Take a look around Timaru CBD and do the Historic Walk and learn a bit about Timaru's past and evolution in the facades along the way.

Timaru CBD features one of NZ’s most significant collections of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The high quality of the architecture reflects times of growth and prosperity in the district’s history.

Timaru was in ruins after the 1868 fire destroyed the early wooden commercial centre, but was built stronger when new buildings in the CBD had to be constructed of masonry.
From the mid-1890s until the outbreak of WWI NZ prospered and Timaru’s CBD was transformed by larger buildings and ornamental facades. While there have been additions, the CBD has kept its turn of the 20th century aesthetic and is still admired today.

“Heritage buildings” possess architectural aesthetic, historic or cultural values. Those recorded on the Heritage NZ register are categorised for promotion, protection, preservation and conservation. Use the List Number (LN) to learn more: heritage.org.nz/the-list

Category 1: special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value
Category 2: historical or cultural significance or value

Formed in the 1980s by a group of citizens concerned about the loss of heritage buildings in the town centre. One of their flagship projects was saving the landing service building from becoming a carpark.  LEarn more about their work and read awesome articles about the heritage and history of the area here: timarucivictrust.co.nz 

Explore Timaru's fascinating history, art scene and walking tracks in a whole new way. From scenic coastal tracks with ship wrecks and ancient lava, to uncovering tales of the Timaru Cemetery and discovering our heritage sites and public art in our CBD. Learn more here: vttourism.co.nz/timaru-trails-app

WuHooTimaru BuildingMaterials


Bluestone: The blue stone basalt rock formed by lava is not found anywhere else in New Zealand. It is unaffected by weather, low in maintenance, non slip and will last for generations. Architects, were aware of this versatile stone early on, a lasting heritage established for generations to come. Late 1800s through early 1900s multiple quarries in Timaru with the most notable being those in the Scenic Reserve or Centennial Park. Rail lines that carried rock to port from this area finally decommissioned fully by 1959. By 1935 moves to create the Scenic Reserve, shortly renamed Centennial park, began. From 1988 group formed to create the park reserve, lake, bridges and planting we know today. stuff/Scenic-park-full-of-beauty-and-history

WuHooTimaru Basalt


Oamaru Stone: Limestone granular and creamy white. The crushed stone can be used as a soil conditioner. The sedimentary rock Tiny algae living in the water (called diatoms) became preserved in sediment (called diatomite) as fossils Thirty-five million years ago, the Oamaru area was under the sea.


Palliser Block: Hollow concrete blocks made using a distinctive mould often used in foundations. Mr Frank Palliser was a Timaru builder. He imported a Palmer’s machine in 1906 to form pre-cast concrete blocks. The Timaru Borough Council modified their building bylaw to permit the use of hollow concrete block and Mr Palliser had presented a drinking fountain for Caroline Bay (perhaps as a bit of a marketing stint). Just 6 years later, in 1912, Timaru was promoting itself as exporting ‘sunny-tempered people and hollow concrete building blocks, but retains large numbers of both for its own use’. Learn more here


Bricks: There were many brickmakers in South Canterbury. Harpn Exley )1832-1888 is recorded as Timaru's first brickmaker, preparing bricks for chimneys as early as 1859. In 1866 he was contracted to dig a well behind Bank of New Zealand at 4 shillings per foot. He arrived with his wife Susan Ellis and two year old son Albert on the Strathallan.

WuHooTimaru Bricks

WuHooTimaru AkroteionAcroterion
Decorative pedestal for an ornament or statue placed atop the pediment.

WuHooTimaru CartoucheCartouche
Originally used by the Egyiptians  as an emblem or seal, they were also decorative element, framed oval surrounded with scrolls over an entrance, this is known as a Cartouche in Architecture. The word 'cartouche' comes from the French language, where it means something similar to a scroll of paper.

WuHooTimaru QuoinsQuoins
A quoin is an angle at the outside corner of a building. These cornerstones are both decorative and structural.


The decorated projection at the top of a wall provided to protect the wall face or to ornament and finish the eaves.
The term is used as well for any projecting element that crowns an architectural feature, such as a doorway.


WuHooTimaru DentilDentilled Cornice 
Small block used as a repeating ornament in the bedmould of a cornice. Dentils are found in ancient Greek and Roman architecture


WuHooTimaru ColumnColumns
There are five orders of ancient architecture: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Composite and Corinthian. See Nicholson’s ‘New Practical Builder’, c1824


WuHooTimaru PedimentPediment
Triangular gable forming the end of the roof slope over a portico (the area, with a roof supported by columns, leading to the entrance of a building); or a similar form used decoratively over a doorway or window.


Is above the architrave and below the cornice (in a position that could be quite difficult to view). The term also refers to any long, narrow, horizontal panel or band used for decorative purposes like on the exterior walls of buildings.


Crowning member of a column, pier, anta, pilaster, or other columnar form, providing a structural support for the horizontal member (entablature) or arch above. In the Classical styles, the capital is the architectural member that most readily distinguishes the order.


A dwarf wall or heavy railing around the edge of a roof, balcony, terrace, or stairway designed either to prevent those behind it from falling over or to shelter them from attack from the outside


Orial Window
A bay window which protrudes from the main wall of a building but does not reach to the ground. 


Decorative element to emphasise the aped of a dome, spire, tower, roof or gable.


WuHooTimaru Rustication

Is a type of masonry treatment where block making a wall have exaggerated joints.








When you look around the Timaru CBD you will see lots of columns! As well as serving as a support, they can be beautifully decorated to add to the athestics of a building. The invention of the column allowed for the support of ceilings without the use of solid walls. Columns increase the space spanned by a ceiling, allowing the entrance of light and offering an alternative aesthetic to building exteriorsYou will see some incorporated (engaged) within walls or be free-standing and carry sculpture. 

The first use of columns was as a single central support for the roof of relatively small buildings but from the Bronze Age (3000-1000 BCE) more sophisticated columns with other functions beyond direct structural support appeared in the Egyptian, Assyrian and Minoan civilizations. The First Stone Columns can be seen in Greece when stone began to replace wood. Some were carved in one piece, as buildings became bigger, columns began to be constructed from separate drums. The evolution of columns in the ancient world has been classified within architectural orders. The three principal orders are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.


Doric columns were wider at the bottom and had a simple capital but no base

Ionic columns stand on a base and have a capital in the form of a double scroll (volute).

Corinthian columns are usually slimmer and taller, stand on a base and have a richly decorated capital, usually with sculpted flower and leaf decoration.

These three all have vertical fluted carving. The Romans introduced the Tuscan column which had no flutes and a simple base and capital. Roman Doric columns were similar but with flutes. Composite columns appeared which mixed elements of the previous styles and finally, there were Solomonic columns with a twisted shaft.

 Schema Saeulenordnungen

The above image was created in 1892 by Leipzig und Wien.

Below are examples of columns that you can find in the Timaru Central Business District.

Columns 1500

An original dirt bullock trail was reffered to as the Great South Road. In 1889 at a Council meeting it was proposed and carried "that the Main road from Whale's Creek to its junction with King Street be named Stafford Street." Named after Sir Edward Stafford, formerly M.H.R., for Timaru (he was also Nelsons first super intendant, His free, secular and compulsory education system became the model for New Zealand. At the 1855 election he became a member of the House of Representatives for Nelson, a seat he held until 1868 when, after local disputes, he resigned and became member for Timaru. Learn more here


Can you find? The sea was colonial New Zealand’s highway which is why Timaru’s architecture and heritage goes hand in hand with our port. The story begins when George Rhodes used our headland to land stores and materials. He built Timaru’s first house in 1851, it only had three walls! This 20 foot hut stood by the beach (centre of these photos) to service his boat landing for his sheep farm at Levels. George Rhodes married Elizabeth Wood in 1854 at Lyttelton. She had come from England in 1850, on one of the first four ships. Later George and Elizabeth travelled across the plains from Lyttelton to Timaru with Sarah McQueen, a family friend, also from England. Elizabeth’s first child, died 1859 August 9, at Timaru, George William Wood, son of George Rhodes, Esqs, aged 4 years.

1890, Mrs Arthur Perry, mother by her first marriage of Mr. Rhodes, M.H R., and three brothers and a sister. Mrs. Geo. Rhodes came to Timaru in 1854 and was the second white woman in the district. She leaves also five children by her second marriage. The cause of Death was heart complaint. Learn more

He employed the Whaler Samuel Williams who came back to Timaru with his wife Anne and daughter Rebecca and just like that Timaru had it’s first permanent immigrant residents. Their child was the first European baby (William Williams) and was born in this house in 1856 and slept in a gin crate. A small lean-to was added to accommodate two bunks as Timaru’s first hotel. 1860, Nov. 16, at Timaru, Ann, the wife of Mr. Samuel Williams, of the Timaru Hotel died aged 35 years. The first Timaru Herald was published in his kitchen. Sam had the first publican’s license, and he was even the first to have his pub burn down because someone didn’t like the price charged for beer... bad call as the arsonist was sentenced to death! George and Elizabeth Rhodes moved to Levels, where their next house had four timber slab walls, a clay floor and a thatched roof. In 1855 some sheep were stolen from the Levels station, by James Mackenzie. 

Learn more about their geniology here

About 1857 they say, George Rhodes gave the cottage to Sam Williams, an adventurous young American whaler, who had been given the good-natured nickname ‘Yankee Sam’. Sam was born around1817, his birthplace unknown. As an infant, he lived in Canada and later as a boy travelled to the United States. He is thought to have drifted to Australia with a number of other enterprising youths. By 1840 he left Australia to lead a whaling party out of the port of Sydney. Later Sam turned up at Island Bay, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, where he began whaling for the Rhodes brothers in 1848. In 1851, Sam left New Zealand, heading back to Australia again this time to the gold fields of Ballarat, where they say he married Anne Manry sometime around 1854. The goldfields didn’t hold much luck for Sam and he returned to New Zealand in 1856. Once more he took up employment with the Rhodes Brothers. This time he worked on Levels Station. Finally, he moved his family into the cottage on the beach in 1857. It was in this same year Archdeacon Henry William Harper remembered riding through South Canterbury on his first journey south from Christchurch. He recalled Sam and his family in a cottage near the beach. Archdeacon Harper could remember the old whaler showing him some of the remaining try-pots left abandoned on the beach. He wrote in his diary. “I spent a pleasant hour with Sam, listening to many colourful yarns of the old days”. Permanent settlers, aside from the large runholders, were slowly getting established in South Canterbury, exposing a need for accommodation in Timaru. Sam and his wife converted the little daub cottage into a general store and offered shelter to travellers. After the addition of a lean-to, the Provincial Government, in 1858 presented Sam with the first publican’s licence ever held in Timaru. Learn more 

Henry Sewell on his journey south early in 1856, was one of many travellers to camp in this vacant cottage after the Rhodes family had moved out to Levels, a sheep station north-west of the Bay.

By 1873 the cottage had been demolished and 1876 two further bays had been added to the Timaru Landing Services building.

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In 1839 the Sydney-based Weller brothers established a short-lived whaling station at Timaru. By the time Walter Mantell made this sketch, in 1848, the station was deserted. Mantell, Walter Baldock Durrant, 1820-1895 :MotuMotu, Timaru. Oct 20 Friday 1848.. Mantell, Walter Baldock Durrant 1820-1895 :[Sketchbook, no. 2] 1848. Ref: E-333-006. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22810746


SouthCanterburyMuseum RebbecaWilliam YankieSam Anne TimaruFirstHouse 3488 2

A cased coloured ambrotype portrait of Rebecca & William Williams, children of Samuel Williams, whaler, circa 1860 and Anne. William Williams was born in Timaru in 1856, after his father returned to New Zealand following a few years in Australia where he married and had their daughter, Rebecca. William is often credited as the first white child in the district, and a gin case was used as his cradle. South Canterbury Museum 3488


South Canterbury Museum FirstHouse 2000210095

Photograph of the foot of George Street, Timaru, circa 1868. The building is pictured in the centre is a landing service building (either the Timaru Landing and Shipping Company or the George Street Landing Service), while Rhodes' original cottage is to the left. South Canterbury Museum 2000/210.095


FirstHouse Centre

Here you can see the boat launch at the foot of George Street, the Landings Service Building and beside, in the center the Rhodes cottage. Section from Hocken Snapshop hocken.recollect.co.nz/24023


TimaruFirstHouse RailwayMap


First edition of the Timaru Herald from June II 1864 - Vol 1 No 1

TimaruHerald FirstEdition 20190602 141107 FromPleasantPointRailway


First edition of the Timaru Herald. It was printed in a small room, a detached kitchen in the George Street cottage on a hand press. It was printed once a week. At the time there was a "rough and ready" settlement of about 150 houses and 1000 people paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/THD19140611.2.64.10

South Canterbury Museum Levels cottage 1923

In 1851 George Rhodes and his brothers William and Robert established the Levels, South Canterbury’s first pastoral run. George and his wife Elizabeth (seen here) built and lived in this two-roomed, 9- by 3-metre cottage. It had slab walls, a thatched roof, and a clay floor. The cottage was restored in 1951 and now stands on a private historic reserve. George and Elizabeth Rhodes with one of their children outside the Levels cottage, circa 1860. The couple moved into the cottage after living in another cottage in Timaru for a few months after the Rhodes brothers secured the lease of the Levels. The Levels cottage had a clay floor, timber slab walls and a thatched roof, but the couple only lived in the cottage for a short time before newer homes were built in 1856 and 1862.  South Canterbury Museum 1923

(Former McRae’s Stone Store)
2 George St  and Station St
LN:326 C:1
Architect is unknown, possibly W Williamson

This early store house constructed of bluestone stands opposite the original shoreline and was built in 1870 by Peter McRae. He was the owner of the Club Hotel on the corner of George and Stafford street. He borrow 700 pounds and began to build the front section of the building. The original part has three arched portals to east, two-storied and built in blocks of the local bluestone with a hipped roof.

The Landing Service Building (former) is a highly significant part of Timaru's history and probably Timaru's oldest surviving commercial building. It is the only survivor of the early landing services that operated from the beachfront prior to the construction of the artificial harbour, which were vital to the establishment and development of Timaru. The building indicates the historical line of the beach at Timaru, now a substantial distance away and is believed to be the only landing service building still extant in New Zealand. It was used as a warehouse for over 100 years and is a good example of nineteenth-century masonry construction in the local bluestone. 

Henry Le Cren and Captain Cain initiated the first commercial landing and shipping service in Timaru 200m north at the foot of Strathallan St. This service helped land the 120 immigrants that sailed direct from the UK to Timaru on the Strathallan in 1859. In 1864 the provincial Government took over the service and the first direct shipment of wool left to Britain on the May Queen that year. 

A competitive service was established beside the original Rhodes cottage. It was used by Timaru Landing and Shipping Company. The directors were G.G. Russell, F. Le Cren, R. Turnbull and J. Mendelson. Captain Cain was the manager. Until the breakwater was built in 1881, drays off loaded grain onto the first floor, to then load onto surf boats in front of the building. The Loan and Merc then Dalgety Ltd used it as a store for over a century.

Significant elements include dressed bluestone walls, and doorway arches. Lantern and dormer window.

Did you know? When threatened with demolition, this one of a kind building was saved and restored by the community in 1984.


WuHooTimaru Landing Services Building


TimaruLandingServicesBuilding FromStationSt 090431


2622 01 014A GeorgeStLandingService

Here you can see the boat launch at the foot of George Street, the Landings Service Building and beside it the Rhodes cottage. Hocken Snapshop hocken.recollect.co.nz/24023


LandingService nlnzimage 

1873 Landing terrace for Timaru Shipping Company, Timaru. Creator of Collection Unknown : Photographs of Timaru by Ferrier. Ref: 1/2-005348-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23134416


TimaruLandingServicesBuildings beforerestoration 141337 01


Not long after Timaru began to grow it became evident that the town and district needed better facilities to land and dispatch goods. The first major plan was drawn up by Otago Marine Engineer J M Balfour in the mid 1960s. By 1868 the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works was set up. Control of the foreshore was vested in the new board and in 1870 a groyne was built out the front of the beach but was swept away in a storm. In 1870s English engineer proposed building an island but Harbour Board opted for an alternative prepared by J M Goodall for a solid mole made of concrete blocks. The first breakwater was built in 1878-79 near the foot of Strathallan Street. Today the who structure is burred under accumulations of shingle. By 1887 and 1890 the first north mole was constructed to stop sand drifting back into the harbour. This then started to accumulate and build out to form Caroline Bay. Rock for this breakwater was brought by tramway from quarries near Gleniti which can still be seen at Centennial Park. Building the harbour caused dramatic changed to the coastline including the accumulation of shingle in front of the landing services building. It was once at the shore line and now stands over 400m from the sea. - New Zealand Historic Places Magazine, p8 May 1994

MA I367459 TePapa Timaru Breakwater From 1200

"The Breakwater is built of immense blocks of concrete, and afford great shelter to the shipping in the Port, which in the graiun season presents a very animated appearance, lying as it does in the centre of a very large agricultureal district". Timaru Breakwater. From the album: Scenes of New Zealand, circa 1880, Timaru, by Messrs F. Bradley & Co. Te Papa (O.042435).


TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD GeorgeST

Captain Cain, the second Mayor Timaru. The towns population was around 3000 when he was poisoned by his greedy son-in-law. Sculpture by Donald Paterson. Captain Cain. Bronze/Polymer Resin. 1999.


nlnzimage 27

Porrtaits of the main figures in the 1886 trial for murder by poisoning of Captain Henry Cain of Timaru. Includes portraits of Thomas Hall and Margaret Graham Houston, the two accused, Mr Hall's residence 'Woodlands', witnesses and the judge. Goldsmith, Edmund, fl 1880s :Timaru alleged poisoning case [1886]. The story and evidence of the prosecution of Thomas Hall and Margaret Graham Houston (Christchurch? 1886?). Ref: PUBL-0155-front. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23116701

TIMARU IS IN RUINS. In the same year Timaru became a Borough, an accidental fire got picked up by a warm and blustery nor west wind in 1868, destroying 39 wooden buildings, two thirds of the business part of town. What had contributed to the advance in trade and prosperity of the port and district was now reduced to brick chimneys and embers. Unfortunately not everyone was insured. There were about 1250 dwellings in the borough.

TIMARU BUILT STRONGER. The fire transformed the town to more fire resistant Bluestone, brick and stone. Tenders were won to design and build our significant architectural heritage of our city which you can appreciate on a stroll through town.

Learn more about the great fire here Free colourful facts download and history about the event


Behind the building at the right was where William Nicoholls (1856-1884) worked. He was employed by cabinet maker Daniel Munro. He was sent to the workshop to heat some glue. He lit the fire in the stove and when the flue was heated he took it to Munro. A few minutes later the workshop was on fire.


WhereTheFireStarted FromPGG Building 2622 01 013A

The fire started behind the shop on the far right. Looking across Strathallan Street from site of P.G.G.. Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24022


SCMuseum ShipHotel GeorgeSt Timaru 201904934

The Ship Hotel on the corner of Strathallan and Stafford Street, Timaru, sometime in the 1860s prior to the fire of 1868. A copy negative, believed to have been taken by William Ferrier, of an original print. South Canterbury Museum - CN: 2019/049.34

 nlnzimage 11

Timaru Volunteer Fire Brigade parade, led by a brass band, on an unidentified street which includes the business premises of W Healey Sanitary plumber and gasfitter, Timaru, to celebrate the coronation of George V. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008617-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947016

The same year a furious gale was reported, Timaru Herald 5 Feb 1868 P2 The steamer William Misken driven ashore and wrecked 4th February 1868. One of her crew was drowned, the rest scrambled ashore. The master was on the shore at the time and witnessed the complete destruction of the vessel.

South Canterbury also saw a devastating flood damage farmsteads and crops, along with great loss of life. See Parrs Mill where Mr Salter lost his wife and four children when their house was swept away in the Opihi River flood.

Before you could turn on a tap in Timaru, you had to make a trip to your local well. This photo taken by Burton Brothers, Dunedin 1868 on George Street looking up to the original wooden BNZ building. Clarkson and Turnbull is across the road (left of centre) and the Club Hotel and Flockton Well in the foreground at the left-hand side of the image. There is a man standing on the well and two boys in front of it. The Russell Ritchie and Co. building is on the right corner. 


SouthCanterburyMuseum GeorgeSt Well2094

Overdrawn photograph looking down George St and across Great North Road (Stafford St) to the sea, circa 1864. The buildings of Clarkson & Turnbull plus the Post Office appearon the right. Two men are pictured standing outside the Post Office while a horse and wagon can be seen outside Russell Ritchie and Co. on the left. In the background two ships are visible in the roadstead. South Canterbury Museum CN: 2094

Until reticulation in the 1870s artesian wells were the only source of water in Timaru.

Water was, and still is, the lifeblood to any community. Timaru needed a sufficient water supply for the health and comfort of its population. The Pareora Dam and a series of races and tunnels to a bluestone-lined reservoir above Centennial Park were completed in 1881 and served Timaru until 1939. The reservoir was in use until 1960, when a new one was built at Claremont. The water travelled from the dam about twenty six miles. 

Today, 2007, Timaru draws its water from two sources, the Pareora River at the Upper Gorge and the Opihi River near Pleasant Point. The water is piped to the Claremont Reservoir where it is treated with ozone and chlorine. Ozone kills bacteria and protozoa and chlorine is used to prevent recontamination.

Find fact: The Pareora River drains the northern Hunters Hills. The lower gorge of the Pareora River has been a source of Timaru's water since 1874. The name may originally have been Pureora, a rite performed for the recovery of the sick, and was named by the early explorer Rakaihautu


MA I027678 TePapa Timarus water supply full

Timaru's water supply, head works Pareora, New Zealand, by Muir & Moodie studio. Te Papa (C.014377)

(Formerly National Bank Building)
Family Restaurant

129 Stafford St
LN:2074. C:2 

Significant elements include Doric columns, window detailing and cornice. The building had a banking chamber, managers office, stationery and strong rooms. There were also 3 rooms on the first floor used for residential purposes by some of the staff. Much of the interior has been destroyed by fire.

On the corner of George and Stafford street was the Club Hotel and nearby was the Flockton well.

Did you know? New Zealand experienced a series of major events during the period 1853-1870, which boosted our population. Firstly, the New Zealand Wars brought military settlers. Secondly, the new self-government structure made the Canterbury province responsible for encouraging immigration. And thirdly, there were new economic opportunities of pastoralism and the discovery of gold. Otago’s first gold rush was in 1861 when Gabriel Read found gold. Only a lucky few found riches, and although Timaru was on the fringes, the collective value of the gold kick-started our young New Zealand’s economy.

Next door on the corner of George and Stafford Streets used to be the Club Hotel. This was originally called "The New Hotel" and was established by Samuel Williams (father of Timaru's first European child William Williams whose mother was Anne Williams). "Yankie Sam" had first arrived in Timaru with the Weller Brothers whaling gang, he farmed with the Rhodes before going to Australia and returning to Timaru in 1856. Rhodes built him a lean-to served as the local pub in 1857 and Sam took out the first publican's license in the area. The Timaru Hotel was built for him by the Rhodes in 1860s. He moved to "The Timaru New Hotel" but in 1862 it was destroyed by fire. Hugh Williams who had apparently been refused service started a fire in the early hours of the morning and was sentenced to death. A new hotel was built and remained until a new restaurant building took its place. Some of Yankie Sam's friends were Long John Coffin and Bily the Bull.

The same year this building was built, the first shipment of frozen meat left for England.


WuHooTimaru Treasury 210805

TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD ClubHotel 

2622 01 078A Rejoicing at Timaru Surrender of Austria

The treasury can be seen on the left beside the Club Hotel. Rejoicing at Timaru - Surrender of Austria by William Ferrier. Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24087

95 Stafford St
LN:327 C:1
William Williamson

The Gladstone Board of Works moved into their bluestone and plaster office in 1874, where they developed major public works for the region.

This board was a precursor of the Timaru Borough Council, one of the political divisions that led to the disintegration of the Provincial system in 1876. Gladstone was one of the two electoral districts which returned members to the House of Representatives 1866-1881. This is one of the few remaining bluestone buildings in Timaru, it is two-storey and rectangular in plan with a shallow hipped roof. Recent unobtrusive additions have been made to the rear of the building. 

Significant elements include quoins, dressed window facings, window and door details, string course and cave detail.

The Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works were also responsible for the formation of a section of railway from Timaru to Temuka, not originally with the idea of completing a section of the South Island Main Trunk line, but rather for the purpose of providing a needed feeder line to link with the main railway. This section was opened on 26 October 1875. Timaru was proclaimed a borough on 13 July 1868 and became a city on 11 November 1948. Learn more here

Fun fact: Timaru started as two towns Government Town and Rhodes Town, which is why the roads are out of line at intersections along North Street. In 1856 Timaru was gazetted as a proposed town site by Canterbury Provincial Government. Land was reserved for town south of the present day North Street. Government town was laid out by Samuel Hewlings, he was our first Mayor 1868-1870. The centre of town was to be Alexander Square. Here you can see Hewlings laid the streets in Government town to run parrallel with the beach. The others are at right angles. 
The Rhodes brothers had their free hold area surveyed by Edwin Henry Lough incorporating the well worn bullock wagon tracks which followed the easier route through the hil-and-gully area. - Streets of Timaru.

As you can see in the map below it dosn't look like either surveyor collaborated.

Here you can also see Alexander Square named in honor of the Alexandra of Denmark the wide of King Edward II.


WuHooTimaru Gladstone 210803 


nlnzimage 30

1909 Photograph taken by an unidentified photographer employed or contracted by 'The Press' newspaper of Christchurch.Stafford Street, Timaru, with carts, horses and people in the street. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008815-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29944621


TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD NorthST


SouthCanterburyMuseum RhodesTown m0001

A colour printed map of Rhodes Town, circa 1885. Shows properties owned by W B Rhodes, R H Rhodes, and G Rhodes, as well as local railway lines, the harbour, streets, and notable buildings. Covers the area bordered by Wai-iti Road in the north, North Street in the south, and from the coast as far as William Street in the west. The original blue and red tints were used to designate let and unlet properties held by the Rhodes Brothers. The lower left corner gives the credit: "Compiled by McIntyre and Leur's Authorised Licensed Surveyors Christchurch". Scale 3 chains to 1 inch. South Canterbury Museum M0001

The building was erected three years before the Timaru Harbour Board formed January 1877. Apparently deciding whether the Port should be established in it’s current site or at the Milford Lagoon came down to the final vote of the Mayor. Work commenced on a solid mole near the foot of Strathallan St.

122 Stafford St 
LN:5393 C:2
Designed by Henry Wright

On the 14th July 1877 the Timaru Herald writes The building "is one of the prettiest little theatres in the Southern Hemisphere". Who would have thought that what had started as a stone store could become a first class theatre? Richard Turnbull was a pioneer merchant and politician. He converted his original stone store into a hall for entertainment and it became the venue for many public meetings. In 1872 J L Hall and Australia actor who had been staging shows in Dunedin brought a troupe to Timaru. He leased the hall for five years before commissioning Maurice Deval (architect and engineer) in 1877 to draw up plans for its conversion into a theatre. 

The original blue stone façade was removed  around 1911 by William Gunn The reconstruction contract was awarded to architect Henry White. He also designed the St James Theatre in Wellington. The auditorium is all that remains from Whites building.

It was renovated for new owner, Moss Jonas in 1882. H E White redeveloped the auditorium in 1911 with an Edwardian auditorium and detailed plaster work. Jonas (1839-1907) used to sell shoelaces on the streets of London. He established a furniture and crockery and auction room business. He was Mayor 1886-1811. HE and his wife Emma had five children. He is buried in the Jewish section of the cemetery.

1877 Richard Turnbull's Hall was converted into "Theatre Royal" Opened 16 July 1877
1883 The Theatre rebuilt with substantial improvements
1911 New auditorium and stage was built and foyer modified including a fly tower and dressing rooms.
1961 Purchased from the Gunn family by the Timaru City Council
1963 Theatre was renovated, foyer re-constructed
1993 Major strengthening, auditorium restoration and new foyer design

Woollcombe St is named after Belfield Woollcombe (1816-1891) who was the first government representative to live in Timaru. He designed the first wooden church where St Mary's is today.

Fun Fact: Timaru found this out when What Now Bangkok, starring Robin Asquith, came to town. The show had full frontal nudity and opened its New Zealand tour in Timaru. Protests were expected. The show’s lawyer flew out from London to counter any backlash. “The police vice squad came down from Christchurch, three of them, and sat through a rehearsal. They gave it approval and the show went ahead. “It was reasonably well attended. The people who came in were very sheepish.” Learn more


Did you know? Rumour has it Timaru’s Theatre Royal has a ghost. A story that has circulated over the years is that a “lad” fell to his death from the theatre’s fly floor many years ago and his spirit lives on at the theatre.


White, Henry Eli (1876-1952)
White was the son of a Dunedin building contractor and spent his early years learning a wide range of trades including bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, joinery and painting. His first major project was in 1908, a tunnel on the Waipori River hydro-electric scheme. He developed a fascination with theatre design and educated himself in its principles while also attending Art School night classes. With the contract to build His Majesty's Theatre, Wellington, for (Sir) Benjamin Fuller in 1912, White moved his thriving practice to that city where he also built the Midland Hotel. White's reputation as a popular and innovative theatre designer grew to the extent that he became one of the most prominent in Australasia. He was to design over 130 theatres as well as a number of commercial buildings. Among his most notable designs were (builder of) The Press Building, Christchurch (1908), architect of His Majesty's Theatre, Wellington (1912), now the St James, and at the time the largest theatre in Australasia, the now demolished Midland Hotel, Wellington, (1916) The Strand, Christchurch (1917), the Tivoli, Brisbane, and his masterpiece, the State Theatre in Sydney. Much loved by audiences for its excessive Art Deco ornamentation, its interior made lavish use of marble, gold and ivory decoration, and featured paintings, sculpture and exotic objects (such as the 'Fujiyama cameo', removed during the Second World War). The Depression marked the end of White's architectural career. He won a competition to design a college at Auckland, but plans were shelved; he closed his office and lost money through farming in New Zealand. By 1937 he had returned to Sydney. Although a cement manufacturing project near Bathurst fell through, dolomite was discovered on the site and during the Second World War his company supplied it for windows and light bulbs made in Australia. White spent much time sailing and big-game fishing. Survived by his wife and two sons, he died on 3 March 1952 at Kings Cross, Sydney, and was cremated with Anglican rites. He had reputedly earned over £1 million in architectural fees, but was not an astute businessman; his estate was sworn for probate at £1147. Learn more here

Timaru Theatre Royal Front Elevation

The building was modernized in the 1990s when the Timaru District Council invested millions into the theatres upgrade. Through the 1950s, movies were screened at the Theatre Royal, and it was dubbed “Bug House”.
This front elevation is based on an original design by Henry White for his twentieth century facade for the Theatre Royal. At the top balestrade said "His Majestys Building" This was largely destroyed in an early 1960s refurbishment of the building. Barry Bracefield designed the current facade.


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1911 Crowds gather to watch the parade, with a team of bullocks pulling a wagon on a street lined with commercial buildings, Timaru, to celebrate the coronation of George V. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008626-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947403

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Stafford Street, looking North Canterbury Museum 


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The Theatre Royal on Stafford Street, Timaru, circa 1990.  South Canterbury Museum L2012/007.008


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Theatre Royal site foreman Bill Caldwell, posed in front of the theatre during renovations, 19 March 1993. South Canterbury Museum 2012/186.1479


Youth Fataly Injured

Jack Wilson died 1941 after falling from a height. Some say it was the fly wheel. Some say there is a ghost at the Timaru Theatre Royal Learn more.

Richard Turnbull (1826-1890) arrived in Timaru in 1864. He was elected to the Provincial Council, served as a member of the first Timaru Town Council and was later a member of Parliament. He built a large hall in Stafford Street, where in 1876 six hundred people attended a meeting which appointed a committee of 12 to investigate the building of a harbour breakwater. The hall was later rebuilt and converted to become the Theatre Royal. A son founded the firm DC Turnbull and Co. grain and shipping agents. His headstone is under a tree near the entrance to the cemetery. Inscription: Erected by the friends of the late Richard Turnbull, M.H.R. for Timaru. To commemorate the many valuable public and private services rendered by him to South Canterbury and the country.

132 Stafford St

Christened the Criterion, was built in 1870 from local bluestone in Victorian style. Timaru's rich tapestry of drinking dens dates back to the 19th century. The Excelsior is an example. The Excelsior's story hails back to the days of traders, whalers and sailors. Christened the Criterion at the end of the 19th century, it was one of the first bluestone buildings to be registered in Timaru. The Excelsior was a contemporary of the Landing Services Building and, like most buildings of that era, was constructed in stone to conform to the bylaws introduced after the 1868 Stafford St fire, which wiped out all the weatherboard structures. There is some debate as to the age of the building, although official records show it was completed in 1870. The pub was popular for sailors and had a colourful reputation around the world. The first owner was architect Francis J. Wilson. The later owner Mr Murphy had an extesnsion built in 1878 by architect D West. Murphy was charged with permitting gambling in a licensed house. He was fined 20 shillings. Learn more here

In 1868 a fire swept from Church St. to Woollcombe St. and after that the new buildings were required to be constructed of brick or local bluestone. Some say Francis J. Wilson practically rebuilt Timaru after the big fire. He was born in Capetown, went to Melbourne at aged 19, then to Timaru. For 30 years he practised as an architect, and practically rebuilt Timaru after the big fire He wore many hats including, builder, carpenter, publican, contractor, architect, councilman in 1869 and Past Master of the Timaru Masonic Lodge. Many of his projects included: 1869  Stone warehouse for Mr Turnbull, 1869  New stone offices built for the Timaru Herald, 1873 Masonic Hall for the Freemasons of Timaru opposite St. Mary's, Timaru Main School, 1874 Primitive Methodists Church, Wesleyan chapel, 1875 synagogue in Bank Street, 1877 Timaru Borough Council Chambers, Mr. Green Grain and Wool Stores on Cain's Terrace, 1881 Erection of new premises for the National Bank of New Zealand, 1885 Timaru High School plus many shops and dwellings. Learn more here: rootsweb.com/wilson


TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD black ClubHotel

Government Life Building (Former)
148-154 Stafford St & George St
LN:2058 C:2

After a hefty insurance payout and seeing the importance of providing work in the depression, Architects Turnbull & Rule created this amazing Renaissance inspired building in 1928. It was built by A. Kennedy with reinforced concrete and plaster.

The Oxford building was built by the Turnbull family. Intended to be three stories high, the foundations could carry another two floors. It is four stories high. When it opened there were four shops on the ground floor, the corner shop being occupied by Gabites Menswear. The cost of the building was around £10,000.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 brought about 30% of the potential workforce were unemployed in 1933. Phar Lap was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse whose achievements captured the Australian public's imagination during the early years of the Great Depression. The basics such were hard to come by, living stripped back lifestyles. It was a factor in Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, which lead to the second World War.

Can you find? Union Jack’s


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Street scene, Timaru, 1900-1903, Timaru, by Muir & Moodie studio. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (PS.002141)

In 1871 the Gabites brothers took over the business of D Clarkson who operated a drapery business in an earlier building on the site. From 1888 the firm dealt exclusively in menswear and traded for over 100 years.


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One landscape format black and white glass plate negative depicting an area of Timaru, including the bank.  Canterbury Museum ACB246/1/2


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1915 Shows Stafford Street, Timaru. Some of the buildings on the left going down are, Refreshment rooms, Ice cream parlour, Nisbet Ltd and Edwards pictures. On the corner of the right side is a tailor shop with a policeman standing on the footpath outside. A few horse drawn carts, two motor cars and some pedestrians and cyclists can be seen. In the early 1900's, ice cream was also sold, along with milkshakes, sodas, fruit drinks, fruit salads, coffee and confectionery, in American-styled ice cream parlours and "marble bars"  Ref: 1/2-107025-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


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Pictorial postcard of Stafford Street entitled "The Cabstand Stafford St Timaru," circa 1910. Depicts a line of horse-drawn carriages on the side of the road outside the Bank of New Zealand and the NZ Loan and Mercantile Agency. In the background the Club Hotel can be seen on the corner of George and Stafford Streets and 'A Gabites' on the opposite corner. South Canterbury Museum 2006/104.114

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The Timaru Building Society and Pearson's Fancy Goods Store, Great North Road (Stafford Street), Timaru, circa 1880. Depicts several people posed outside the premises. The shop on the left has a sign in the window reading "Timaru Building Society Victoria Insurance Company (Limited) Agents Ross Sims & Co Brokers", while the other has a sign on the veranda reading "Pearsons [Coffee Rooms?]". The original image has been annotated above the veranda with "Mr Ross & Mr Sims Office", "Pearsons Shop" and "opened Jan [1877?]". South Canterbury Museum 2750


Timaru, 1875, Dunedin, by Burton Brothers studio, Alfred Burton. Te Papa (C.014371)


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Stafford Street, New Zealand, by Muir & Moodie studio. Te Papa (C.014725)


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Stafford Street, looking up, 1904, Timaru, by Muir & Moodie studio. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (PS.001032)

Timaru District Council Building
(Former Public Library)

2 King George Place & Latter St 
LN:2075 C:2
Architect Walter Panton (Panton & Son)
Builder Werry & Hunt and then B R Tooth & Son

In 1904 the borough council purchase this site from Dr Gabites for 1150 pounds. 

The 1909 Oamaru stone building was funded by USA steel merchant Andrew Carnegie to establish a Public Library. In 1911 the Timaru Borough Council erected its municipal offices next door in the same classical style. The building was designed by architect Walter Panton. The council chambers remained as they were for 20 years before additions were carried out in 1926 by W J Harding. The 7ft Clock tower designed by Victor Panton and built by W J Harding was added ion 1934 to house the mechanism given to the city by form mayor James Craigie which was originally in the Post Office clock tower. in 1958 a brick faces showroom and second story was added, in 1862 the parapet including pediments finals were removed and the 1979 the library was converted to office by McDonald and Wilson contractors Ledy Construction.

Significant elements include bluestone foundation, rusticated Oamaru stone façade, Corinthian capitals, keystones and medallions, clock tower.

Did you know? There is a light at the top of the clock tower, this is the Lamp of Remembrance and was installed in 1946 as a memorial to the men of the city who died in two world wards. It has burned continuously ever since. 

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The original library with the Carnegie grant before the building had additions and modifications.


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Picture postcard entitled "The Public Library Timaru. NZ", circa 1915. The public library on the corner of George and Latter Street possibly soon after the building was finished. The postcard is addressed, on the verso, to "Miss Kate Sherlock Russell Sqr Timaru" and has a half penny New Zealand stamp. Ferrier, William, Photographer, Timaru. South Canterbury Museum 1999/144.1


TimaruDistrictCouncil Details



 Issued by P. W. Hutton Booksellers and Stationers, Timaru. 1911  F.T. Series No. 1228

PostOffic PublicLibrary 2622 01 077A

William Ferrier took this photo of the Post Office and the Public Library, Timaru. Hocken Snapshop hocken.recollect.co.nz/24086


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Before the Library was built Eliot Whatley created an artwork showing the view from Lynwood House in 1874. This was the town house of George and Elizabeth Rhodes on Corner of George and Latter Streets in Timaru. George Rhodes and his brothers profited from the growth of Timaru by selling their sections of land in the town center. They also contributed to community life: St Mary's Church (Anglican) at Timaru was built between 1860 and 1861 on land given by them, and George was one of the first wardens. George was also a justice of the peace and a member of local committees and institutions. George's life was productive but brief. He died of typhoid fever at Purau on 18 June 1864 at the young age of 47. In Timaru, street names such as George Street and Elizabeth Street honor the Rhodes family still. The Levels was sold but, determined not to leave the region she had such happy memories of, Elizabeth and her five young children lived in their town home "Linwood House" which stood behind the present Council chambers. In 1867 Elizabeth married Arthur Perry, a charming young barrister from Tasmania who had commenced a law practice in Timaru.  They remained at Linwood until 1873 when they purchased Beverley from Henry Le Cren. A large house on 8 hectares of land at the junction of Wai-iti Rd and the Great North Road, now Highway 1. It was to become a garden of note in the district. 

Dr Edward Butler (1834-1870) also lived at Lynwood House.  He is mentioned in a Strathallan diary as having lived in a one roomed house. His dispensary burnt down in the 1868 fire. He is burred at Timaru cemetery with his son beside him who was born 1864 but only lived 3 months.

Timaru Herald - 7 October 1899 Latter Street presents several sorts of busy-ness just now. The Corporation men are cutting down the hip of the street itself. Mr Broadhead is building a good sized cottage on the former site of the Linwood stable yard, just at the rear of the Trinity Church; and Mr Pringle is pulling down the old Linwood house; one of the earliest of pretentious wooden houses in Timaru.


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In front of the South Canterbury Museum and Perth Street, diagonally across from the Timaru Council Buildings, is the beautiful Kate Sheppard Memorial Garden. There is also a lovely camelia name for her in the garden. This was gifted to the city by the citizens of Timaru to celebrate the centennial of Women's Suffrage and there is a remarkable story of why and how Kate Sheppard achieve her goal of getting NZ women the vote. The gardeb was officially opened by Dame Miriam Dell on July 3rd 1993. The plantings follow a purple and white theme - the official suffrage colour. Some fine trees are significant such as the beautiful copper beach. - pressreader.com/the-timaru-herald

South Canterbury celebrated 125 years of Women's Suffrage in 2018. The South Canterbury Museum also performed a re-enactment and, as part of a NCWSC​ and Zonta-led ceremony, showed and spoke about their suffrage display. The ceremony also involved the planting of the Kate Sheppard camellia at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Garden in Timaru, which, like the Knottingley Park's suffrage garden, was created for the 100th anniversary. The Timaru District Library also had a display on the history of Women's Suffrage. stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/south-canterbury-celebrates-125-years-of-womens-suffrage

Suffragist Movement in New Zealand

  • Married women didn’t have control over property that they had brought to their marriage.
  • Had to prove aggravated adultery if they wanted a divorce – husbands only had to prove adultery.
  • 1875 – Women ratepayers were able to vote in local body elections.
  • 1877 – Women were able to stand for school committees and take part in the election of these committees.
  • 1869 – Women in Wyoming give franchise.

Over the main entrance is a bust of Mayor James Craigie (1851-1935), carved by Mr Hood, who also carved most of the stonework on St. Mary’s Church.

He arrived in New Zealand from Scotland bin 1867 and began business as a painter and decorator in Timaru in 1873.

He was chairman Timaru Harbour Board 1906-10, Mayor Timaru Borough 1902-13 and Member of Parliament 1908-22. Cragie gave many gifts, Statue of Burns (Botanic Gardens) Oak Trees Craigie Avenue, Chimes for Town Clock 1913 (hung in Chief Post Office until 1933 then transferred to Municipal Buildings) and to the South Canterbury Art Society to lay the foundation of the public collection for the future art gallery the Aigantighe. James Craigie was the Mayor for ten years, and President of SCAS. He gifted 5 artworks, Charles Goldie Memories, The Last of Her Tribe 1913. William Greene Scene in Surrey 1909.  Thomas Kennington The Mother 1895. John Perrett Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki 1896. John Perrett Mt Cook from Lake Pukaki c.1896. See a copy of the South Canterbury Arts Society 6th Exhibition 1913 here: christchurchartgallery.org.nz/1913-SCAS

Andrew Carnegie was a man of contradictions. A 19th Century self made man, and described as the wealthiest man in the world (worth $557 billion NZD in to-days terms), he increased the working hours and decreased the wages of his workers so that he could give bigger philanthropic donations worldwide to his two projects, public libraries, and pipe organs inside churches. Timaru benefited with a donation for each project.
After a year of negotiations with Carnegie by the Mayor James Craigie, a gift of £3,000 was promised. The library also benefited from a donation of £2,500 from the winding up of the Timaru Mechanics’ Institute, who also donated their extensive library and fittings to stock the library. As a condition of the Carnegie gift, the Council gifted the site to the public, and were to make the library free to all ratepayers. The Council considered that as a renter also paid rates by default, the library would be free to all residents within the boundary. 

Can you find original street lights?

The Stafford Street lighting used to be lit by hand. In 1871 Kerosene street lamps were installed and were soon credited with reducing the "menace of brothels' at Whales Creek".

For more than 100 years gas was piped from the gas works in Perth St to homes and businesses in the area between Hobbs St in the north, Broadway Ave in the west, Flinders St in the south, and throughout the inner-city area. In 1875 Timaru Gas Co was formed and nearly 9km of gas-iron pipes, the lights were converted to gas in 1876. The gas companies office was on George St where Mega Mitre 10 is today.

Electric light came in 1926. Before the streets were sealed, they would get very slippery and muddy when it rained, they would scoop the mud and put it along the side of the road, if you were not careful you could step knee deep into the mud in the dark.

Alpine Energy began in March 1906 when the Timaru Borough Council entered into a contract with Scott Brothers of Christchurch to light the town with electricity. The price for this contract was £750 per year for four hours of light per night – except when the moon shone. In 1915 the council purchased the Scott Brothers’ electricity generator and a year later another generator was installed and about 580 customers had been signed up. All electricity developments were in town until 1921 when a meeting of country delegates decided to form a South Canterbury Electric Power Board. The board set about forming a viable electricity supply enterprise across the province. The South Canterbury Electric Power Board and the Timaru Borough Council agreed for the power board to purchase the town supply. However, the town’s residents voted against the proposal. From that day, February 29, 1924, the Timaru Electricity Department and the power board continued on their separate paths. The Timaru Borough Council purchased all of its electricity from the SC Electric Power Board. This was from the Lake Coleridge power station supply which was made available at Temuka for distribution throughout Timaru and South Canterbury. The two organizations grew and developed in their separate franchise areas until the Government industry reforms of 1992 prompted the separate bodies to look again at the issue of amalgamation. Learn more

In 1970 Gas production from coal was stopped, and all gas will be produced by oil plants. This was located at Perth and Arthur Streets. At the time of demolition it was one of Timaru's tallest landmarks.

The former Timaru City Council-owned Municipal Electricity Department, which owned the pipes, merged with the South Canterbury Power Board to form Alpine Energy. Today Alpine Energy pays rent to the Council to have cable in about 10 kilometres of pipe between Pacific St and the southern end of King St. They range from 20 centimetres in diameter close to the old gas works, down to 3cm along smaller side streets. Learn more


Beside the two lights is a sculpture by Doug Neil. Rock of the Heartland. Basalt. 2008.


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 The Timaru Gas Works and Willen Mill on the Corner of Perth and Arthur Streets. The gas tank was complete in 1901. Learn more and here. - Alexander Turnbull Library G-8812-1/1

(New Zealand Post Office)
Sophia St
Architect R A Lawson

A fortnightly mail service was established in 1858 and the frequency of the service increased with the running of Cobb & Co's coaches until the railway came through in 1876. Timaru's first post office, with a telegraphic link to Christchurch was opened in 1865 but destroyed in the 1868 fire.

The new brick and concrete building opened Timaru 1880. Victorian with classical details constructed of brick and plaster with columns pilasters and cornice. It was the ninth centre in New Zealand to have a telephone service and 60 subscribers were connected for the opening. The first chimeless clock was installed in 1881 which had a time ball dropping at noon each day. At the time of manufacture it was one of the largest clocks to be manufactured in New Zealand. In 1913 former mayor James Craigie who was MP at the time, donated the new clock and set of chimes which meant the tower had to be raised to accommodate them. The chimes were set in motion by Post master General Sir Heaton Rhodes. After the 1931 Napier earthquake the tower was deemed earth quake risk so they tower was dismantled and the chimes moved over the road to the Council building. 

Did you know? there used to be fountain in the triangle in front? The Jubilee monument commemorated the 50th jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign it was moved in 1960 and this was relocated to the sunken Victorian garden at the Botanic Gardens.


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A crowd gathered outside the Timaru Post Office that has been decorated for the coronation of Edward V11 in September 1902. A large group of men are facing the crowd on a stage or platform, set up in front of the post office. A banner across the front of the Post Office reads "Here's Health To The King & A Lasting Peace". All the upper windows of the Post Office have been covered with royal paraphanalia. South Canterbury Museum 1490

General Post Office, Timaru, 1912, Timaru, by Muir & Moodie studio. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (PS.002561)


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Timaru's first official Post Office in lower George Street, located in John Beswick's Store, circa 1862. Depicts the wooden building with dormer windows and a clock on the front left facing of the building. Posts in front of the entrance, possibly hitching rails, and a picket fence on the right are also visible. The road in front of the building is unpaved. South Canterbury Museum 2679

The telephone lines came to Timaru in 1885 but the ines did not reach outlying townships untili after the turn of the century. The Ear is on the former telephone exchange building.

Russell Clark. The Ear. Ferro Cement. 1957


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An image, identified on the verso, as "Telegraph of news 17th May 'The Relief of Mafeking' c[irca] 1900 (Baden Powell), being received at a Post Office by C W. Keinan" Depicts two men at a bench transcribing the message while three others stand in the background. South Canterbury Museum 2681


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Switchboard at the Timaru Telephone Exchange, circa 1905. Depicts two women at the switchboard with another person in the background. South Canterbury Museum 3883


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The Timaru manual telephone exchange, Christmas 1985. Depicts five telephone exchange operators sitting at switchboards (four women and one man), posed looking towards the camera. Several desk fans can be seen in the background on top of the switchboards. South Canterbury Museum 7136

(Ross’ Royal Arcade)
Sophia St Through to Stafford St

Thought to be NZ’s oldest surviving example of an intact late Victorian/Edwardian commercial arcade. Ornate glass and steel shopping arcades were a feature of many 19th-century cities, but they were less common in towns. Timaru’s Royal Arcade is a fine example, and a sign of the town’s ‘big city’ aspirations. Cast iron columns above allow for maximum glazing of shop fronts.

It was developed by mayor (1888-1891) David Mitchell Ross (commission agent and notary public) between 1887-1907. six months after he finished his term as mayor he and his partner Sims were adjusted bankrupt. Apparently his books had not been balanced for 12 years. He was later trialed for fraud in 1892 and sentenced to nine months hard labor and did not return to Timaru. "Judge Ward said for the last twelve years Ross had been a perfect pest to the district, and he wondered how anyone trusted him coming from Dunedin with such a record as he did" - Poverty Bay Herald, 3 September 1892, Page 2. He is burred in Timaru with his wife Jane 1889 and a month later his mother Mary died.

The stone work was entrusted to Mr McBride ; the bricklaying to Mr Emil Hall ; the plastering to Messrs Oldrey and Guthrie ; the joiner's work to Messrs Tooth and Pearson ; the painting to Mr Murdoch ; the plumbing to Mr Forbes, and the signwriting to Mr Dickenson, all of whom carried out, their duties in a manner that has given the greatest satisfaction.

The arcade was redesigned in 1886. In 1996 a roof was added and the redesigned Royal Arcade was opened on the 31st May 1996 by Mayor Wynne Raymond.

At 17-19 in the Royal Arcade you will find The Arcade Chambers were built in 1907 designed by Architect Wet & Hall and built by Petrie & Mac Dougall in natural brick and plaster mouldings. features arched pediment, pilasters, window detailing and cartouche. This was erected for Charles Bowker in the English renaissance order, and known as the "Bowker Building'. Charles started his career in Timaru as a manager at Clarkson and Turnbull's drapery, the site of today's Oxford Building. He later worked as a land broker and financial agent building a block of shops in the south of Stafford Street. He donated the band rotunda at Alexander Square, and one of his eight children George, donated 16 acres of land in 1934 to make an entry from Otipua Rd to Centennial Park. The gift and the centenary are acknowledged at the Bowker Gateway, built in 1940 to acknowledge the gift of land linking Centennial Park to Otipua Road opposite Church Street. A condition of this gift was that no buildings could be built in this area to obscure the views.

​Dunedin based architect James Hislop designed the anchor building at the Stafford Street end of the Royal Arcade. Located on the southeast corner, the building was erected for the builders' merchants Priest & Holdgate. Priest and Holgate had an ironmonger's store on the southern corner of the arcade. They used a rail with a small truck operated by Priest & Holdgate from their Sophia Street boundary right though the shop to Stafford St to move heavy hardware stock. An item of much intrigue is the underground railway line linking this building with the original railway station for the transport of goods. During the construction of the Priest and Holdgate new building and the extension to the Timaru Herald building in 1906 various problems were encountered. As the Arcade was built over a filled in gully, the foundations for each building had to be sunk 20 feet, and the workmen struck the roots of the peach trees from the original orchard on the site. They also struck the concrete foundations of an old blacksmith’s shop. Learn more here The business later passed into the hands of Briscoes in the 1950’s. Learn more here

The Arcade Cafe was on the top floor of the 1906 Priest and Holdgate extension, and designed by the architect J. S. Turnbull. See if you can find the art nouveau stained glass window following the stair case up to the café (it is outside the arcade).

Willmotts Workwear was founded by by the late Walter (Wattie) Willmott and it continues to thrive in the Royal Arcade since 1930. In 2010 the firm celebrated their 80th anniversary.

William Ferrier (1855-1922) moved from Oamaru to Timaru in 1881 and had his photography and painting studio in the Fife Building opposite the Theatre Royal in 1881 and then later shifted to the Royal Arcade. He helped establish Timaru’s Arts Society, which gave the foundation artworks of the Aigantighe Art Galleries collection. His photographs and paintings are a valuable recourse providing a pictorial history of the time he was living in Timaru. His grandson was the modernist painter Colin McCahon. He died at his home 76 Grey Road in 1922. He had eight children with his wife Eva Beatrice Cunningham who died at Pukiti Bay Waiheke Island. His grave is an almost unmarked plot bearing on W.F - Timaru Cemetery, Stories Behind the Grave

Did you know? When a smell was investigated they found rotting stumps of an old orchard below arcade. In the old map below you can see a stream running through Sophia Street across Stafford Street to the sea




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This hardware shop was entered from the corner of Stafford Street and the Royal Arcade.  On January 1st, 1867, Mr Edward Reece sent Mr Priest to Timaru from Christchurch. Edward had a hardware business in Christchurch and it was his intention to open a branch of his hardware store in Timaru and Mr Priest was to be the manager of this new branch. At the same time, Mr Holdgate was working for Clarkson and Turnbull, owners of another large general store in Timaru. However, it was a further six years before Messrs Priest and Holdgate got together.  In September 1873, they started off in a partnership with their own hardware business known as Priest and Holdgate.  Their business boomed in the ensuing years, it is said that Priest and Holdgate had become recognised as one of the most important hardware firms outside of the principle cities of New Zealand. Referred to as ironmongers, as all hardware businesses were in those early days, the firm catered for a large section of the community including, farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, as well as the general public.  But their speciality was Agricultural equipment.   Some of their branches, included the world renowned McCormick Reaper and Binder.  As well as other McCormick products, they also sold products by Andrews and Beaven and P and D. Duncan, along with a host of others. One of their agencies was the world famous Stirling bicycle, but their favourite agency was for the Planet Jr. garden tools, they say that these were recommended for all seasons and were a blessing to all who had gardens. In other words, they did everything in the garden but plant the seed. Learn more

The first Timaru Holdgate to serve overseas in WW1 was Earnest Arthur George Holdgate. He was born in Timaru in 1875, the fourth son to Edward and Betty Holdgate. Edward and Betty had emigrated from Glossop, England, to settle in Timaru in 1863 sailing on the ‘Victory’, one of the first ships to bring emigrants to South Canterbury. Edward Holdgate and William Priest started the well known hardware shop Priest and Holdgate located in the Royal Arcade on Stafford Street. Earnest Holdgate was educated at Timaru Main School. In time Earnest and several of his brothers worked in the family business and Earnest learnt the trades of locksmith, gunsmith and sheet metal worker. In 1893 Earnest joined the local Timaru Volunteer Rifle Company and was described as quite a marksmen often winning shooting competitions. This must have served him well in the ensuing conflict, and he obtained the rank of Captain shortly after enlisting with the South Canterbury Infantry Regiment in December 1914. He duly embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion to Egypt on HMNZT Willochra departing NZ on 17 April 1915. Being a keen family member and participant in affairs of the Banks Street Methodist Church he was given a large church sendoff and was presented him with a fine pair of field glasses in leather case. After a short spell in Egypt he arrived on Gallipoli with the 4th Canterbury reinforcements on 8th June 1915. From Canterbury Regiment Records it appears the 4ths were then put into the trenches at the dangerous location of Quinns Post where they replaced Australian troops. On 10th July 1915 Earnest was wounded in the arm/shoulder by gun shot/shrapnel. The wound was said to be severe entailing bone damage and initially he was shipped to Malta for treatment, and then went on the hospital ship Dover Castle to England where he was admitted on 15th October to the Endsleigh Palace Hospital in London. By early March 1916 he was considered fit for light duties, and by end of March became fit for general services, embarked to Egypt on 24th March, later rejoined his old unit at Rouen in France where he was taken on strength with the Canterbury C Company 4th Rifles. He resumed his rank of Captain by 5th June 1916. According to unit records the Canterbury’s participated in the Somme battles near Flers and when located possibly in the Goose Alley trench system Earnest received a second wounding – a gunshot wound to the knee on 25th September 1916. By 11th November he is recorded as 2 being admitted to the NZ General Hospital at Brokenhurst in England for treatment, was finally placed on the NZ ill health roll by 21st November, and was returned to NZ on the hospital ship Marama arriving in Auckland on 5th March 1917. Family stories were that during his time in England on various leave he managed to get in touch with old family connections in the Glossop-Manchester area. A photo shows him in a line-up of officers about to be presented to King George V. By 25th April 1917 he was struck off strength and by June was discharged, but continued his military duties with the Territorial Army at Burnham Camp where he was promoted to the rank of Major. In the post-war era he worked in the family firm Priest and Holdgate until it passed into the hands of Briscoes in the 1950’s. He remained interested in fishing, shooting, tennis, gardening and music and continued his association with the Banks Street Wesleyan Church where he continued his Sunday school teaching and organist duties as before the war. He remained unmarried, lived with his widowed sister Ethel in Timaru, and died at the grand old age of 89 years in 29th February, 1964. He is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. John Radcliff was cousin to William, he worked over the road d as a salesmen his fathers furnishing company J Radcliffe at the corner of Stafford and Beswick Streets Timaru. Harold enlisted on 11th August 1914 and sailed for Egypt on the 16th October 1914 with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. He was killed in action sometime in the first days of the landings at Gallipoli (25th -30th April 1915) and his whereabouts is unknown. He is listed as one of those killed at the landings from the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, and his name is engraved on the Lone Pine Memorial at Lone Pine Cemetery (Gallipoli). Learn more


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New Zealanders celebrated British victories in the South African War with gusto. Here the citizens of Timaru assemble with instruments and weapons to mark Pretoria Day on 7 June 1900. Pretoria Day celebrated the capture of Pretoria by British forces. - South Canterbury Museum


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A float prepared for the "Pretoria Parade" pictured in south Stafford Street, Timaru, in 1900. Depicts a horses-drawn wagon and people in costume for the 'Pretoria Parade', celebrating the capture of Pretoria by British forces during the South African (Boer) War. - South Canterbury Museum 1495

stafford street 2

The green door led into a document "strong room" was made of metal salvaged (bolts, T iron braces and iron shelves formed from heavy wrought iron plates from the Benvenue wreck. The foundations of the strong room are still there, it was designed by Mr Ross to be fire proof. It is sunk to the depth of 15 feet from the ground line, and built of solid bluestone masonry and concrete

23 Sophia St
Architect Meason & Marchant
Builder Palliser & Jones

It is a Victorian with classical element's built of brick and plaster. It was the first building by Meason & Marchant. In 1928 and identical addition was built. The ground floor was used as a garage for the seven Model T Ford cards which formed the fleet for the Timaru Herald's mail run contract with the Post Office. 

