Thorndon Fire Station (Former)

1-4/12 Murphy Street, Thorndon, Wellington

  • Thorndon Fire Station (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Vivienne Morrell. Date: 30/10/2012.
  • Thorndon Fire Station (Former) from Murphy Street.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Vivenne Morrell. Date: 30/10/2012.
  • Thorndon Fire Station (Former) 1985. Image included in NZHPT Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Barbara Fill.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1440 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 80634 (CT SRS WN49A/612), Wellington Land District and the building known as Thorndon Fire Station (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 80634 (CT SRS WN49A/612), Wellington Land District


Thorndon Fire Station (Former) was designed by the architectural firm of Clere and Fitzgerald and was built in 1898 as a single-storey school and kindergarten. Known as Pipitea Private School, it was run by Miss Esther Baber and Miss Beatrice Richmond, who had both taught at Mrs Swainson’s school where architect Frederick de Jersey Clere’s daughter had been a pupil. The school was located on the corner of Murphy and Pipitea Streets in the Wellington central suburb of Thorndon. The building had a pitched roof and shingled gable, with vents along the ridgeline, small gables topped by a finial over the sash windows, and hoods over the paired double-sash windows on Murphy Street and over the entrance on Pipitea Street.

The school building was converted to a fire station and a second storey of living accommodation was added by the builder T J Townshend before it opened in about 1909/1910. Other changes were needed to the ground floor, including adding the large fire truck access door. The two-storeyed timber building is clad in rusticated weatherboards and has a bay form with a wing coming forward on the left side. It has double-hung sash windows and on the ground floor the windows have shaped tops and on the front a flared hood forming a shelter above them. The roof is low-pitched and hipped, and is sheathed in corrugated iron.

The fire station was owned by the Wellington City Council until 1931 when it was sold to the Wellington Fire Board. After a fire in 1950 it was renovated but no major alterations appear to have occurred until the 1990s. However, a comparison of photographs taken in 1919 and 1985 shows the front double sash windows have been lowered at some time (the windows were initially deliberately high so the school pupils would not be distracted by the view to the street). Inside, a staircase to the upper floor was located on the left.

The fire station moved to a new building on Thorndon Quay in 1992 and in 1994 the former fire station building was moved across the road to make way for an office and apartment complex on the Murphy and Pipitea Street corner site. In 1995 the former fire station building was converted into apartments, necessitating removal of the fire station door among other changes (a two-storey verandah has also been added, filling the recess on the right side). It is now known as the Fire Station Apartments.

The former Thorndon Fire Station is the oldest surviving fire station in Wellington. Although it no longer serves as a fire station, various elements of the original fire station (and probably of the school) are still evident, such as the windows and window hoods. The building’s history illustrates the adaptability of timber buildings, in this case from a single storey school, to two storey fire station and now apartments. Thorndon Fire Station (Former) has historic, social and architectural significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clere & Fitzgerald

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Clark and Thompson

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Townshend, T.J.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1898 -

1909 -
Conversion to a two-storey fire station

1950 -
Renovation after fire damage

1994 -

1995 -
Conversion to apartments

Completion Date

19th November 2012

Report Written By

Vivienne Morrell

Other Information

A fully referenced proposal summary report is available from the Central Region office of NZHPT.

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.