: Fletcher Bros

An artist’s impression of the building. Originally published in the Otago Witness, 21 April 1915, and reproduced here courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.

The old Whitcombe & Tombs Building turns one hundred years old this year. Together with the larger complex of buildings behind, it had a long association with the printing, stationery, and bookselling trades.

In the late 1870s, an L-shaped site with frontages to both Princes and Dowling streets was taken over by Fergusson & Mitchell. This firm of printers had operated in Dunedin since 1862, when Glasgow-born John McNairn Mitchell arrived to start the New Zealand arm of a business he had co-founded in Melbourne. The premises included a printery, bindery, warehouse, and one of the best-stocked stationery shops in the colony. Some very fine examples of typography can be found among their nineteenth-century print productions.

The buildings they acquired included wooden shops dating from the 1860s, as well as brick structures built in 1869 and 1877 to the designs of R.A. Lawson. A serious fire in 1901 was followed by a phase of rebuilding, which included the erection of Clyde Chambers on Dowling Street (this building was demolished in 1990).

Mitchell died in 1914, and in the same year his company was bought out by Christchurch-based competitor Whitcombe & Tombs, which had run a Dunedin branch since 1890. Despite war conditions, business was booming, and George Whitcombe remarked that ‘There is hardly a single novel this season that is worth reading and those we have not got, but we are selling the old ones like hot chips’.

Determined to build one of Australasia’s best book shops on the new site, Whitcombe & Tombs announced that ‘new premises are to be erected almost immediately, and will be in keeping with those occupied by the firm at Christchurch and Wellington’. The architect for the Dunedin work, Edward Walter Walden, closely modelled the façade on the central portion of the larger warehouse in Cashel Street, Christchurch, designed by Collins & Harman in 1906. Classically influenced, in the free Revived Renaissance style, it was an imposing and elaborate three-storey composition with a massive tympanum and square pediment at the centre of the parapet. Despite the entirely fresh street appearance, many of the old buildings remained at the rear.

The Christchurch warehouse of Whitcombe & Tombs designed by Collins & Harman, completed in 1907. Steffano Webb Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/1-005652-G.

The contractors were Fletcher Bros, led by 29-year-old James Fletcher, and the new building was ready for occupation in November 1915, nine months after the construction contract was signed. The cost was nearly £9,000. The book shop was the biggest in Dunedin, and at one time there were about thirty shop staff. The annual sale was a keenly anticipated event. Adjoining the firm’s shop was a smaller one that was leased out, as were some of the offices upstairs.

The buildings were seriously damaged by a fire in May 1955. This originated in the neighbouring Beau Monde Café and took hold in the printing department at the rear. 1,700 metres of hose from fifteen hose deliveries was run out to fight the blaze, and four firemen were injured. Losses exceeded £100,000, and the fire sale that followed attracted huge crowds eager for bargains.

The scene of the fire in May 1955. Photograph originally published in the Evening Star and reproduced here courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.

Plans for the reinstatement the buildings were designed by L.W.S. Lowther and built by Mitchell Bros between 1956 and 1957 at a cost of £36,000. Even allowing for inflation this was more than the cost of the 1915 building. Some structures at the rear were replaced and a hangar-like extension referred to as the ‘cathedral’ was created. The Princes Street frontage was retained but some of the ornamental features were removed (mostly at the parapet level). In later years printing operations centred on separate premises in Castle Street.

In 1971, Whitcombe & Tombs merged with Coulls Somerville Wilkie, and the new name Whitcoulls was introduced in 1973. Whitcoulls joined Dunedin’s retail drift north, away from Princes Street and the Exchange. The firm was one of the founding tenants in the Golden Centre when it opened in 1979, and in 1984 opened a large store on the former Andrew Lees site in George Street. The Princes Street shop continued for a few years before closing its doors for the last time on 30 April 1986. At the time Excelsior Holdings intended to demolish both the old Whitcombe & Tombs building and the Excelsior Hotel next door, and it was thought that Whitcoulls might open an outlet in a new mall on the site. A plan subsequently emerged for a large office tower but this was one of a number of local schemes abandoned around the time of the 1987 share market crash.

A clue to building’s old identity can still be seen by pedestrians. In the late 1990s, when Diggers Bar and Saloon occupied the old shop space, 1950s tile were lifted from the entrance to reveal a beautiful mosaic tile floor. At the centre can be seen the monogram ‘W&T Ltd’.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 12 June 1869 p.1 (tender notice for G. & T. Young premises), 20 December 1876 p.2 (Beissel fire), 5 February 1877 p.1 (tender notice for Beissel premises), 30 July 1877 p.7 (description of Beissel premises), 1 March 1879 p.1 (Fergusson & Mitchell additions), 20 January 1915 p.1 (tender notice for removal of buildings), 8 October 1979 pp.23-40 (Golden Centre), 6 March 1984 p.24 (George Street store), 30 April 1986 p.3 (closure of Whitcoulls), 9 May 1955 p.1 (fire); Otago Witness, 14 August 1869 p.17 (description of G. & T. Young premises); New Zealand Tablet, 13 June 1879 p.18 (Fergusson & Mitchell occupy Beissel premises); Evening Star, 9 May 1955 p.1 (fire).

Other references: 
Waite, Noel. Books for a Nation: The Whitcoulls Story (Auckland: Whitcoulls, 2008)
Ingram, John and Paul Clements. Ready Aye Ready: 150 Years of Dunedin Fire Brigades 1861-2011 (Dunedin: Dunedin Fire Brigade Restoration Society, 2010)
Block plans (1869, 1889, 1892, 1927)
Permit records and deposited plans, Dunedin City Council
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Entwisle, Peter. R.A. Lawson’s Architectural Works (unpublished list, 2013)
Whitcoulls records, Auckland War Memorial Museum MS-99-95 (with thanks to Philippa Robinson for her help)

Sussex Hotel

Built: 1880
Address: 132-140 George Street
Architect: Robert Forrest
Builder: John Brennan

There were eighty-nine licensed hotels in Dunedin in 1865, and that year the original Sussex Hotel was added to their number, making twelve pubs in George Street alone. A simple single-storey wooden structure, its first licensee was Henry Pelling, who was followed by Alfred Lawrence, Daniel Bannatyne, and then Thomas Oliver. Additions at the back designed by W.T. Winchester were built in 1877, and three years later Oliver had the front portion rebuilt at a cost of over £4,000, creating the three-storey brick building seen from the street today.

The architect was Robert Forrest (c.1832-1919), whose other designs included the Excelsior, St Kilda, Green Island, and Outram hotels. The facade was in the Renaissance Revival style, with massive pilasters running between the top two floors, and an unusual curved corner at the entrance to Blacket Lane. There were originally more mouldings than there are now, as well as an arched pediment and finials prominent on the parapet. The builder was John Brennan and the building was complete by June 1880.

The hotel contained a bar, two parlours, a sitting room, a large number of bedrooms, dining room, billiard room, and a skittle alley. There were also two shops, with dwelling rooms above them on the first floor, and on the top floor was the Sussex Hall. This had room for 200 people, and events held there in the 1880s included dinners, concerts, dances, workers’ meetings, election meetings, wrestling matches, and boxing classes.

The Sussex Hotel under construction in 1880. Ref: Te Papa C.012110. Cropped detail from Burton Bros photograph.

sussex_1880b

Again, a little later. Ref: Te Papa C.018407. Cropped detail from a Burton Bros photograph.

sussex_1880b_detail

Parapet detail

The hotel was said to have had an unusual patron in its early years. Margaret Paul, historian of the neighbouring A. & T. Inglis department store, tells the story of Antionio, a ‘mansized ape’ that belonged to eccentric store owner Sandy Inglis. The story goes that Antonio, often found dressed in an admiral’s uniform, was served drinks at the hotel. He was also allegedly involved in incidents that included his assault of a barman who had doctored his drink, an unsuccessful attempt to ride a horse (not his idea), and a scene at Port Chalmers when he threw lumps of coal at well-dressed locals returning home from church. Sadly, it is said he was shot after having a go at Sandy himself. Of course legend is typically more colourful than real events, but a newspaper of 1881 records that Inglis did a least own a ‘celebrated South African monkey “Antonio”’, and that he attracted the ‘wonder of an admiring multitude of small boys’ on at least one parade. Inglis also acquired a baboon, and both of the poor animals had been brought to Dunedin by Captain Labarde of the Pensee, and exhibited at the Benevolent Institution Carnival in 1880.

An advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 28 June 1894. Thanks to Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

Licensees after Oliver (though he retained ownership of the building) were Thomas McGuire, Michael Fagan, John Toomey, and Joseph Scott. Oliver returned in 1894 and improvements made at that time included a new ‘American Bowling Saloon’ and a rifle gallery.  The license transferred to Jessie Guinness in 1896, and then after her marriage to her new husband, John Green. The hall was used as band and social rooms, and for some of Dunedin’s earlier screenings of motion picture films. An unusual event in 1902 included J.D. Rowley’s Waxworks of Celebrities, a cyclorama (panoramic images on the inside of a cylindrical platform), a Punch and Judy show, a mechanical organ, and a penny-in-the slot machine ‘which purports to reveal the future and inform the inquirer what is the nature of the matrimonial alliance he or she is destined to contract’.

In 1902 a vote was passed reducing the number of hotel licenses, and the following year the Sussex Hotel’s days as a pub came to an end, although it continued as a private hotel for a few more years. Its next phase was as Wardell’s Building. The grocers Wardell Bros & Co. opened a grocery store on the site in 1907, having first established outlets in Dunedin and Christchurch in 1889, and a branch in Wellington in 1893. For many years Wardells was the largest store of its type in Dunedin, known for its free home delivery service, and for stocking products not available elsewhere, such as specialty cheeses.

A Wardell’s price list from 1930. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-4076/001.

A Wardell’s price list from 1930. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-4076/001.

One of the most notorious New Zealand riots centred on Wardells during the Great Depression. On 9 January 1932, hundreds of unemployed workers protested in George Street demanding food relief, and attempted to break into the store. A window was broken but the crowd was unsuccessful in its attempts to get past police.

In 1935 the Dunedin business became a separate entity registered as Wardells (Dunedin) Ltd, which leased premises from a separate Wardell family company. In 1958 the store was converted to a self-service ‘foodmarket’ and outlets later opened in South Dunedin and Kaikorai Valley. Free deliveries ended in 1972 and in 1974 the firm was sold to Wilson Neill Ltd, which closed the George Street store in June 1979.

From its earliest years the Sussex Hall was used for boxing classes, and for followers of the health and strength training movement known as Physical Culture. The Sandow School of Physical Culture used the premises from 1901, and in 1904 was succeeded by the Otago School of School of Physical Culture, continued by J.P. Northey from 1906 to about 1953. Northey is remembered today as a pioneer of physical education in New Zealand. In the illustration below words can be seen emblazoned on the walls next to the stage, reading ‘Breathe more air and have richer blood’, and ‘Deep breathing is internal exercise’.

Northey's School of Physical Culture in the Sussex Hall. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library PAColl-0318-01.

Northey’s School of Physical Culture in the Sussex Hall. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library PAColl-0318-01.

Dance studios operated in the building from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Shona Dunlop-MacTavish ran one of the first modern dance studios in New Zealand, and other instructors and groups included Laura Bain, Lily Stevens, Serge Bousloff (formerly of the Borovansky Ballet), Helen Wilson, Robinson School of Ballroom Dancing, the Ballet School, Southern Cross Scottish Country Dancing Club, Otago Dance Centre (Glenys Kindley and Alex Gilchrist), and Meenan’s School of Ballet. The New Edinburgh Folk Club also had its first rooms in the building.

There have been many physical and practical changes to the building. It has been lit by electricity since 1898. A bullnose verandah was added in the 1890s and replaced by a suspended one in 1933. Major additions at the back were made in 1908 (Luttrell Bros architects) and 1936 (Miller & White), replacing earlier structures. An air raid shelter was built after the Japanese bombings of Pearl Harbor and Darwin in 1942, and it was one of many constructed in the central city at the time. The finials and pediment were removed prior to 1930 and the front of the building was replastered in utilitarian fashion in 1956, with the loss of many original mouldings. Window canopies date from the 1990s. Blacket Lane remains one of Dunedin’s most fascinating and beautifully layered urban alleys, with high walls of mixed stone and brickwork.