Significant elements include pilasters, capitals, cornice, string cource, timpany, window detailing and parapet.

This building is the The Timaru Herald's first Sophia St premises, which was occupied by the newspaper from 1886 to 1984. But the papers history goes back much further.

in July 1864 The Herald is established by Alfred George Horton, helped in first year, by Fred Edmond Younghusband and Ingram Shrimpton; first weekly issue printed on Saturday, June 11, in small detached kitchen run by former whaler and town character Sam Williams; paper eventually moves further west on George St. In 1866: Herald becomes bi-weekly, printing on Wednesdays and Saturdays (with the arrival of telegraph). In 1868 the Herald office, next to the Excelsior Hotel), burns down along with 38 other wooden buildings on, or neighboring, Great Southern Rd, now Stafford St. Staff tried to save what was possible from the burning building. While some were tasked with carrying out cases of type and taking down presses, others threw paper from the windows onto the street. Before much was done in this way the men had the fire falling upon them through the roof, and were compelled to desist. The principal portion of the newspaper type was saved, but the whole of the jobbing type, frames, and other materials were destroyed. Herbert Belfield, joint proprietor who later bought the paper in 1871, lost his dog to the blaze. "It refused to leave the office as long as its owner remained, and not seeing its owner leave, in the end was buried in the flames." Learn more here

Herald is offered temporary premises and prints single sheet for "a week or two" afterwards. Main South Road site is rebuilt.

1871: Horton sells to Herbert Belfield, who became joint proprietor in 1866. In the same year, The Herald's two-storey premises on corner of Sophia St and Royal (Ross) Arcade is opened; becomes Herald's home for nearly 100 years. 1887: Edward George Kerr, owner of South Canterbury Times, buys Herald; both papers operate from Sophia St building - Herald as a morning publication, Times as an evening publication. 1905: The Timaru Herald Co Ltd is formed, owned principally by members of Kerr family who lived at Harlau House. Learn more here

The Sophia Street building, erected in 1885 and extended in 1928. In 1939 the Timaru Post, the company's evening newspaper since the mid-1930s, ceased publication after 40 years. In 1954 a new press room and a paper store were built at the rear of the Sophia Street premises and the company's Crabtree rotary press was commissioned on October 2. Three years later the printing press was extended to take a maximum of 48 pages and the Herald became the first newspaper in New Zealand to offer two-colour printing. During 1960-61 the interior of the second storey of the Sophia Street building was reconstructed and a new factory built. In 1964 the Herald celebrated its centenary. In 1977 the newspaper changed to front-page news, the first issue in that format being published on February 8. Learn more here

The material to be published the next day came in from several sources and in several ways. I imagine it was assembled in suitable order and passed on to the linotype operators to type for printing. This was not a simple procedure. The linotype machines were monstrous machines and if seen today would seem like something out of this world. They had an extremely hot area in which lead was placed to melt. The operator would type his article on a keyboard which was then transferred to "lead slugs" and assembled in order as columns for the paper. One interesting point to note is that the letters on the "lead slugs" were back-to-front so that when the pages were assembled for printing the words were of course around the correct way. The proof readers were the next to see the assembled columns before the pages were passed on to the printing machines. Learn more

Did you know? In 1984 Herald moves to Banks St; building is officially opened by then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.

Can you find? The historic photo on the wall? Can you see the ear sculpture on the former telecomunications building across the road?

Get a selfie with the paper boy


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The Sophia Street Timaru Herald Office before the extension  

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Timaru township. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008713-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947494


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The South Canterbury Jubilee Parade on Sophia Street, Timaru, in January 1909. Depicts the procession travelling north, led by a horse-drawn float (wagon) with a large banner reading "Timaru Rowing Club" passing the intersection with Perth Street. The lodge building that became the Timaru Trades Hall appears in the background. Handwritten on verso "Procession on Sophia St" Glass plate negative and copy print. South Canterbury Museum 1657


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Excelsior Hotel

Postcard - Timaru April 1876 Herald Office on Great South Rd and other buildings. (Stafford street just down from Theatre Royal). The obscured building on left is the Criterion Hotel, later renamed the Excelsior. - Curtosy of Jason Westaway


The Timaru Heralds newly built office were located on this site. Following the destruction of the building the by 1868 fire. The Timaru Herald temporarily relocated to "Captain Cains" New Stone Bond" until its new premises were re-built on this site within 6 months of the fire. A dog belonging to Mr Belfield who was one of the Herald owners, was burnt to death as it refused to leave the office as long a its owner remained, and not seeing its owner leave, in the end was burned in the flames. 


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A colour slide showing the old Timaru Herald building on Sophia Street, Timaru, circa 1985. The slide mount bears the processing date "Oct 85NZ". South Canterbury Museum  2016/053.015

The bronze sculpture by Trvor Askin and is outside The Timaru Herald's first Sophia St.
Trevor Askin. Paperboy. Bronze. 1997

Perth & Sophia Sts
LN: 2045 CN: 3
1883 - 1885

The Benvenue Memorial is an obelisk constructed in 1883-5 to commemorate the heroic efforts, survivors and deaths in May 1882 in what is remembered of the many shipping calamities of Timaru’s early days as a port. It has historical, social and aesthetic significance or value. It features granite from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, also used for the pillars in St Mary's Church and headstones at the Timaru Cemetery.

In recognition of the ‘self-sacrificing bravery and daring of scores of men involved in rescue efforts’, it was decided that a monument should be erected to testify such heroism. The citizens of Timaru were very active in contributing funds for the monument. Designs by Engineer T Roberts were prepared and accepted in 1883 and the first part of the memorial, a pedestal, was erected shortly afterwards by local stonemason, S McBride. In July 1885 the granite obelisk arrived from Scotland aboard the ship the Allegiance that carried 700 tons of cargo including machinery for the South Canterbury Refrigerating Works. and the remainder of the memorial was completed the following month. The Memorial has an octagonal base five metres at the bottom, rising by six steps of cut bluestone, with a square pedestal of polished dolerite, just over 2 metres high and 1.5 metres square with paneled sides, molded base and a cornice. Above rises an obelisk of polished red Aberdeen granite, six metres high (the apex being nearly ten metres above the ground level). Let into three of panels on the sides of the pedestal are brass plates bearing the inscriptions explaining the shipwreck event of May 1882, list the names of the nine dead, those who survived, and the captains of the two ships. The siting of the memorial was controversial. A number of people at the time of its construction thought that the ‘wrecks monument’ ought to have been established at the cemetery, rather than at its conspicuous place in the town. - heritage.org.nz/2045


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1882 Dickie, John, 1869-1942. The wreck of the ship "Ben Venue". Haylock, Greta Muriel, 1898?-1980 :Photographs. Ref: PA1-q-116-26-3. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22737119

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1900. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/692723


The Benvenue Disaster 

With the increase in sea trade came an increase in danger and disaster. The sea in this part of the New Zealand coastline was treacherous, with strong swells and sudden, unpredictable changes in the weather. The swells threatened ships anchored offshore, and by the time the Harbour Board was first formed in 1877 more than twenty ships had wrecked around the Timaru Coastline.

Not only did the wrecks threaten lives, cargo and rising insurance premiums, they also hurt Timaru's reputation as a viable export hub. There was a lot of intense debate on whether Timaru should have a port and if it did how it would proceed. There was also a difficult choice on where to anchor ships. They were safer out at sea when a gale picked up, but this made loading and unloading more inefficient
Construction eventually began in 1878 on a breakwater, with 630 ton/400 cubic yards of concrete poured in situ. This original breakwater still stands today, though has been extended and modified over the years.

When disaster struck on May 14 1882, many people reaffirmed their support for the harbour. Nine lives were lost when the Ben Venue and the City of Perth both ran aground in heavy sea swells. All the ships’ cargo was lost in the disaster too, drastically damaging the local industry. The City of Perth was carrying over 5000 sacks of wheat, while the Ben Venue had over 500 tons of coal onboard. While anchored in the bay, huge rollers unexpectedly hit and knocked out anchors on both ships. The Ben Venue drifted first, with the City of Perth running aground and smashing into the Ben Venue shortly after.

Thousands of people had gathered on the shore and watched helpless as the devastation unfolded. Both ships had successfully evacuated with everyone ashore, but regrettably the harbourmaster, Captain Alexander Mills, made the call to attempt to salvage the City of Perth. Once aboard they quickly realized this was a fruitless endeavor. After launching their own lifeboats these too capsized, throwing 40 men into the water.

It wasn’t until the next day that they were able to ascertain how many lives had been lost. Captain Mills was among those who perished, dying from exposure the following day. He had saved many lives over the years that he was harbourmaster and he left behind his wife Margaret (nee Sinclair), four sons, and three daughters. 

The calamity of the shipwrecks led to improvements to the breakwater and port safety. Services and parades have been held at the memorial at key anniversaries, notably thirty years after the event in 1912 and the fiftieth anniversary in 1932.


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Wrecks monument on the corner of Sophia and Perth Streets, Timaru. Ref: 1/2-005336-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22693351


Timaru LifeBoat PhilBrownie 

Above, photo taken by Phil Brownie of the finished the restoration of the lifeboat, it was in the 1999 Christmas parade. In the late 1990s Peter Robson built two sets of wheels for the self launching life boat Alexandra carriage. The lifeboat was at Caroline Bay from 1932 when it was placed there for the 50th anniversary of "Black Sunday. It then went to the Landing Services Building and then to a store at the Botanic Gardens.

It is one of only two of its type in the world and is worth six or seven figures. It can self-right if it capsizes in the sea.

On 18 June 1862 the Canterbury Provincial Secretary wrote to London to order a double-ended 33-foot boat with a six-foot beam, complete with launching carriage and provision for six pulling oars and a steersman.  The lifeboat came out to Canterbury on the "Huntress" in 1863. She was used on "Black Sunday", 14 May 1882, when the "City of Perth" and the "Benvenue" were wrecked. During the rescue attempts the Alexandra capsized four times and nine lives were lost.  Previous to this she hadn't been used for thirteen years. The first report of a rescue boat being on stand-by at Timaru came from "The Lyttelton Times" which reported in October 1861 that "the lifeboat, stationed at Le Crens," could not be launched except by taking it a mile away. and arrived in Timaru in 1864. It was called 'Alexandra' and the highlight of its long service record was the rescue in 1882 of 43 passengers when two big sailing ships, the City of Perth and the Benvenue, were wrecked. The rescue boat made several rescues, then rolled four times with the loss of ten lives, including seven members of the rescue boat crew. The spirit of courage and selflessness which the 'Alexandra's' crew showed in that storm goes on to this day as rescue boats crewed by volunteers from the far south to the far north of New Zealand risk there lives. Learn more here


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Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 - 1889), Saturday 10 June 1882, page 85 63185597


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The Timaru Rocket Brigade posed as if practicing on the rocks below the cliffs on Caroline Bay, circa 1883. Those pictured are (from left to right): Alf Potts, Alf Allan, Arthur H Turnbull (at back), Carl Vogeler (in front), Chris Gruhn, Adamson, Arthur Haylock, George Davies, W Budd, James E S Jackson (First Lieutenant), W Webster (Captain and Harbour Master), John McNab, W J Hughes, and George Shirtcliffe (manning the rocket trough). Note five of the men are wearing what appear to be their Benvenue medals, awarded following that wreck in may 1882. South Canterbury Museum 0847

1882 a shop, dwelling and stables was built for for Messrs Peacock and Geaney (Zealandia Butchery) on corner of Church and Sophia Streets. The architect was M. de H. Duval who designed many South Canterbury Catholic churches. Here is a billhead from 1893 from the Thomas and Hardy-Johnston families : Papers - ourheritage.ac.nz | OUR Heritage, accessed July 20, 2021, https://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/6107.

Rumour has it that when Cecil Wood whipped past in his motor car, it gave the butchers horse a fright and meat spilled everywhere and the butcher came running out threatening to chop up Cecil's car! 


41 Sofia St
LN: 3161 C:2
Architect Walter Panton and Son
Builder W J Harding & Co

Stripped Classical revival with American Influence, constructed of reinforced concrete with plaster finish.

Significant elements include column detailing, frieze, cornice, parapet, oriel window and window detailing.

did you know? The windows are of steel sash, constructed to a special details so that all can be cleaned from the inside of the building. 

Just next door was the service station and garage of Horwell Osbourne and McBeth, a long-serving business to the citizens. It is worthy of note that Jean Horwell was the army queen during the war and John McBeth is a well-known sports commentator on TVNZ. Learn more


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Hocken Snapshop (20th Feb 2019). Public Trust Office, Timaru. Aotearoa Collection hocken.recollect.co.nz/24052

Walton Panton also designed the 1909 Public Library and Tighnafeile House at 62 Wai-iti Rd, Timaru was built in 1911 - 1912 for Mr and Mrs John Matheson and their six children.

When we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for the present delight, nor for the present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time will come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touch them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, "See, this our fathers did for us". John Raskin

Church St & Sophia St
CNR Elizabeth & SOPHIA St 
LN:328  C:2
Architect WB Armson & Successors

The first Anglican service conducted by a clergyman Bishop Henry John Chitty Harper was held in 1858 a year before the immigrant ship Strathallan arrived with Revd George Foster. The land for the first church was donated by the Rhodes Brothers, and the building was designed by Lieutenant Belfield Woolcombe. The wooden church with a shingle roof became the first church in South Canterbury.

The foundation stone of the present building was laid on 9 September 1880 by the Very Revd Henry Jacobs, Dean of Christchurch. The building was designed by the Christchurch architect W. B. Armson, in close consultation with Archdeacon Harper. The building is in the Early English style, with the tower being the later Decorated Gothic style, and inspired by Magdalen College, Oxford. The material is Timaru bluestone (Dolerite stone) with Oamaru limestone dressings, and Welsh slate. 

The tower was added in 1910. This was architect W B Armson’s last ecclesiastical commission. This is one of very few examples of the English Gothic Revival in the Southern Hemisphere. Of particular significance is the three light war memorial windows set in the south wall to commemorate the fallen of the two world wars. The porch at the western entrance was added in 1961 to match the existing masonry. Significant elements are Gothic window details, Oamaru stone detailsing, Medevil English styled spire.

Much of the wood carving inside was by F G Gurnsey of Christchurch. 

Can you find? The Rose window, nick named “angels on bicycles” and faces on the tower?


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St Mary's Church, Timaru, Eastern Elevation 1908 by Fergusson Ltd. In Website Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24185


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A mechanical print of St Mary's Church, Timaru, by Smith & Anthony Ltd of Christchurch, circa 1910. Includes a representation of the Sophia Street frontage, and an inset floor plan. South Canterbury Museum CN: 2014/063.02


St Mary's Church, Timaru, New Zealand, 1912, Timaru, by Muir & Moodie studio. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (PS.002215)


The ten nave columns are of Aberdeen pink granite and along with the corbels, and bosses were carved by the Godfrey Bros, of Dunedin whose work is also in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Dunedin. 

The red granite used for the 19 inches in diameter columns is from quarries around Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The monolithic columns were carved from a single piece of granite. They feature Oamaru stone capitals with blue stone mouled bases. These were paid for (gifted) by Mrs Luxmoore, in memory of her late husband. Granite was a used for headstones and the Sofia St, Benvenue monument. 

Peterhead has been used across the world for famous buildings and statues. The granite in this area was formed over 400 million years ago from molten rock molten magma cooled slowly allowing the large crystals to grow. These hard crystals give the granite its strength. The coastal fringe between Boddam and Cruden Bay. Aberdeen Peterhead granite from Stirling Hill and local quarries can be also be found at architect George Alexander Troup'sDunedin Railway Station (1906) used for the stone for the pillars on the Anzac Avenue facade.

in the original fountains of Trafalgar Square, the pedestal for Duke of Wellington's Statue at Buckingham Palace, The Foreign Office and the British Museum and the pillars of Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges in London. The skills of the workers who produced the monumental stone were also exported round the world. Men went to Australia to dress the stonework for Sydney Harbour Bridge, to Cape Town, South Africa and Vermont, USA. Many granite workers from this area settled in these distant places. - boddam.org.uk/stirlinghill

Timaru Herald, 28 August 1895, Page 2: Mr S. McBride (ell-known builder and monumental mason) has shown us a new shape of tombstone, a massive rustic cross, with twining ivy and a heavy base, in red Peterhead granite, a specimen of which he has just imported. He has also received some American marble slabs, nicely finished. The duty on such things is 25 per cent. It ought to be 250. The Timaru stone is more suitable for funeral purposes than any granite or marble, and something ought to be done to check the waste of New Zealand products sent Home every year in exchange for tombstones. New Zealanders ought to be patriotic enough to prefer the local stone for their last ornament, and to encourage local industry instead of the steam machinery of other countries.

