Star Boating Club Building

Taranaki Street Wharf, Wellington

  • Star Boating Club Building from across the lagoon, Wellington.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Chloe Searle. Date: 25/09/2008.
  • 2011.
    Copyright: Jenny Edwards. Taken By: Jenny Edwards.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1431 Date Entered 26th June 2009

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 363596(CT WN258480), Wellington Land District and the building known as the Star Boating Club thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. Extent of registration excludes the Wellington Rowing Club Building (Record no. 1453) but includes the shared boatshed connecting the Star Boating Club and Wellington Rowing Club buildings, and the shared launching steps. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 363596 (CT WN258480), Wellington Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Star Boating Club Building on Wellington's waterfront was built specifically for the club in 1886, and the club still occupies this building today.

The Star Boating Club was formed in 1866. It was the first rowing club established in Wellington and is one of the oldest sporting clubs in New Zealand. Initially, the club was housed in a shed erected near the site of the Cenotaph, but harbour reclamation and the resulting loss of their waterfront position resulted in the club relocating to another shed in 1874. Further reclamations during 1883 meant that the club needed to move again. This led to the construction of the Star Boating Club Building.

The Star Boating Club Building was purpose built for the club. It was designed by architect William Chatfield, himself a club member. Given that the club's previous boatsheds had been affected by harbour reclamations, the new building was built on skids so that it could be relocated easily. It was erected in 1886 and was originally sited on Customhouse Quay on land which was reclaimed, this project being paid for by club members. The building was constructed by W. Fitzgerald and E.Connal, and the two storey design provided space for storing boats on the ground floor and social areas upstairs.

Only three years later, in 1889, it became necessary to move the clubrooms due to ongoing harbour reclamations. The building was moved by steam engine to the site on Jervois Quay it then occupied for 100 years. It is possibly the only building in New Zealand relocated in this way.

The club was once possibly the largest athletic club in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting 390 members prior to World War One. Founded by H.F. Logan, J.C. Boddington and R. Kirton, among others, the Star Boating Club has had a number of prominent members, including Olympic athlete George Cooke and former Governor General and recipient of the VC, Lord Freyberg. Over time the clubrooms have also been associated with many organisations other than the Star Boating Club. In 1945, the exterior of the eastern end of the building was slightly damaged by fire, and the clubrooms were renovated the same year. In 1965, the building was renovated in time for the Star Boating Club's centennial celebrations.

The building has also played an important part in the history of the Downstage Theatre, New Zealand's longest running professional theatre, who occupied the clubrooms between 1969 and 1973. During that time modifications were made to the upper storey of the building, while the rowing club continued to operate from the ground floor. During Downstage's time in the building performers included many of New Zealand's most successful actors. The motivation to rent the building to Downstage was to raise funds in order to build new clubrooms, as the prospect of demolishing the building and relocating the club had been discussed by the Council and the club for some time. In the end, the club lobbied against relocation and instead undertook renovations to the clubhouse in order to meet council requirements.

However, in 1989 the building was relocated for a second time as part of the redevelopment of Wellington's waterfront, and was extensively refurbished, including replacing the skids with a new foundation. The Wellington Rowing Club building was also relocated, maintaining the close relationship between the buildings and clubs themselves. The Star Boating Club Building has since been used as an events venue and as such it has had a significant association with cultural life in Wellington. Events held there have included the 1992 Fringe Festival, the 1993 Gay and Lesbian Devotion Festival, and the International Festival of the Arts in 1994 and 1996. It also continues to be a popular venue for weddings, conferences and other functions. Now on its third site, the building retains its original purpose as the clubrooms for the Star Boating Club. The club continues to attract rowers and has close links with secondary school rowing.