From 1979 a succession of appliance stores operated from the retail space formerly occupied by Wardells. These were Kelvinator House, Wilson Neil Appliances, and Noel Leeming. In 1995 the Champions of Otago sports bar opened at the rear of the ground floor, and in 2006 this was replaced by Fever Club, a 1970s disco-themed bar. Wild South and Specsavers now occupy the ground floor shops, while businesses upstairs include Starlight , Chinese Christian Books & Gifts, Travel Partners, and Alan Dove Photography. The use of the building continues to be diverse, as it has been since 1880.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 21 June 1865, p.4 (establishment of Sussex Hotel), 16 November 1877 p.3 (additions designed by Winchester), 27 February 1880 p.3 (description of building), 21 June 1880 p.2 (monkey and baboon), 8 July 1880 p.3 (dinner), 27 August 1880 p.1 (concert), 4 September 1880 supp. p.1 (railway employees), 7 January 1881 p.2 (butchers), 21 September 1881 p.2 (Antonio), 6 July 1882 p.1 (boxing classes), 8 August 1882 p.3 (baboon), 27 April 1901 p.1 (physical culture), 11 July 1908 p.11 (physical culture), 17 September 1995 p.B12 (Champions of Otago opens), 17 November 2006 p.24 (Fever Club opens).

Other references:
Stone’s, Wise’s, and telephone directories
Dunedin City Council permit records (with thanks to Glen Hazleton)
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand. Block plans, 1927.
Baré, Robert. City of Dunedin Block Plans Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889].
Calvert, Samuel (engraver after Cook, Albert C.). Dunedin, published as a supplement to the Illustrated New Zealand Herald, July 1875.
Dougherty, Ian. High Street Shopping and High Country Farming: A History of Wardell and Anderson Families in Otago. (Dunedin: Mahana Trust, 2009).
Jones, F. Oliver. Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892].
Paul, Margaret. Calico Characters and their Clientele: A History of A & T Inglis Department Store, Dunedin, 1863-1955. Nelson: M. Paul, 1998.
Wardells (Dunedin) Ltd price lists, Hocken Collections MS-4076/001.

Matilda Ritchie’s building

Built: 1899-1900
Address: 10 George Street, Port Chalmers
Architect: James Louis Salmond
Builder: Not identified

Photograph by D.A. De Maus showing the arrival in Port Chalmers of the Auckland men, Fourth Contingent, prior to their embarkation for South Africa on 24 March 1900 (Second Boer War). Ref: Port Chalmers Museum.

I love the tall, narrow proportions of this building – accentuated rather than softened by the composition of the facade. It could be seen as a bit fussy, but I find it totally charming and I’m sure it’s a favourite with many others, not least the regulars of the Port Royale Cafe.

In the 1870s the site was occupied by one of a pair of modest two-storey timber commercial structures owned by Matilda Ritchie (1832-1918). She had arrived in Port Chalmers on the Jura in 1858, with her husband Archibald James Ritchie. Mr Ritchie died in 1870 and Matilda became a prominent landowner and businesswoman in her own right. She was described as one of Port’s philanthropists, and ‘very good to people in need’.

Detail from a mid-1870s Burton Brothers photograph showing the site of the present structure. The building on the site has a sign reading ‘Shipping & Family Butcher’. To its left is a matching building with the sign ‘Bread & Biscuit Baker’). Note that most of the buildings are of timber construction. Ref: Te Papa C.011806.

In October 1899, architect James Louis Salmond called for tenders for the ‘erection of a shop and dwelling in George street, Port Chalmers (Brick)’. In the same issue he placed a notice advertising the sale ‘for removal of a two-storeyed wooden building in George Street, Port Chalmers […] Tenders may also be lodged with Mrs Ritchie, Port Chalmers’. A photograph dated March 1900 shows the building in a near complete state, but still with hoardings up and without its shop front.

Detail from the D.A. DeMaus photograph, March 1900. Note that hoardings are still up and the shop front is yet to be completed. The image shows parapet and roof details since removed.