Another fun fact... the recipe for Timaru's famous May's Pies (boiled pastry mutton pie) comes from Peterhead! Alex May came from Scotland and set up the business in 1914, his father was a baker.

The smaller mottled wall columns in the chancel and transept are of New South Wales marble.


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Saint Mary's Anglican Church, Timaru, with crowds of people and a motor car out the front. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008664-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947796


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Barton, Cranleigh Harper, 1890-1975 :St. Mary's Timaru. [ca 1950?]. Barton, Cranleigh Harper 1890-1975 :[Scenes from Geraldine to Oamaru] [ca 1950?]. Ref: A-227-337. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22801241


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St Marys History Plaques

TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD StMarys


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1900 Timaru township and harbour. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008710-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947970

The rose window at St Mary's Church as a memorial of the late Edward Elworthy commissioned by his wife and children after his death in 1899West Window or Rose Window is an example of stained glass brilliance, the west or rose window is best viewed from the top of the chancel steps. Wheel shaped in design, it features a central light with Christ seated on a rainbow surrounded by angels. This work of art is at its best in the late afternoon light. The shape of the angel lights has suggested to some the idea of angels on bicycles! 1900 Bishop of the Diocese unveiled the window, and preached a sermon appropriate to the occasion. - rootsweb/st_marys-windows

Margriet Windhausen. Admiral Sir Gordon Tait. 2011 
Margriet Windhausen. The RT Hon Lord Elworthy. 1990


38-40 Bank St
LN: 3155 C:2
Architect F. Wilson
Builder S. Harding

In 1865 the Rhodes family of Timaru, donated a central Bank Street site for the Wesleyan church to be situated on. The same year plans were drawn up and contractors engaged. A small wooden church measuring 74 square metres complete with belfry and a porch was built and first minister arrived. This was first Methodist church established in South Canterbury and was the only Wesleyan church in Timaru until 1913.

Within 10 years the original building became too small and in 1874-1875 a new, more substantial church was erected out of dark grey stone. This church, designed by F. Wilson and built by S. Harding was to seat 400 people and was opened on March 21st 1875. It is the first and oldest remaining Methodist church in South Canterbury. 1930 the stone tower and 24m copper steeple were added

The church effectively closed in 1991. The first minister arrived in 1865. That same year, the Rhodes family donated a central Bank Street site and a wooden church was built. This was enlarged in 1868. The enlarged church did not serve for long however, for the foundation stone for a new stone church seating 300 persons was laid by the Rev. Buller on October 28, 1874. Designed by F. Wilson and built by S. Harding, the building opened on March 21 the following year at a cost of £1120. The old wooden church was subsequently shifted to the rear of the site for use as a schoolroom. Learn more here

(St George’s Coptic Church)
2 Elizabeth Plce, Church St & Sophia St
LN:7107 C:1
Architect J S Turnbull
Builder W Petrie & Son

Architect J. S. Turnbull chose a gothic revival style for the 1904 church. This was Timaru's second Presbyterian Church built by a breakaway group when the local congregation was divided over the question of prohibition.

It was Timaru's second Presbyterian church building, built by a breakaway group when the local congregation was divided over prohibition. Chalmers Church gradually became the centre for Presbyterian worship in Timaru. The earlier Trinity Church (1876) has been demolished. The stained glass windows are unusual feature in a Presbyterian Church. They complement the simpler diamond paned lancets of coloured glass. 

The church has fifteen stained glass windows with "The Ascension" designed by John Brock of Dunedin commemorating parishioners who served in WWI and WWII. Dedicated 12 Nov. 1950 by Rev. M. Wilson. WWI & WWII Honour Boards. Records of the Presbyterian Parish of Chalmers, covering the period of 1865-2008 are held by South Canterbury Museum. The collection is comprised of marriage records, minutes, correspondence, financial records, records of individuals.

The tower is 120ft high and the spire is covered with patent interlocking zinc tiles.

The Church (and Dunedin's Port Chalmers) was named after Thomas Chalmers, a 19thC Scottish theologian and church leader. He devoted much of his time to mathematics and was the head of the party in the Church of Scotland which stood for "non-intrusionism".

Significant elements include angle buttressing, gothic window detailing, octagonal spire over tower with pinnacles. 

Carnegie who gave a greant for the Timaru Libarary also gave a pipe organ for Chalmers Church.  

Did you know? A plaque for the Parr Windmill, which was next door, is at end of the cul-de-sac.

Can you find? The Church foundation stone laid in 1903?

Sophia Stree was the name of the wife of Robert Heaton Rhodes of Purau and partner in the Levels Station. She was the daughter of Robert Latter of Lyttelton (Latter St)


Greetings from Timaru, 1904-1915, Timaru, by Muir & Moodie studio. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (PS.002470)


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Buildings in foreground and ocean in background. Burton Bros Canterbury Museum 2018.74.38

Timaru, 1875, Dunedin, by Burton Brothers studio, Alfred Burton. Te Papa (C.014373) A 60ft high brick tower construction began in 1872 but it only operated for a short time, as it was demolished in 1888. In 1865 William and James Parr build a flour mill powered by a over-shot water wheel. The mill was the second to be built in South Canterbury and was operated by the Parrs and subsequent owners until 1905. The wheel is the oldest mill reminant on its original site and was retored in 1988.

WuHooTimaru ParrBrothersMill


Disastrous Floods The great storm of 1868 was a violent storm that swept across much of New Zealand between 1–6 February 1868, wrecking 12 ships – including the Star of Tasmania and Water Nymph at Oamaru – and causing extensive flooding. About 40 lives were known lost and at the time an estimated £500,000 to £1 million worth of damage was caused. The storm is currently thought to have been an extratropical cyclone, which peaked in New Zealand over the period between the 3rd and 4th. In total 2,585 tons of shipping was lost, which was nearly half the tonnage lost during the full year. The flooding in the south of the South Island was the worst until 1945. 

The mill was erected a short time ago near the banks of the Opihi River, and not far from the Point accommodation house which is distant from it about two miles. The mill was owned by two brothers, James and William Parr, who have lately resided in a weatherboard house, close to the mill. In the same house with them there lived a man, who, we believe, was their overseer. At a short distance from the Parrs’ house there stood another house in which resided a man named Salter, his wife, and family of four children. Between ten and eleven o’clock on Monday night Salter observed water on the floor of his house and that it was rapidly rising. He ran over to the Parrs, and found them in bed. He told them that water was then from a boot to eighteen inches deep in their house, and warned them of the danger of remaining inside. They replied they had known higher floods than that was, and told Salter there was no real risk, and advised him to go back to bed. Not long after Salter had regained his house, the water suddenly rose and with a frightful rush swept clean away both houses. The poor man saw his wife and children in the roaring torrent but was powerless to save them. Salter clung to a portion of the debris of his house, and was carried some distance along with the flood, and was picked off yesterday morning by a horseman who managed to reach him after the water had greatly subsided. Our informant who visited the scene of the fatal catastrophe yesterday morning stated that not a vestige of either houses remains, and beyond the bare patch of ground where the houses stood, there is no other sign that human habitations ever existed there. From the fact of Parr’s house being so utterly demolished, and the marks in the mill showing that at least five feet of water stood there when the flood was at its highest, we fear that little hopes can be entertained of the unfortunate men having escaped with their lives. All hope though must not be quite abandoned as it is quite possible the men may have clung to a portion of the wrecked house, and got washed down among the farmstead below, and so have escaped.

Further information of the damage done by the late disastrous floods on these plains discloses a terrible state of things, and the loss of property in sheep and crops will be, we fear, when an accurate estimate can be arrived at, very heavy indeed. We have since our report on Wednesday visited the scene of desolation at Parr’s mill, from whence, at a distance of about a quarter of a mile, are the remains of the houses of the Parrs and Salter. The houses stood close together, and within a very few yards of the mill, when on that stormy Monday night the flood swept over then, first carrying away the Parr’s house, and almost immediately afterwards that of Salter’s. The two Parr brothers had just time to seize upon a portion of the side of the house, when they were carried away in the surging torrent. One of them thus describes the scene: - “We were carried swiftly along, and in the darkness of the night, and in the roar of the surging waters all around us, we could not tell where we were, and at one time we thought we had drifted to sea. We could see nothing on every side but water, and we had given ourselves up for lost. When the few weather boards on which we clung struck the ground, we jumped down and waited there, surrounded by water, till help came the following morning.” They suppose it to have been about one am on Tuesday morning when they started on their perilous voyage, and the spot from where they were rescued – a distance of fully four miles – was reached, according to the men, in an incredibly short space of time, such was the rapidity of the torrent. It appears that during the passage down, their raft struck against a farm cottage belonging to a family of the name of Moore, and severely damaged it. Of the Parrs’ neighbours, the Salter family, a sad tale has to be told. Salter, finding the water in his cottage rising higher and higher, placed his wife and four children on the top of the table in hopes the water would not reach them. Suddenly the house burst asunder, and in the noise and confusion of the falling roof, and masses of timber floating about and knocking against him, the poor man could do nothing to save his family. Wife and children were swept away, and Salter himself clung to a small portion of the woodwork, and was drifted on to a dry patch of ground from whence he was taken off the next morning. Mrs Salter’s body was picked up on the plain on Wednesday morning about three miles from the Mill, and the body of one of the children was recovered the same day. Another body was recovered on Thursday afternoon somewhere on Gaffney’s farm near to the main road. The other two bodies have not yet been found. About one and a half miles below the mill there are five or six farm buildings, the inhabitants of which were all washed out, and had to seek refuge at the Levels station. At this locality the loss has not been very excessive, as only one farm stood near to where the main body of water came. On this farm though, belonging to Mr Hoare, a good breadth of corn has been very seriously damaged, and all the fences near to the river have been washed away. Huge gaps have been made in the fences higher up on the plain, but the crops there have escaped serious injury. Following the course of the flood torrent from these farms to the next farm buildings where Parr’s farm is situated, we found melancholy evidences of the ravages which the water had made. Every here and there were dotted dead sheep, portions of clothing, bedding, timber, torn up bushes, parts of houses, and all kinds of rubbish. At Parr’s farm the signs of destruction were even more visible – fences torn away for considerable distances, trees uprooted, and mixed with all the rubbish were sides and roofs of houses, dead animals, pieces of timber, etc. Lower down than Parr’s farm, nearer the river, the flood water was greatest and did very considerable damage, some of the farmers whose homesteads lay in the immediate course of the stream having lost their all – their houses being destroyed, and their crops, on which they depended for a subsistence, being so damaged as to be not worth reaping. One farmer had a large quantity of wheat and oats in stock. Almost every stock has been washed away and scattered over the plain. On that farm alone (the Hoares’) the loss is estimated at £500. Lower down the plain and near to the high road, a like destruction has visited the farmers, no house having escaped being flooded and crops if not actually swept away, so damaged as to be worthless. The scene here on Monday night, or rather at daybreak on Tuesday morning was truly awful. One farmer (Barrett) finding the water rapidly rising in his house, placed his wife and family on the top of a large loaded waggon standing near his house, about one am, and there patiently waited till dawn. When daylight came, Barrett saw nothing round him but one vast sheet of surging water, so deep that his waggon, he says, must have floated if it had not been kept down by its load of a ton of coal. The water round the waggon was over 4ft deep, and floating or rather whirling past, were numbers of sheep, pigs, timber and all kinds of rubbish. A great many of the sheep were dead, but some were still struggling for life as they were carried past the waggon. Fortunately Barrett saved his bedding and blankets, and his wife and children were kept pretty warm in their uncomfortable position, but they could not provide or cook any food. They remained on the top of the waggon till half past two pm on Wednesday when the water suddenly flowed off. Half an hour before the water left them it stood two feet about the waggon, but by half past two o’clock the land was comparatively dry, the water having gone off in a sudden rush. Probably the shingle bank bordering the sea was then broken through which would account for the sudden withdrawal of the water. In this neighbourhood three houses have fallen, one belonging to James Brosnin, and two to John Brosnin. Barrett has lost heavily in his crop, about £200 worth, and the Brosnin’s are also considerable sufferers. One farmer had a fine lot of standing wheat of about two acres swept bodily away, together with the land it grew upon. On Tuesday morning as soon as Mr Rooke, a farmer residing near the Washdyke heard of these families being flooded out, he took his trap to render assistance. He found in the middle of the plains water from three to four feet in depth, which he had to pass through before reaching the houses. All who sought Mr Rooke’s house were, of course, most hospitably treated, but we must say that 37 souls in all, the number present, is a somewhat severe tax on any man’s hospitality. On Wednesday afternoon they were enabled to return to their respective homes. The main road, from Gaffneys farm to Patterson’s hotel, presented a sad appearance on Thursday afternoon, some of the post and wire fences had been washed bodily from their places, and had been carried by the water across the road – entwined with the fences were all sorts of rubbish, posts, rails, and timber which had been brought down from the farms higher up, and we also observed a pair of harrows which had been brought down in a mass of rubbish from a farm a mile and a half from the road. On and bordering the road were dead sheep, sheaves of corn, and boxes and chests which had been washed out of farm homes. The gully by Young’s farm was, even on Thursday afternoon, heavily flooded, as the water was passing over the bridge there, to a depth of about eighteen inches. The road, from the gully to Patterson’s is not much damaged although the water was standing on parts of it to the depth of two or three feet on Tuesday. The Patterson family were completely washed out of the hotel on Monday night, and had to take refuge at Young’s farm house, which was comparatively free of water. Lower down the plains towards the sea, we hear that the Messrs Rhodes’ have suffered very severely in sheep in the seadown paddock, and also have lost a large stockyards, and a great quantity of fencing. Fully 80 chains of fencing, are, we hear, requisite to be done before the paddocks can again be available. The beach at the mouth of the Opihi, and for a considerable distance both north and south presents a melancholy sight. Dead sheep, hay, sheaves of oats, and wheat, heaps of fencing material, and a vast amount of firewood all lie in inextricable confusion and among the rubbish we observed the body of a large bull and a steer, the latter having a large piece of timber athwart his neck. The bull belongs to the Levels station, and is, we believe, a valuable animal. Learn more

334-336 Stafford St

LN:2053 C:2
Architect Lusk & Moriarty

Mr J Reilly owned the Melville hotel, which originally occupied this site. In 1912 he had the hotel completely rebuilt and renamed it the Dominion.

The neo classical hotel was designed by Lusk and Moriarty in 1912-1913 with brick, concrete and plaster. The exterior was Oamaru stone. The original Dominion Hotel, dates back to the 1870s. There was a knock three times on the rear door policy to gain admission after hours back in the era of the six o’clock swirl. The current Dominion Hotel opened in 1912, though a hotel has stood on the corner of Stafford and Sefton Streets in Timaru since the 1870s. The 1500 square metre building has an Oamaru stone exterior. See pink decoration at top. 1930s. The first proprietor of the Dominion was J. REILLY.  The façade features a centrally-positioned recessed entrance and balcony on the two storeys above, flanked by two columns. The windows on the street façade were of the ‘latest casement’ type. Pediments at the northern and southern ends of the façade contain cartouches showing the date of the building’s construction (‘1912’) and the names ‘Dominion Hotel’ and ‘J Reilly’ are featured in relief below the cornice.

Significant elements include rusticated pilasters, ionic columns, window details, cornice, pediments and cartouches.

The buildings remodeling work was by architect Thomas Lusk (LUSK & MORIARTY, architects) who was also involved in Building Stores & Offices, George Street, for Dalgety and Company, Limited (1905). His daughter Doris Lusk, the well known New Zealand painter was born in 1916 Learn more here 

Ian James Lochhead, PhD in Art History, on behalf of Timaru Civic Trust wrote in December 1916: At a time when the practice of architecture in New Zealand was less concentrated in the main centers of population, Hall was one of a group of prominent Timaru architects, including Percy Watts Rule and Lusk and Moriarty, who gave Timaru its distinctive architectural character as a Edwardian town characterized by buildings of a scale and sophistication that belied the relatively small size of the City.

Did you know? Social reformers who argued that alcohol fuelled poverty, ill health, crime and immorality nearly achieved national prohibition in a series of hotly contested referendums. Six o'clock closing which was a way of life for 50 years when war time efficiency measures become permanent in 1918. In the short period between the end of the working day and closing time at the pub, men crowded together to drink as much beer as they could before bar service ended and the ‘supping-up’ time of 15 minutes was announced.


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William Ferrier took this photo of Reilly's Dominion Hotel. Website Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24064


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If you look  closely you can see the wreck of the Benvenue stranded against the cliff. Timaru, 1880s, Timaru, by Burton Brothers studio. Purchased 1991. Te Papa (O.034179) This is looking over the Bay Hill to Caroline Bay which looked much different then.


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Timaru, 1800s, Dunedin, by Burton Brothers studio. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (O.034093)


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Looking in a northerly direction down from a terrace towards Caroline Bay. The beach and a large low building are in the middle distance. The Southern Alps are in the background. Barton, Cranleigh Harper, 1890-1975 :Caroline Bay, Timaru. [ca 1950?]. Barton, Cranleigh Harper 1890-1975 :[Scenes from Geraldine to Oamaru] [ca 1950?]. Ref: A-227-335. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22757671


Creator New Zealand Herald Beattie, W B 1941.  'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1370-464-04' when re-using this image.

Scene in Timaru, with Chalmers Presbyterian Church on right. A woman with a perambulator can be seen walking along the road in the foreground. Photograph taken after 1903 by a staff photographer for The Press newspaper: (PA-Group-00103: The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives 523290)

286-296 Stafford St
LN: 2067 C:2
Architect James Turnbull

Originally the Choral Hall, the building was known as O'Callaghan & Le Cren's mart, it was taken over in 1914 by the Timaru Continuous Picture Company. It opened in 1915 as the Grand Theatre, the third cinema in Timaru.

The land belonged to Michael O’Meeghan, a Timaru hotelier, in 1904. James Meehan and his brother ran a grain and seed business, and started construction of the ‘Edwardian with Georgian’ style in concrete, brick and plaster in 1911, you can see the date 1913 at the top of the façade. The cantilevered verandah (without supporting posts), which was the first of its kind in Timaru. It was erected for auctioneers O’Callaghan and LeCren on a 21 year lease. The second story was dedicated to a Choral Hall, with a stage and dance floor. In 1915 a brick cinema, known as the Grand Theatre was built at the rear of O’Meeghan’s Building for the Timaru Continuous Picture Company. This building was demolished in 2007. The building is historically significant for its construction during a building boom in Timaru in the early 20th century, at which time Timaru was promoting itself for city status. It has local social and historical significance as a popular venue for entertainment as a picture theatre and choral hall. 

Significant elements are pilasters, window details, cornice, pediments and cartouche.

Can you find?  Look up and find a decorative, framed oval surrounded with scrolls over an entrance, this is known as a Cartouche in Architecture. The word 'cartouche' comes from the French language, where it means something similar to a scroll of paper.

