History of the substation
Sydney Street originally passed through Parliament grounds, linking Mulgrave Street and Tinakori Road.
In 1910, when Parliament was rebuilt following a fire, the new building encompassed a larger area and Sydney Street was divided into two, becoming Sydney Street East and Sydney Street West.
The two streets shrunk even further over the years. In 1993, Sydney Street East was renamed Kate Sheppard Place in honour of the suffragette’s centenary.
In 1925, following the opening of the Mangahao hydro power station based near Shannon, the substation was established to manage the area’s power supply – and in particular to feed electricity to the local government buildings.
The substation was designed by the Wellington City Engineers Department and built by Fletcher Construction in an unusual style loosely described as a mix between Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture.
During the 1951 waterfront dispute, the four-bedroom apartment above it was home to a trade unionist who was rumoured to have a printing press making illegal protest publications.
Coincidentally, a couple of decades on, the building was the site of offices and editing suites for hard-hitting film and documentary film makers Vanguard Films, who made A Century of Struggle – a documentary about the history of the New Zealand Seamen's Union, with plenty of footage from the 1951 waterfront strike.
In 1991, the substation was officially shut down when the new Municipal Electricity Department’s (MED) substation took control of local power. However, the building continued to make history.
Trevor Lord's story
In the video below, produced by Victoria University Museum and Heritage Studies student Imogen Stockwell, property owner Trevor Lord talks about why heritage is important and what a difference the grant made to the project.
The Built Heritage Incentive Fund
The fund helps with conserving, restoring, protecting and caring for Wellington's heritage-listed buildings and objects.
Our current focus is on earthquake strengthening.
Find out if your project is eligible for funding
Images courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library.