Tag Archives: Edwardian

Acetylene Buildings

Built: 1909-1910
Address: 126-132 Stuart Street
Architect: John Arthur Burnside (1857-1920)
Builders: George France

The building as it appeared in 1910. Toitū / Otago Settlers Museum 63-45-1.

The curious name of the Acetylene Buildings is painted above the door in the historic photograph above. On the parapet and shop fronts is the name of the original building owners, the New Zealand Acetylene Gas Lighting Co. Ltd.

Acetylene lighting became popular in the Edwardian era, particularly for towns or particular properties that were not easily connected to an electricity network. Calcium carbine pellets combined with dripping water to produce the acetylene gas, which was then burned to produce the light. The New Zealand Acetylene Gas Lighting Company was established in Dunedin in 1902, and within a short time branches were operating in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland. In 1906 the company was responsible for setting up the street lighting in Picton, the first town in New Zealand to use the system. Kaiapoi and Geraldine followed in 1908, and Opunake in 1909. The company also supplied lighting for private houses such as ‘Aorangi’ at St Leonards, institutions such as Waitaki Boys’ High School, various dredges, and Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica in 1909. Acetylene cooking stoves and heaters were also sold. A problem with the gas was that it was prone to causing explosions. Eight people were killed in an explosion at a general store at Upper Hutt in 1914. Following a long inquest and vigorous argument, the coroner eventually concluded that gelignite on the premises was to blame rather than acetylene, but the bad press may have hastened the decline of the acetylene lighting in New Zealand, while at the same time electrification was becoming more widely available.

The Acetylene Buildings were erected during the boom in construction that came to Stuart Street after the re-siting of the Dunedin railway station. John Arthur Burnside was architect and he called for tenders for construction in September 1909. George France was the contractor and the buildings, which cost £2400 were finished by April 1910. There were three storeys to Stuart Street, with two shops on the ground floor and generously proportioned offices above. An adjoining workshop building faced Bath Street and acetylene lighting was used throughout. The exuberant Queen Anne styling included prominent window pediments and volutes that echoed those on the nearby Roberts Building, which Burnside had designed six years earlier. Most of the architectural features remain today, but the parapet detail and cornice have been removed and as a result the composition has lost its balance. The brickwork on the street facades has been painted and a hanging verandah and fire escape added.

The Acetylene Gas Lighting Company took the corner shop and workshop. The business was renamed New Zealand Acetylene and Hardware Ltd in 1919, and after downsizing it was reorganised as Electric and Plumbing Supplies Ltd in 1929 and closed in 1956. The corner shop was afterwards taken by the Otago Missionary Association, which ran a book room, and then by the Lullaby Fashion House (children’s wear), between 1961 and 1979. Later tenants included Fiesta Fashions and Toy Traders.

William James Bell, a hairdresser, had the other shop from 1913. He died in 1955 but Bell’s Hairdressers continued at the address until 1985. Its 72 years came close to matching the record of Hendy’s Hairdressing Room in Princes Street. The former hairdresser’s became a Middle Eastern café/restaurant for a few years and is now combined with the other shop as Minami Sushi Bar and Restaurant (opened in 2002).

A view of the building from Stuart Street

Up the charming timber staircase, its handrail worn to a fine finish after a century of use, is Lure Jewellery Workshop, established by Ann Culy in 1995. There is a great link here with one of the first tenants in the building, Thomas Long. A manufacturing jeweller, he ran his Zealandia Jewellery Manufacturing Company at the address from 1913. Within five years he dropped the company name, but he continued to work in the building to 1929. Lure has workspace for up to four jewellers and its retail gallery represents up to thirty New Zealand jewellers. On the top floor, jeweller and painter John Z. Robinson has had a studio since 1999.

Other tenants in the upstairs rooms have included August De Beer (indenting agent, 1913-1932), Chrissie Hall (dressmaker, 1913-1925), Robert Bennet (tailor, 1925-1953), and Bertrand Quelch (barrister and solicitor, 1954-1967). The Otago Chess Club (established in 1884) had its club rooms on the top floor from 1941 to 1955. In those days tournaments were typically carried out in a haze of cigarette smoke. I wonder if the concentration of the players was disrupted by the Dunedin Ladies Brass Band, which had its band rooms in the building for a few years after 1946. Watson Studio, photographers, had rooms on the upper floors from 1962 to 1993, and then became the Gary van der Mark studio.

