Bank of New South Wales Gold Office
Loop Road, St Bathans
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
2nd April 2004
Extent of List Entry
Registration includes the building, its fixtures and fittings and land on part CT OT32/217 as shown on Plan A in the Registration Report.
Central Otago District
Sec 13 Blk I St Bathans Town (CT OT32/217)
Gold was first discovered near St Bathans in 1862 at Welshman's Gully. The new field attracted 200 miners within a week. Within three years major sluicing was undertaken in the area. The town of St Bathans was flourishing by July 1864, and by October of that year had forty business houses, ten hotels and a thousand residents. By the 1870s the town had become a service centre for the region. By the turn of the century the population had decreased as gold returns declined. The goldfield was a rich one, up until the 1940s some three quarters of a million pounds worth of gold had been taken out of the St Bathans basin alone. By 1956 only 47 people resided at St Bathans.
An Agency of the Bank of New South Wales was opened in St Bathans in September 1864 , becoming a Branch in March 1883. The land on which the bank was sited (Section 10) was purchased from the Crown in August 1874. The adjoining Section 9, previously owned by the Bank of New Zealand was purchased by the Bank of New South Wales in February 1893.
A banking chamber with small gold office partitioned off, and an attached dwelling of six rooms was built on the Bank's section and occupied in November 1874.
On the 30 December 1905 the Branch reverted to an agency of the Naseby Branch, and the dwelling portion was leased at the same time as a residence. The residence part was sold to J. Lothian for removal during 1925, with the proviso that the agency part be left in a fit state for use. The Agency at St Bathans closed on 10 April 1946 and the Gold Office was transported to Oturehua.
The Oturehua Agency operated from May 1946 to September 1973. During this time the building was refurbished and the roof line altered to give it its present appearance. Prior to this alteration it had a sawn off appearance from the removal of the dwelling. The interiors were relined after a small fire in the premises in 1958. During this refurbishment the original wire gauze screens from the windows were removed and the white frosting applied in their place.
In October 1974 the building was handed over to the Oturehua Historical Society. When the society ceased operations in 1982 permission was requested from the Otago Goldfield's Park to return the building to St Bathans. The building was restored by the Department of Lands and Survey at its Alexandra workshop and then shifted to St Bathans. The building was sited across the road from its original section. It was officially opened by Otago Conservator for the Department of Conservation, Robin Thomas, in March 1989, as a site providing for the interpretation of the early banking system on the goldfields.
Historical Significance or Value
The Gold Office is a tangible reminder of the history of the goldrushes which shaped St Bathans and Otago, and a building which provided for the handling of the gold from the nearby sluicings.
The Gold Office is representative of the early goldfield architecture, a small scale wooden commercial building characteristic of those in the developing townships. Such architectural remnants of goldfields townships are relatively rare, as many were built as temporary structures, and were replaced as towns became more permanent.
Premises such as the Gold Office were social and commercial centres of the small communities, a hub of a population focused on the search for gold.
The Gold Office represents the importance of the history of the goldrushes to Otago, and to New Zealand as a whole. The goldrush, particularly the hydraulic sluicing at St Bathans was a significant event in the history of the region, an event which shaped the town and the landscape of the region.
The community has had a long attachment with the building, through its community service as a bank, both in St Bathans and nearby Oturehua. Its return to St Bathans emphasises its history in that town.
The Gold Office is an important survivor of such structures which would have been common place in most goldmining towns, but which are no longer represented. As such it is important in identifying rare historic places.
The building is an important link to the wider historical landscape of the town of St Bathans, being adjacent to the Post Office and the Hall, but also to the surrounding country which was spectacularly shaped by the search for gold.
The Gold Office is a reminder of the gold being sought, and the monetary value it represented, and which was bought and sold in this small building.
A banking chamber with small gold office partitioned off, and an attached dwelling of six rooms was built on the Bank's section and occupied in November 1874. The dwelling portion was removed in 1925. The gold office was relocated in 1946.
The Gold Office is the remaining portion of the building originally built as a bank and managers residence in 1874. An 1894 photograph indicates that the premises were of weatherboard construction with a hipped iron roof, and double hung single pane sash windows. The residence had a veranda with cast iron fretwork. The main decorative detailings on the Gold Office are the eave brackets, the classically styled arched fanlight with false keystone above the central doorway, and the horizontal cap moulding supported by corbels above the sash windows on the commercial frontage of the otherwise domestically styled building.
1870 - 1880
Original construction of banking chamber with small gold office partitioned off, and attached dwelling.
Dwelling portion removed.
Building moved to Oturehua, where it was used for the Oturehua agency of the Bank of New South Wales.
1980 - 1990
Exterior restored and the building was relocated to St Bathans, in a position on the opposite side of the road to its original site.
Timber, weatherboards, Iron roof, cast iron fretwork.
7th September 2004
Report Written By
Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
Dawe, C.E., 'Bank of New South Wales St Bathans' Bank of New South Wales archivist, NZHPT File.
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.