May 10, 2009

Rare Survivor of Earliest Sydenham

The long derelict cottage at 3 Harold Street, Sydenham occupies the western part of Lot 67 on Deposited Plan 75 in the former Borough of Sydenham (1876-1903).

That the dwelling's site shares the same legal description as 35 Buchan Street indicates that it occupied a quarter acre section, which originally faced on to Buchan Street, with two recent commmercial premises now occupying what had formerly been its front garden.

Harold Street was known as Aynsley Street until 1948 and its environs probably formed a part of the investment properties of the pioneer merchant Hugh Aynsley (1828-1917), who subsequently rose to civic prominence as Hugh Percival Murray-Aynsley, Esq.

The cottage appears to have begun life in the 1850s as a simple two-roomed dwelling, with a later extension to the north in the same style. It's design suggests a kitset cottage imported from Australia, and that it survives in relatively sound condition in spite of decades of neglect, would appear to indicate the durabilty of Australian hardwoods.

The apparent era of construction predates the development of this part of Sydenham as a built-up residential district. It's therefore surmised that the cottage was probably either the residence of an early market garden or had been removed from the inner city as the pressure for commercial redevelopment began to overtake Christchurch's earliest residential areas.

A further eight photographs of the cottage by Dr Greg O'Beirne, of the University of Canterbury, can be seen as a set on his flickr web site.



From Early Canterbury Photographers comes this photograph by Hubert David Bettger (1873-1935), of a similar, but architecturally ornamented dwelling from a slightly later era. Named Mabe Cottage, it continues to survive at Olliviers Road, in the eastern suburb of Linwood.


Canterbury Photography said...

There must have been hundreds of very similar houses in Christchurch at one time. Its wonderful that this one has survived so long. It would be an ideal building to be moved to the Isacc's historic village on McLeans Island Road.

Canterbury Heritage said...

There are quite a few similar houses in the inner suburbs of Christchurch, particularly in Woolston, Waltham, Richmond and inner St Albans, but virtually all of them have been altered beyond easy recogntion. The Sydenham cottage would have originally sported a wooden shingle roof; corrugated iron not becoming popular as a roof cladding until the late 1870s.

An in situ restoration would have to be the option of first choice; as such it could be a unique example from the earliest decade of Sydenham settlement.

In a city not particularly noted for the anonimity of its public benefactors, we down here at Canterbury Heritage are a bit old school about such matters. To that effect it could be said that, unlike the old boy network, we aren't overly enamoured of the attention seeking Diana Isaac since she purchased the right to rename our Theatre Royal in her favour. Accordingly, her McLeans Island project could be among our last choices for a relocation for the historic cottage.

But all that said, in return for a peppercorn lease Canterbury Heritage would be pleased to undertake the restoration of an historic building such as this early cottage (and without plastering our name all over it).

Sarndra said...

Ohhhh i didn't know they were doing an historical village out there...doooo tell! Arrrghhh i feel so out of touch with Christchurch and it's less than 2 years since i left!

Sarndra said...

Love the addendum, especially the very cool topiaried tree :-)))) I wonder what the name of the family was.


Canterbury Heritage said...

Situated between Christchurch International Airport and the Waimakariri River, a small collection of buildings with heritage values have been relocated to the 1,200 hectare Isaac Conservation Park and are intended to eventually form a historic village. Further reading: Out of India: from quarry to conservation park; Hugh de Lacy recounts the tale of the iconic Canterbury firm of Isaac Construction.

The Olliviers Road cottage was owned by Simon Richards and his wife Eliza Bolitho, who had lived at Mabe in Cornwall before coming to NZ.

Rod said...

It looks like I will be the proud owner of 3 Harold Street soon. It is my intention to restore the cottage in situe with a balance of preserved hitory and usefulness.
I own the building beside 3 Harold Street and would love some help from anyone interested in preserving this little gem of history. I have no idea where to begin and would appreciate if you could offer some advice. You can phone me on 365 0406 or email
Thank you Rod Stuart Tropicool

Number36 said...

And now Rod above does! Just came here after reading this article. Remembering that you had a piece on the building, used to walk past it everyday. Be nice for it get respectfully restored.

Number36 said...

Also looking on Papers Past, it looks like the street was named Aynsley Street in 1889, previously it had been part of a longer stretch named Aynsley's Alley 4, Apparenly there were 3 other parts of 'Aynsley's Alley', the others becoming Percy Street, Murray Street, and Hugh Street. Article here
Also notice it's described as being 'off Queen st' in a couple of articles. Oh and there was one ad for specifically number 3 in 1915, for a 'Gasosava' a simple device that could guarantee 25 per cent fuel reduction. Price 15s.