(Farmers Trading Company Building)
256 Stafford St

LN: 2057 C:2
Architect: James Turnbull

The store is the most extravagant example of Edwardian style in the CBD and encouraged expansion north. The two story building was erected in 1902 of brick and plaster as the premises for prominent Timaru drapery firm, T and J Thomson, established in 1883 by brothers Thomas and James Thomson. The store was ‘practically gutted’ in 1908 when a fire started near its front door, but the brick construction prevented the spread of the fire or any damage to the façade. Thomson was insured for the lost stock and building and in March 1909 T and J Thomson returned to the Coronation Buildings, restored by Turnbull. The opportunity was taken to improve Turnbull’s original design by increasing the floor space by removing some interior walls and installing a more compact staircase. The interior spaces were also given ‘a more artistic appearance’. Charles Thomson (Tommy's eldest son) expanded the business into the adjacent building to the north, erected around 1910. The firm was acquired by the nationwide department store Hay’s Ltd in 1961 which merged with Farmers Trading Company Ltd in the 1980s. ‘Coronation Buildings’ remains occupied by Farmers.

Significant elements include Columns, capitals, frieze, cornice, orial windows, arched windows, parapet, pediments and finials.

Can you find? The buildings name in honor of King Edward VII’s coronation on 9 August 1902.

In 1921 Constable James Dorgan (1884-1921) was killed in the alleyway next door to the Coronation Buildings. In Timaru, while investigating a burglary at T & J Thomson's drapery and clothing shop, Constable Dorgan was shot at four times. He died at the scene fifteen minutes later. Although there were some suspects for the shooting, there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone. His death is the only murder of a police officer unsolved in NZ. He married Agnes Mary 'Minnie' Dorgan in 1915, and he and his wife had three children.

255-265 Stafford St
LN: 3163 C:2
Archtiect Herbert Hall
Builder W.K Harding & Co

Neo Classical building is three-stories high, brick, ferro-concrete and plaster commercial building was noted for its striking design by local architect Herbert Hall. . It is well-crafted and does not appear to have dramatically altered since its construction. The main change on the exterior is at ground floor level where most of the shop fronts appear to be modern. The cantilever verandah appears to be original, supported by a rod from the base of each of the columns on the first floor. The architect for Tekapo Buildings, Herbert Hall (1880-1939), designed a number of public and domestic buildings throughout Timaru and the surrounding districts in the early part of the twentieth century. These included the Carnegie Library at Fairlie (1914) and the South Canterbury War Memorial in Timaru (1925). One of his most notable buildings was the neo-Georgian Chateau Tongariro (1928-9), erected on Mount Ruapehu in the North Island.

Significant elements doric columns, rusticated pilasters, window details and dntilled cornice

Herbert Hall also designed The Hermitage at Mt Cook, The Hydro Grand Hotel, And the Chateau Tongariro Mt Ruapehu, Caroline Bay Hall, Caroline Bay Tea Rooms and core buildings at Timaru Boys High School. 

He won a gold medal of the New Zealand Institute of Architeds for the St David's Memorial Church. Built as a tribute to the Pioneers of the Mackenzie County and in remembrance of Andrew (1838-1927) and Catherine Burnett (1837-1914), who took up Mount Cook run, May 1864. They are rememberd on a plaque under a Oak Tree beside St Mary's Church.

Cnr Church & Stafford St
LN:3159 C:2
Architect: Daniel West
Built: Thornton

This hotel was built in 1864 by the father of Cecil Walkden Wood. The tavern get’s it name because the Bank of New Zealand acquired freehold title to Lot 79 in 1863 where the first agency for the BNZ operated from a small wooden building. The current tavern was erected in 1876 of bluestone, brick and plaster designed by architect Daniel West. Significant elements of the building are the Cornice, arched top windows and string course.


The Old Bank Tavern in Timaru was erected in 1876 and has been the site of a hotel since the 1860s. Its name references the earliest period of European settlement in Timaru and the founding of the Bank of New Zealand. As a hotel, the Old Bank Tavern has local social and historical significance as a popular venue for entertainment and accommodation and has architectural significance as a prominent corner building on a busy thoroughfare. The building has archaeological value as a nineteenth century hotel on the site of earlier pre-1900 buildings.

The land on which the Old Bank Tavern is situated was formerly part of Rural Section (RS) 7555, granted by the Crown to George Rhodes and another, probably William Barnard Rhodes. In 1853 the Rhodes Brothers had RS 7555, and adjoining RS 703, surveyed as ‘Rhodes Town’ and subdivided sections were sold for commercial and residential occupation. The subject land was formerly part of Lot 98 of RS 7555. In 1862, in a wooden building at this site, the Timaru agency of the Bank of New Zealand was opened, of which W. B. Rhodes was a founder.

In 1863 the Bank of New Zealand acquired freehold title to Lot 79, situated on the corner of Stafford and George Streets. Here a permanent branch was built and the wooden building at the corner of Stafford and Church Streets became a hotel, known as the Old Bank Tavern. In 1867 the freehold of Lot 98 was transferred to George Healey, although the license for the hotel had been transferred to him in 1864. Lot 98 was leased to Charles Walkden Wood in 1875. In June 1876 a tender from H. Thornton for construction of a new building for the Old Bank Tavern was accepted by architect, Daniel West and the former Old Bank Tavern building was demolished later that month.

Wood opened his ‘new and commodious hotel’ in the new building in October 1876. It is a substantial brick building over two storeys with two prominent façades fronting Church Street and Stafford Street. The upper storey features rounded windows with square windows on the ground floor. The main entrance was situated on the corner of Church and Stafford Streets beneath a decorative arched lintel. A cantilevered cornice was described as a prominent feature at the time of original construction. Internally the ground floor provided a private bar, sitting rooms, billiard room, dining room, kitchen, storeroom and a yard with an underground tank. The second storey accommodated 16 bedrooms, a sitting room and bath room. The building originally incorporated a stone store built facing Church Street, although this building was probably among those destroyed by a fire in 1882. In 1877 Wood fitted the hotel with a system of electric bells to connect the bedrooms with service areas.

The Old Bank Tavern changed hands throughout the remainder of the 19th century and 20th century. M. Spillane purchased the lease of the hotel in 1885 and announced that ‘considerable improvements’ had been made to the building. The brick façade was plastered over, probably in the mid-20th century, but the exterior of the building retains most of its original features. Some changes have been made to fenestration on the ground floor, including relocation of the main entrance to the Stafford Street frontage, although the decorative arched entrance surround has been retained. A fire escape obscures the original string course and a large advertising hoarding covers much of the corner. The parapet has been modified with some of the decorative cornice removed. The internal spaces have been variously modified since its original construction. Learn more

WuHooTimaru OLDBANK 210805

 The Old Bank Timaru

From the Old Bank Facebook Page


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Overlooking Church Street and towards the harbour, Timaru. You can see the Old Bank on the Corner of Stafford and Church Street. - The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008810-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29946828



Corner of Stafford, Church and Strathallan Streets. Store SC Dresden - sold pianos. The Old Bank Hotel Robert Bowie, Stafford St., sold pickles.

The rival Empire Hotel stood opposite. Before it was built, a cabinet maker's workshop was here. In 1868 a disastrous fire started here destroying two thirds of the CBDs early wooden buildings. Property worth about $8 million today was lost and over 120 people were left homeless with just the clothes on their backs. While the original building on the corner has been demolished, the addition to the Empire Hotel is still there. The wine list from the 1900s included sherries, ports, clarets, champagne, colonial wines (Muscadine, Hock, Constantia, Frontignac, Chablis, Burgundy, Riesling), and liqueurs. Before the Empire Hotel, the Clarendon Hotel stood here run by Mr O'Meeghan before buying the Grosvenor Hotel from Mr T. Meikle.


This is a Street Scene of the commercial area in Timaru and the Old Bank. Across the road a scene of utter devistation unfolded in 7 December 1868 destroying two thirds of the early business part of town. This paved the way for many of the heritage buildings we see today. Some of these buildings were demolished to make way for larger modern buildings. 

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Photo by Muir & Moodie studio. Dry plate negatives Te Papa (C.014407)



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Looking across Strathallan Street from site of P.G.G Website Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24022


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William Ferrier took this photo on 19th July 1919. Hocken Snapshop (18th Feb 2019). Peace Day, Timaru. In Website Hocken Snapshop. Retrieved 21st Jul 2021 13:24, from hocken.recollect.co.nz/24018


C.M.L Insurance building (Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd)
Trustbank Centre
Government Life Building

229-237 Stafford Street And Strathallan Street, Timaru
LN: 2048 C:2
ARchitect T Coulthard-Mullions

Constructed of brick, concrete and plaster in Edwardian with classical influence style. It was as an investment property for well-known Canterbury agriculturalist and pastoralist, William Hay, is a prominent three storeyed commercial building with a curved façade. A fire occurred in the Hay’s Building at midnight 1 March 1910, damaging furniture and stock. Later that year, in August 1910, William Hay died and the property passed to his estate. The building subsequently became known as the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance building (or C.M.L. Building for short). On 17 April 1951 the top floor of the C.M.L. Building was badly damaged by fire.

It tells the story of twentieth century commercial activity and architectural significance as an example of a large Edwardian building designed by architect, Thomas Courthard Mullions. Thomas Coulthard Mullions (1878-1957), had arrived in Timaru in 1904 and developed a strong practice, designing many residential and commercial buildings in the district.

Significant elements include palasters, capitals, open bed pediments, varied arch window details, oriel windows and catouche detail.

Did you know? In 1951 it was the scene of another disasterous fire.

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1910 New Zealand Government Life and Accident Insurance building, Stafford Street, Timaru, with men, horses and carts in the foreground. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008809-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29939829



Stafford St. 1941. Photographer New Zealand Herald W B Beattie. 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1370-464-02' when re-using this image. Hay's Building to the right. Learn more


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The CML (Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd) building, probably taken in the late 1940s. Depicts the frontage of the building overlooking the intersection of Stafford and Strathallan Streets. While CML was the main occupant of the building, several other business signs are visible occupying upstairs offices and the ground floor retail space. Handwritten on the verso is a note pointing out "Matt Johnstone Ltd - the forerunner of Tasman Electric", visible on the ground floor to the left. The verso also bears the stamp of Kingham's Camera Shop who presumably processed the images. South Canterbury Museum CN: 2012/100.04


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The CML (Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd) building, during an overnight fire on 17 April 1951. Depicts the local fire brigade's ladder unit in action, dousing the top of the building with water while a crowd looks on from the street below. The man at the top of the ladder was identified as GG Beckingham in 2020. Reports of the fire in the "Timaru Herald" of 18 April 1951, record that second and ground floor premises were heavily damaged by water. It also mentioned one of the few casualties was Mr E Harvey, of Tasman Electric, who suffered a mild electric shock while retrieving stock from within the building. - South Canterbury Museum CN: 2012/100.05


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Work in progress upgrading the corner of Strathallan and Stafford Streets, along with the removal of the mens underground toilets in the intersection, circa 1985. Depicts the deep hole in the middle of the road left by the removal of the toilets. Strathallan Street has been closed as new curbings are laid on the corners also. Identifiable businesses in the background include Westpac Bank, Mr Discounter, Johnstons Menswear, the Public Trust Office, Demco, and Oddies Chemist. South Canterbury Museum 7247

27-29 Strathallan St
LN: 2069 C:2

The title was first issued in 1887 in the name of the Colional Bank of New Zealand and became vested in the Bank of New Zealand in 1896. It was transferred to Edwin Guinness and Henry Le Cren Ltd in 1903. They had set up business as stock agents and general merchants in 1891. The business grew rapidly so they shifted to larger premises in Strathallan Street. By the turn of the twentieth century there were already two separate buildings fronting 19-29 Strathallan Street, the easternmost one operating as Guinness and Le Cren’s land sales rooms by 1903. It is not clear if, from the start, the company also occupied some or all of the other, western, building including the stone block running almost the length of the western side which was seemed to have been in existence by 1892. In 1919 the firm of Guinness and Le Cren amalgamated with Pyne and Company to form one of New Zealand’s largest stock and station agencies, Pyne, Gould, Guinness. 

The frontage is seen as a key element in the Edwardian facade of the business are in Timaru, constructed from brick, bluestone and plaster.
Significant elements are quoins, window details and cornice.

In 1906, Rodolph Wigley founded the Mt Cook Motor Service, which leased the Hermitage hotel from the government between 1922 and 1945, and became a major tourist company. In 1955 his son, Harry Wigley, landed a ski-equipped plane on the Tasman Glacier, starting a new era in tourism at Aoraki/Mt Cook. In 1913 Jessie Wigley (daughter of Alexander and Helen Grant who lived at the Aigantighe, now art gallery) designed the company's lily motif after the giant mountain buttercup (incorrectly called the Mt Cook 'lily'.) Flowers November to January.  Today the symbol still represents the goodwill of the company, a permanent memorial to the Wigley's and the dramatic Mackenzie Country. You can see street art on Strathallan Street celebrating the design. sites.rootsweb.com/wigley

Rodolph Wigley married Jessie Grant in 1910 and they had six children.

1882 First Attempt Made on Aoraki/Mt Cook. The first attempt was made on Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain (3,754 metres). It was first climbed by the New Zealanders Tom Fyfe, George Graham and Jack Clarke in 1894. In 1948 a young climber, Edmund Hillary, was on the first ascent of the mountain’s south ridge. Five years later he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to conquer Mt Everest. The face-climbing era that began in the 1950s culminated in the 1970 first ascent of the Caroline Face.

Here at 295 Stafford Street, Bob Fitzsimmons known as the "The Fighting Blacksmith" forged horse shoes here for his father. He learnt to box in Timaru. Bob's work at the forge developed the powerful arms and shoulders which helped him become the was the sport's first three-division world champion. 



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Premises of Cecil Pattillo, photographer, in Stafford Street, Timaru. Hocken Snapshop. hocken.recollect.co.nz/24042


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1900 Stafford Street, Timaru, with people standing in the street, horses and carts and people on bicycles. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008716-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29947735


BobsHouse GreyRd plaque

Bob Fitzsimmons home on Grey Rd, from the book, The fighting blacksmith: A biography of Bob Fitzsimmons 1976. The plaque on the corner is all that remains.


South Canterbury Museum Fitzsimmons 1995458

A framed photograph of Bob Fitzsimmons and letter signed by him, dated 1910. A typed label appears beneath the photograph, reading "Presented to the Club Hotel, Timaru by M.C. Barnett, Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Ltd". The photographer's name appears on the photograph. South Canterbury Museum 1995/45.8


Find the monument to Bob Fitsimmons, his forge used to be near by on Stafford Street. 

Middleweight Champion of the World 1891-94 undefeated at age 29
Heavyweight Champion of the World 1897-99 at age 35
Lightweight Champion of the World 1903-05 at age 41

Blacksmiths had an important role in the community. Which is a nice segway to another sporting hero in Timaru, Phar Lap who won the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Foaled in Timaru, New Zealand, he was trained and raced in Australia.

Sculpture by Margriet Windhausen. Bob Fitzsimmons. Bronze. 1987

1-7 Strathallan St 
LN:2055  C:2
Architect James Turnbull
Builder Baird

D. C. Turnbull and Co was one of the first large companies to emerge n the area. In 1901 they built their premises close to one of the landing services for the port and rail wagons were once able to be directed into the warehouse by a turntable and access tunnel built in the cliffs. The tunnel still exists although it is now closed off and it seems that went some distance underground further than The Terrace and near Stafford Street. Today you can see the large brick store and their buildings on the land between The Terrace, Strathallan St, the cliff which remains as offices today. The building was designed by D.C. Turnbull's brother, architect James Stuart Turnbull who also designed the Aigantighe, Chalmers Church and shops on Stafford Street.

Miles & Co Ltd acquired merchant Henry Le Cren’s business in 1867. They were considered one of the best wool and stock businesses in NZ. In 1901 the building was purchased by grain and seed merchant firm David Clarkson Turnbull and two-storied offices with show-room were added. They were engaged in the wool, grain, and frozen meat trade and had their own sailing vessel to carry consignments into any inter-colonial port.

In 1904 Timaru Port was the third in New Zealand for agricultural exports.

Significant elements include pilasters, window details, dentilled cornice and parapet.

Many years ago, Guinness and Le Cren were founded on the Pyne, Gould, Guinness site in 1891. A tunnel and track once continued on under The Terrace, what is now Wright, Stephenon and Company's property, and ended behind the buildings that were occupied by Pyne Gould Guinness Limited now Community House on 27-29 Strathallan Street. The track and tunnel were in use more than half a century ago with horses pulling railway wagons along the siding and through the tunnel. It is substantial, nine feet across and arching to 8ft 6in formed from bricks. but were blocked off in the city center by a brick wall in the 1920s. The east side of the tunnel was used as an air-raid shelter and is now a storeroom for bales of straw. Learn more

Did you know? A tramway tunnel and railway siding under the Terrace (listed C2, R7307) connected a rat proof grain store and warehouses.

Can you find? A plaque marking the site of Le Cren’s Landing Service where goods where landed by surf-boats until the harbor was built.

Get a selfie with Strathallan Street Sign. On The Strathallan, a lady wrote; if Timaru was a third of the size of London she would be happy. Imagine the look on her face when she arrived in 1859, and saw only 5 houses and about 19 locals!  The ship was two weeks early and caught our towns folk off guard, so the new locals had to sleep in the wool shed until their homes were built. More arrived including six boatmen and their families from Deal, UK. A cob cottage still stands on 20 Avenue Road where one lived. Their skill was critical at the time for landing boats. But it was dangerous and  became the first to be buried in the Timaru cemetery.

The Terrace used to be called Le Crens Terrace. The Harbour Board lighthouse stood at the rear of section 7 from 1878 until it was replaced by a navigation light above Dashing Rocks in 1970. Blackett's Lighthouse was relocated to Cnr of Te Weka St and Benvenue Ave and then further down the road at the top of the cliff. 

A newer iron lighthouse was constructed on site in 1903 by the Timaru harbour board. It was built to overcome the ineffectiveness of the harbour light. The lighthouse originally resided on Somes Island North of the Wellington Harbour in 1866. The Lighthouse had a sole keeper, who lived on station until 1930 when a gas operated light was installed. The lighthouse sits proudly at Tūhawaiki Point, nicknamed Jacks point after the Maori Ngai Tahu chief Hone Tūhawaiki who drowned there when his whaleboat capsized. - maritimenz.govt.nz/Tuhawaiki-Point


WuHooTimaru Turnbull 210805v2


South Canterbury Museum MilesCo Limited 1828

 A traction engine with four wagons loaded with wool bales posed outside Miles & Co Limited, Strathallan Street, Timaru, post 1895. Several men are standing along the front of the engine and wagons, while the driver sits on the engine. Another horse and cart, with a sign that reads "John Mee Coal Merchant" and also loaded with wool bales, appears at the rear of the wagons. A house also appears on the hill in the background. Handwritten note on reverse in pencil reads "J B Hamilton, Thomas Baker is second from right - standing by the big wheel. The tunnel under the Timaru" The photographer's name appears on the lower left of the mount. South Canterbury Museum 1828


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Guinness and Le Cren building, Strathallan Street, Timaru, with a group (management and employees ?) outside. Photograph taken between circa 1881 and May 1905. Photographer unidentified.


