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Update 2010 - updated in January 2012
I am very pleased to announce that the region's oldest non-prefabricated workers cottage - named Grubb Cottage - is back to its former glory. It had been fenced off for ages, with no work happening for four years. Finally this year renovation started in May 2010 - and now it is standing there proudly with a fresh coat of paint, the chimney held together by metal reinforcement - while a lot of chimneys in Lyttelton had to be demolished after suffering damage in the earthquakes that have rocked the region after the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on September 4.
The building is being turned into a museum. It will be run by the Grubb Cottage Trust. The City Council passed ownership to the trust (chairman Sam Strati) in early October 2010. The plan is to open the property to the public in 2012.
On the second photo you can see Grubb Cottage before the restoration.
My updated reviews since 2007:
Grubb Cottage on London Street is the oldest surviving non-prefabricated workers cottage in Lyttelton and Christchurch, dating from March 1851.
Although the city council has purchased the cottage a year ago or so (now is Feb. 2007) nothing has been done yet to restore it. The only thing that has changed since the purchase is that a fence has been erected along the street, so vandals have no access and cannot do more damage to the derelict cottage. It is registered by the NZ Historic Places Trust as a category 2 historic building, so we wait and see when and if ever it regains its original charm.
Grubb Cottage was the home of an early settler named John Grubb who arrived in Lyttelton on the Charlotte Jane in 1850. It was originally a two-room home, later additions have been made.
Update June 2008
The City Council has allocated $ 250,000 for the restoration of Grubb Cottage. So at some point the works should start, and the cottage should look great again. There is discussion about converting the additions into an information centre - but obviously there is no water and no power supply to the cottage, so major works would be required.
Update May 2009
Just to let you know - not that you think I have forgotten to update you about the process of restoration of Grubb Cottage... Not a lot has changed since my last update. Just the windows have been secured by wooden panels, and the chimney wrapped in foil. Ah well, and an info panel has been placed inside the fence, so now you can read what they are planning to do, whenever, and also about the history of Grubb Cottage.
Updated Jan 23, 2012
Address: 62 London Street, Lyttelton
Update on 1 May 2007
Just as renovation works were going to be finished the Timeball Station has been hit by vandals in mid April. Stone walls in the so called Wedding Garden were dismantled, an at least 60 year old cabbage tree was broken in half and a sign stolen from the grounds.
Apart from that the exterior of the building had been largely completed. The kitchen has been rebuilt.
They are planning to introduce a new modern information system for visitors when reopening.
Update on 13 July 2007
Still no change, now works and scaffolding at the flagpole.
Update 12 January 2008: Timeball Station Reopened
Finally the Timeball Station has been reopened in December. It has really taken a long time to fix it. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Update Oct 2010: Earthquake damage
The Timeball Station, just refurbished, has suffered damage in the magnitude 7.1 earthquake centred west of Christchurch and a 5.0 aftershock centred near Lyttelton. As other damaged buildings it is not accessible for the public.
Update April 2011: More earthquake damage
See tip above. The Timeball Station is going to be dismantled resp. deconstructed.
Updated Apr 13, 2011
Update April 2011
Unfortunately the just renovated Timeball Station has been terribly damaged in the 22 February earthquake. It is going to be dismantled, and then we will have to wait and see what happens - and if it will be restored at all at some point.
In pre-radio times it was essential to have visual signals for communication between ships and ports. For this reason we have the wonderfully restored Timeball Station which has become Lyttelton's landmark building with its castle-like shape and the big flag pole some metres beside, both sitting dramatically over the harbour on a cliff. Plus, it is one of the few timeball stations worldwide which are still in working order, and the only one that has survived in NZ.
Daily from 1876-1934, the dropping of the Lyttelton timeball signalled Greenwich time to shipping in the harbour. This enabled navigators to check their chronometers and so calculate accurately their position of longitude once back at sea.
The machinery and the astronomical clock are from Britain, the timeball comes from Germany, from the famous Siemens Brothers. The building was designed by a Canterbury architect named Thomas Cane - and my husband's father was involved in the restoration in the 1970s :-) It was built in local scoria and quoins of white Oamaru stone - and was obviously one of the first infamous NZ leaking homes ;-) They were busy adding parts over many years and putting concrete on the walls to make the station weather-proof.
From the end of World War I the signal was dropped less frequently as radio communications were increasing. On 31 dec 1934 the service stopped. The Timeball Station was used for other purposes. In 1969 it was leased to the Lyttelton Maritime Association which started to restore it. In 1978 the station reopened.
The timeball is dropped at 1pm on days when the station is open.
The flags, which predated the Timeball Station, were used on the flagstaff nearby to signal to ships and to communicate shipping advice to the town. Today they are on the pole on special occasions to welcome visitors.
1 Nov-30 Apr: daily 10am - 5.30pm
1 May - 31 Oct: Wed-Sun 10am-5.30pm
Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday
Admission (as Feb. 2007) $7, children/students $2, families $15.
Updated Apr 13, 2011
Address: 2 Reserve Terrace, Lyttelton
Phone: (03) 328 7311
This is a nice little gallery on Oxford Street, dwarfed by a hige historic stone building right beside.
Paintings, sculptures, jewellery, prints, drawings, watercolours, photographs and ceramic worksfeature in the gallery, often with Lyttelton scenes. Sometimes they have special exhibitions like the annual summer exhibition from mid February to mid March.
Open Wed- Sun from 10.30am until 5.30pm.
Update 8 August 2008
I have just read that the Lyttelton Visitor Centre will reopen soon at 20 Oxford Street - which is where the Art Gallery is. The Visitor Centre had been there before but due to insufficient funding it was closed. In the past two years it had been operated by the owners of Anchor Fine Arts in their shop in London Street. The Art Gallery will probably remain on site as they write that the works of local arts and crafts people should feature there on a monthly rotation.
Update 18 May 2009
Yes, the Visitor Centre is at 20 Oxford Street in the meantime. Still I recommend to make bookings for harbour cruises directly at the Blackcat Office on Norwich Quay - which is the street right along the waterfront. From the Visitor Centre you would walk straight down the hill, the next street is Norwich Quay. Cross the street and walk to the right. The office comes after about 50 metres.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 20 Oxford Street
Phone: (03) 328 7668
Timeball Station has been build 1876. a Ball dropped from its mast to the stone tower, signalling the time for the ships in Lyttelton Harbour. this Timebal is one of the few of its kind in the world, only 5 are still in working order.
the ball itself is held in the Canterburry colours..red and black.
and wouldn't you know it, the timeball apparatus came from the German firm Siemens.the astronomical glock from Dent in London, work and business does not know nationalities!!
for more details have a look at the webpage below
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Reserve Terrace Lyttleton
London Street - the first parallel street uphill from the road along the harbour (Norwich Quay) - is Lyttelton's main street with an incredible lot of cafés, restaurants, pubs, bars, fish'n'chips shops, fashion, gift and book shops, pharmacy/post shop, general store, bottle store, library, hairdresser and a hotel. Also the Tunnel Vision Backpackers is there. And this is not all yet.
The street is not really long, and all the action I just mentioned is within a stretch of 200 metres between Oxford and Canterbury Streets.
You can spend the whole day there, falling from one café into the next.
Unfortunately one of the most unique places has closed down in 2006: the Rat & Roach. This was an old style pub with great and cheap bar meals, including the famous Rat & Roach Burger, a burger you have never ever seen. When tourists were served this giant burger the size of a double height carrot cake, they were speechless in the first moment and took a photo in the next before starting the fight with the food. The black and white posters and photos on the walls told the story of Lyttelton, and you could meet or just watch the most unique characters and strange figures, it was really a sociological study of working people. I loved it! Now Freeman's, a rather bland looking restaurant with Italian food, is in the building, and all the character and history is gone. The burger is now served in the Mitre Tavern.
Update 23 August 2008
I had to update this tip because this week the supermarket (SuperValue) went into receivership and was closed from one second to the other this week, without warning. This is quite a blow for the community as now you have to go to Christchurch for grocery shopping. However, there are two dairies, a delicatessen and an organic produce shop where you can get some basics you might urgently need for cooking.
Update 18 May 2009
Not long, and we will have a supermarket again. They are working on the premises of the former supermarket. It will become a Four Square Supermarket.
Update October 2010
The supermarket had just opened when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake and a 5.0 aftershock centred near Lyttelton rattled the region. The supermarket had to be closed for a big clean-up but has reopened in the meantime.