Tull’s Chocolate Annihilation, from the creators fo the Chocolate Massacre. The silhouette of Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull featured on restaurant signage and menus.

Geoff Simpson of Tull.

Geoff Simpson of Tull.

The old workshop fronting Bath Street became a restaurant around 1987. Smorgy’s and Just Desserts were there for a few years before Geoff and Lois SImpson opened Tull in 1993. Named after the rock band Jethro Tull, it was particularly known for its desserts, and had almost a cult following. Diners were awarded a certificate (‘The Blodwyn’) if they were able to finish the Chocolate Massacre, and other dishes paid homage to the band with names such as Aqualung (a seafood salad) and Bungle in the Jungle (a green salad). The Simpsons were folk musicians and the New Edinburgh Folk Club (established c.1977) met at the restaurant on Sunday nights from 1999 onwards. Tull closed following Geoff’s death in 2006, and since 2007 the space has been a Japanese restaurant, Yuki Izakaya.

View from Bath Street showing the former workshop and Tull restaurant on the left (now Yuki Izakaya)

Facade detail

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 1 September 1909 p.1 (call for tenders), 16 September 1909 p.12 (Shackleton expedition), 1 April 1910 p.1 (rooms to let), 5 December 1995 p.17 (Lure), 2 September 2006 p.34 (Geoff Simpson obituary)
The Dominion, 29 April 1914 p.4 (Upper Hutt tragedy)

Other references:
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Tonkin, Keith. The Tull Years 1999-2006. New Edinburgh Folk Club (Dunedin, 2007).
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Telephone directories
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans
New Zealand Acetylene Gas Company brochure, Hocken Collections AG-352/053
Otago Chess Club minute books, Hocken Collections MS-0962/006

Acknowledgment:
Thanks to Lois Simpson for supplying information about the Tull restaurant.

Roberts Building

Built: 1903-1904
Address: 99-101 Stuart Street
Architects: John Arthur Burnside (1857-1920)
Builders: McKinnon & Hamilton

Some buildings offer instant clues to their origins and the identities of the people who once occupied them. The Roberts Building prominently displays its name and the year 1903 above some wonderfully florid entranceway decoration. Although most people don’t look up, a few must find their eyes drawn to this feature and wonder: ‘Who was Roberts?’

Edward Roberts said he was ‘in a sense the Pioneer of the Street’. An earlier post here described the rapid development of Lower Stuart Street in the Edwardian era. In the goldrush years a young married couple had lived in a tent on the site of the Roberts Buildings, and as late as 1900 there were still many vacant sections and simple wooden structures in the street. Only five of the buildings now standing in the street date from the nineteenth century, but there are twelve from the period 1900-1914. The Law Courts were built between 1900 and 1902, and the Railway Station between 1904 and 1906. The station spurred new construction as it caused a new flow of foot traffic, which had previously gone up Dowling Street from the old station at Queens Gardens.  Not long after the site for the new station was decided, enterprising businesses and developers were putting up substantial buildings. Roberts later claimed to be the first in this wave.

Edward Roberts (1851-1925). Photographic portrait by W.R. Frost (Hocken Collections MS-0484/006).

A consulting engineer, Roberts had been paying high rent for offices and decided it would make more sense to build his own premises with shops and rooms he could lease out. The architect, John Arthur Burnside, called for tenders from contractors in September 1903 and the building was completed by June 1904, the same month that the foundation stone for the Railway Station was laid. Roberts’ first floor office faced Stuart Street, in the easternmost room. His first tenant was a dentist, Miss Marion Donald, and within three or four years he found he had a good paying proposition.

Edward Roberts was born in Cornwall in 1851 and grew up in Bendigo where his father established an ironworks. A qualified mechanical engineer, he arrived in Dunedin with his wife Elizabeth in 1881, to take up a job at Robert Sparrow’s Dunedin Iron Works. His projects included bridges, viaducts, ship boilers, harbour works, and road construction. He gained an international reputation for dredge construction, and one of his innovations was a dredge with a stacker, able to work the ground away from the river. This was built for the Otago Gold Dredging Company. Roberts was one of the original promoters, and the designing engineer, for the Dunedin and Kaikorai Cable Tramway Company, which operated the Stuart Street cable car from 1900.

The Roberts Building was given a facade of unpainted brickwork with contrasting cement plaster facings. The parapet was originally plain above a strong cornice. The first-floor windows were surmounted by bold pediments and flanked by volutes, a feature Burnside repeated in a later building he designed at the nearby corner of Stuart and Bath streets. A panel facing Stuart Street featured the name of the building and the date of construction in relief. Above the ground floor office entrance was placed a relief sculpture (‘pargetting’) of an organic fleur-de-lis design beneath an arch surmounted by a ball finial.

There were originally no verandahs, but by 1906 one of the bullnose type had been added, and this was extended in 1909. A hanging verandah was added in 1930 and the original projecting cornice removed around the 1940s, somewhat spoiling the original design. In 1910 a second, smaller building was erected in Moray Place. The existing facade was extended in the same style, connecting the buildings over a lane used to access a yard at the rear of the property. Another name panel was added but this is now illegible.

The seed and plant merchants Skene & Fleming (later Skene’s Ltd) were early ground floor tenants who later moved a few doors towards the railway station before closing in 1943. The longest tenancy in the building was that of the tailors W.S. Reddell & Co. (later Reddell’s Ltd), who had the corner shop from 1909 to 1972. Reddell’s had a reputation for ‘reliable tailoring’ using tweeds produced by the Rosyln mills and other New Zealand manufacturers, although shortages in 1919 led them to buy expensive Russian material that had been intended for the Russian aristocracy.

Advertisement from ‘Roslyn Review’, March 1910 (Hocken Collections S13-555b)

Postcard (private collection)

Postcard (private collection)

Postcard reverse

Postcard reverse

Edward Roberts occupied his offices until his death in 1925, and his son, Edward Fletcher Roberts, kept them on. The area was something of a hub for engineering firms, with A. & T. Burt, John Chambers & Son, Niven & Co., and James Mann, all being close neighbours. The younger Roberts was a civil engineer and surveyor. He trained in England and served in France, Mesopotamia, and India during the First World War. He eventually took over his father’s firm, and his work included water supply projects, mechanical engineering, road construction, and the design of bridges (notably the one at Luggate). Ian Pairman described him as a legendary figure in the engineering and surveying world of Otago. He wrote:

‘His reputation survives as a formidable but fair disciplinarian, a true professional with a keen sense of responsibility. An 8am start meant just that. Staff were lined up – not a very big line – shoes and clothing inspected, hair neat, faces scrubbed. Anything amiss, and you were sent out to rectify the matter. Pay started when all was well. He, of course, was ‘Mr Roberts’; you were plain Smith or Jones. Christian names might as well have not been invented. He was tall, lean, and very deaf, which made him a trifle suspicious of what young cadets might be doing or saying behind his back, but he trusted them as he himself would be trusted.’

A brief partnership with Walter Duffill and Eddie King didn’t work out well. It ended in 1949 after Duffill was locked out and had to break into his own office through the first floor window using an electrician’s ladder! Fletcher Roberts retained offices in the building until his death in 1951, and these days Webb Farry Lawyers occupy his old rooms.

Gallery De Novo, art and framing, opened in the corner shop on 8 July 2005. Owned by Richelle Byers and Liz Fraser, this is one of Dunedin’s leading galleries representing an eclectic mix of New Zealand contemporary artists. The space gets good natural light and a mezzanine level has been incorporated to good effect. Original floorboards and plaster ceilings are attractive interior features, in a building which has seen many changes, but still retains much of its charm and appeal.

The building in the early 1960s, photographed by Hardwicke Knight.

A similar view in 2013.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 29 September 1903 p.6 (call for tenders), 14 May 1904 p.2 (description), 15 November 1915 p.7 (tent on site in the 1860s), 4 June 1919 p.12 (Reddell & Co.), 4 August 2005 p.9 (Gallery De Novo).

Other references:
Garden, Eoin R., ‘Roberts, Edward (1851-1925)’ in Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography (Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1998), p.424.
Pairman, Ian R. An Engineer Told Me: The Story of the First 50 Years pf Duffill Watts & King Ltd, Consulting Engneers (Dunedin: Duffill Watts King, 1997), pp.15-32.
Edward Roberts papers, Hocken Collections MS-0484/002.
Edward Fletcher Roberts papers, Hocken Collections ARC-0006.
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Telephone directories
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans

McCarthy’s Buildings

Built: 1907
Address: Cr Stuart and Castle streets
Architect: Walden & Barton
Builders: G. Simpson & Co.

