Covered Sheep Pens, Marlborough Agricultural & Pastoral Association Showgrounds

A & P Park, 149-183 Maxwell Road, Redwoodtown, Blenheim

  • Covered Sheep Pens, Marlborough Agricultural & Pastoral Association Showgrounds, Blenheim.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: A Dangerfield. Date: 6/04/2017.
  • Covered Sheep Pens, Marlborough Agricultural & Pastoral Association Showgrounds, Blenheim. The interior of the Covered Sheep Pens.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: A Dangerfield. Date: 6/04/2017.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 1508 Date Entered 25th November 1982

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 2 DP 1145 (CT MB3A/111; NZ Gazette 1983, p.3170), Marlborough Land District, and the building known as Covered Sheep Pens, Marlborough Agricultural & Pastoral Association Showgrounds, thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 8 March 2018.

City/District Council

Marlborough District

Region

Marlborough Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 2 DP 1145 (CT MB3A/111; NZ Gazette 1983, p.3170), Marlborough Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Marlborough Agricultural & Pastoral (A & P) Association constructed the Covered Sheep Pens in 1923 as the launch project for a large scheme of improvements to its showgrounds achieved in the 1920s. It has architectural and historical significance as an example of a key type of building associated with agricultural showgrounds, contributing to our understanding of the central place of agriculture in New Zealand’s history, society and economy. The Covered Sheep Pens, along with the Grandstand and the Entrance Gates and Wall, and the open space of the grounds, still convey a clear sense of the historic showground landscape.

The Wairau Agricultural Society was founded in 1870 during a period of rapid expansion of this type of organisation. The organisation split in 1874 after a close vote in favour of purchasing Maxwell Road land. It reconsolidated in Febrary 1876 as the Marlborough Agricultural Association and changed its name to the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association in 1880.

When purchased in 1874, the showgrounds on Maxwell Road contained approximately six acres; the first show occurred there in April 1875. Although the main purpose of agricultural shows was to ‘display new breeds and encourage improvements in stock,’ they were also a central feature provincial New Zealand’s social calendar and usually drew big crowds.

The Association made regular improvements to the showgrounds, but sometime between 1908 and 1928, it doubled the showground’s size through aquisition(s) of land to the south. This expansion permitted the reorganisation and modernisation of the facilities, including construction of larger buildings and structures, most notably covered sheep pens (1923), a masonry grandstand (1924-25), and the Maxwell Road brick wall with entrance and service gates (1928-29). Even before all of the improvements were realised, the Marlborough Express described them as ‘splendid’ and suggested they ‘placed the grounds in the forefront of any in New Zealand for modernity and completeness.’

In April 1924, the Marlborough Express reported on a recent meeting of the Association, stating: ‘The bright and rosy hope of many members of the committee...has been to embark at an early date upon a scheme of improvement to the Show Grounds, along the same plane of achievement as the new covered sheep pens.’ The ‘plane of achievement’ for the sheep pens was considerable. Being a single storey they had a more subdued presence than the Grandstand, but they were easily the largest component of the showgrounds outside of the ring itself.

An article about the Association’s annual meeting in February 1920 reported: ‘a sheep-pen covering fund has been established, largely due to the energy of Mr Charles Teschemaker-Shute, and a very considerable sum, under offer and in hand, is available for this object.’ Teschemaker-Shute was part of a prominent Marlborough sheep farming family based at Avondale Station in Renwicktown. The ambitious venture seems to have required another three years of fundraising and even then the material from the old sheep pens was sold at auction to help fund the project. In 1923, the association hired Nicoll Brothers to construct the new facility containing 400 pens; it was completed in time for the spring 1923 annual show.

The large open pavilion is composed of two parallel, lofty, gable roofed structures encircled by one-storey lean-tos. In a 1929 article about the recent redevelopment of the showgrounds, the Marlborough Express suggested the facility had influenced the design of others: ‘First came the Sheep pavilion, which houses the sheep section for which the show is principally noted and which is being copied in other parts of New Zealand.’

The Covered Sheep Pens appear to be largely unchanged. They have received regular maintenance by the Association and underwent a refurbishment project in 2007 repairing structural timber, spouting, and downpipes.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Nicoll Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1923 -

Completion Date

26th January 2018

Report Written By

James Jacobs

Information Sources

Marlborough Express

Marlborough Express

‘Ye Olden Days.’ Marlborough Express. 1 November 1909. p. 2.

A Grand Parade: A History of the Marlborough A & P Association

Brooks, Cynthia. A Grand Parade: A History of the Marlborough A & P Association.

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand