News | 7 June 2021

The history of Jervois Quay

Jervois Quay was closed some of the long weekend to replace the damaged and aging stormwater pipe which caused some disruptions earlier in the year.

Our team took a tour of Jervois Quay with our Resilience Infrastructure specialists beforehand, and we were fascinated by the development of the area. So, we sat down with our Council historian, Gabor Toth, to learn about the history of Jervois Quay.

View of wharf and Jervois Quay circa 1960s
Jervois Quay in 1958. Wellington City Council Archives, BL001-17.

The street which stretches along our city’s waterfront was named after Sir William Jervois, who was Governor from 1883 to 1889.  

“The area was reclaimed in 1889 so we assume the naming was likely to be a parting ‘gift’ from the city to Jervois when his term came to an end,” says Gabor. 

“The correct pronunciation is ‘Jar-Vis’ and Sir William had facial hair that any hipster would be proud to own.”

Postcard featuring Jervois Quay circa 1905
This postcard is from 1905. Wellington City Recollect, 50001-5-321.

In the early 1900s, Jervois Quay was the main tram line which serviced many routes across the Wellington region.

And the notorious Municipal Fish Market operated on Jervois Quay throughout the 1910s.

Municipal fish market on Jervois Quay circa 1910
The old Municipal Fish Market. Wellington City Council Archives, 00138-11983.

In 1964, the trams stopped operating, bringing cars to our streets. 

From 1985 to 1996, the Wellington Nissan Mobil 500 streetcar racetrack went along Jervois Quay, welcoming race car drivers and supporters from all over the world to our fantastic little city.

Wellington Street race along the waterfront and Jervois Quay
Wellington Nissan Mobil 500 car driven by Peter Brock in front of the old Queens Wharf Offices. Wellington City Council Archives, 00557-841-5.

Lambton Quay was the original shoreline, followed by Customhouse Quay in 1886, and then Jervois Quay from 1889.

Our Wellington Historic Map Viewer depicts the sea as it used to be, as well as the old sea wall which is now where Frank Kitts Park sits. To see the original plans, visit our map viewer and search ‘Jervois Quay’. 

Today, we have Frank Kitts Park, TSB Arena and many restaurants, bars and offices which now sit along the water on Queens Wharf.

Jervois Quay from the sky circa 1947
Aerial View of Jervois Quay in 1947, before the land that is now Queens Wharf was reclaimed. Wellington City Council Archives, 00278-10-8.

So why is Jervois Quay closed this weekend? 

In February 2021, an unexpected hole developed on Jervois Quay, which was due to a collapsed old earthenware stormwater pipe. A temporary fix was implemented at the time to ensure the safety of all drivers, as well as reducing the risk of flooding in the city centre.

In April 2021, Wellington Water were working hard on the replacement of the temporary fix from February, but it collapsed, meaning that it could no longer be repaired. After much investigation, it was determined that the 100-year-old earthenware pipe needed to be replaced entirely.

Wellington Water contractors have been working on the areas around Jervois Quay since, leaving the six traffic lanes across the street to be fixed over the weekend. Multiple crews will work around the clock over the four days to replace the pipe under Jervois Quay – work that would normally take six weeks to complete.

Work began after peak-hour traffic last night (Thursday 3 June). Jervois Quay is set to reopen before 6am on Tuesday 8 June.

It’s strongly encouraged to avoid driving in the area and look at alternative travel options such as taking public transport, riding your bike or e-scooter, or walking.