I’ve posted about a few Lower Stuart Street buildings now and there’s a reason why many of them are from the Edwardian period. The development of Lower Stuart Street progressed apace after the site of the new railway station was finally settled in 1902. It was obvious that a lot of foot traffic would soon be using the street, and it wasn’t long before modest wooden buildings disappeared and vacant sites were built on. Within about ten years a dozen substantial new buildings went up. This one was built for A. &. W. McCarthy Ltd, an old firm of gunsmiths, locksmiths, and fishing equipment specialists. Samuel McCarthy had set up business in Dunedin in 1861, originally as a gunsmith, locksmith, and bellhanger. Sam’s sons Arthur and Walter took over in 1890 and the firm then took on its familiar ‘A. & W.’ name.

An advertisement from the Otago Witness, 18 January 1894, p.44.

An advertisement from the Otago Witness, 18 January 1894, p.44.

McCarthy’s new building went up in 1907. Tenders were called in February and the building was completed before the year was out, with the firm moving from their old premises at 65 Princes Street. The architects were Walden & Barton and the building pairs nicely with the Sweeting’s fish shop on the other side of Stuart Street, which they also designed in 1907. The architecture is a composite Edwardian style that draws from various periods, sometimes loosely called ‘Queen Anne’, and transitioning towards more modern styles. The building is large and handsome and on a prominent corner, yet somehow it manages to be unassuming. It’s sympathetic in scale and design with its grandiose neighbours, the Law Courts and the Railway Station. The gentle curves to the first-floor window surrounds are a nice touch, and pilasters, cornices, and recessed panels give interest to the facades. The pediment above the stairway entrance would have been more prominent before the hanging verandah was added. The building contractors were G. Simpson & Co.

McCarthy’s remained in the building for some 90 years but in its later years the shop itself was moved to the old dairy co-operative premises next door in Castle Street. Five generations of the family ran the business. They became the leading importer of English guns and increasingly specialised in fishing equipment. They were famous for their catalogue service (which even drew in overseas customers) and for a time they had branches in Invercargill and Palmerston North. They had shops and offices in the Stuart Street building, as well as workshops for their own manufacturing department. Children were paid to collect bags of cocoon bodies, which were used to make fishing lures. McCarthy’s fishing reels are now collectors items.

The shop kept a modest appearance and Cormac McCarthy recalled: ‘There were a lot of customers over on the West Coast who used to buy the mail order catalogues. They were often terribly disappointed when they got to Dunedin for the first time. They expected a place about three times as big as Arthur Barnett, with rows and rows of guns and fishing rods, and here was this little shop with an old bloke with a beard running around.’

Perhaps unusually for a gunsmith, Arthur McCarthy was a pacifist. He studied socialism and Marxism and opposed conscription during World War I. He was a labour movement activist and became national secretary of the United Labour Party in 1912, and later became involved in the Social Credit movement.  According to his grandson he had a reputation for having a fiery temper and giving firm advice. Caroline Martin recorded that ‘one of the more colourful stories about A.P. McCarthy involved prostitutes from the Railway Hotel next door who were in the habit of throwing their used unmentionables into the shared courtyard below’.

A. & W. McCarthy went into liquidation in 1999, by which time they claimed to be the oldest family-run business in Australasia. The firm’s stock and name were bought by Centrefire, which currently trades as Centrefire McCarthy’s in Moray Place. An immense accumulation of antique stock and memorabilia was sold by auction.

Lower Stuart Street around the 1970s. Photograph by Hardwicke Knight.

Many others have leased premises in McCarthy’s Buildings, which originally included six ground floor shops. The fruiterers, Steel’s, occupied the shop at 10 Stuart for 77 years from 1921 to 1988. Upstairs, an unarmed combat training school has occupied the building for the last 75 years.

Wrestling teacher and unarmed combat instructor Harry Baldock (1905-1991) moved to Dunedin in 1929 and opened a new gymnasium upstairs in the building in 1938. His school became known as the Baldock Institute. During the Second World War, Baldock was the New Zealand chief unarmed combat instructor and physical training instructor at Burnham camp as well as Forbury and Wingatui camps. He taught national wrestling champions and hosted many visiting international wrestlers. His wife, Iris, was a masseuse and physiotherapist who had worked as a nurse at convalescent hospitals for returned soldiers during the war.

