347 Ettrick 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 9 DP 700 and Lot 3 DP 10504 (CT SL6B/355), Southland Land District, and the house thereon.
Lot 9 DP 700 and Lot 3 DP 10504 (CT SL6B/355), Southland Land District
This generous suburban residence, probably constructed around 1910 for James and Elizabeth Penny on Ettrick Street in Invercargill, is built of concrete blocks manufactured by the prison inmates at Invercargill prison. It has aesthetic, historical, architectural and technological significance.
Until 1907, this section was part of a larger suburban block in the ‘Trafalgar Extension No. 1’. In August 1907 the title was issued to Elizabeth Penny, wife of storeman James Penny. Electoral rolls indicate that the couple had moved to Ettrick Street by 1911. They took out a mortgage on the property in 1908. The house, then, was probably built 1908-10. James Penny died in 1922, his wife two years later, but the house remained in the Penny family until 1953.
The house was built with concrete blocks made by inmates of Invercargill Prison. Hollow block construction in New Zealand dates from 1904, with the formation of the Wellington Hollow Concrete Block Company. The technology spread to Timaru, Whangarei and Auckland by 1907. Architect and historian Geoffrey Thornton records what hollow concrete blocks were being made by inmates of Invercargill prison by 1909, and that these were used in domestic dwellings.
Records from the 1980s identify Charles Lambeth as both architect and builder for the property, though no definite conformation has been found in other sources. Invercargill architects William Bremner and Charles Lambeth entered a partnership together and also set up the Property and Finance Co., producing a catalogue of plans of houses already built (1914), which included a range of concrete block houses. The pair dissolved the partnership in 1914. This house does not appear in the catalogue – though there is a double storey house with a similar turret in that catalogue, and there are examples using concrete block. In 2018, 347 Ettrick Street remains a private residence.
Charles Lambeth was born in Dunedin in 1867. His English-born father was a builder who settled in Dunedin. Charles started out as a carpenter, presumably trained by his father – first in Dunedin, and then around 1895, in Invercargill. Around 1910 he entered into a partnership with William Bremner as the Property and Finance Co. The company prepared a catalogue of already built residences to allow customers to buy off the plans: Property & Finance Co., New Zealand homes: a book of practical designs and plans for those who wish to build: 50 designs of houses already built, Property & Finance Co., Invercargill, . Bremner and Lambeth dissolved their partnership in 1914. By the around 1916, he had started describing himself as an architect. He practised as an architect in Invercargill between 1916 and around 1920. In 1921, Lambert moved to Hamilton and carried on his practice there. He died in Hamilton in 1943.
Charles William Henry Chilcott Bremner was born in Dunedin in 1879. In 1902 he married Alice McLachlan. The couple lived in Invercargill. Around 1910 he entered into a partnership with William Bremner as the Property and Finance Co. The company prepared a catalogue of already built residences to allow customers to buy off the plans: Property & Finance Co., New Zealand homes: a book of practical designs and plans for those who wish to build: 50 designs of houses already built, Property & Finance Co., Invercargill, . Bremner and Lambeth dissolved their partnership in 1914. In the 1920s, the Bremners shifted to Auckland, where Bremner continued his architectural practice.
1908 - 1910
14th June 2017
Report Written By
Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996
Property & Finance Co.
Property & Finance Co.
Property and Finance Co, New Zealand Homes: A Collection of Fifty Low-Cost Houses in Styles Suitable for New Zealand, Property and Finance Co., Invercargill, 
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