Updated Oct 17, 2010
Address: London Street
on the Road around the Hills into Lyttelton Harbour, with stunning views over the natural layout of the Port and the surrounding Hills, you'll encounter.....
the Pride of Madeira ECHIUM CANDICANS...... this beautiful blue shrub grows quite happily here, high above the cliffs.click on the pic, I think its beautiful!! and please visit my Friend Goncalo's HP, link below.
Updated Feb 24, 2010
I have just asked my husband where he thought this mural is. He suggested: "The Berlin wall?"
No, not really...
It is about 200 or 300 metres from our house in Lyttelton, in a bend of Bridle Path Road, just some steps from the end of London Street.
I think it is a beautiful reminder of how the first Europeans settled in Lyttelton and Christchurch. The mural shows pioneer women and men in their traditional clothes, packed with their belongings, probably passing exactly the spot where this mural is now, on their way to Bridle Path. This was the only access over the Port Hills to the swampy place where they would found Christchurch and settle.
If you sometimes meet totally unfit people in sports gear and proper hiking boots on Bridle Path and see them struggle to get up to the top you wonder which training those pioneer women had to walk this track in their long skirts and surely a lot less comfortable shoes, and all the luggage. They can only be admired.
Updated May 17, 2009
Address: Bridle Path Road, Lyttelton
This church was opened on 14 July 1865. Like St. John's it was built from locally quarried stone.
Obviously the people were very relieved to see this nice church as its architect Benjamin Mountford had lead a disastrous project before: He had designed the first Anglican Church in 1851, being constructed of green timber, but this shrunk so much, rendering the building so dangerous that it had to be demolished. After the success with St. Joseph's he became one of New Zealand's most acclaimed architect of neo-gothic buildings he designed in Canterbury.
St Joseph’s Church initially served all of Lyttelton and Christchurch. Although it is not huge it was considered luxurious in those days as before the Catholic populastion had held mass in private homes. From 1869 the church also housed the Catholic school which was built in 1878 to the left of the church. Right to the church which you reach after walking up a stone staircase, is a school sportsground.
In 1921 a brick school-room was built behind the church. This was replaced in 1983 by the present school. The church was extended in 1941 and the interior altered in the 1960s.
Updated May 17, 2009
Address: Winchester Street
This is the walk to do in Lyttelton. Although it is not really long it is rather strenuous because the climb is steep.
Once I met people who walked in historic costumes, and some of those guys were absolutely unfit and had to rest every some metres. It must have taken them ages to reach the Summit Road. This little encounter has even filled me with more respect for the early settlers who arrived on the first four ships in 1850, as they did not only walk like you and me, in suitable tramping or jogging shoes, but the women in their long skirts, carrying heavy bags and their kids to the other side of the Port Hills.
You can start your walk right from the port but Bridle Path starts high above Lyttelton, and then leads up to the Summit Road where a memorial reminds of the Pioneer Women. From there you can either walk back to Lyttelton or down to Christchurch (Heathcote) and catch a bus back to Lyttelton through the tunnel or to the city centre. On the Christchurch side Bridle Path ends next to the base station of the Gondola. If you cross the fence beside the Pioneer Women's Memorial you can walk up to the summit station of the Gondola in another 20 minutes. The walk from the port to the Summit Road might take you 30 to 45 minutes.
The views over the harbour and towards Banks Peninsula are breathtaking from any spot of Bridle Path. There are several seats made of stone on the way up, and also at the top lookouts, which carry the names of the first four ships (Randolph, Charlotte Jane, George Seymore and Cressy).
Directions to the start of Bridle Path:
Leave the main shopping and restaurant area of London St (main street) behind you and walk straight ahead (direction towards the tunnel). When London St makes a big bend to the right it continues as Hawkhurst Road. This leads rather steeply uphill for about 500 metres. Turn left into Ticehurst Terrace. Carry on straight ahead on this flat road until you see Bridle Path signposted to the right. The road leads steeply uphill. At the last house the surface turns into gravel, and at the stone seat on the right side (map of Lyttelton on display) is the official start of Bridle Path. It winds up the hill and offers great views.
Photo 2 shows the view from the Pioneer Women's Memorial to the other side of the Port Hills.
On photos 3 to 5 you have the ever changing fantastic views of Lyttelton Harbour.
Updated May 17, 2009