The Star Boating club building was specifically designed by the eminent architect William Chatfield to facilitate its relocation, responding to the ongoing reclamation of Wellington's waterfront. As such it is of architectural and technological significance. The historical significance of the building is also high, given its continuous association with the Star Boating Club, one of the oldest rowing and sporting clubs in New Zealand. This distinctive building contributes greatly to the streetscape and, along with the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club building occupies a prominent place on the waterfront. The building has had a significant historical association with New Zealand's longest running professional theatre, Downstage. The Star Boating Club Building also possesses strong social value as it has hosted a number of community groups and clubs, as well as high profile events such as the International Festival of Arts.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Star Boating Club Building is of outstanding historical significance for several reasons. The club has operated continuously since 1866 and has been associated with this building since it was purpose built for the club in 1886. The club is the oldest sporting club in Wellington, and one of the oldest sporting clubs in New Zealand. It is also the third oldest rowing club in New Zealand. Rowing was a popular sport and the club was once likely to have been the largest athletic club in the Southern Hemisphere. The Star Boating Club Building is rare in that it is one of the only boatsheds of its age that continues to be used by its founding club, and as such is part of New Zealand's sporting heritage. During the First and Second World Wars the building also played an important role in the community, becoming the base for a number of groups such as the St. Johns Ambulance Brigade, the Red Cross and various patriotic committees. It has also had a significant association with the Downstage Theatre, New Zealand's longest running professional theatre company. While operating out the Star Boating Club a large number of notable New Zealand actors performed for Downstage including Ray Henwood, Pat Evison, George Webby, Peter Gwynne, Heather Eggleton, John Banas, Dorothy McKegg, Colin McColl, Ken Blackburn, Harry Lavington, Glenis Levestam, Kate Harcourt, Grant Tilly, Fergus Dick, Donna Akersten, Bruce Greenfield, Catherine Wilkin, Susan Wilson, Peter Vere-Jones, Bruce Mason, Ian Mune, Ross Jolly, Janice Finn, Ian Fraser, Dave Smith, Michael Haigh, Sam Neill, John Clarke, Paul Holmes and Ginette McDonald.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The Star Boating Club Building occupies a prominent place on the Wellington waterfront. This building, along with the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club, has strong associations for Wellingtonians and provides a visible reminder of Wellington's long standing connections with the harbour. The distinctive Star Boating Club Building and its decorative features contributes greatly to the streetscape in the surrounding area and is a defining building of the harbour coastline.

Architectural Significance or Value:

The Star Boating Club is of architectural significance. It is the work of prominent Wellington architect, and club member, William Chatfield who showed an astute grasp of the requirements for its design so that it continues to be suited to its purpose after a significant length of time. The building has value for its unique design as a boatshed and pavilion. It combines nautical themes and a lively and picturesque view with a structure devoted to the particular needs of its users. The ultimately vital design-to-move structure through the use of skids is a specific design solution that showed an understanding of future pressures. The large open ground floor interior of structural timber is practical and spare but has the appealing patina of long use. The Star Boating Club has value for its exterior design. Despite being essentially a large shed, the building is striking for its rhythm and symmetry in the pattern of doors and windows. These features, along with its gables and balconies, were designed to give an eye-catching appeal of a domestic scale and allow the large shed to dazzle or impress.

Technological Significance or Value:

The Star Boating Club building is of technological significance as it was purpose built to be relocated as harbour reclamation occurred. It was built on skids to facilitate easy relocation and was relocated by steam engine only three years after its original construction. It is likely to be the only building in Wellington designed to be relocated in this way, and it is probable that is the only building in New Zealand to have been transported in this way. When the building was relocated for a second time, in 1989, the skids were replaced by a new foundation. Although the skids have been replaced, the building retains its technological value for the foresight and practicality of this design feature.

Social Significance or Value:

The Star Boating Club building is of social significance as the clubrooms for the Star Boating Club. Club members have included prominent New Zealanders such as Lord Freyberg and Olympic athlete George Cooke. In addition to this the building is also significant as it has been the venue for prominent cultural events, such as the International Festival of Arts, the Fringe Festival and the 1999 and 2000 NZ TV2 Laugh Festival. The building is also of value for its use to the community, having been used by numerous other clubs and community groups since the First World War. It continues to be used as a popular venue for weddings and other events and was also the venue for one of NZ's first Civil Unions immediately following adoption of the Civil Union Bill by Parliament, at which the Mayor of Wellington was the celebrant.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The Star Boating Club Building represents the role the sport of rowing has played in New Zealand's history. As one of the oldest sporting clubs in the country, the club has been part of New Zealand rowing from its beginnings. Members of the club have represented New Zealand internationally, including George Cooke who competed at the 1932 Olympic Games. Rowing has been an important sport for New Zealand at an international level since 1920 when Darcy Hadfield won a bronze medal as part of the first New Zealand Olympic team. Since that time New Zealand rowers have won 16 Olympic medals (18 percent of the total Olympic medals won by New Zealanders). On a national level, the club has also produced a number of New Zealand Championship winners. The building is also an important part of the history of the Downstage Theatre which has played a significant role in the development of theatre in New Zealand.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