McCarthyDetail2

In 1973 Geoff (‘Tank’) Todd began training at the Baldock Institute, initially in weight training, physical culture, wrestling, boxing, and Jiu Jitsu, and later unarmed combat. Todd took over the school in 1986 and it became Todd Group, which refocused towards unarmed combat. As of 2013, the group has an instructing team of over 100 instructors and 30 depots worldwide. It also operates a 280 acre 100-man accommodation training camp. Todd Group still runs a gymnasium at 6 Stuart Street. You can read more about their history on their website.

In 2005 the Stuart Street Potters Co-operative opened a gallery and shop at no.12. Koru Gallery arts co-operative occupies the corner shop.

The exterior of building has changed little apart from the addition of hanging verandahs in 1938. Even the original shop fronts remain; and inside, tongue-and-groove wall linings can still be seen. The building is currently owned by Allied Press.

McCarthyDetail

Newspaper references:

Otago Daily Times, 8 August 1906 p.8 (removal of old buildings), 18 February 1907 p.6 (call for tenders), 11 May 1907 p.12 (description), 24 December 1993 p.13 (‘In the family for 132 years’ by Caroline Martin), 18 May 1999 p.2 (McCarthy’s in liquidation), 18 June 1999 p.4 (Centrefire purchase), 24 June 1999 p.3 (McCarthy’s auction). Accessed from Papers Past (National Library of New Zealand).

Other references:

Colbert, Roy. ‘Generation Game’ in North and South, no.126 (September 1996), p.16; McCarthy, A.C. ‘McCarthy, Arthur Peter (1862-1947)’ in Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago-Southland Biography (Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1998), pp.293-294; 80 Years of Combative Excellence [DVD]. Dunedin: Todd Group, [2007]; Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory; Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory; telephone directories; Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans.

Gleeson’s Terrace

Built: 1903-1904
Address: 618-626 Great King Street
Architect: Percy William Laing (1859-1915)
Builders: Peter Campbell and/or Henry Charles Foster

This terrace is one of the most unusual and distinctive in Dunedin. Its balconies with bullnose verandahs and lashings of decorative cast iron fretwork would look quite at home in Melbourne but are almost exotic here. Terraces featured significantly in Dunedin’s early housing and more than twenty rows still stand from their heyday period of 1876-1912, not including terrace-like pairs of semi-detached houses. There were once many more. The simplest ones were working-class tenements but the fancier ones were marketed to white collar workers and professionals. They were a good investment option for early landlords, particularly before electric tram services opened up the suburbs, and with land in the industrialised central city at a premium.

I’ve titled this post ‘Gleeson’s Terrace’ because these houses were built for William Gleeson, but as far as I know this was not a name used historically. Gleeson (1841-1917) was the proprietor of the Rainbow Hotel in George Street and in 1902 he also owned the Annandale Arms, a two-storeyed wooden hotel which stood on the site of the terrace. The Annandale Arms was refused a license in June that year and the old building was soon torn down. In October tenders were called for the erection of the terrace. In addition to the three two-storeyed ‘villas’ at the front of the property, a row of four single-storey dwellings was built at the rear. These survive but cannot be seen from the street and are only accessible via a private right-of-way (so I haven’t included photographs of them).

After the terrace was built the next-door neighbour on the southern side sued Gleeson, as the building encroached onto her land and it was claimed that water swept from its roof onto hers. She was awarded some damages and it was ordered that decorative features at the top of the building that projected over her property be removed.

The builders were Peter Campbell and/or Henry Foster. The architect was Percy Laing, whose signature can be seen on the deposited plans on file at the Dunedin City Council. Laing was a Dunedin boy who went to Otago Boys’ High School and was trained by that pre-eminent Dunedin architect, R.A. Lawson. He afterwards went to Melbourne where he was employed by N. Billing & Son. After returning to Dunedin he worked with Robert Forrest before establishing his own practice in 1903, the year this terrace was built. Laing died in a climbing accident near Ben Lomond saddle in 1915, at the age of 56. His other designs include Ramsay Lodge at 60 Stafford Street and the Kensington Hotel (later remodelled in art deco style).

This terrace is a little old-fashioned looking for 1903 and could easily be mistaken for an earlier building, although the front walls and fire walls perhaps give it away as later. It is derived from a style popular in Australia in the 1880s and the architect’s time working in Melbourne largely explains the connection, although it would be interesting to know what his client’s instructions were. The deposited plans differ from the finished building in that they show a balustraded parapet with finials. They also show a cornice that was probably built and later removed.  The plans don’t show the iron lacework as it appears. This was produced very nearby at Barningham & Co.’s Victoria Foundry in George Street (opposite Knox Church), and possibly chosen straight from their catalogue. The company’s name can be seen at the base of the verandah posts. Barningham’s were well-known for manufacturing the ‘Zealandia’ brand of coal ranges and their 1903 advertisements referred to ‘verandah castings of all kinds’.

The first resident of the southernmost house (then number 308) was Frances Grant, who taught singing and piano. The other two houses were occupied by painter/decorators. Two of the three houses were soon converted to flats (upstairs and downstairs), and for this reason new front doors were installed. Few tenants stayed long and occupants included a butcher, a draper, engineers, a brewer, a grocer, a police sergeant, a railway guard, and a barman. Special mention should be made of the Lindsay family. Robert and Sara Lindsay’s family moved into the southernmost house around 1928. Robert was a blacksmith. Annie Lindsay remained there until her death at the age of 97 in 2007, when the house was still in very original condition, retaining its kauri fireplace surrounds with tile insets. The houses now appear to be used as student accommodation, being handy to the university.

Otago Daily Times, 4 February 1907 p.6. The street numbers were changed in 1910 and 308 corresponds with the present 618.

The terrace looked pretty rough in 2009 but by 2010 a lot of love, money, and expertise had obviously gone into renovations and restoration. The balcony no longer slumps and mismatching timber railings put in over the years have been removed and replaced with replicas of the original ironwork. The result is impressive.

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 2 June 1903 p.4 (license refused to Annandale Arms), 27 October 1903 p.6 (call for tenders), 4 December 1903 p.7 (Gleeson fined re drainage), 5 August 1905 p.3 (legal dispute re land), 4 February 1907 p.6 (advertisement for Frances Grant); 6 April 1915 p.3 (death of Percy Laing), 28 April 2007 (advertisement in property supplement); New Zealand Tablet, 1 October 1903 p.32 (Barningham advertisement).

Other references: Dunedin City Council deposited plans, Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory, Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory.

Batchelor’s Building

Built: 1902-1903
Address: 145-155 Stuart Street
Architect: James Louis Salmond (Lawson & Salmond)
Builders: Woods & Son

Dr Ferdinand Campion Batchelor (1850-1915) arrived in Dunedin in 1874 and was something of a crusading pioneer in the medical profession here. The lecturer in midwifery and gynaecology at Otago Medical School, he introduced new pelvic surgery techniques from England and America and was an ‘ardent campaigner’ for hospital reform. He commissioned architect J.L. Salmond to design this Stuart Street building in April 1902. The first floor was to house medical consulting rooms for the large private practices of both Batchelor and his good friend Dr (later Sir) Lindo Ferguson, who has been described as New Zealand’s pioneering ophthalmologist. Ferguson (1858-1948) was a lecturer in diseases of the eye at the university and would later become Professor of Ophthalmology and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Batchelor and Ferguson took possession of their rooms in January 1903, before the building was completed.  The builders were Woods and Son and the contract price (June 1902) was £2,596.

In addition to the doctors’ rooms, a third consulting room was let to Swindley Bros, dentists. Also on the first floor were two nurses’ rooms, two waiting rooms, a dressing room, a laboratory, and a dark room. The last was for Batchelor, who was among the first in New Zealand to use x-rays in private practice. A balcony at first-floor level ran the length of the rear of the building, from which a curious attached timber structure containing toilets was accessed. This survives in largely rebuilt form. The ground floor comprised three leased-out shops, the original tenant of two them being the Unique Millinery Stores (Dorothy Reinhardt, proprietress), with the other taken by Crombie & Co. (tailors). The fall of the land means the rear wall of the building has an additional basement level.

Stuart Street c.1903. The building at the left was completed just a few months after Batchelor’s building and was also designed by J.L. Salmond. It survives but had been stripped of its ornamentation.

An advertisement for the Unique Millinery Store from ‘Corrigan’s Fourth Annual. Music Album for 1906’. They boasted of never having fewer than 200-300 hats. The store relocated c.1923.

Batchelor served in Cairo during the early part of the First World War, where he was Consulting Surgeon and responsible for efforts to control venereal disease among New Zealand troops. Sadly, he returned to Dunedin in broken health and died of heart failure during a walk in the sand dunes at Tahuna Park on 31 August 1915.  The maternity hospital in Forth Street was afterwards renamed the Batchelor Hospital in his honour. Dr Stanley Batchelor took his father’s old rooms and kept them until he died in 1942, while Ferguson occupied his rooms until about 1938, by which time he was in his eighties. Among the many medicos and dentists who had rooms in the building over the following decades was the celebrated surgeon Sir Gordon Bell.

The building became the headquarters of the Otago-Southland Manufacturers’ Association around 1971, when it was renamed Industry House. The Association left around 1983 and the first floor has since been used as legal offices, notably by David Brett and Michael Guest. Guest’s offices were here at the time he defended David Bain in his 1995 murder trial. The many ground floor tenants have included the Unique Stores (c.1906-1923) and Dunedin City Dealers (c.1955-1976). This floor is now occupied by Frendz Boutique (women’s fashion) and Metro bar (which also uses the basement).

This is one of few Dunedin commercial buildings in the Tudor revival style. The spare treatment includes oriel windows and a castellated/crenelated parapet (the latter built instead of a slightly plainer parapet with recessed panels shown on the drawings) and the arched ornaments may be a direct reference to Burghley House (Cambridgeshire, England). The brick and cement work on the façade was originally unpainted. A bullnose verandah with decorative posts and cast iron fretwork was added in 1904 and surviving plans suggest it was intended originally. It ran the length of the shop fronts but not the entire façade. It was later replaced by a hanging verandah running the length of the façade. Alterations have extensively altered the shop interiors and fronts and the original arched entranceway to the upstairs rooms has been replaced. The vestibule itself retains many original features as do the first floor interiors, including tiling (sourced through Briscoes), tongue-and-groove wainscoting, balustrading, a staircase feature window, plaster corbels, and other decoration.

The building’s architect, James Louis Salmond (1868-1950), was born in England but grew up in Dunedin and attended Otago Boys’ High School. He was apprenticed to Robert Arthur Lawson and opened his own office in 1893. He went into partnership with his old teacher, Lawson, and later with Newton Vanes. His most familiar designs include Threave (Watson Shennan’s house at 367 High Street), Burns Hall at First Church, Roslyn Presbyterian Church, and Queen’s Building. His practice was later continued by his son, grandson, and various partners, before it finally wound up in 2008. Elegant and understated, Batchelor’s Building is a fine example of his work.

Historic images: Hocken Collections S12-627a (view of three buildings), private collection (advertisement)

References: Dunedin City Council deposited plans, telephone directories, Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory, Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory, Salmond Anderson Architects records (Hocken Collections), Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago-Southland Biography

Sweeting’s

Built: 1907-1908
Address: 49-51 Stuart Street
Architects: Walden & Barton
Builder: Joseph Eli White (1853-1917)

This building is a wee gem – I love its honest, ungentrified Edwardian appearance and the quirky arrangement of the different window sizes on the first floor. The strong lines of the cement facings look very effective against the brickwork, and the tilework and old bullnose verandah add to its charm. It is an example of the style referred to (quite misleadingly) as ‘Queen Anne’.

Originally a fishmongery, poultry dealers, and dining rooms, it was built for a syndicate led by Francis Joseph Sullivan (c.1858-1914). Sullivan was a big name in the local fishing industry.  Since the early 1890s he had been a fish retailer, the local agent of the Bluff Oyster Company, and an active supporter of the fish hatchery at Portobello. He owned Dunedin’s first fishing trawlers and squeezed out some of the traditional line fishers, which didn’t make him popular with everyone. He was also one of New Zealand’s largest rabbit exporters, owning large processing works in both Otago and Southland.

Architects Walden & Barton called for tenders in July 1907. I don’t know which of the partners, Edward Walter Walden or Joseph Barton, was mainly responsible for the design. Walden (1870-1944) had previously been in partnership with James Hislop. His later designs include the Mayfair Theatre, Andersons Bay Presbyterian Church, Hallenstein’s building in the Octagon, and St Margaret’s College. The elder man, Barton (1853-1917), had previously worked in Dunedin as a building contractor, making the same transition as builder/architects such as Hardy, Winchester, and Forrest before him.

