P. & D. Duncan Building

1-7/204 St Asaph Street, Christchurch

  • P. & D. Duncan Building. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Paul Willyams. Taken By: Paul Willyams. Date: 19/01/2010.
  • P. & D. Duncan Building. Original image submitted at time of registration. February 1993.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: M E Emberson.
  • P. & D. Duncan Building. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite). Taken By: PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite). Date: 20/05/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1911 Date Entered 26th November 1981


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 64932 (CT CB37D/34), and Units 1-7 DP 66479 (CTs CB39A/396-402), Canterbury Land District and the building known as P. & D. Duncan Building thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 6 September 2017.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 64932 (CT CB37D/34), and Units 1-7 DP 66479 (CTs CB39A/396-402), Canterbury Land District


The three storeyed brick building at 1-7/204 St Asaph Street in central Christchurch was constructed in 1903-4 for P. & D. Duncan Limited, one of New Zealand’s leading early foundries and engineering works, and has historical and social significance as a rare reminder of the heavy industry formerly in this area of the city. It has architectural and aesthetic significance as an industrial building designed by the early twentieth century Christchurch architectural practice of Clarkson and Ballantyne, and is one of a small number of Edwardian industrial buildings remaining in the central city.

Scottish brothers Peter and David Duncan were pioneer ironmasters who formed the firm that became P. & D. Duncan Limited, specialist manufacturers of agricultural machinery (the South British Agricultural Implement Works). Their trade training had been in smithery and fitting. Peter emigrated to New Zealand in 1863 and he initially joined in partnership with Benjamin Cordery, a Lyttelton blacksmith. In 1865 he set up business with Alex Scrimgeour, and the following year they set up a small establishment in Cashel Street, Christchurch, but this burned down in 1869. Peter’s older brother, David, had arrived in New Zealand in 1867 and the pair worked together, joining in partnership in 1870. In 1876 P. & D. Duncan shifted to larger premises in Tuam Street, where they built a new wheelwrights and blacksmith shop with eight forges for 40 employees. David died in 1897 and Peter retired through ill health in 1901 (he died in 1907). Their business was carried on by several of their sons and Peter’s brother-in-law, James Keir. The firm produced farm implements and road-making machinery, notably ploughs and drills. The present three storey building, designed by Clarkson and Ballantyne, was part of a wider site redevelopment in 1903-4 by P. & D. Duncan Limited. The firm operated over a large area on both Tuam and St Asaph Streets. The St Asaph Street building was an ‘up-to-date foundry … complete with commodious pattern shop, extensive pattern store, fettling shop, store for castings, motor room and all necessary accessories…’.

The three storeyed building is constructed mainly of brick in a ‘Free’ style. It features a moulded parapet which is clearly inscribed ‘ESTBD 1865, P. & D. DUNCAN LIMTD, BUILT 1903’. Oamaru stone detailing enhances the building with keystones and horizontal banding. Immediately to the east is the R. Buchanan & Sons foundry building which was constructed in 1904-5 in similar materials and style. The interior contains the original Jarrah floors and Oregon trusses.

The building passed in to the ownership of the Cotter family (Te Wharau Investments Ltd) in 1980 and in 1986 the business of P. & D. Duncan closed, after a century of contribution to the development of New Zealand agriculture. The threat of demolition of the main building was averted by the decision of the Cotters to strengthen and convert it for mixed residential-retail use in the mid-1990s, to the designs of the architectural practice Warren and Mahoney. The rear buildings were demolished and more apartments were built at the rear during the later stages of the development (before 1998) but these are not included in the extent of the List entry. The redevelopment was one of the earliest inner city apartment conversations of an industrial building in Christchurch, and the Cotters were recognised with a Civic Trust Award for the restoration and conversion development in 1994.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clarkson & Ballantyne

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Warren & Mahoney

The practice was founded in 1955 by Sir Miles Warren in Christchurch where he was later joined in partnership by Maurice Mahoney in 1958; the partnership went on to design buildings that are now regarded as the benchmark of New Zealand Modernism: Harewood Crematorium (1963), College House (1966), Canterbury Students' Union (1967) and Christchurch Town Hall (1972), are amongst many examples of their mid- to late-twentieth century works.

Sir Miles was knighted in 1985 for his services to architecture and in 2003 named one of ten inaugural ‘Icons of the Arts’ by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Since 1979, the practice has expanded to Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne, where they have nurtured some of New Zealand’s finest architectural talent. Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney retired in in the early 1990s. Currently, Warren and Mahoney is an insight led multi-disciplinary practice working across all disciplines of architecture.

The practice has a long association with the refurbishment and restoration of historic buildings in New Zealand and has worked closely with Heritage NZ to achieve best outcomes for these heritage buildings while ensuring the highest possible standards of modern functioning requirements are met. They are conversant with the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of places of Cultural Heritage Value and the Burra Charters for the conservation of buildings.

Rennie and Pearce

Builders of P. & D. Duncan Building (1903-4), St Asaph Street, CHRISTCHURCH

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1903 - 1904

Conversion to retail and apartments

Completion Date

6th June 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

John Pollard. 'Duncan, David and Duncan, Peter', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/2d19/duncan-david (accessed 26 May 2017).

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 Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.