The Star Boating Club has strong associations with the Wellington community through its use as a venue for cultural events, family events, as a rowing club and its use over along period of time as meeting place for other sporting, cultural and social organisations.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

This building was specifically designed to allow it to be easily relocated. The building was built on skids and was successfully relocated by steam engine three years after its original construction. When the building was relocated for a second time, in 1989, the skids were replaced by a new foundation. It is likely to be the only building in Wellington to have been designed to be relocated in this way and probably the only one in New Zealand.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

While rowing was a popular sport, only a few of the older boatsheds remain. The Canterbury Rowing Club's building, along with those the other Christchurch rowing clubs had on the river Avon are no longer standing. In Auckland, the original St George's Rowing Club building is also no longer remains. Currently there are only two boatsheds included on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Register, the Wellington Rowing Club and the Wanganui Rowing Club. The Wellington Rowing Club was not a purpose built clubrooms and the Wanganui Rowing Club now functions as a museum. The Star Boating Club Building is older than both these buildings and it is the only one to have had a continuous association with rowing.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The Star Boating Club Building, together with the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club building, forms a prominent part of the Wellington waterfront. Together they provide a tangible reminder of Wellington's long standing connections with the harbour. As a sporting club rooms it continues to play a part in the leisure time of many people.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, e, g, j, k.

Conclusion:

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

The Star Boating Club Building is of outstanding significance for several reasons. Its long-standing and continuous association with the Star Boating Club makes it the clubrooms of one of the oldest sporting clubs in New Zealand, and one which is likely to have once been the largest athletic club in the Southern Hemisphere. The club has had several prominent members including Lord Freyberg, a former Governor General of New Zealand, and New Zealand representative athletes. Rowing has important place in the history of sport in New Zealand and this building is one of the few remaining historic rowing club boatsheds.

The Star Boating Club Building is the work of the prominent architect William Chatfield and it is an important part of the built environment on Wellington's waterfront, providing a visible reminder of Wellington's long standing connections with the harbour. The distinctive Star Boating Club Building contributes considerably to the streetscape in the surrounding area. The building itself is of outstanding technological significance as it was built on skids to enable easy relocation as harbour reclamations progressed. It was moved by steam engine, and is thought to be the only building in New Zealand designed to be moved in this way. Although the skids have been replaced by a new foundation when the building was relocated for a second time in 1989, the building retains its technological value for the foresight and practicality of this design feature.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Chatfield, William Charles

Chatfield (1851/52-1930) was born in Sussex and educated in Brixton, Surrey. He came to New Zealand at the age of sixteen in 1867 and was immediately engaged in architectural work. He joined the Public Service in 1872 as Chief Draughtsman and Assistant Paymaster and Engineer in the Engineer's Department of the Wellington Province. He held these positions until 1876 when provincial government was abolished. During this time he worked on the Thorndon reclamation and designed many bridges.

He went into private practice in 1876 and designed several large office and warehouse buildings such as Kings Chambers, corner Willis and Willeston Streets (1902), the Wellington Opera House (1886) and the Colonial Mutual Insurance Building, corner Customhouse Quay and Willeston Street (1897). Stewart Dawson's Building (1900)

Chatfield's buildings were characterised by their enormous strength resulting from the use of heavy masonry reinforced with railway irons for foundations, cornices and columns.

Chatfield contributed to the foundation and development of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and was elected first president for the 1905-6 term. He was re-elected for the following term, 1906-7, and again in 1914-15.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Star Boating Club Building is significant due to its long standing association with the Star Boating Club. Initially founded as the Star Regatta Club, the club was established in 1866 by H.F. Logan, J.C. Boddington and R. Kirton, among others, and the name was quickly changed to the Star Boating Club. The Star Boating Club is the third oldest rowing club in New Zealand. New Zealand's oldest rowing club, the Canterbury Rowing Club, was established in 1861, while the second oldest club, the Union Rowing Club in Christchurch, was also established in 1866. The Star Boating Club is the oldest rowing club in the North Island, with the Auckland Rowing Club established in 1869 and the neighbouring Wellington Rowing club established in 1871. In terms of New Zealand sporting clubs more broadly, the Star Boating Club is the oldest sporting club in Wellington and one of the oldest in the North Island.

Rowing was a popular sport for men and the Star Boating Club was once possibly the largest athletic club in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting 390 members prior to World War One. The club has operated continuously since 1866, though in a reduced capacity during World War One and World War Two. A large number of the club's members served in both World Wars as well as in the Boer War. Their service is acknowledged within the club buildings on Rolls of Honour as well as with photographs.

The Star Boating Club Building was purpose built for the club, on reclaimed land. Wellington Harbour has a long history of Maori settlement and the harbour is of importance to local iwi. In particular, Te Aro Pa was in close proximity to this part of Wellington Harbour. The Star Boating Club building was originally sited on Customhouse Quay, on land later occupied by Briscoe Mills. The site was reclaimed from Wellington Harbour, an initiative paid for by members of the club.

The architect was William Charles Chatfield, himself a member of the club. William Chatfield was the noted architect of a number of buildings in the Wellington area including the Stewart Dawson's building, built 1901 (Record number 1871) and Bishop's Court, built 1879 (Record number 1361). The two-storeyed design of the club building allocated storage space for rowing boats on the ground floor and other facilities upstairs. The iron-roofed timber building was erected in 1886 by contractors W. Fitzgerald and E.Connal, at a total cost of £2,101/14/8. Timbers used in the construction include kauri, heart matai and other indigenous heart timbers. The Star Boating Club building is now a rare timber building in the central city. It is also the oldest building in its immediate area; the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club building is eight years younger, and was built on the site next to the Star Boating Club in 1894.

The 1886 building was not the Star Boating Club's first clubhouse; their first shed was erected in 1867 near the site of the Cenotaph. This site proved less than ideal, with club members having to carry their boats to the water at low tide. Harbour reclamation resulted in the club relocating to another shed in 1874, and this shed was extended in 1878. Further harbour reclamations during 1883 meant that the club needed to move yet again. Given that the club's previous boatsheds had been affected by harbour reclamations, the new Star Boating Club Building was specifically designed in such a way that it could be easily relocated. This involved constructing the club on skids, so it could be towed to a new location when it became necessary. This foresight proved its worth soon enough, as it was only three years later, in 1889, that the clubrooms were moved due to ongoing harbour reclamations, which had resulted in the clubhouse losing some of its water frontage. The Star Boating Club Building was pulled by steam engine, at a cost of £125, to the site the building then occupied on Jervois Quay for 100 years [Lot 3 DP 2428]. The building is likely to be the only building in Wellington designed to be relocated in this way. It is probable that is the only building in New Zealand transported in this way, due to the distinctive situation in Wellington that involved a lot of land being reclaimed from the harbour.

In 1893 the club grounds were fenced and two years later the middle windows in the reading room were replaced by a french window. The Star Boating Club Building was described in 1897 as possessing a social and reading room situated on the upper floor, as well as a complete gymnasium, dressing rooms and other conveniences. In 1907 the social hall, dressing rooms, lobbies and staircases were renovated.

Members of the Star Boating Club formed their own volunteer corps in 1898, The Star Boating Club Submarine Mining Volunteer Corps. In 1900 it was proposed that the Volunteer Corps be severed from the Star Boating Club and by the 15th of August 1900 the renamed Wellington Sub-marine Mining Corps were meeting at the Academy of Fine Arts. The group disbanded in 1901 and the funds went to the Star Boating Club. Prior to the First World War the club also engaged members in sporting activities other than rowing, including debating, football and boxing. Club members were also involved in annual balls.

Over time the club rooms have been associated with organisations other than the Star Boating Club, and have been used by many groups for a variety of purposes. During World War One the Star Boating Club Building was used by the club's ladies committee. This group prepared garments for the expeditionary forces to Samoa and Egypt. The social hall and other parts of the clubhouse were used by the St. John Ambulance Brigade Overseas, who were engaged in making hospital equipment on site, as well as using the building for lectures, training and making parcels for troops overseas. In 1921 the building was described as being in a bad state of repair and in 1922 there was a small fire which damaged the stairway and the upstairs hall. In 1930 a window was installed in the door bay, and in 1935 improvements were made to the supper room.

