When completed visitors will again be able to see the Timeball drop at 1pm each day while enjoying the harbour and town views in the park-like surrounds. An automated Timeball mechanism will be housed inside the tower which, as part of the requirement to get building consent, precludes visitors from entering.
“We looked into retaining and repairing the existing mechanism as part of the project but, for a number of reasons, the automated option was chosen,” says Heritage Destinations General Manager Nick Chin.
“The existing mechanism was extensively damaged during the 2011 quakes and was in an extremely fragile state when retrieved. Even if restored there was no guarantee how long all the parts would last, so maintenance costs and longevity were issues. Also, with the public unable to access inside the new tower to view the existing mechanism if rebuilt, it was felt an automated mechanism was a better option.
“The estimated cost of repairing the original mechanism is $175,000. We still have that option available, along with perhaps putting it on display at a local museum.”
The project will cost $3 million to return the Timeball, tower with original brickwork, the original flagpole and interpretation to the landscaped grounds to commemorate a significant maritime feature that has been an integral part of Lyttelton’s history since 1876.
Since the June 2011 earthquake the former Timeball Station has been carefully deconstructed, with as much heritage material as possible itemised and stored, and other conservation, planning and pre-construction work undertaken.
“It has been a lengthy, and at times difficult, process but we have learned so much from what is our first major rebuild project,” says Mr Chin.
“Thanks to the wonderful financial contributions from key donors who have funded this project, and the support and patience from the Lyttelton community, we are pleased to be getting the onsite work finally underway.
Hawkins Construction is the main contractor for the project, working alongside The Building Intelligence Group (project manager), Possenniskie Consultants Limited (quantity surveyor), Dave Pearson Architects (architect), Ruamoko Solutions (structural engineer), Geotech Consulting (geotech engineer) and Bosworth Stone Limited (stonemason).