397 Queens Drive, Windsor, 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 3 DP 8776 (CT SL4A/1161), Southland Land District, and the building known as Rockhaven, thereon.
Lot 3 DP 8776 (CT SL4A/1161), Southland Land District
Ernest Godward, one of New Zealand’s most successful inventors, built this exuberant Queen Anne style residence in the Invercargill suburb of Windsor. Dating from around 1905-08, Rockhaven is significant for its association with Godward and its flamboyant architectural style.
Ernest Godward had an eventful life. He was born in London in 1869 and started school at nine. He ran away to sea to the East aged twelve, only to be sent home, where he became an apprentice mechanic. Setting sail again, he ended up in Port Chalmers in 1886. In Dunedin, Godward worked as a photographer and indulged his sporting talents. He was a champion rower, cyclist, runner and swimmer. In 1893, Godward moved to Invercargill where he became a partner in the Southland Cycle Works. He married Marguerita (Madge) Treweek in 1896 and they had ten children.
To make extra money and to keep his curious mind busy, Godward began inventing. By 1900, he exhibited a passion for invention and had patented an eggbeater, a post hole borer, a hair curler, a draught protector and a burglar proof window. His breakthrough came in 1900, when he invented the spiral hair pin. It was an immediate success. He established Godward’s Spiral Pin & New Inventions Company to manufacture and distribute his products and travelled to America to secure patents. Keeping the New Zealand and Australian rights for the spiral hair pin, in 1901 Godward sold the American rights for £2,500 plus royalties. One English company alone made two tons of hair pins a week.
Inspired by houses he saw in America, Godward brought back drawings for a grand residence. Rockhaven was completed by 1908, a fitting home for the family of this energetic entrepreneur. Invercargill architect Peter Walker oversaw the construction of Rockhaven in bluestone from Green Island, near Dunedin, and Ocean Beach near Bluff. The Queen Anne style, characterised by the use of asymmetry, a variety of roof lines, verandahs and bay windows, was popular in the late 1890s through to the First World War. Rockhaven is asymmetrical, with a Marseilles tiled roof embellished with ridge line decorations and finials. When completed in 1908, it had sixteen rooms and a tower. The metal ceilings were imported from America, Godward hand painted the dining room ceiling and the hallway was paved with ceramic floor tiles.
Godward worked in a garage in the back garden among the fruit trees. In between landscape painting, playing musical instruments, singing in musicals and being an elocutionist, he turned his attention to motor mechanics and invented an important forerunner to the carburettor – the Godward Gas Generator – also known as the Eclipse Petrol Economiser. In 1916, Godward established a New York base. Marguerita and the rest of the family stayed in Invercargill. By the late 1920s, Godward was a world leader in the workings of internal combustion engines. His success was cut short by the 1929 stock market crash and he lost much of his fortune. Godward died at sea (after winning an on-board skipping competition) on his way home to New Zealand in 1936.
Marguerita Godward lived on in Rockhaven until 1946. Invercargill farmer Harold Smith bought Rockhaven in the same year and the Smith family owned the house until 1977. In 2013, Rockhaven is a private residence and the garage where Godward worked survives in the garden.
Peter Walker was an Invercargill architect. Little is known about his early life. Walker may have started out as a builder in the 1870s. There was a man of the same name working with architect F.W. Burwell in Queenstown as a contractor. Walker may have moved to Melbourne in the 1880s, where a ‘Peter Walker formerly of Invercargill’, is noted as clerk of works. From 1896, Peter Walker advertises himself as an architect in Invercargill. His tender notices show that he designed residences and commercial buildings in Invercargill and Southland. He tenders for work up until 1905. After 1905, the tender notices stop and Walker disappears from New Zealand newspapers. It is possible Walker moved overseas.
(Source: Information Upgrade Report, Heather Bauchop, Apr 2014)
Additions and alterations to the first floor.
17th April 2014
Report Written By
Shirley Walker, Ernest R Godward: Inventor, Riverpress, Dunedin, 2013.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.
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.