In 1931 the Wellington Rowing Club moved into the building adjacent to Star Boating Club Building, furthering the bonds between these two clubs. At this time an addition was constructed between the two clubrooms. The two rowing clubs had previously enjoyed a close but competitive relationship, and this relationship continues to the present day. The clubs remain neighbours and the two clubrooms are now joined by a later addition used by both clubs to store boats.

Prior to the outbreak of WWII Star Boating Club members formed their own military platoon attached to Wellington 'B' Regiment. The club is possibly the only sporting body in New Zealand to have done so. The Second World War saw many club members serving overseas and a number of other groups made use of the building during this time. Groups which used the building included the Auxillary Transport Section (Women's section) of the Red Cross Society who from 1941 used the clubrooms for training purposes one evening a week. In 1941 the Police Identification Branch also requested the use of the ground floor of Star Boating Club Building for use 'as a cleaning station for casualties in the event of an emergency'. A swarm of earthquakes in 1942 resulted in the clubrooms being used by the Traffic Department, the chainmen of the Engineers Department and the Ladies Patriotic Committee. The Council agreed to renovate the premises in order to accommodate these groups, on the condition that the building was to be returned to its prior state after the groups vacated. The Wellington Provincial Patriotic Society also used the building, as well as erecting a shed along the full length of the southern side of a piece of vacant land in front of the building in 1944. This building was still standing in 1946. The Star Boating Club's lease was not renewed in 1944, as at that time the intention was to house the club in the new civic centre.

In 1945 the exterior of the eastern end of the Star Boating Club Building was slightly damaged by fire, and the clubrooms were renovated the same year. This included transferring the lockers to the social hall and converting the dressing room into a dance hall, removing the platform from along the top of the hall and installing a semicircular stage in a corner of the hall and double doors into the north wall. The floor was also repaired and made suitable for dancing and the walls lined with Pinex. In 1946 the committee room was altered for lockers. The building's association with other groups continued after the Second World War. The clubrooms were leased to various groups including the New Settlers Association, Crowe's orchestra, the Amateur Theatrical Group, the Table Tennis Association and the Rue Sae Club. To meet Council safety requirements, and in order to keep renting the building out to various groups, fire exits were constructed in 1956, other renovations were carried out in 1957 and a new stairway was constructed in 1963. The Star Boating Club Building was also renovated in 1965, in time for the club's centennial celebrations. These renovations included altering the hall and facilities with the intention of creating 'a most modern cabaret style hall'. A bar was installed in 1966 and a large window was installed in the hall in 1967. From 1974 and into the 1980s the Londoners Club of Wellington Inc. was located on the upper floor of the Star Boating Club Building.

The Star Boating Club has had a number of prominent members, both in sporting circles and in the wider community. Rowing was very much the domain of upper class men for much of its early history. The membership of the club reflected this, with many members being prominent names in Wellington and New Zealand history. Former Governor General, recipient of the VC and military general, Lord Freyberg is perhaps the most famous former member of the Star Boating Club.

Of the many people who have rowed for the club, some have gone on to represent New Zealand at events such as the Olympics. George Cooke is one such athlete; he rowed for the New Zealand Eight at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1932. Rowing has been an important sport for New Zealand at an international level since 1920 when Darcy Hadfield won a bronze medal as part of the first New Zealand Olympic team. Since that time New Zealand rowers have won 16 Olympic medals (six gold, two silver and eight bronze). Rowing medals account for 18 percent of the total Olympic medals won by New Zealanders. On a national level, the Star Boating Club has also produced a number of New Zealand Championship winners.

The Star Boating Club building has also played an important part in the history of the Downstage Theatre. Downstage Theatre is New Zealand's longest running professional theatre company; it was established in 1964 and continues to operate today. The motivation to rent the building to Downstage was to raise funds in order to build new clubrooms. The Star Boating Club Building was used by Downstage between 1969 and 1973 while the Hannah Playhouse was being constructed. Downstage Theatre carried out a number of modifications to the upper storey of the building during this time, including removing posts, while the rowing club continued to operate from the ground floor. Star Boating Club's honours boards were removed from the walls of the main venue at this time - these boards, constructed of oak shipped over from England, record the Club's regatta wins from the 1890s to the late 1960s and were rediscovered in the building's ceiling in 2007. In 1970 new changing rooms were constructed downstairs as Downstage was now using the upstairs changing rooms. During Downstage's time at the Star Boating Club Building a number of notable New Zealanders, including Ray Henwood, Pat Evison, George Webby, Peter Gwynne, Heather Eggleton, John Banas, Dorothy McKegg, Colin McColl, Ken Blackburn, Harry Lavington, Glenis Levestam, Kate Harcourt, Grant Tilly, Fergus Dick, Donna Akersten, Bruce Greenfield, Catherine Wilkin, Susan Wilson, Peter Vere-Jones, Bruce Mason, Ian Mune, Ross Jolly, Janice Finn, Ian Fraser, Dave Smith, Michael Haigh, Sam Neill, Ginette McDonald, Paul Holmes and John Clarke were acting with the company.

Early in the 1970s harbour reclamation continued and the building was again facing the potential loss of its waterfront position. A small area in front of the club buildings remained as a lagoon so that the club could continue rowing. This was intended as a short term measure. For a number of years the prospect of demolishing the Star Boating Club, as well as the Wellington Rowing Club building, had been discussed by the club and with the council. The two rowing clubs were described as 'an eyesore in the centre of the Capital city' in a Wellington City Council report. In 1972 the Wellington Rowing Club was issued with an eviction notice due to the building's poor state of repair. The intention was that once the building was demolished the two clubs would share the Star Boating Club Building, as it was deemed to be in a better condition. However, due to the size of each club they could not both be accommodated within the Star Boating Club Building, and the eviction notice for the Wellington Rowing Club building was rescinded. Both clubs lobbied against relocation to a site adjacent to Freyberg Pool, as it was deemed to be an unsuitable site for rowing. In order to remain in their respective buildings both clubs undertook renovations to their clubhouses in order to meet council requirements.

In 1989 the Star Boating Club Building was relocated for a second time, as part of the first stage of the Lambton Harbour redevelopment project. The Lambton Harbour redevelopment project also saw the development of Frank Kitts Park and later the City to Sea bridge. The neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club building was also moved. The Star Boating Club Building was moved about 100 metres north across the lagoon and rotated 180 degrees so that, for the first time in its history, the building now faces towards the city (and lagoon) rather than towards the sea. The lagoon was also enlarged and redeveloped at this time. The building was extensively refurbished at the time of the relocation and the 1931 addition between the two buildings was demolished. In its place a single-storeyed structure, for housing additional boats, was built connecting the two buildings, and is shared by both boating clubs. Refurbishments to the Star Boating Club Building included the replacing or repairing of windows and doors and the construction of a new foundation. Up until this time the foundations of the building had been skids which had to be repaired often, and the clubrooms had not been permanently fixed to the foundations, in order to facilitate easy relocation. The construction of a new foundation resulted in some issues at the time around the ownership of the building and the land it occupied. Currently the Star Boating Club owns the building while Wellington Waterfront Limited owns the land it is situated on, as well as the boatshed which joins the Star Boating Club Building to the Wellington Rowing Club building.

After relocation the clubrooms of the Star Boating Club Building came to be used increasingly as a venue, since 1994 marketed under the name The Boatshed. In this capacity the building has had a significant association with cultural life in Wellington. It was used as a venue for the 1992 Fringe Festival, and that year larger windows and a balcony were installed on the northern wall of the building. In 1993 it was the venue for the Gay and Lesbian Devotion Festival.

In the early 1990's, by which time the Star Boating Club building had fallen into a woeful state of disrepair, major refurbishment and restoration work was orchestrated by the property management members of the Club Committee who made a successful application to the Lotteries Communities Facilities Board for a grant to undertake necessary work in conjunction with the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Demonstrating the community attachment to the building, Athfield Architects and Rider Hunt, Quantity Surveyors contributed invaluable professional services and instruction without any guarantee of payment. Many club members and associates also were instrumental in saving the building, contributing their time to numerous fundraising activities. Modifications to the building at this time included changes to the kitchen, toilets, changing rooms, committee room and the creation of three new storage rooms as well as the resultant repositioning of windows and doors. A new deck was also constructed. These changes coincided with the building being used as the Festival Club for the 1994 and 1996 International Festival of the Arts. Performers at the Star Boating Club have included When The Cat's Been Spayed, Mika and the Nairobi Trio. The building has also been a venue for the Annual 'Beacons of Hope' Aids Memorial and the 1999 and 2000 NZ TV2 Comedy Festival.