The style of architecture is Renaissance Revival or Victorian Italianate. Originally the roof had an observation platform surrounded by iron railings. This would have provided excellent views of harbour movements, and for the same reason a similar platform was on the roof of the Port Chalmers Hotel. The facade was richly decorated, including plain pilasters with impressive Corinthian capitals on the second floor, and fluted Ionic pilasters on the first floor. The latter referenced the neighbouring building at no.6 (designed by David Ross in 1881), as did a repeated circular motif used on the parapet balustrade, with both showing a sensitivity to context on the part of the architect. The parapet ornamentation is lost but the decoration below survives, including a fine dentil cornice with modillions, and consoles in the second-floor window surrounds. The roof was renewed in 1969 and there are no longer railings in place.

The first tenant of the shop was the watchmaker and jeweller Albert Edward Geddes, who remained until about 1905. Another jeweller, Alfred Isaac Peters, was there c.1915-1930. Among the businesses that followed were cake shops (1950s-1960s), a takeaway bar (1970s), and an office of the law firm Downie Stewart & Co. (1980s). In the 1990s it was occupied by Aero Club Gallery, and it has been the Port Royale Cafe since 1998.

References:
Otago Daily Times, 3 October 1899 p.1 (calls for tenders)
Church, Ian. Port Chalmers Early People, p.684.
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
Dunedin City Council rates records (with thank to Chris Scott)
Dunedin City Council permit records (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)

 

Milburn Lime & Cement Co. head office

Built: 1937-1938
Address: 90 Crawford Street
Architects: Salmond & Salmond
Builders: W.H. Naylor Ltd

View from Crawford Street, 2015

The Dunedin building industry enjoyed a brief period of reinvigoration between the Great Depression and the Second World War. Many big businesses were keen to project an image of vitality and modernity, and the clean lines of the Milburn Lime and Cement Company’s new head office in Crawford Street certainly did that, while in its fabric the building was a showpiece for the company’s chief product.

Concrete construction revolutionised building methods in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the Milburn company was largely built on its rapid development. The firm was founded in 1888, when a syndicate of businessmen acquired the assets of James McDonald, including established lime works at Milburn and a small cement works at Walton Park. The new company’s principal cement works were at Pelichet Bay, from 1890 to 1929, and then at Burnside from 1929 to 1988. Milburn took over many smaller businesses and became one of Otago’s largest companies. In 1937, it commissioned the architects Salmond & Salmond to design a two-storey office head office building in Crawford Street.

The lime works at Milburn (Hocken 89-025)

The cement works at Burnside, opened in 1929 (Hocken 89-025)

Magazine advertisement, 1929

Crawford Street lies on land reclaimed in the 1860s and 1870s, and extrapolates the original street plan of Charles Kettle. As with Filleul Street, there is a story that it was named after someone who happened to be in the surveyor’s office on the day a name was needed, although at best that’s probably a simplistic tale. In this case the man was George Crawford, an early settler who arrived on the Philip Laing in 1848. From 1869 the site of the Milburn building was owned by Briscoe & Co., which established a yard there. In 1905 an open shed was erected on part of the site, and the following year a brick store building designed by James Louis Salmond was built. An adjoining, almost identical, store was constructed in 1907. This work coincided with the erection of a four-storey warehouse, designed by Walden & Barton, on the site immediately to the north. Briscoe’s kept stores on the western side of Bond Street until 1956, and retained the large warehouse until 1972, but sold the ones on the site we’re looking at to Milburn in 1935. The buildings there were all removed, including their foundations, but the specification for the new building allowed for the reuse of roof timbers and ironwork, as well as bricks (for internal partitions).

An 1865 view showing reclamation work. Crawford Street runs along the edge of the harbour and the arrow points to the approximate site of the Milburn building. (ref: Alexander Turnbull Library PAColl-3824)

2. Detail from 1874 photograph by Burton Bros, looking south and showing Crawford Street on the left (ref: Te Papa C.012064)

J.L. Salmond’s drawing for a store which stood on part of the site from 1907 to 1937

Council of Fire & Accident Underwriters’ Associations block plan, amended and updated to about 1940 (from the 1927 edition), showing the Milburn (formerly Briscoe) site in yellow, and the other Briscoe sites in green.

The partner in Salmond & Salmond responsible for the design was Arthur Louis Salmond (1906-1994), son of practice founder James Louis Salmond. He had been in the first intake of full-time students at the Auckland University School of Architecture in 1926, and after completing his thesis requirement from Dunedin undertook further study in London, before returning to Dunedin to join his father’s practice in 1933. He was quick to employ modernist methods and style, notably in a private house for T.K. Sidey in Tolcarne Avenue. His design for the Milburn building a few years later sits in striking contrast with the adjoining warehouse on the Police Street corner, designed by his father thirty years before. The Plunket Society’s Truby King Harris Hospital at Andersons Bay (1938) is a particularly good example of his work around this time, and for further reading I highly recommend report on that building prepared by Michael Findlay and Heather Bauchop for Heritage New Zealand.

Tenders for the construction of the Milburn building closed in April 1937, but the lowest received (£14,990) was considered too high, so plans were modified and in June W.H. Naylor Ltd were contracted to build more modest premises at a cost of £10,635. A separate central heating contract of £735 was fulfilled by George W. Davies & Co., and the building was ready for occupation by July 1938. There was warehouse storage on the ground floor with dual vehicle entrances to both Crawford and Bond streets, allowing large vehicles to drive right through. Administrative offices were on the first floor, where a further three suites of offices were let out.

In many ways the building was conventional – essentially a box with hipped roofs behind its parapets – but the Moderne facades were strikingly different from almost anything else in the city at the time, even if the nature of the site gave little scope for some of the streamlining effects and variations of form associated with this style.

Salmond & Salmond drawing dated June 1937

Salmond & Salmond floor plans dated June 1937

From Crawford Street, c.1938 (ref: Hocken Collections 89-025)

View from Crawford Street, c.1938 (Hocken 89-025)

Facade detail (Hocken 89-025)

View from Bond Street, c.1938 (Hocken 89-025)

Unusual features were glass bricks, which let filtered light into the stairwell facing Crawford Street, as well as adding visual interest to the exterior. The building was one of the first in New Zealand to use them. The Evening Star reported that they had previously been used in one private residence in Dunedin, and that they were also to be incorporated in the rebuilding of the Dunedin Savings Bank in Dowling Street (another Salmond & Salmond project). This slightly predated the first major use in Auckland: extensive additions to the Chief Post Office made in 1938.

Glass blocks were used in the nineteenth century, but their practicality as a building material was advanced markedly by Friedrich Keppler, who in 1907 patented a system for building walls of prismatic bricks within reinforced concrete frameworks. The architects Walter Gropius and Le Cobusier were among the early adopters of glass bricks, and they were famously used in the latter’s Maison de Verre of 1928-1932. Mass-manufacture only occurred after the Owen-Illinois Glass Company of Chicago introduced the first pressed-glass blocks in 1932, and promoted them at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. In 1935 the company brought out Insulux, the first widely-used hollow glass brick, and other American manufacturers soon followed with similar products.

A building reported as ‘Australia’s first glass brick building’ was erected for Thomas H. Webb & Co. in Adelaide in 1935 using imported bricks. From 1936 Insulux bricks were produced in Australia under the Agee brand by the Australian Window Glass Pty Ltd, and they found extensive use almost immediately. They were used to prominent effect in Alkira House in Melbourne, and by the end of 1936 were being incorporated into the design of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings. The Milburn building used the Agee bricks, which were imported through local agents Paterson & Barr.

Advertisement from the New Zealand Herald, 23 February 1938 p.17

The Hecht Company’s Streamline Moderne warehouse in Washington DC was also built in 1937, when glass brick was at the height of its international fashion. Image courtesy of ‘Joseph’ on Flickr.

Facade detail, showing glass bricks

The building was constructed on a floating foundation with a concrete base, due to the reclaimed nature of the land. The concrete structure above was reinforced with steel rods, and the bluestone aggregate given a Snowcrete white cement finish, tinted to a cream colour. On the Crawford Street elevation the company name was set back into the plaster and flanked by a simple ornamental frieze, with additional touches of colour (red or green) used sparingly to suit the unfussy design. Mosaic and other tiles to the foyer were green and gold in colour, complementing the finish of the masonry. A simpler facade for Bond Street featured the company name prominently in relief lettering, and as on the other elevation the windows were steel framed with slender profiles. Skylights were installed in the roof, which was covered with Fibrolite corrugated asbestos sheets. The interior was simply fitted out, with rimu skirtings and internal doors, and a main reception counter of Oregon with a kauri top.

