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Historic Timeball Station to be dismantled

4 March 2011


Historic Timeball Station to be dismantled

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) confirmed today that the Timeball Station in Lyttelton is to be dismantled.

One of 48 properties nationwide cared for by the NZHPT, Timeball Station is a Category I historic place and internationally significant because of its maritime history.

“It is with enormous regret that we must take this step, but public safety is paramount. People around the world have seen images of the extensive damage caused by the quake on 22 February, which has compounded damage sustained in the earthquake on 4 September last year,” said Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman.

“Our decision is based on specialist engineering information and guidance, as any decision about heritage buildings damaged in the quake should be.

“The Timeball Station is too damaged and too dangerous for us to consider anything other than dismantling, but this work will pose problems.

“This is an extremely difficult site. It was chosen as a building site over 135 years ago for the Timeball Station because of its elevated position, allowing ships to see it clearly from the harbour. That’s now working against us.

“The steep site means there’s no way to drive on and the potential to position a crane, below or above it is very limited. We are constrained not only by issues of access, but also by the risk of injury to any personnel who will need to be involved with this work. We are not prepared to put anyone’s life at risk.

“That said, if we can find a way to dismantle the Timeball Station that allows us to retain as much of the building’s materials as possible, we will do so. This site remains significant and we would hope that in future we can do justice to this important building.”

Plans for the dismantling process are under development and the NZHPT remains hopeful that the Timeball mechanism can be recovered.

“NZHPT is looking at all possible options for the reconstruction of the tower. But it may be some time for that decision to be made.”

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