Our Wellington

News | 29 January 2021

Cool heritage structures you may not have noticed...

Here in Wellington, our heritage is all around us – if you know where to look.

And while some of our old buildings may have obvious heritage value or status, some of our less sexy structures may not. 

So we thought we’d pick out some interesting structures classified as having heritage status by our team of experts. 

You may find the structures familiar, or you might walk or cycle past them every day without noticing them. 

If you don’t recognise them, why not go and check them out? 

There are plenty more objects to discover at wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz

Island Bay sea wall

 

The Island Bay seawall as seen from the beach.

Where: The Esplanade, Island Bay 

When: Constructed 1935 - 1937 

Walking along sea walls is fun. Appreciating their heritage value is also fun.  A simple, but elegant engineering structure designed to cope with the rigours of an extremely exposed maritime environment, the Island Bay sea wall’s distinctive curved face design returns much of the sand and salt spray back to the beach, although it’s no match for some South Coast storms. 

Constructed from mass concrete poured in-situ, this approximately 340-metre-wall has significant townscape value as the defining feature of the Island Bay Esplanade. Following the construction of a similar wall in Lyall Bay in 1932-3, and Oriental Bay sea wall in 1922-30, these early protection works encouraged sand build-up on the beachside and offered places to socialise for Wellington’s growing suburban population. They also protected the road and electric tram lines from sand drift. 

Check out the full entry here: https://www.wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz/buildings/objects/22-island-bay-sea-wall 

Hataitai bus tunnel

 

The Hataitai bus tunnel was constructed in 1907.

Hataitai bus tunnel 

Where: Pirie Street, Waitoa Road, Mount Victoria and Hataitai 

When: Constructed 1907 

Part of the legacy of Wellington’s tramway system, the Hataitai bus tunnel is a beauty, as far as tunnels go, described as ‘the most decorative of the tram tunnels constructed in Wellington between 1900 and 1910’. Although constructed to fulfil a utilitarian purpose, the tunnel is elegantly engineered, with entrance designs influenced by the Classical style and featuring elaborate keystones and displays the Wellington City Electric Tramway logo. 

As the turn-of-the-century population in Hataitai and outer suburbs increased with land development, residents began demanding better access to and from the suburb. With the only city-side access via Newtown, negotiating the Evan’s Bay coastal road, or trekking over Mt Victoria, the early 1900s expansion of the tramway system played a pivotal role in Wellington’s suburban development. Trams at this time were the main form of public transport and remained so for the next half of the century. The 1200ft-long tunnel was dug through the use of explosives and by pick and shovel, taking 18 months to construct, and tragically, claiming the lives of three workers when a part of the tunnel collapsed during the build. 

Finished on 11 April 1907, the new tunnel had one day of testing for the new tramline before being officially opened to the public on 16 April 1907. It was converted for use as a trolley-bus tunnel in 1963. 

Read all about it here: https://www.wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz/buildings/objects/44-bus-tunnel 

Ira Street former brickworks wall 

The Ira Street former brickworks wall.

Where: Ira Street, Miramar 

When: Constructed c.1925 

An unassuming low brick wall at the foot of the hill alongside Ira Street is the only physical remnant of Miramar’s brick-making heyday.  

Firstly Gasco, and later Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co., the brickworks was a significant local industrial plant that produced bricks, pipes, and chimney pots, provided employment for many local people and produced materials for Wellington’s construction and drain laying industries; notably the 1937-built Wellington Railway Station.

Although a very visible industry in the suburb, with the brickworks’ tall and imposing chimney a landmark, Wellington City Council’s land re-zoning from industrial to residential meant the plant was forced to close in 1968, with buildings demolished between 1969-70, although that chimney ‘did not go easily’. 

Constructed of fired clay bricks 10 courses high, with two rows of bull-nosed corner bricks on top, this brick wall, the only survivor of the demolition, is laid in ‘English Garden Wall bond’, with a course of ‘headers’ (bricks laid end on to the face of the wall) laid between every three courses of ‘stretchers’ (bricks laid side on). and is now the only tangible reminder of the brickworks existence.  

Check out the full listing: https://www.wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz/buildings/objects/59-ira-st-former-brickworks-wall