Chingford Stables

411 North Road, North East Valley, Dunedin

  • Chingford Stables. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Taken By: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Date: 9/04/2012.
  • Chingford Stables. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite). Taken By: PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite). Date: 6/04/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2146 Date Entered 27th July 1988

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 29 DP 4921 (CT OT11D/798), Otago Land District, and the building known as Chingford Stables thereon.

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 29 DP 4921 (CT OT11D/798), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

Set in extensive gardens, the handsome stone Chingford Stables, built in 1880, are the last remnant of the estate of Dunedin merchant Percival Clay Neill. The building recalls the life of this nineteenth century businessman and his family.

Dr Andrew Buchanan bought this land in the early 1860s as a base for his visits to Dunedin from his pastoral property at Patearoa on the Maniototo Plain. Buchanan set about establishing the buildings necessary for a comfortable life – a homestead, stables, dairy, and coachhouse. After Buchanan returned to England in the 1870s, Dunedin importer P.C. Neill of Neill & Co. bought the property and developed it into an extensive estate.

Neill enlarged the house and, to shelter the horse he rode to work up and down the valley and the other horses on the estate, built this substantial stone stable and a coachhouse in 1880. The stable and coachhouse were designed by prominent Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales. Chingford Stables are Neo-Gothic in style. The building is T-shaped with elaborate gables at the end of each arm and smaller ‘dormer’ gables in the centre of each arm. There is an elaborate ventilator over the centre of the main gable and a large stone arch over the double coach doors in the rear wall. There is a yard of oblong cobbles in front of the main gable. The stables are built of Leith Valley andesite with facings of pale Port Chalmers breccia. The roof is slate with mixed bands of fish-tailed and square slates. The basement has smaller blocks of andesite under a heavy band of Port Chalmers breccia. The interior was lined with tongue and groove panelling, and the floors were plaster with a cobble pattern. The stalls were divided by cast iron columns supporting a cast iron frieze. Originally the windows were lead-lit; however, the leadlight windows have been replaced by painted timber.

In May 1890, the Otago Daily Times reported that ‘a stable and coachhouse’ at Chingford was ‘destroyed by fire’ the previous evening. The horses, harness and buggies were saved, but by the time the brigade arrived ‘it was then almost hopeless to attempt to combat the flames, which had obtained a very strong hold.’ The building was ‘completely gutted.’ Soon afterwards, Neill & Co. advertised for tenders for ‘Carpenters, Plumbing, Painting, and Slating Work’ on the stable at Chingford. Plans and specifications were available at the offices of Neill & Co. From this notice it is assumed that the interior of the stables was reinstated.

P.C. Neill owned Chingford until his death in 1936. After Neill died, Dunedin City Council bought the property and developed it as a park and recreation grounds. At the time the council took on the property, all of the estate buildings were standing. The homestead was demolished in 1968, and the coachhouse in the 1990s. The stables remain as a monument to Neill’s estate. In 2014, Chingford Stables stand in the park planted by P. C. Neill, the remnant of his grand estate, and are used as a venue for weddings and community events.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

P C Neill who built the stables and used them from about 1872 to 1937 was a major Dunedin man and a founder of Wilson Neill Ltd. He was also the owner of Edinburgh House, originally known as P C Neill Universal Bond Store which gave its name to Bond Street. (Edinburgh House has been demolished).

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

This is one of the larger stone stables built in the neo-Gothic style in New Zealand. It is two storied with six gables and the equivalent of a large house in size.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK SIGNIFICANCE:

The stables are set well back from the North Road across Lindsay's Creek among mature trees. They are important within the park but not from the street.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mason & Wales Architects Ltd

Mason and Wales Architects Ltd is the oldest architectural practice in New Zealand, having been founded by William Mason (1810-1897) in 1862 Dunedin. Mason was born in England, studied under Peter Nicholson and worked under Thomas Telford and Edward Blore. In 1838 he immigrated to New South Wales, and came to New Zealand in 1840. Having spent 22 years in Auckland he went to Dunedin at the time of the gold discoveries and was elected the first mayor of Dunedin in 1865. He was active in politics as well as in architecture.

Mason was in partnership firstly with David Ross (1827-1908) and William Henry Clayton (1823-1877) and he took in N.Y.A. Wales (1832-1903) when Clayton left the firm to become Colonial Architect in Wellington. Wales had worked as a clerk of works and was very competent in all aspects of construction.

The firm was responsible for many of Dunedin's early important buildings such as the Post Office (later known as the Exchange Building), Princes Street (1864-68), the Exhibition Building (later the Dunedin Hospital), Great King Street (1864), St Matthew's Church, Stafford Street (1873), and the Wains Hotel, Princes Street (1878).

Mason and Wales designed the Abbotsford Farm Steading (1871) at Outram, Otago (NZHPT Reg. No. 7579). This farm steading was designed for James Shand, a prominent land owner, politician and businessman in the area. Mason and Wales designed another farm steading for Shand at his property Berkeley in 1881 (demolished 1981). In 1881, Mason and Wales also designed a plain concrete Chicory Kiln (NZHPT Reg. No. 3359, Cat II) at Inch Clutha, South Otago for Gregg and Coy.

Mason and Wales continues today. N.Y.A. Wales (b.1927) is a fourth generation director of the firm.

WALES, Nathaniel Young Armstrong (1832-1903)

Wales was born in Northumberland, England, and educated at Jedburgh, Scotland. He immigrated to Australia in 1854 and found employment as a carpenter working on the buildings for the first exhibition held in Melbourne.

He arrived in Dunedin about 1863, and was a clerk of works for William Mason on the old Bank of New Zealand Building (1862-64), the Post Office Building (1864-68) and the Port Chalmers Graving Dock (1868-72).

Wales entered partnership with William Mason in 1871. The firm of Mason and Wales was responsible for many fine buildings in Dunedin including Bishopscourt (1873), St Matthew's Church (1873), Government Life Insurance Building (1897) and Wains Hotel (1878).

Wales had military and political interests and was a Member of Parliament for some years. He occupied a seat on the Dunedin Harbour Board and was a Dunedin City Councillor. In 1895 he was elected Mayor of Dunedin. In 1900 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Andrew Buchanan was issued with the title for the land in North East Valley in 1863, though newspaper reports indicated he was living there by 1861. By 1863, Dr Buchanan, a medical professional trained in Scotland, had established a comfortable town estate, which he called ‘Chingford’ after his home in England. Buchanan spent much of his time at his pastoral property at Patearoa in Central Otago. He was a key figure in the treatment of those with ‘mental affliction’ and the development of lunatic asylums.

Chingford was advertised for sale or lease in December 1863. The advertisement noted ‘[t]he house is nearly new, and contains ten rooms, There are also a dairy, detached kitchen, stable, coach-house, fowl-house, piggery, orchard, and garden.’ Andrew Buchanan left New Zealand in 1873. For a time, his daughter Janet and her husband William Baldwin lived in the house. Chingford was advertised for sale again in 1876. This time the house (nine rooms), with ‘semi-detached kitchen, dairy, &c. all substantially built and finished, and supplied with every convenience. The offices comprise 4-stall stable, coach-house, harness room, cow shed, fowl-house, &c.’

Dunedin merchant Percival Clay Neill (1842-1936) bought Chingford in 1877; the estate was to be his home for six decades. Neill made substantial additions to the house and set about establishing the grounds and outbuildings.

Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales advertised for tenders to ‘erect stables and coachhouse, of Stone or Brick’ in November 1880. Of the outbuildings, the coachhouse and stables were the most substantial. Chingford Stables are built of Leith Valley andesite with facings of pale Port Chalmers breccia. The roof is slate with mixed bands of fish-tailed and square slates. The basement has smaller blocks of andesite under a heavy band of Port Chalmers breccia. The interior was lined with tongue and groove panelling, and the floors were plaster with a cobble pattern. The stalls were divided by cast iron columns supporting a cast iron frieze. Originally the windows were lead-lighted; however, the leadlight windows have been replaced with painted timber.

In February 1883, Chingford was advertised as available to let ‘for a term of years’ – as Neill was planning to travel to England. Neill’s additions to the property had resulted in a ‘SUBSTANTIAL DWELLING-HOUSE of 11 ROOMS, exclusive of Kitchen, Scullery, Laundry, and Pantries, all fitted throughout with the latest and most improved conveniences. Gas, hot and cold water, electric bells, &c. throughout the house. The Outbuildings comprise STABLE of bluestone, containing two stalls, two large loose boxes, coachhouse, harness-room, and groom’s room, fitted in the most expensive and complete manner. Also, LODGE, containing three rooms; CONSERVATORY and VINERY, with seven vines in full bearing’ COWHOUSE paved with concrete.’ The extensive grounds were planted and laid out with flowers and specimen trees. ‘The whole property is in splendid order, and forms without exception the finest suburban residence in or around Dunedin.’

In May 1890, the Otago Daily Times reported that ‘a stable and coachhouse’ at Chingford was ‘destroyed by fire’ the previous evening. The horses, harness and buggies were saved, but by the time the brigade arrived ‘it was then almost hopeless to attempt to combat the flames, which had obtained a very strong hold.’ The building was ‘completely gutted.’ The stone stable ‘was quite a recent structure’ and was insured for £1000.

Soon afterwards, Neill & Co. advertised for tenders for ‘Carpenters, Plumbing, Painting, and Slating Work’ on the stable at Chingford. Plans and specifications were available at the offices of Neill & Co. From this notice it is assumed that the interior of the stables was reinstated.

Neill died in 1936. Soon afterwards, the Dunedin City Council purchased Chingford with its 24-acre grounds, ‘with all the appearance and beauty of a fine old English park.’ A 1937 subdivision plan shows the layout of the estate and the location of the buildings – the house sits at the end of a tree-lined circular drive, small outbuildings cluster around the house, with the stables to the southwest. A second driveway runs to the stables. Two structures sit close to the circular drive by Ohaiho Creek (Lindsay’s Creek), and another two sit on the North Road side of the creek close to the stable access road.

The estate was seen as one of the best in the city. The Otago Daily Times proclaimed the estate ‘the most admirably situated and most beautifully adorned parks in a city noted for its reserves and gardens.’ The city planned to develop the area as picnic and recreation grounds. It was hoped that some of the outbuildings could be converted into dressing rooms and shelters for sports grounds, and that the homestead might make a good cabaret. War intervened, putting the area to a more practical use. During World War Two, part of the land was used to grow vegetables by the Women’s War Service Auxiliary.

Later the council developed the area into playing fields and a public park. In 1968, the homestead was demolished, considered too costly to restore. Meanwhile, the stables were used as storage for council equipment. The lodge was also demolished. In the 1970s, the stables were used by community arts groups. In 2014, Chingford Stables stand in the park planted by P. C. Neill, the remnant of his grand estate, and are used as a venue for weddings and community events.

Physical Description

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (Style):

The stables are built in a neo-Gothic style that matched that of the original wooden homestead.

MODIFICATIONS:

The building has been greatly modified inside and an external wooden stairway built on the back wall to the loft. The main façade is unaltered except that the leadlights have been replaced with painted wood.

Notable Features

The size of the stables and the quality of their construction.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1880 -

Damaged
1890 -
Damaged by fire and interior reinstated

Construction Details

Leith valley andesite with facings of pale grey Port Chalmers breccia have been used on the walls and mixed bands of fish tailed and square slates on the roof. The basement layer consists of smaller blocks of andesite underlying a heavy band of larger blocks of Port Chalmers breccia. The building was lined with tongue and groove panelling, the floors were plaster with a cobble pattern, the windows had leadlights and the stalls were divided by cast iron columns supporting an elaborate cast iron frieze.

Completion Date

25th June 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Porter, 1983

Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.

Chingford

‘Chingford’ [newspaper clippings], Dunedin Public Library

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.