Aside from these high profile events the Boatshed continues to be popular venue for weddings, conferences and other events, and was the venue for one of New Zealand's first Civil Unions immediately following adoption of the Civil Union Bill by Parliament, at which the Mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast, was the celebrant. The Star Boating Club committee, continuing the behest of the founders, have deemed that the Boatshed clubrooms also be available to the widest possible community by virtue of a decision not to become licensed premises (food and/or alcohol) and that it continues to provide support to education, arts, and sporting groups wishing to use the venue. The rowing club continues to attract rowers and has close links with secondary school rowing especially with Queen Margaret College, Wellington Girls' College and Wellington College.

The distinctive Star Boating Club Building remains a prominent feature on the Wellington waterfront and contributes greatly to the streetscape in the surrounding area. This decorative building, along with the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club, has strong associations for Wellingtonians and provides a visible reminder of Wellington's long-standing connections with the harbour.

The foresight of William Chatfield's design for the Star Boating Club Building has proved its worth. Built on skids, just three years after being erected the building was first moved via steam engine in 1889. The building was shifted again, one hundred years later, in 1989. Now on its third site, the building retains its original purpose as the clubrooms for the Star Boating Club.

While rowing is still a popular sport, only a few of the older boatsheds remain. There are presently two boatsheds included on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Register; the Wellington Rowing Club, built in 1894 and the Wanganui Rowing Club built in 1898. The Wellington Rowing Club was not originally built for that club, and the Wanganui Rowing Club has subsequently been converted into a museum. The Canterbury Rowing Clubs building, along with those other Christchurch rowing clubs had on the river Avon are no longer standing. In Auckland, the original St George's Rowing Club building is also no longer remains.

Physical Description

Construction Professionals:

Architect: William Charles Chatfield

Builders: W. Fitzgerald and E.Connal

Environ:

The Star Boating Club is the northernmost of two buildings sited at the end of the small reclamation peninsula near Cable Street, on the sea-edge side of Wellington City. With its adjoining southern neighbour, it faces west towards the city, separated from it by a lagoon and large descending concrete steps into its water.

To the east, beyond the immediate paved area, the harbour walkway concourse stretches from Taranaki Wharf towards Frank Kitts Park across a footbridge. Across the wharf promenade is the wharf edge of Wellington Harbour. At its north end the building looks out onto the brief rocky garden of the reclamation and the passage of lagoon water beneath the bridge to the harbour.

Building Exterior:

The Star Boating Club is a two storeyed long rectangular building of timber construction. Two long corrugated gables run side by side, north-south, the full length of the building. Midway, on both long sides (east and west), are secondary gables.

The arrangement of the Star Boating Club is in the manner of a sporting pavilion. The business of boat storage, rigging and putting-to-sea occurs at ground floor level. Space around the building is open, paved and free from built-in obstructions, allowing the easy transfer of boats between sea, vehicle and storage. Arched double-door openings, numerous and wide, lead from both east and west into boat storage areas.

Spectator viewing and hospitality activities occur on the first floor clubrooms, with the primary entrance centred beneath the secondary gable on the east side of the building and leading directly upstairs. A first floor viewing balcony runs the full length of the west side of the building, overlooking the lagoon. At the north end of the building, a balcony extends squarely from the first floor, and beneath it is a small lean-to shed. Southwards, an infill addition fills the space between the Star Boating Club and its neighbour the Wellington Rowing Club - an irregular rectangular weatherboarded addition with a balustraded deck to its roof.

The Star Boating Club is both Victorian domestic and nautical in its appearance. Domestic Victorian architecture is evident in the features here where timber construction and style of windows and decoration resemble the motifs and patterning of residential building of the time. Gable ends are marked by exposed rafter ties and finials. Eave brackets, currently painted in a contrasting colour, are a decorative edge beneath the roof. Weatherboards are broad and rusticated. Facing boards to windows are wide and extended. The use of timber as a cladding material alludes to both the exquisite possibilities of timber maritime craft and also the material most often used in Wellington for house construction.

The Star Boating Club is striking for its rhythmic symmetry and pattern of boatshed doors and windows, here accentuated in contrasting colour. On the east side, windows and doors alternate at ground floor and (almost) symmetrically array on the upper floor. On the west, the boating doors of the lower level face the lagoon (rather than the harbour) - seven spaced timber doors with pitched frames to match the gable roof. Above them, the secondary gable contains a pitched window with matching arrays of windows either side. Facing northward, a pair of large pitched windows fit beneath gable ends.

Ground Floor - Boat Storage:

Moving inside through any of the large boatshed doors, the boatshed storage space can be seen as one single very large space. In rows and lines of stored boats, with a boatshed door at one or both ends of the space between, reach from end to end.

The stored rowing boats are mounted full height on substantial timber posts, mounted with brackets to support the vessels, oars, and related gear. Posts are champfered and bear countless knocks and marks of use. The posts also support the floor beams above, blocked at each post-lintel joint.

At the north end, changing rooms and toilets have been installed. At the south end, the shed extends similarly into the infill addition space adjoining the neighbouring Wellington Rowing Club. The floor is concrete apart from the perimeter timber covered channel. The timber shed doors can now be seen to be tall sliding doors on heavy gantry rails. Walls are generally timber-framed and unlined. Ceilings are braced and board lined.

Upper Floor - Clubrooms "The Boatshed":

The eastern ground floor entrance lobby and the stairs are of more recent construction. They lead upstairs to a generous upper lobby and to a large open hall which occupies over half of the top floor. The hall is remarkable for its open roof framing of rafters, collar ties and cross braces. The two gables of the roof, clearly seen from beneath are supported by exterior walls and a long steel and timber lintel. The floor is matai-timbered; the walls are plaster lined with timber panels edged with a rounded ornamental moulding; the windows are timber and varying. Oldest windows are smaller double or single hung sash cord windows with slender mullions. Later windows are larger fixed-glazed broad windows with few openings. Three door openings lead out onto the balcony facing the lagoon while the two pairs of double doors to the north open onto the extended northern deck.

Towards the southern end of the building the hall leads into a lounge area with a modern bar installation and a separate committee room. While these areas are carpeted, the roof form remains visible. Tucked between the upper stair lobby and the committee room on the east side are toilets and a modern commercial kitchen. Access to the roof deck of the building addition can be gained via the eastern committee room and a separate fire egress door.

Construction Dates

Relocation
1889 -
Relocated to Jervois Quay [Lot 3 DP 2428, Wellington Land District]

Modification
1895 -
Windows replaced in the reading room

Modification
1907 -
Social hall, dressing rooms, lobbies and staircases renovated.

Modification
1930 -
Window installed in door bay

Modification
1935 -
Supper room renovated

Designed
1942 -
Building renovated

Modification
1945 -
Lockers transferred to the social hall, dressing room converted into a dance hall, semicircular stage installed, double doors installed, platform along the top of the hall removed, floor repaired, walls lined

Modification
1956 -
Fire exits installed

Modification
1963 -
New stairway

Modification
1965 -
Hall and facilities altered

Modification
1966 -
Bar installed

Modification
1967 -
Window installed in hall

Modification
1969 -
Posts removed upstairs

Modification
1970 -
New dressing rooms created

Modification
1975 -
Building renovated

Relocation
1989 -
Relocated to Lot 2 DP 363596, Wellington Land District

Modification
1989 -
Building renovated and shed built between the Star Boating Club and the Wellington Rowing Club.

Modification
1992 -
Windows and balcony installed on the northern wall of the building

Modification
1994 -
Alterations to kitchen, toilets, changing rooms and committee room; creation of three new storage rooms, windows and doors repositioned, new deck constructed

Modification
1999 -
Window on south eastern corner replaced with a larger one

Original Construction
1886 -
Original Construction on Customhouse Quay site

Construction Details

Timber and corrugated iron.

Completion Date

21st April 2009

Report Written By

Chloe Searle & Alison Dangerfield

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.1, Wellington, 1897

Evening Post

Evening Post

2 Feb 1992, 3 Nov 1994

Scott, 1966

F L Scott, The Star Boating Club 1866-1966, The Star Boating Club, Wellington, 1966.

Smythe, 2004

John Smythe, Downstage upfront: the first 40 years of New Zealand's longest-running professional theatre, Victoria University Press, 2004.

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.