SouthCanterburyMusuem Rail 2685 

An unused Muir and Moodie postcard entitled "The Railway Station and Wool Stores, Timaru N.Z.", 1907. Depicts the a view looking south along the railway tracks toward a north bound train at the station. In the foreground at the right is the original car and wagon depot, while the Evans and Co. (Atlas) Flour Mill can be seen beyond the railway station. South Canterbury Museum 2685

The government landing service Timaru waterfront at the end of Strathallan St - hocken.recollect.co.nz 28664

A landing service was initiated by the Provincial Government in 1864 and in 1870 a local authority, called the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works, completed a groyne which was the first step in the development of harbour works. A harbour board was formed in 1877 and a 300-ft breakwater begun in the following year. By 1881 it had been extended in stages to 2,000 ft. The eastern extension, which makes the harbour safe in all weathers, was begun in 1900 and finished in 1906. Learn more here


The saga of landing and loading goods and passengers was a saga. Here is a really intrestiing overview of the Timaru Harbour Board from 1955: A Short History of the Port of Timaru (1852-1955)


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1861 Hurt, Theodore Octavius fl 1860-1871 :Timaru, Canterbury N.Z. [1861-1871].. Hurt, Theodore Octavius, 1839-1932 :[New Zealand views; sketchbook. 1865-1869].. Ref: E-501-f-061. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23163640

Farmer and amateur artist. According to Macdonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Hurt was of a good county family, the son of Francis Hurt and Cecilia of Alderwasley, Derbyshire, and a relation of the Duke of Rutland. He appears on the 1861 census in Wirksworth, Derbyshire (where it is stated that he was born in Duffield), but travelled to New Zealand later that year. He was one of three men in a partnership farming in the Selwyn area (Arthur Powys and Everard Jones) - this partnership dissolved in 1862, and Hurt kept on in the partnership with Arthur Lyttelton Powys. He visited the West Coast Hokitika in 1865, apparently travelling from Canterbury via Arthur's Pass. He visited Akaroa in 1869. There are dated watercolours of Hokitika and of Akaroa in the Library's collections. Listed in the provincial electoral district of Rakaia in 1872, the year he returned to England. There he married his cousin Louisa (Louie) Emma Norman, and they had a daughter Elizabeth Edith Hurt who was born at Aberdovey, North Wales in 1876. (See Macdonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies; communication from Roy Lear, 22 October 2008, citing "The Hurts of Derbyshire" by Derek Wain; also website at http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/B83-RNH.htm).


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1861 Shows coastline from headland to the south, with trees and houses up from the water's edge. Hills and mountains are in the background. E-501-f: Hurt, Theodore Octavius, 1839-1932 :[New Zealand views; sketchbook. 1865-1869]. E-501-f-062


nz 1877 ian 255h


C1877 The Roadstead, Timaru, N.Z. Hand coloured engraving of Timaru from the original edition of the Illustrated Australian News. Artist unkown


nlnzimage 34 Breakwater, Timaru. Creator of Collection Unknown : Photographs of early Timaru. Ref: 1/2-005345-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23018504


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1880 Photograph taken by an unidentified photographer employed or contracted by 'The Press' newspaper of Christchurch. Breakwater, Timaru. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008819-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29939661


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1910 Ferrier, William, 1855-1922. The breakwater, Timaru - Photograph taken by William Ferrier. Atkinson, J :Photographs taken in the Middle East during World War I, and postcards of New Zealand. Ref: PA5-0242. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23229640


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1896 Timaru breakwater. Ferrier, William: Negatives. Ref: 1/2-019954-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22319409





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1880 Boats on slips on the shoreline, Timaru. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008818-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29944380


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Photograph taken by an unidentified photographer employed or contracted by 'The Press' newspaper of Christchurch. Wharf, Timaru. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008895-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29943880

January 1858 the Strathallan, Timaru’s first direct immigrant ship from the UK leaves the UK for Timaru. On The Strathallan, a lady wrote; if Timaru was a third of the size of London she would be happy. Imagine the look on her face when she arrived in 1859, and saw only 5 houses and about 19 locals! The ship was two weeks early and caught our towns folk off guard, so the new locals had to sleep in the Rhodes wool shed until their homes were built. Timaru would have looked so different then, mostly tussock, harakeke flax, toetoe, cabbage trees and bullock wagon trails here and there. Their arrival doubled the towns population and they were joined by a further 360 immigrants between 1862 and 1863. By 1866 the town had a population of 1,000, and it became a borough in 1868.

At the time, Captain Cain was living in a cob house on the hillside where Turnbull and Co's brick store is. At the back of Mee's office. Dr Butler had a small one-roomed house at the back of what would later be the Crown Hotel.

An essential part of the towns development was improving roads. In 1912 prisoners from the jail were brought in as labor using picks-and-shovel work. Establishing drains was difficult. At one point it was reported that sewage was floating in a down Stafford Street. A night cart used to come and collect peoples waste and then throw the "night soil" into the sea. James Craigie proposed an underground sewage system and work began in 1907. Drainage gangs trenched and piped their way through town.

 South Canterbury Museum Drain 4616

An unused postcard entitled "Timaru Drainage Works. Changing Shifts", circa 1910. Depicts Council Workers on King George Place, posed behind a pair of bicycles leaning against the barricade beside the work site. Handwritten on verso "Probably 1910/12" - presumably during the term of Mayor James Craigie who initiated a programme of underground drainage (to replace the previous open drain). South Canterbury Museum 4616

The plaque at the end of Strathallan Street, marks the site of Le Cren’s Landing Service where goods where landed by surf-boats until the harbor was built.


TimaruTownMap 3000x96 1807136 190619 crop of CBD black StrathallanST


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1909 South Canterbury Jubilee dinner at Timaru. South Canterbury Jubilee dinner at Timaru. Original photographic prints and postcards from the file print collection. Original photographic prints and postcards from the file print collection, Box 18. Ref: PAColl-7581-59. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22878338

These were air raid shelters around the coast line of Timaru. The entrance of three air raid shelters can be seen from Station St. Timaru. On Saturday afternoons there would be a drill - all the sirens would go. The Army, Navy and Air Force (ANA) Welcome Club, upstairs in Church St, where soldiers or airmen on leave could come for a social evening, dancing, and a cup of tea.  There were 44 concrete tank traps used in the streets of Timaru e.g. Beswick St. The massive concrete cylinders, designed to stop tanks, were dumped in the area after the war ended, and development of the wetland area at the Whales Creek stormwater outlet in February 2009 revealed four. The 6-metre long traps stand about as high as a man and are thought to weigh at least 25 to 30 tonnes. Learn more

Children had to wear round hardboard discs with their name and date of birth on them for easy identification in case they were injured, or killed, during the anticipated invasion. “Every road from the port had large cement cylinder 20 tonne tank traps ready to be rolled together to block any thoroughfare. Black outs were in place at night to prevent residential areas being easily spotted from the air and becoming a target for bombers. Bicycle lights were covered with brown paper and if blinds were not down a warden would come to the house and tell off the residents. Due to the shortage of imported goods, cars were confiscated by the military for use and returned to the owner after the war. Food rationing meant swapping butter coupons for tea. There was no tinned fruit or bird seed unless people had acquired it before the war. New Zealand had lost 12,000 in the war out of a population of two million. When Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945 (New Zealand time), ending the war in Europe, there were a lot of celebrations with a fire on Caroline Bay spelling out VE (Victory England). About 50 million died in total. Learn more


SouthCanterburyMuseum Air Raid Shelter RayBennett 20121860804 2

Ray Bennett, pictured inside an air raid shelter, dated 27 November 1996. South Canterbury Museum CN: 2012/186.0804

2 Strathallan St
LN:324 C:1
Architect Daniel West / Forrester and Lemon
Builder T Pringle
Plasterwork Emil Hall

At the time of it's opening the Timaru Herald described it as "a building which, for convenience in design and first class execution is equal to the very best government building in the colony. The most commanding view, as it should be, is from the harbour."

In 1857, Timaru’s first Government agent Belfield Woolcombe arrived. Often referred to as the grandfather of Timaru, he was the government rep, beach master, health officer, registrar, coroner, returning officer and over seer of public works and magistrate. (That’s a lot of multi-tasking!) He built Timaru’s third house at Ashbury Park beside the kindergarten there today.

1861 Timaru was declared a legal quay and Alexander Rose came to Timaru as the first Customs agent opening offices in Le Crens store.

The railway helped accelerate progress after the first sod for the Temuka to Timaru railway was turned by the Mayoress, Mrs Cain in 1871. The office was in the way of the new railway, so they moved to the Post Office building in 1880 before this neoclassical building was completed in 1902. 

Local carpenter turned architect Daniel West designed the building which opened in August 1902. It is Neoclassical in style. The construction material is brick covered in cement plaster and features much classic detailing. It has a square footprint and gabled roof concealed by a parapet. The entrance to the building is through the arched entrance portico which is framed by pairs of fluted Doric columns. Each of the windows has a pediment bead. It is a well balanced and organized design, enhanced by its position at the junction of three streets which results in its being seen from many aspects. The fence and iron railing, climbing as it comes around the building, gives a finishing touch of dignity. Only the south side elevation is plain. At some stage (unknown) the chimneys were removed and a flagpole added. Learn more here

The building was purchased by the Timau rCivic Trust in 2018.

Significant elements include Doric order, columns, heavy entablature and pediments, pilasters, pediments, antefixae, acroterion, sweeping fence with ornamental ironwork.

Did you know? Customs operated here until 1970’s.

Cains Terrace is name after Captain Henry Cain (1816-1886)


WuHooTimaru CustomsHouse 210727 Full


CustomsHouse DetailsWuHooTimaru CustomsHouse 142907 1500

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Customs House, Timaru. Ref: 1/2-044242-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22314180

Tariffs were the largest source of tax revenue for the government until WWI. The Customs House was handy to the port and railway to collect the merchants and traders taxes.

26 Cains Terrace and 8 Beswick St
LN: 2054 C:2
1875 rebuilt 1915
Architect J S Turnbull
Builders Shillito Bros

The Grosvenor Hotel was constructed in 1915. It replaced a previous hotel with the same name which had occupied the site since 1875 The first Grosvenor Hotel on the site was a two storeyed brick building established by John Meikle on land owned by John Crammond. Both hotels have made unique contributions to the history of Timaru. The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) was established in the basement if the original building in 1879. The Grosvenor there today hosted Queen Elizabeth during a royal visit in 1954 and again in 1970s. Since 1983 the hotel has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a Category II historic place.

When Polladio Holdings Limited bought the building in 2005, it was looking tired and somewhat neglected. The new owners were keen to uncover the original brickwork, kauri and rimu flooring and panelling. Ping Lim from Polladio Holdings Limited says he likes ‘the creaking old floorboards, uneven wall lining, and a different layout for every room’. He saw the interior as a blank canvas – literally. In the past 14 years, the Grosvenor has become home to a substantial art collection that includes works by eminent New Zealand artists Bill Hammond, Peter Robinson, Hannah Kidd, Lonnie Hutchinson, Jim Cooper and Ian Scott. International artists like Melly Trochez and Leo Eguiarte also feature throughout the hotel, and its popular restaurant and bar. Learn more here


Affectionately known as the "Grand Old Lady of the South", the foundation stone was laid 1875 and shortly after it was completed it burnt down. The façade you see today comes after the rebuilding in 1915.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II stayed there for the Golden Jubilee and she set up camp again in the 1970s when her yacht was berthed at Timaru. She slept in room 101 and we still have her menu where she was offered baked mountain trout and Veuve Clicquot champagne among other delicacies. The Canterbury Rugby Football Union was formed at The Grosvenor on July 26th 1879 and a plaque on the building stating that still remains.

The plans for the original hotel were drawn up for John Meikle by the architect F J Wilson in 1875. The hotel is believed to have been built for Mr O'Meehan and for a time after his detail it was owned by his estate., Sometime after 1913 it was taken over by Mr Charles Sullivan who then moved on to the Old Bank Hotel. The control of the Grosvenor passed to Mr Murphy who came to Timaru  in 1913. In 1915 he closed the building for a complete reconstruction which drew some criticism of the design. It was considered to be too austere in an era when ornamentation was in vogue. Murphy was bought out by a syndicate who leased the hostel to FM Drewitt but later it was managed for the owners C S (Tui) Elms. Mr E Young bought the Grosvenor from teh syndicate and sold it to Mr and Mrs McNeil.

Redeveloped by architect James Turnbull in 1915 Edwardian Baroque style for Mr John Meikle. The Grosvenor Hotel was sold to Christchurch-based Pollardio Holdings. The company took over the business on October 1 2007. "They are committed to maintaining the heritage and the glory of the Grosvenor Hotel for another 125 years."  The foundation stone was laid in 1875 and the Edwardian with Georgian influence building was constructed of brick, plaster and Marseilles tile.

Significant elements include corner treatment, orial windows, circular windows, window head detailing, hood moulds, cornice pediments and parapets.

Did you know? When NZ's premier arrived by train he popped in for a quick champagne to clear the soot from his throat before continuing on to Dunedin.

The Street is named after the early pioneer George Buchanan (1833-1922) he had a farm at Willowbridge where he built the first flour mill in the district south of Timaru in 1862.

WuHooTimaru Grosvenor Hotel Details 142907 1500WuHoo Timaru ArchitecturalElements BeswickStreet 1500


South Canterbury Museum Grosvenor 2016053005

 A colour slide showing the Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru, circa 1985. The slide mount bears the processing date "Oct 85NZ". South Canterbury Museum 2016/053.005

Grosvenor Timaru nlnzimage

1916 Exterior view of the Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru, circa 1916, photographed by Frederick George Radcliffe. Timaru. F.G.R. 5553 - National Library 1/2-006876-G

original wooden grosvenor

Original wooden Grosvenor that got burnt down in fire. Circa 1875 - Picture of Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru

(Former Vienna Cafe)
17 Beswick St 
LN: 2077  C:2
Architect Black & Dunning
Builder P Foster

Much of the region’s early grain production was shipped to the UK. When the 1880’s grain market was yielding low returns, William Evans and investors set up the Atlas Roller Flour & Oatmeal Milling Company in 1888 on Station St. This followed the Timaru Milling Company which set up NZ’s first roller mill in 1882. Architects Black & Dunning designed a 3 story office in 1909 in a Edwardian with Flemish baroque influence style. The top floor was leased, Atlas offices were on the ground floor, with a restaurant in the basement.

It is constructed of brick and concrete with white Oamaru stone facings and a slate roof.

Significant elements are the Viennese Baroque glazing, hood moulds, cornice, classical parapet detailing and cartouche.

The style of the building is the modern English renaissance architecture, it was faced with Oamaru stone and red brick. It is currently painted and I imagine that various owners over the years have had lots of fun choosing colour schemes. The facade of the building has large and neatly-planned windows, relieved with hood-moulds, prominent cornices, an effective centre gable, and small Ionic columns supported on an outstanding pediment and having carved ornaments nicely distributed all over and adding to its glamourous appearance.   It was set back from the street front a little. Learn more

Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts, as demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity and in particular ancient Roman architecture, of which many examples remained. Renaissance architecture was a major influence on building design, and it is an era that modern architects still regularly study, as a part of their course. The creation of great churches, monuments, and buildings filtered down to even modest residences, as shown by Palladio and his villas.

Can you find? Arts and crafts window garlands carved in Oamaru stone?

Philip Foster (1856-1938) was the builder and contractor and also updated shop fronts between T. and J. Thomson's and the Old bank Hotel 1913. Mr. Foster was born in Deal, Kent, England, in 1856, and accompanied his parents to Lyttelton, when he was three years of age. He was educated in Timaru. His father, who was one of the Deal boatmen, came out to work the surfboats at Timaru, and died in 1900, at the age of seventy-six. His widow still survives. Mr. P. Foster was apprenticed to the building trade, and found employment as a journeyman in Timaru till 1882, when he went to Australia and worked in connection with buildings in Melbourne till 1894, when he returned to his native town, and established his present business. The premises in Stafford Street consist of a substantial brick workshop, standing on a quarter of an acre of freehold land. Mr. Foster has erected a good many buildings in the district, and had the contract for re-instating the High School's woodwork, which was destroyed by fire. He served for three years as a volunteer in the old battery of Artillery, and as a Freemason he is connected with Lodge Caledonian, N.Z.C. Mr. Foster was married, in January, 1882, to a daughter of the late Mr. H. Thornton, builder and contractor, Timaru, and has one son and three daughters. His grave is at the Timaru Cemetery General Row 29 Plot 203. Learn more

Philip Jarvis Foster, was a replacement boatman for the Timaru Landing servicemen. They lived in a cob house in Arthur St. opposite Sutter St. It was his task to run down to the foreshore and light the tar signal barrel as necessary. He was also a sailmaker and later made tents and horse covers. After the harbour works had destroyed the boating industry Mr Foster carried on the business of sail and tentmaker until incapacitated by failing health about two years ago. He was a highly respected and valued member of the Wesleyan congregation. He leaves a widow and numerous grown up family of children and grandchildren.

Timaru Herald, 12 April 1910, Page 6
The Atlas Chambers in Beswick street, erected to the order of the Atlas Milling Company, are now wearing completion, and are already adding to the appearance of this business portion of the town, a large central up-towering gable standing out in impressive prominence. As a building it has more than one worthy feature; it is of fire-proof construction, the floors and partitions being of ferro-concrete. Light and ventilation, were insisted on, and the instructions regarding these matters, as others, have been faithfully and capably carried out. To gain the desired end the building has been set back in line with, the C.F.C.A's. fine block, and this arrangement has proved specially beneficial on the ground floor. The chambers are entered through a pretty and well-proportioned porch, which turns to the right, and a flight of stone steps descends to the base floor, which is intended for either a cafe or a restaurant, measuring 26ft. by 80ft. The light admitted from front and back and by a large lantern light in the centre comes into the room in generous fashion, while a protecting area on the street has a handsomely wrought hand-rail. Ascending from the basement one goes up four marble steps into the vestibule of the main building and is admitted by swing doors to a. corridor, featured by nice dados of figured rimu. The ground floor has been divided into a suit of offices, with strong rooms. Here again first attention has been paid to lighting facilities, all the partitions having lead-light screens, placed 9 ft. from the floor, and giving an effect, pleasing and novel. The stair-case well is in the centre of the building, from it is an artistic stair-case, set off by square-turned newels, and chastely finished handrails and bannisters in kauri and rimu. The top floor has been so planned that it can be divided into single apartments or into one suite of fine offices and a studio. The style of the building is the modern English renaissance architecture, faced with Oamaru stone and red brick, and having carved ornaments nicely distributed. The details, which have a Spanish tendency, have been worked out on the most refined lines, and the facade of the building has large and neatly-planned windows, relieved with hood-moulds, prominent cornices, an effective centre gable, and small Ionic columns supported on an outstanding pediment. Messrs Dunning and Black, were the architects, and Mr P. Foster, the builder, and the building, which will be ready for business purposes on July 1st, stands a substantial credit to their painstaking labours.



