Briscoe and Company Building (Former)
104-106 Dee Street And Spey Street, Invercargill
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
24th November 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 8343 (CT SL3A/701), Southland Land District, and the building known as the Briscoe and Company Building (Former) thereon.
Lot 1 DP 8343 (CT SL3A/701), Southland Land District
Designed in 1881 by prominent Invercargill architect Frederick Burwell for merchants Paisley and Company, this Italianate commercial building on Dee Street in Invercargill is better known for its long association with Briscoe and Company Limited. The building has architectural and historical significance.
In June 1881 architect Frederick Burwell invited tenders ‘for the erection of warehouse in Dee street (concrete and brick) for Messrs W. Paisley and Co., late of Guthrie and Larnach Company.’ The building was opened in late 1882, at which time the Southland Times wrote: ‘the front of the new building is very handsome, the façade in Dee street consisting of two lofty rows of windows – four plain ones on the ground floor, with a portico in the centre, surmounted by a circular pediment, leading to the main entrance; while on the upper storey the windows, of which there are five, are double, and very prettily arched. The roof is plain, and is partially fringed with a handsome balustrading, in the centre of the Dee street portion of which, over the main entrance, is a pediment for the New Zealand coat of arms. The Spey street façade consists of four windows on the ground floor, and six double ones on the upper storey, with a door on the ground floor at the further end leading to the interior…. On passing through the portico and entering the building by the folding doors the stranger cannot but be agreeably surprised by the spaciousness of the shop on the ground floor…..The erection of such buildings…speaks well, not only for the energy and business courage the firm which is responsible for them, but also for the future development and progress of the town itself, which we trust ere long to see double its present size and recompensing the foresight of such firms as the one under notice beyond their most sanguine expectations.’
William Paisley retired from business in August 1883. Walter Guthrie and Co. took over. The 1882 signage on the building reflects the close relationship between the companies, with one face of the building identified as Guthrie and Larnachs and Co., while the other had ‘W. Paisley and Co.’
In 1901, Briscoe and Company purchased the warehouse at a price of £9500. The Otago Daily Times correspondent considered that the sale spoke volumes for the ‘important future of Southland when so large a firm’ should purchase property in the district. Briscoes was founded in Wolverhampton England in 1781, and became an international company. By the start of World War One the company had branches in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. Briscoes occupied the building, with various retail tenancies until around 1930. Some of the architectural detail has been lost, including the balustrading which was removed in the 1960s. Since that time the shops and offices have had many tenants. In 2018, the Briscoe and Company building still provides retail and office space.
Burwell, F. W.
F.W. Burwell (1846-1915) is noted for designing many buildings in Invercargill, transforming the centre of the town between 1874 and the mid-1880s. Born in Scotland, Burwell served his articles with the architect John Matthews and immigrated to New Zealand in the late 1860s. By 1873, he had established his practice in Queenstown. He moved to Invercargill the following year. Once established there, he began designing elegant two and three-storey buildings in the Renaissance style. He designed almost all the buildings in Dee Street, including the hospital. 'The Crescent' was another notable Invercargill streetscape created by Burwell. In recognition of his work, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1880. The depression in the 1880s saw his commissions decline and he moved to Australia in 1887 where he practised in Melbourne, Perth and then Fremantle. He was particularly successful in the last, as Western Australia was in the middle of a building boom, and a number of his commercial buildings in central Fremantle are now classified by the Australian Heritage Commission. Burwell returned to Melbourne in 1910, and died there five years later. (Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, 'Burwell, Frederick William (1846-1915)' in Jane Thomson (ed.), Southern People: a dictionary of Otago Southland biography, Dunedin, 1998, p. 74.)
22nd January 2018
Report Written By
Southland Times, 23 Oct 1882, p. 2.
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 Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand