Historical Significance or Value
The Church has historic significance. While the Presbyterian community had been active for more than thirty years in the Cromwell and Bannockburn area, services were held in other community buildings. The building of the Church provides tangible evidence of the commitment of the Bannockburn Presbyterian community to creating a place of worship in their small town, against all the odds of a declining population. The history of the fund raising, and in particular the involvement of the Bannockburn Ladies Guild, and the donation of services and funds for the Church provides an illustration of the importance of community.
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church has architectural significance. The Church was designed in c.1906 by A.S. Gillander, who was at that time mine manager for the local coal mine, and resident in Bannockburn. The Church is a representative example of a small community Church. It is plain in style, with lancet windows and door openings. Its lack of decoration is a reflection of the economic considerations of the community at the time of its construction. It is significant as one of only a handful of community buildings remaining in Bannockburn, and one of only four substantial stone buildings in the settlement (the others being James Horn's store, the former Post Office and the former Methodist Church).
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church has spiritual significance. It has been a place of worship, mourning and celebration for the Presbyterian community for over ninety years. Since its transfer to the management of a community group it now has spiritual significance as an ecumenical and interdenominational place of worship and fellowship.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The former Bannockburn Presbyterian Church represents the historic importance of Christianity in Central Otago's early gold mining years, at a time when small mining settlements such as Bannockburn each needed their own church building, due to their distance from other towns such as Cromwell. It provides insight into the history of the Bannockburn community, when the Ladies Guild took on the task of raising the funds to build the structure.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:
The local Bannockburn community holds this building in esteem, as was demonstrated when the Presbyterian Church placed the building on the market in 2002. This prompted local residents to begin raising the funds (once again) to buy the building for use as a community facility, and in 2004 the church was transferred to the ownership of the Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee, supported with a significant financial contribution from the Central Otago District Council. This Management Committee is concerned to preserve their historic church for the future use of the Bannockburn community.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The former church forms an important part of the cultural and historic landscape of Bannockburn. The Church sits on a prominent elevated site, and with the adjoining public hall forms the community centre of this scattered settlement. It is one of only several historic Bannockburn buildings still standing, and forms an important part of the historic fabric of the town.
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church, built in the early years of the twentieth century, stands on a prominent site overlooking the small Central Otago community of Bannockburn. The Bannockburn community was founded on the development of pastoralism, gold mining and coal mining in the valley at the base of the Carrick Range near Cromwell in Central Otago.
The township of Bannockburn once formed part of the large Kawarau Station, first taken up in 1858. Following Hartley and Reilly's discovery of gold in the nearby Cromwell Gorge in 1862 prospecting began in the Bannockburn area in 1862, with two miners working in Pipeclay Gully. According to local historian James Crombie Parcell in 1866 the Otago Witness stated that water races had been cut, that there were two stores and a butcher's shop, and a population of 60 at Bannockburn. A number of different technologies were used to extract gold from the Bannockburn landscape, beginning with alluvial mining which continued for a number of years. By the 1870s stamper batteries were built to mine the gold-bearing quartz reefs in the ranges, and later again dredges worked the gravels of Bannockburn and Shepherd's Creeks, as well as the larger Kawarau and Clutha rivers. Coal was also found at Bannockburn in the 1860s, and continued to be mined into the middle of the twentieth century. This was an important fuel for providing power for the gold-crushing stamper batteries and later, gold dredges. During the late nineteenth century the infrastructure of a small rural town developed at Bannockburn, consisting of a school, a community hall, post office, hotel and store.
In the early days of the Presbyterian Church in Bannockburn, services were held in the Bannockburn School and later the Athenaeum Hall. Bannockburn was part of the Cromwell parish and it was the minister resident in Cromwell who took services in Bannockburn. The first Presbyterian minister in Cromwell was Rev. Benjamin Drake, appointed to the Cromwell Presbyterian Church in 1868 and ordained as a minister in 1875. The Bannockburn Church Committee was formed in July 1878.
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church was erected largely through the efforts of the Bannockburn Ladies Guild. In 1906 the Guild proposed that a church should be built at Bannockburn and began to canvas the district for funds. The local church committee, established years earlier but since defunct, was revived to take over the project. The committee applied to the synod for funds to cover half the costs of the building (£200), and A.S. Gillanders drew up plans and specifications for the church, before progress ground to a halt. Tenders opened in July 1906, the lowest was John Betts': £321/6/6 without a vestry, and £399/11/- if a vestry was included.
A.S. Gillanders had come to Bannockburn as manager for the Cromwell and Bannockburn Colliery Company's coal mine in Bannockburn. From a local history of the Bannockburn area, it would appear that he came to the area some time soon after 1899, and left the Company in the middle of 1908.
The population in Bannockburn was falling with dredging claims now worked out and the demand for coal falling off; it was no longer clear that the church was needed. However, the Ladies Guild was determined to proceed and, in 1908, organised a new building committee, made up of prominent members of the community, including the minister, James Horn, and A.S. Gillanders, among others.
In September 1908 the Otago Presbyterian Church Board Property purchased land for the church on a terrace overlooking the Bannockburn settlement. The committee took up the tender that had previously been offered by contractor John Betts (1860-1930). Betts indicated that there had been a substantial rise in timber prices which would have to be added to the tender cost. The committee decided to built the church without the vestry, and that the outside walls would be left unpointed initially, to save on that cost. Betts revised tender of £399/6/6 was accepted and the work begun.
Betts was responsible for many buildings in the Cromwell area. Born in London, and raised in Queensland, he came to New Zealand in 1892, setting up as a carpenter in Cromwell in 1893. He was a community minded man, serving on the borough council, the as well as school and athenaeum committees. He was a supporter of the Anglican Church.
Work proceeded as funds allowed. The committee was required to find the stone required and place it on site, and the walls were to be left unpointed. The stone was quarried from the Renshaw Range, near Shepherds Creek. Others, such as the carter, inspector, and architect donated their services and furniture to the church. James Horn, Bannockburn storekeeper and local politician, paid for the church bell, and subsidised monetary contributions from outside Bannockburn by 10 shillings in the pound. Mrs Horn donated the pulpit chair.
During the building period, the committee lost several of its important members, including the minister Rev. McLeod, the Church's designer A.S. Gillanders, who left the district. Finally only three members of the building committee remained.
Over time, as further funds were raised, stonemason William Gair was engaged to point the outside walls. Mr Short was engaged to erect a suitable fence.
Stonemason William Gair was also responsible for many buildings in the Cromwell area. William Gair was born in the Shetland Islands in 1851, and arrived in New Zealand in 1878. He was a stonemason and plasterer by trade, but also tried his hand at farming and gold mining. He returned to his trade, setting up business in Cromwell. He was involved with the Borough Council and the local Presbyterian Church. He died on 4 February 1944.
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church was opened on 7 March 1909 by Rev. D. Dutton of Caversham. Church historian R.M. Paterson points out that the
building of the Bannockburn church represents a triumph of faith over adversity. The population was declining, and as a result finances were in a bad way. The parish had no minister and only one elder, and it seemed that its very existence [sic] must be a sheer struggle.
The Church seated 112, with attendance at the Sunday School ranging from 40-50 until the population of the district declined following the end of the dredging boom.
During the 1930s economic depression, men moved back into the goldfields and reworked old claims, temporarily boosting the population. A small coal mining population also persisted at Bannockburn. The area also provided an income to a small, stable population with a number of small holdings and orchards, areas that had been subdivided and developed off the larger surrounding stations. The stations also provided a source of employment for some, such as rabbiters and seasonal labourers.
In 1962 new furniture was dedicated, including the pulpit, lectern, font and hymn board, and the blue felt carpet.
After the 1970s, and the development of Lake Dunstan and the Clyde hydro-electric dam in the 1980s and 1990s, Bannockburn and Central Otago generally experienced a resurgence with the development of viticulture and the popularity of Central Otago as a holiday destination, although the impact of cars, and ease of transport meant that many Bannockburn people attended the Cromwell Church, and the use of the Bannockburn Church declined. By the end of the twentieth century the needs of the Bannockburn Presbyterian community had changed. Cromwell, where the minister was based, was only a short drive away and the church building itself was no longer required.
In 2002, the decision was made to sell the church. Negotiations with the local community, to buy the building for use as a community facility began, along with fund raising to find the required $150,000 after a $100,000 contribution from the Cromwell Community Board. In September 2004 the title for the church was transferred to the Central Otago District Council from the Otago Foundation Trust Board (the property body of the Presbyterian Church).
In 2007 the church is owned by the Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee Inc. It is still known as the Bannockburn Presbyterian Church. It remains consecrated and is now ecumenical and nondenominational, administered by a completely lay committee.
Bannockburn is a small scattered settlement about 10 kilometres south of Cromwell in Central Otago. The settlement has its roots in mining, and its development has been governed by the intensive mining in the gullies which surround it. Through the 1990s Bannockburn has developed into a centre for boutique vineyards and lifestyle block residential development.
The Bannockburn Presbyterian Church is located on a prominent site on a terrace overlooking Bannockburn. Hall Road has a commanding view over the Pisa Range and Lake Dunstan to the north, and to the Dunstan Mountains and the Carrick Range on the east and west. Immediately across King Street (an unformed legal road) is the local hall.
The Church sits on a flat grassed site. The main entrance to the grounds is through a decorative iron gate, flanked by a matching fence to the King Street frontage. The rest of the fences are post and wire.
The Church is constructed of squared stone, brought to course, and has timber joinery, and a corrugated iron roof. There is a porch on the west elevation, facing King Street. The Church is plain in style, with Lancet windows and door openings. Its lack of decoration is a reflection of the economic considerations of the community at the time of its construction.
The interior is plastered and painted white, and has a wooden floor. On the east wall there are memorials to local men killed in the First and Second World Wars. The original wooden fittings such as the pews are still in place.
It is significant as one of only a handful of community buildings remaining in Bannockburn, and one of only two substantial stone buildings in the settlement (the other being James Horn's store).
Constructed of local stone, with timber window joinery and a corrugated iron roof.
22nd June 2007
Report Written By
A. Don, Memories of the Golden Road. Reed, Dunedin, 1936
N. Kennedy and R. Murray, Early Pioneers in the Cromwell Area 1863-1880, Cromwell & District Historical Society with the assistance of the Cromwell Community Board, Cromwell, 1999
J. T. Parcell, Heart of the Desert: A History of the Cromwell and Bannockburn Districts of Central Otago, Christchurch, Whitcoulls, 1976
R.M. Paterson, 100 Years: The Centennial of the Establishment of the Parish of St. John's, Cromwell. [Cromwell]
Janet Stephenson, Heather Bauchop and Peter Petchey, 'Bannockburn Heritage Landscape Study', Department of Conservation, Science and Research Unit, Wellington 2004
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area office
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.