WuHooTimaru Vienna Cafe AtlasOffice 210730

WuHooTimaru Atlas ViennaCafe 142907 1500


SouthCanterburyMuseum AtlasBuilding BeswickSt l2012007022 1

Beswick Street, Timaru, circa 1990. Provides a view of Beswick Street from opposite the intersection with Stafford Street looking east past the 'new' ANZ Bank (on the left) South Canterbury Museum - L2012/007.022


South Canterbury Museum BeswickSt 201200515

The Beswick Street frontage of the CFCA, Timaru, during demolition of the building which took place between September and November 1989. South Canterbury Museum 2012/005.15

Temperance General Life Insurance Co
(Formerly Stafford Chambers)
199-209 Stafford St
LN: 2070 C:2
Architect T Coulthard-Mullions
Builder Mr Hollow

Edwardian style with brick and ferro concrete. Known as the Stafford Chambers it was erected for R Hay of Christchurch. At the time there were few three story buildings in Timaru. It was a difficult site due to the acute 50 degree angle at the sections corner. One of the first occupants was 1910 F J Dunn, a watchmaker and jeweler. The building was purchased by Temperance General Life Insurance Co and renamed the T and G Building.

Did you know? that bent glass had to be specially imported. 



1974 Map of the enlargement of inner Timaru city (CBD) - "Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved."


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1900 Street scene, Stafford Street, Timaru, including horses and carts. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008712-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29945985

Global changes has a significant impact on Timaru’s development when war was declared 1914, and the first men to leave Timaru marched from the drill hall down George Street to the railway station. Armistice was 1918, the clanging bell at the fire station first announced the news, then church bells, railway engines, ship and factory sirens took up with vigour. Groups gathered in the streets and sang the National Anthem. Three months later bombs fell on Hisoshima and Nagasaki. Timaru’s preparation for invasion can be seen in the bunkers in the cliff on Station Street. Jack Lovelock won New Zealand's first Olympic athletics gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Hitler gifted oak saplings with the medals, Jack’s tree lives at Timaru Boys High School. Over the last 180 years Stafford Street has seen many parades for celebration, protest and sorrow.


SendOfToWar nlnzimage 

1914 Departure of the 2nd (South Canterbury) regiment from Timaru, during World War I. Young, J (Mrs) :Photographs of Otago, South Canterbury and Wellington. Ref: 1/2-049274-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23136046

218 Stafford St
LN: 3158 C:2


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1911 A fleet of motor cars in parade, on a street lined with commercial buildings, Timaru, to celebrate the coronation of George V. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008618-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29944218



Three wheeled motor vehicle built by Cecil W Wood. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 14. Ref: PAColl-6585-66. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23193442

Cecil Wood 1874–1965 claims to have made the first motorcycle engine in 1901, and the first motor vehicle road tested 23 October 1902 The first car built in South Canterbury. He helped lay the foundations for the New Zealand car industry. At the time Woods was testing his car in the streets, New Zealand was still a British colony and was governed by British laws. Some of these stated that motor cars could not be driven over 4 mph and had to have someone walking infront carrying a red flag to warn other road-users of their approach. Mr Woods car travelled at 12mph and people complained to police about children and animals being scared. Mr Woods discovered that Station Street was owned by NZ Railways and was not subject to ordinary law, so this became is testing ground. In the early 1900s I believe it was known as the Colonial Motor Company and one of the driving forces behind its early establishment was Mr Cecil Wood who was a very early enthusiast for the motor car. The company was one of the first to import cars from Canada, which were landed by ship at the Timaru Harbour, transported the short distance to Sophia Street and fully assembled for distribution across New Zealand. The cars were the very first Model T Fords.

Mr Cecil Wood who was a very early enthusiast for the motor car. He is credited with many developments of the car as we know it today. The company was one of the first to import cars from Canada, which were landed by ship at the Timaru Harbour, transported the short distance to Sophia Street and fully assembled for distribution across New Zealand. The cars were the very first Model T Fords. Learn more


WuHooTimaru CycleManufacturers 210803


SouthCanterburyMusuem CecilWood StaffodStreet 1391 2

Cecil Wood posed on a three wheeled motor vehicle, with tiller steering wheel, circa 1900. Pictured outside a two storied building with a sign across the upstairs windows reading, "Tourist Cycle Works" and along top of building "ESTb. 1894 Cycle Manufacturers". - South Canterbury Museum CN: 1391

"The building is almost opposite the Royal Arcade on Stafford Street. It is two sotires of brick on concrete foundations. It was built by Mr Emil Hall from designs furnished by architect Mr D West. The large plate glass windows give the show room a "very fine appearance". There was an office at the back and an enamelling room fitted with a furnice and benches. There was also a gas engine plant and plating baths and blacksmiths plant, brazing and jointing furnace." Learn more Timaru Herald Aug 1900 p3 

Learn more about the shop here: paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/THD19000815.2.22

Janet Meikel (1870-1906) was the first person to be killed by a motor car in the Timaru District. She was driving in her 8hp De Dion car and lost control on Spurr Rd.

It is said that he supplied an engine to Richard Pearse for his plane. Pearse was a NZ farmer and inventor who performed pioneering aviation experiments. Witnesses interviewed many years afterward claimed that Pearse flew and landed a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, nine months before the Wright brothers flew. 

Replica on Timaru's first car - a "two bums wide" scale replica of a tri-car built in the 1900s by Timaru's Cecil Walkden Wood who was credited as being the first man in New Zealand to fit an engine to a bicycle. Learn more


South Canterbury Museum Parade 1501 

The Loyal Timaru Lodge float and memebers in the parade celebrating Queen Victoria's 50th Jubilee on Stafford Street, Timaru, in 1887.  Depicts the parade travelling south along Stafford Street, just having passed the intersection with Beswick Street. Royal Arcade, Priest & Holdgate, McBrides Monumantal Masons. South Canterbury Museum 1501

(Former Whitcoulls)
176/178 Stafford Street, Timaru 7910

Classical motif above the pediment. Built by an engineer rather than an architect. Ornament chosen from a pattern book, continuous horizontal linking motif draws the composition together.

Cameron's now operate in both buildings but at one point Tim's Central Fruit Service was there too.

William McKeown was a saddle and harness maker.

Di you know? Richie Benaud's magic finger-healing Timaru lotion... As obituary writers around the world turn their pens to the life of Richie Benaud, an incredible story about his life-changing visit to a Timaru chemist has emerged. Benaud was in Timaru with the Australian cricket team in February 1957 for a game against a combined South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury and North Otago team. The talented leg-spinner suffering from dengue fever which he had contracted in India a few months earlier. He'd gone for a walk through Timaru to buy tablets to combat its effects when he went into the chemist shop of Ivan James - now Cameron's Menswear - on Stafford St. When he handed over the prescription, James, who died in 1986, noticed Benaud's fingers. He had large raw spots on his finger almost to the bone where the seam of the ball cut in. Nothing had ever healed the wound. They were so bad Benaud faced the prospect of having to stop bowling. The treatment instantly worked and the skin was toughened so that even prolonged bowling spells didn't produce cracking. He had the lotion made up all around the world and used it faithfully for the rest of his career. Learn more here


WuHooTimaru McKeowns 1892


WuHooTimaru McKeownBuildings 210728


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1900 Stafford Street, Timaru. Webb, Steffano, 1880-1967: Collection of negatives. Ref: 1/2-031169-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22734187

(Quins Building)
1 Cains Terrace
Architect Maurice Duval
Builder William Werry & Hunt

This building was originally known as Quinns Building and later Werry's Hotel. It is Victorian with Italianate influences constructed of brick and plaster. Werry learned the building trade form his father in Cornwall. In 1890 he was joined by W.H Hunt and the partnership constructed a number of city centre buildings. It was described early in the century as a fine hotel with lofty rooms, well furnished and and very populate under the management of Mr Werry. The building served as a hotel until the early 1930s when it was purchase by the Meedhand Brothers who had the building next door in George Street. In 1935 it was purchased by the Commercial Bank of Australia and had the following year after some renovation work the bank occupied the ground floor. The top top floors the bedroom's were altered andd refurbished for leasing as offices. Major exterior and ground floor renovations were carried out in 1969.

Significant elements include pilasters, hood moulds, Corinthian decoration, arched windows, cornice brackets parapet.

Maurice Duval, a Belgian architect.


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Crowds gather to watch the parade, led by a horse-drawn carriage on a street lined with commercial buildings, Timaru, to celebrate the coronation of George V. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008620-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29942057


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1958 Stafford Street, Timaru. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-8983-52. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22445605

"This popular Private Hotel is close to the Railway Station, and affords Excellent Accommodation for Travellers and Tourists. Tariff moderate. Letters and Telegrams promptly attended to. Werry's Private Hotel, Timaru, N.Z (28671)



Black and white photograph of Timaru. Burton Bros. Canterbury Museum 2018.74.221

(James Meehan & Sons' Offices and Showrooms)
5-7 George St
LN: 2062 C:2
Architect Thomas Lusk

At four stories high, the original Neo Georgianrenaissance construction was completed in 1913 of brick with two tall stone supporting columns in concrete and plaster. It would have been a bold statement of stability and success for the Meehans' clientele. James Meehan and his brother ran a successful grain and seed business in Timaru, and in 1910 purchased a site in lower George St in order to establish new premises. The date 1913 is proudly displayed on the cartouche near the top of the façade. James owned Sherwood Homestead the two brothers purchased Werry's hotel next door in the 1930's.

The Offices and Showrooms were designed by architects Lusk & Moriarty. New Zealand Tablet 28 March 1912 Page 17 recorded: "Messrs. Lusk and Moriarty have just completed for Mr. M. O’Meeghan a large pile of buildings in the business heart of the town. This firm' is making great strides in the building trade during the short time that has elapsed since Mr. Moriarty finished with the new church, The undertaking just completed cost close on £8000."

Significant elements include ionic columns, architrave, pediment, cartouche, rusticated pilasters, frieze, cornice, window detail.

Rail has played a critical role in New Zealand’s transport system connecting people and places and helping grow our economy by delivering goods around the country and to and from our ports, connecting exporters with the world.

From the 1860s onwards, rail engineers designed a rail network that could operate across swamps and rivers, rugged mountains and dense forests, progressively connecting otherwise isolated communities and industries to the world.


first sod 1871

ABOVE: Group at Timaru for the the turning of the first sod on the top of the cliff off Le Crens Terrace for the Timaru-Temuka section of the South Island Main Truck Railway, (on the Christchurch-Timaru line). Mrs Cain holds the spade. Captain Henry Cain, the mayor of Timaru, stands alongside. Photographed by Mr Price 4 October 1871. Newspapers reported that there ‘was a large crowd present and the day was generally observed as a holiday’. First sod and ‘last spike’ ceremonies, celebrating the commencement and completion of railway projects, were major social and community events in the later 19th century. National Library 1/2-020116-F Learn more here  and an account was in the Timaru Herald here


Timaru Temuka Railway MAp


Timaru became an industrial centre processing products from South Canterbury farms and rail and sail networks were critical for export. In the above photo the Mayoress of Timaru, Mrs Cain, turns the 'first sod' of the Temuka-Timaru railway at a ceremony on 4 October 1871. By 1879 this railway was one of the great achievements of the Vogel rail-building programme would stretch all the way from Christchurch to Invercargill. Construction of the Fairlie branch (also known as the Eversley Branch)  began in 1874. It closed in 1968, but a portion remains open in Pleasant Point as the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway. 1878 the first express trains Christchurch-Dunedin covered 370km in 11 hours. By 1880, New Zealand Railways (NZR) was operating more than 1,900km of track, and carrying almost three million passengers and 830,000 tons of freight a year.

"To give an idea of the work m the railway at Timaru, we have only to state that before the site of the railway station was brought to the required level, a very large quantity of the cliff had to be excavated, the depth in some places being thirty feet ; and where excavation was not necessary the site was reclaimed from the sea. For the purpose of reclamation, a protective wall was built along the edge of the sea. This is 378 feet long, 24 feet in height on the slope, and constructed of 15 inch stone pitching in cement." - read papers past here

One of the first engine's to vist Timaru: Learm more here

Timaru being reached in February 1876 during the Construction of "The Great South Railway". Christchurch to Dunedin were finally joined Finally Joined on the 7th September 1878.  "Washington" and "Josephine" opened the Railwayon the  first "through" express train with the Colonial Governor of New Zealand. While the Governor and some of his party repair for a ten minute visit to the Grosvenor Hotel for champagne "to wash down the dust which had become rather thick in the carriages", others partake of a tour of the town on the many carriages provided for this purpose. But upon returning to the station "some who indulged in this amusement", are taken aback to find that our train has departed without them! These included the Mayors of Ashburton, Hokitika and Greymouth. The Commissioner of Railways [ie, the General Manager] for the South Island, Mr W. Conyers, having determined to keep to the set timetable, had allowed only a 30 minute stop instead of the 45 minutes expected; "The feelings of the disappointed ones may be better imagined than described". Departure from Timaru took place at twenty minutes to eleven, accompanied by another artillery salute and an even larger crowd of spectators "cheering with hearty goodwill".  - http://the-lothians.blogspot.com/2016/04/

Canterbury Railways: Full Steam Ahead The Provincial Railways of Canterbury, 1863-76, read a thesis by Alastair Adrian Cross here


Timaru Rail Way Station 1863-1923

Timaru Railway Station. Radcliffe, Frederick George, 1863-1923 : New Zealand post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-006877-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23012525


queen elizabeth timaru station

Queen Elizabeth  II poses on the observation platform of her royal car at Timaru on 25 January 1954. In the background stand the mayor and other local officials.poses on the observation platform of her royal car at Timaru on 25 January 1954. In the background stand the mayor and other local officials. - nzhistory.govt.nz/queen-elizabeth-at-timaru

Above: various premises - Fletcher Challenge Archives

Wright Stephenson for many years, selling supplies and horses to farmers and miners.  The Timaru Branch was established in 1924. The first office was located in Beswick St in rented premises. Within months the company branch had moved to permanent premises on the corner of Strathallan St and Le Cren Tce. The first branch manager was S G Phillips. In 1932 the branch became an agency of the Ashburton Office. The Timaru Branch, South Canterbury in 1925 was sold the first "John Deere" tractor in New Zealand in the early 1920s; At that time the Company held the agency for the tractors. In 2005, Pyne Gould Guinness merged with Wrightson to form PGG Wrightson.



Dalgety & Co Ltd - New Zealand Premises: 1900 Timaru premises, Canterbury; includes site and building details, square footage and cost; Includes Timaru wool store No.1 (1918) and No.2 (1952) - internal photographs, and shop premises in Timaru 1910. Dalgety Crown Ltd: P5000/25/2



 The first John Deere tractor sold in New Zealand, on a farm at Fairview. The tractor was bought from the Wright Stephenson & Co Agency in Timaru - Fletcher Challenge Archives -collection.fletcherarchives.co.nz/wright-stephenson-co-ltd-timaru-1925-the-first-john-deere-tractor-sold-in-new-zealand

34-36 Turnbull St
LN: 2056  C:2
Architect: James Hislop

Evans’ Atlas Flourmill Company Limited Building (Former), a large building constructed in different phases and styles between the 1880s and the twentieth century. The brick buildings constructed in 1888 and 1897 have architectural significance, being designed by well-known Dunedin architect, James Hislop. They have technological value in their early utilisation of roller mills rather than traditional mill stones. 

Irishman, William Evans, arrived in New Zealand in 1861 to take part in the Otago gold rush. In 1874 he came to Timaru and selected a site for a grain store, commencing business as a timber, coal and wheat merchant. He actively promoted the Atlast Flour Mill which in 1888 became the Evans Atlas Roller Flour and Oatmeal Milling Company. He had for many years been a member of the Timaru Harbour Board, and was a director of the Timaru Gas Company. Evans Street is named after him.

The store he built ‘on the beach facing the railway yard’ was a large concrete structure. In 1888 a large five storeyed brick mill building, the Atlas Mill, was erected for Evans’ ‘in front of’ his existing concrete store. The largest section of the mill building contained engine room and offices on the ground floor and the milling machinery on the four floors above. Another section contained the wheat cleaning plant; the third section was the boiler house, with dust chamber above. A loose grain elevator lifted grain into a storage bin holding 1000 sacks. Steel rolls were used instead of traditional mill stones – and they processed the wheat, refining it to take the bran out of the flour. The state-of-the-art roller milling machinery was for a 40-ton per day mill, the first bag of flour bearing the ‘Atlas’ brand being produced in January 1889. Goodman Fielder manufactured pasta products from the complex for a number of years. After the Timaru Milling Company closed in 2005, new owners Turnbull Holdings Ltd, began a programme of strengthening the buildings.

Turnbull St is named after Richard Turnbull (1826-1890) who founded Clarkson & Turnbull. He was a member of the first Timaru Borough Council, on the Harbour Board and later a Member of Parliament. He built Timaru's first hall on the site of the present Theatre Royal. One of his sons was an architect. Another founded the grain and shipping firm D.C Turnbull & Co. 

SouthCanterburyMuseum Atlas 201104604

Undated photograph of construction work adjacent to Evans Atlas Flour Mill, Timaru (circa 1950?) Shows formwork around a building (two stories?) to the south of the mill. South Canterbury Museum 2011/046.04


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1950-1970 Bedfords Flour Mill, Timaru, with freight carriages and the railyard in the foreground. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008813-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29941518


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Timaru railway yards, featuring Timaru Wool & Grain store. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-008902-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/29945334


The Diamond brand was established by the Timaru Milling Company Ltd in the late 1880’s supplying oats for breakfast cereals and flour for baking. In 1882, the Timaru Milling Company Ltd opened the first, and also the largest, roller mill in New Zealand. The main brick building of the plant is six stories in height and still stands on Mill Street.  The onset of World War II meant that the New Zealand Government were looking for local suppliers of international products to sustain New Zealanders during this period of unrest. The Timaru Milling Company was issued with a licence to manufacture pasta in 1941 and the small scale production of Diamond pasta began. Diamond was New Zealand’s first pasta brand and at the time pasta was still a relatively exotic product. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the popularity of pasta began to grow in New Zealand.


SouthCanterburyMusuem Evans Atlas Roller Flour Mill Timaru 2775

A mounted photograph entitled "Evans' Atlas Roller Flour Milling Company, Timaru, N.Z", circa 1892. Shows the grain storage area to the south of the mill (in the background) prior to the second grain store being built in 1897. The grain is shown stored in a long open fronted shed which is almost full with sacks of grain. Several men are standing in front of the shed and to the right is the Evans' Atlas building. In front of the building is the locomotive 'A' 68 linked to wagons also loaded with grain. South Canterbury Museum 2775


about us timaru mill

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1939 Roundhill, Bernard, 1911-2005. [Roundhill, Bernard], 1911-2005 :What does Peter the Pilot have for breakfast every morning. Of course the energy breakfast, Diamond O-Tis, obtainable from all leading grocers. CSW Ltd. [Timaru Milling Company Ltd. Picture card album back cover, 1939].. Timaru Milling Company Ltd :Peter the pilot albums 1938-1943, 1946-1948, 1950-1953; and Famous flyers and their planes, 1936-1937.. Ref: Eph-B-PICTURE-CARDS-Timaru-1939-01-back. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22440358