Harley Buildings

137 Cambridge Terrace And Worcester Street, Christchurch

  • Harley Buildings. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Paul Willyams. Taken By: Paul Willyams. Date: 25/01/2010.
  • Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Schwede66 - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Schwede66. Date: 30/04/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3111 Date Entered 26th November 1981


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 6773 (CTs CB18K/448 and CB18K/449), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Harley Buildings thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 6773 (CTs CB18K/448 and CB18K/449), Canterbury Land District


Constructed in 1929 and extended in 1934, the three storeyed commercial building known as Harley Buildings (or Harley Chambers) on the corner of 137 Cambridge Terrace and Worcester Street, Christchurch, has social and historical value as purpose-built professional rooms for dentists and doctors. It has architectural value as an example of a design by Christchurch architect, G T Lucas, and technological value for its electrical installation and regulated heating system which was innovative for the time.

In 1924 Arthur Suckling, a dental surgeon, had shifted to begin practicing from premises on the corner of Worcester Street and Cambridge Terrace, formerly the residence of Dr Manning. Soon after, architect G T Lucas was engaged to design a new building for the corner site. When the building was being constructed in 1929, the Press reported that the new ‘medico-dental’ building would be ‘one of the finest of its kind in the Dominion … equipped with a special heating system in which the air is washed, humidified and driven in into the rooms at a temperature which can be regulated as required. The air, under this system, can be changed once in every twenty minutes, and in the summer the system can be used for ventilation purposes. The electric installation will be of special design- the first of its kind in New Zealand. All the rooms will be equipped with hot and cold water, compressed air, and gas, with a provision in every surgery for a dental unit. All the pipe work will be buried in the concrete, thus doing away with any unsightly equipment. The latest in automatic lifts is to be installed, and all the floors are being constructed of Innes-Bell blocks, which give a flat ceiling and do away with the main and secondary beams in the older systems of floor slabs. The partition walls are of special sound-proof hollow blocks.’ The new building, ‘HARLEY’, housed waiting rooms, offices and surgeries for a number of medical professionals to operate their medical related practices in the same place in the central city. This demonstrates a shift away from the home surgeries that many doctors still operated at this time to the development of dedicated premises for aligned medical specialists.

The three storeyed reinforced concrete building incorporates neo-classical elements on window and door surrounds. On the exterior, the ground floor is rusticated, the first floor windows include projecting bays with triangular pediments, and the third floor windows have round arches. The elevations extend eight bays on the east side, six on the south side and, where the two elevations join at the south-east corner, there is a bay set back at an angle, with the words HARLEY at parapet level. The main entrance, through double doors at the centre of the east elevation, is flanked by classical columns and pilasters and surmounted by a decorative round arch. A secondary, square-headed, entrance is at the centre of the south elevation. The architect, G T Lucas, was in practice in Christchurch from the early twentieth century and was known for designing the Hay’s Department Store on Gloucester Street and the Methodist Deaconess House in Latimer Square, as well as alterations and additions to many commercial buildings in Christchurch which are no longer extant.

In 1933 Suckling passed ownership to Harley Chambers Limited. The following year the building was extended to the north, along Cambridge Terrace, in the same style and to the designs of the same architect, G T Lucas. Until the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11, the tenants still included a number of medical professionals, including dentist, orthodontist and other health and wellbeing-related services. The building has been unoccupied since the earthquake of 22 February 2011, and earthquake damage has resulted in subsequent removal of the lift shaft.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

P. Graham and Son

P. Graham and Son of Christchurch.

Lucas, G.T

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1929 -

1934 -
Building extended

Completion Date

25th May 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Other Information

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 Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.