David Strang Limited Building (Former)
100 Esk 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
The extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 7339 (CT SLA4/7), Southland Land District, and the building known as David Strang Limited Building (Former), thereon.
Lot 1 DP 7339 (CT SLA4/7), Southland Land District
The David Strang Ltd Building (Former) was built in 1912 for Invercargill’s successful coffee and spice merchant David Strang. It is of historical significance for its association with Strang - a pioneering and innovative coffee manufacturer who may have developed the world’s first instant coffee. The building’s size and ornate detailing reflect the success of Strang’s business.
David Strang (1847-1916) became one of Invercargill’s most successful businessmen. He set up ‘David Strang, Coffee and Spice Works’ at 118 Esk Street in 1872. Born in Glasgow, Strang worked in a coffee warehouse before moving to New Zealand in 1863. He first sold his products locally and later developed a national, and then international following. Strang’s coffee and spices won awards at exhibitions in Christchurch, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Local newspapers were enthusiastic: ‘Coffee has many qualities in its favour. It does not retard the action of the bowels… [it] allays the sensation of hunger; has an exhilarating and refreshing effect, and conspires to a diminution in the amount of wear and tear, or waste of the animal economy…’ On 28 January 1890, Strang patented ‘Strang’s Patent Soluble Dry Coffee-powder’ which could be made instantly with boiling water. Strang’s powder seems to have been the first commercially available instant coffee in the world. David’s son James joined the business on leaving school. Later David moved the business to a warehouse in an old boarding house at 100 Esk Street.
As Strang’s business grew, he needed more space. In 1912, the company built new premises at 100 Esk Street in front of the original 1885 mill. Invercargill architect Richard Marshall designed the new building. The builders were Walker Bros of Invercargill. The ground floor housed offices, packing, receiving and delivery rooms. The architectural magazine Progress reported ‘the offices and packing room are entered from a spacious, well-lighted vestibule forming the main entrance, the floor of which is laid with tessellated tiles and their ceilings finished with Wunderlich’s stamped steel of ornate patterns.’ The first floor included a labelling room and warehouse space, and a drying room. There was a goods lift and the building was gas-lit.
When David Strang died on 17 July 1916, James took over the company. Strang’s operated at 100 Esk Street until 1966 when the business closed. In March 1969, the building became the home of the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). Formed in 1915, the WEA are the longest established provider of adult education in New Zealand. In 2007, the WEA refurbished the interior of the building; alterations included the installation of a lift. In 2014, Strang’s Coffee and Spice Building (Former) remains the home of the WEA, now trading as Southland Education.
Richard Marshall was born on 17 April 1849. He was the son of Hugh Marshall, a builder of Musselburgh, Scotland. He trained in architecture at Edinburgh University gaining an M.A.A.E. He probably immigrated to New Zealand around 1884. Marshall’s first advertisement as an architect appeared in the Auckland Star on 8 December 1884, where he advertised for tenders for the construction of a villa. His offices were in Regent Street, Arch Hill.
By 21 January 1891, Marshall had moved to Christchurch. He advertised as an architect and building surveyor with offices at 158 Hereford Street. The Observer noted in 1893 that among ‘ex-Aucklanders who are thriving in Christchurch…[is] Mr R. Marshall, formerly connected with Auckland Caledonians, [who] is in business as an architect in the best part of the city, and is secretary of the Caledonian Society’.
Marshall married Margaret Lumsden in Christchurch on 28 April 1892. Margaret was from Invercargill.
In 1893, Marshall designed Brownlee Homestead in Havelock, now a registered Category I building. His wife’s Invercargill connections drew the couple southward. In January 1898, the Mataura Ensign noted that ‘Mr R. Marshall, a gentleman who has had considerable Home and colonial experience in his profession, announces that he has settled in Gore, and commenced business as an architect and building surveyor. No doubt Mr Marshall will secure a fair share of the patronage of those about to build’. Marshall won the contract to build the Gore Town Hall. Most of his tenders, however, were for domestic dwellings. In October 1900, Marshall announced his intention to move to Invercargill.
In 1905, Marshall represented Southland at the first meeting of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA). He was elected a Fellow of the Institute. Marshall continued his Invercargill practice until May 1914, when he retired due to ill health. Richard Marshall died in Invercargill on 6 November 1917.
Invercargill builders active in the early years of the twentieth century.
Interior refurbished, including the addition of a lift to improve access.
14th April 2014
Report Written By
Susan Irvine/Heather Bauchop
Jane Thomson, (ed)., Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography, Dunedin: Longacre Press/Dunedin City Council, 1998.
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.