Early tenants in the building included Donaghy’s Rope & Twine Co., Otago Fruit & Produce, the Ewing Phosphate Co. (owned by Milburn), and the Otago-Southland Manufacturers’ Association. In 1963 Milburn merged with the New Zealand Cement Company to form New Zealand Cement Holdings Ltd. The head office remained in Dunedin until 1974, when it moved to Christchurch and the company vacated the Crawford Street building. New Zealand Cement Holdings became Milburn New Zealand in 1988 and now trades as Holcim New Zealand Limited (a division of a company headquartered in Switzerland).

In 1974 the building became the office of the large textile firm Mosgiel Limited, which remained until the company collapsed in 1980. The old vehicle entrances have now long been closed and those on Crawford Street converted to shop fronts. The one to the south had been enlarged in 1965, giving the east elevation a slightly lopsided look.

Occupants over the past three decades have included (dates approximate):

WEA Education 1984-1992
People’s Market 1988-1992
Timbercraft Furniture 1993-1997
Reidpaints Limited 1993-2003
Arthouse Dunedin Inc. 1994-1995
Dunedin Craft Centre 1996-2003
Central Lighting Warehouse (Bond Street) 2000-2011
Gordon Crichton Lighting 2000 to date
Elite Fitness 2003-2008
Jennian Homes 2009 to date
McRobie Studios (Bond Street) 2011 to date

The original exterior finishes have been painted over a number of times over the years and the last repainting (a project supported by the Central City Heritage Re-use Grants Scheme) happily reduced the impact of signage and decluttered the Crawford Street facade. The building looks well cared for, and has been kept productive. A still simpler colour scheme to Crawford Street would restore some of the horizontal emphasis and clean simplicity of the original design. The building remains evocative of the the style and spirit of its age, and in a way it stands as a monument of concrete, to concrete.

This post has some of my favourite images used on the blog so far – found trawling the uncatalogued depths of the massive collection of Milburn records held by the Hocken. I hope you enjoy them. I especially love the shot of the crisp new building with the smoky urban skyline behind!

View from Bond Street, 2015

Tiles in Crawford Street entrance

Newspaper references:
Otago Witness, 31 March 1898 p.9 (naming of Crawford Street); Otago Daily Times, 17 January 1863 p.5 (reclamation), 16 February 1864 p.9 (reclamation), 29 April 1864 p.5 (reclamation), 18 May 1864 p.11 (reclamation), 23 August 1865 p.4 (reclamation), 24 December 1873 p.3 (Dunedin and Clutha Railway line), 19 March 1906 p.1 (tenders), 30 November 1993 (Timbercraft); Evening Star, 29 June 1937, p.2 (description), 8 March 1938 p.3 (glass brick in Dunedin);The Mail (Adelaide), 18 January 1936 p.12 (Thomas H. Webb building in Adelaide); Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 1936 p.11 (manufacture of glass bricks); The Farmer and Settler (Sydney), 26 January 1938 p.16 (glass bricks in Australia)

Other sources:
Stone’s, Wise’s and telephone directories
Block plans
Salmond, Arthur L. ‘Ten Generations’ (Hocken Collections MS-3889)
Salmond Anderson Architects records (Hocken Collections MS-3821/148, MS-3821/1824, MS-3821/2287)
Milburn New Zealand Limited records (Hocken Collections 89-025, 89-085 box 6)
Briscoe & Company Ltd records (Hocken Collections MS-3300/071)
Permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Findlay, Michael and Heather Bauchop. ‘Truby King Harris Hospital (Former), DUNEDIN (List No. 9659, Category 1)’ (Heritage New Zealand, ‘Report for a Historic Place’, 2014)
Morton, Harry, Carol Johnston, and Barbara Chinn. Spanning the Centuries: The Story of Milburn New Zealand Limited (Christchurch, Milburn New Zealand, 2002)
Neumann, Dietrich, Jerry G. Stockbridge, and Bruce S. Kaskel. ‘Glass Block’ in Thomas C. Jester (ed.) Twentieth-Century Building Materials: History and Conservation (Washington DC: McGraw-Hill, 1995)
Patterson, Elizabeth A. and Neal A. Vogel. ‘The Architecture of Glass Block’ in Old House Journal. Vol xxix no.1 (Jan-Feb 2001) pp.36-51.