The building was completed around January 1908. According to a description in the Otago Daily Times: ‘The shop downstairs is a room 23ft by 24ft: the floors are Minton encaustic tiles; the walls from floor to ceiling are glazed tiles; a dark cream tile is used for a dado, with embossed tile necking and white glazed tiles above; the ceilings are all of ornamental metal, tastefully picked out in different colours; the counters and window fittings are all of picked marble, sand finish, the woodwork being white enamel finish […] Immediately at the rear of the shop is a large dining room, 32ft by 28ft. This room is finished with red pine dadoes, mantels, and tiled hearths, the floors being dressed off very smoothly and left a natural wood finish. The ceilings are divided up into bays of embossed metal, with electric lights round the walls and hanging from the centre of each bay. From the shop a goods lift runs to the ladies’ dining room on the first floor. This room has a separate entrance from Stuart Street; it is 28ft by 20ft. Immediately adjoining it is a special set of lavatories and basins and hat and cloak rooms specially fitted up for the patrons. In addition to the two large dining rooms there are three smaller suites of rooms splendidly lit and neatly finished.’

Joseph Eli White was the builder. The subcontractors were Andrew Lees (painting and decorating), W.H. Newman (plastering and tile work), Briscoe & Co. (pressed metal ceilings) and A. & T. Burt (plumbing and electric work).

The restaurant was named ‘Sweeting’s Dining Rooms’,  presumably after the famous Sweeting’s Fish Restaurant of Queen Victoria Street, London (opened 1889). The Dunedin restaurant was taken over by Findlay Bros (1920-1925) and then Charles Tabor (c.1928-1939) before closing. There were a few colourful incidents in the early years. In 1910 there was a bit of a punch-up on the street (with a follow up in the supper room) between a drunk staff member and a patron. Among other things, the staff member didn’t take kindly to criticism of the way the geese had been plucked.  The following year there was some violence between members of rugby teams from Port Chalmers and Dunedin.  The Dunedin boys were heard referring to Port Chalmers as ‘Dogtown’, and according to Truth (New Zealand’s most sensationalist newspaper): ‘the quickest way to cause a riot and to raise an insurrection is to call an inhabitant of Port Chalmers a dweller in Dogtown’. Truth also had fun reporting an incident that involved Maggie Moore, an employee of Sweeting’s. In 1915 she was ‘charged with using obscene language in a telephone box at the Octagon at the unearthly hour of midnight’.

The fishmongery remained under the Sweeting’s name until the end of 1921. It became the Salisbury Butchery in 1922, and continued under that name until it became the MMM Butchery in 1957. MMM had many branches in Dunedin and was part of a chain which originated in Christchurch in the early 1940s. Why it was called MMM I don’t know, but a local nickname was the ‘Maggoty Meat Market’! MMM became Hellaby meats around 1985. The butchery became King Dick’s Emporium of Fine Meats from about 1988 and finally closed around 1993.

A separate building in Gaol (now Dunbar) Street had originally been set aside for the curing of fish and the sale of rabbits and poultry, and another was used for fish cleaning. It looks as though these were later rebuilt into the more substantial adjoining structure that survives today. Smallgoods were processed here, with Salisbury Smallgoods occupying the space until they moved around 1969.

Galaxy Books and Records (run by Bill Brosnan) opened in the building in 1977 and remained there until about 1998 when it moved to Great King Street. There was also a takeaway bar for a time. Fight Times, a martial arts supplies shop, has operated from the site since about 2004. The business is part of the Todd Group, who are the building owners.

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 7 February 1890 p.3 (notice for F.J. Sullivan), 13 July 1907 p.11 (call for tenders), 31 January 1908 p.3 (description); Otago Witness, 2 February 1899 p.4 (Sullivan and rabbits), 9 September 1903 p.55 (complaints re trawlers), 18 April 1906 p.11 (Sullivan’s comments on the fishing industry); New Zealand Truth, 9 July 1910 p.7 (fight in the street), 8 July 1911 p.7 (‘Dogtown’ incident), 9 October 1915 p.5. (Maggie Moore).

Other references: Stones Otago & Southland Directory, Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory, telephone directories.