South Malvern School (Former)

275 Whitecliffs Road, Glentunnel

  • South Malvern School (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • South Malvern School ((Former). October 1994. Original image submitted at time of registration .
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Pam Wilson.
  • South Malvern School (Former). October 1994. Original image submitted at time of registration .
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Pam Wilson.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1786 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 8, 10 Blk XIII DP 10 (CB81/217) and part of the land described as Lot 12 Blk XIII DP 10 (CT CB81/217), Canterbury Land District and the building known as South Malvern School (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 11 September 2014.

City/District Council

Selwyn District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lots 8, 10, 12 Blk XIII DP 10 (CT CB81/217), Canterbury Land District


South Malvern School (Former), built in 1882 to 1883, is an unusually well-preserved example of a nineteenth century rural school building that reflects concerns of the day for improving classroom environments. It has historical significance as a former public building in the nineteenth century township of South Malvern. The building is rare, and potentially unique, as a surviving educational building designed by Thomas Stoddart Lambert and as such has architectural significance. It has technological significance as a well-preserved example of Lambert’s system of building ventilation.

European settlement in the South Malvern district was founded upon the area’s rich resources of coal, clay and limestone. The present day town of Whitecliffs was originally two settlements – Whitecliffs at the terminus of the branch railway and the South Malvern township formed in 1872. In 1880 the residents of South Malvern presented a petition to the North Canterbury Board of Education for a school in the township. A separate school district for South Malvern was formed in January 1882, but by June of that year pupils were still travelling to Glentunnel to attend lessons. In July 1882 Christchurch architect Thomas Stoddart Lambert was instructed by the North Canterbury Board of Education to prepare plans for a new school. At the end of that month Lambert invited tenders for building a school at South Malvern. The school was completed and opened in January 1883.

Lambert was contracted to the North Canterbury Board of Education from 1878 to 1882 and developed a standard, cost-effective set of designs for them. South Malvern School (Former) is a rectangular timber building clad in timber shiplap weatherboards with a corrugated iron gable roof. The building features five pairs of sash windows on the eastern elevation with a large window in four mullioned panels at the north end. Two pairs of taller sash windows are set in the western side, and a double door on this elevation is a presumed later addition. Internally the building is an open space with exposed timber trusses on decorative wall brackets. Two fire places have been enclosed with hearth stones removed, but ornate stone mantels remain.

Of particular concern to Lambert was the provision of adequate sanitation and ventilation to improve the children’s learning environment. South Malvern School (Former) features a technological feature developed by Lambert and first employed in his design for the Colombo Road School, Sydenham in 1878; a turret situated on the ridgeline was partially clad in iron and fitted with iron louvres, designed to heat up and advance the egress of warm air. The ceiling is set with decorative brass ceiling roses (pateras) that conceal openings in the ceiling and fresh air is drawn into the building through adjustable “Sheringham” ventilators ducts set into the west wall. Ventilators were also originally set above the fire places to allow the circulation of hot air from the chimney bricks, but these vents have been removed.

South Malvern School (Former) closed in 1960 and until 2014 was used by Branston Intermediate School, Christchurch as an outdoor education facility. The building has been well-maintained with many original features intact. The building sustained some damage in the Darfield Earthquake of 2010 and both brick chimneys have been dismantled to below roof height. The roof has been replaced in recent times.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Thomas Stoddart Lambert

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Completion Date

23rd February 2015

Report Written By

Christine Whybrew

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 Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand