The Hollies

188 Richardson Terrace, Opawa, Christchurch

  • The Hollies.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3112 Date Entered 24th June 2005


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the building (Flat 3 on CT), its fittings and fixtures, and the land on Certificate of Title CB36D/394, excluding Flats 1 and 2.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 6 DP 58528, Lot 1 DP 12799, Flat 3 DP 54948 (CT CB36D/394), Canterbury Land District


In 1851 Charles Bridge of Great Malvern, England, selected the 50 acres of rural section 96 that became known as Opawa Farm. This was sold by trustees to Joshua Strange in 1862. Strange sold an acre bordered by the new Ferrymead railway and the Heathcote River to Edward Richardson and George Holmes in 1864.

Richardson and Holmes were partners in the Melbourne-based engineering firm of Holmes and Co, contracted by the Canterbury Provincial Government in 1861 to complete the Christchurch-Ferrymead railway, and the Moorhouse rail tunnel linking Christchurch and the port of Lyttelton. The railway and tunnel were commenced in 1860, but the original contractors, Smith and Knight, pulled out after striking hard rock in the tunnel. Provincial Superintendent William Moorhouse then travelled to Melbourne to arrange a new contract with Holmes and Co for the princely sum of £240, 500. Richardson arrived in Canterbury aboard the Prince Alfred in 1861 with 35 navvies and materials and equipment, ready to commence work. The Ferrymead railway was completed in 1863 and the tunnel in 1867, for a total cost of £348, 312. On the new site at Opawa a platform was erected, apparently to serve as the first Opawa Station. As part of their contract, Holmes and Richardson retained the leasehold of their new Ferrymead railway until 1866. The first Opawa station was used only until the expiry of this lease.

In 1871 Richardson purchased Holmes' share of the former Opawa Station site, and bought an adjacent 13 acres from Joshua Williams. The Hollies was probably commenced at this time. The name may have been derived from the large holly hedge that once lined the right-of-way (now Vincent Terrace) on the then west frontage of the property. There is no evidence of an architect being involved in the design of the house; it is assumed that Richardson designed it himself using fashionable features of the period. Richardson's involvement may be reflected in the broadly Australian appearance of the building. The stone reputedly came from the tunnel excavation.

Edward Richardson (c1831-1915) was born in London, and trained as a civil and mechanical engineer. He emigrated to Australia in 1852, and worked as a road engineer until going into partnership with George Holmes in 1855. After completion of the Moorhouse Tunnel Richardson developed extensive business interests in Canterbury, including a flax and timber mill. By 1885 he also owned land to the value of £132, 000, including the Albury and Wharfedale runs. Richardson served as a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council from 1870 until abolition in 1876; as a member of the House of Representatives from 1871 (with a few gaps) until 1892, and the Legislative Council from 1892 until he retired in 1899. During his political career he made his name as a political technocrat, serving as Minister of Public Works under five administrations - most significantly under Vogel. In 1879 he received a CMG for public services. Richardson also served as first chairman of the Lyttelton Harbour Board, and a director of the New Zealand Shipping Company.

Despite his apparent wealth and business acumen, Richardson was hard-hit by the depression of the 1880s. From 1882 he began subdividing The Hollies property. This was unable to keep the wolf from the door however, and in 1889 property totalling more than 15, 000 acres was repossessed by the Bank of New Zealand. The seven remaining acres of The Hollies were subdivided by the bank, and the house and two acres sold to John Robert Campbell, sheepfarmer, for £1, 600 in 1891.

J. R. Campbell (1835-1914) was probably born in India, where his father was a large merchant. After arriving in Canterbury in the 1860s, he became a partner in Mesopotamia Station. Later he leased various farms in the Ellesmere District with various partners, developing a large farming business chiefly fattening stock. By the late 1880s Campbell was shipping 6-7, 000 frozen lambs annually. Campbell sold the property to ironmonger William Minson in 1902.

William Minson (1843-1925) came to Canterbury in 1862, and started a homeware business in Colombo St that developed into a Christchurch institution. The original business finally closed its doors in 1989, but the name survived another decade under different ownership. Minson himself retired from the business in 1900. Interested in technical education, he helped establish the Christchurch Technical School. He also served as chair of the Home Industries section at the 1906 NZ Exhibition.

Just a year after purchasing the Hollies, Minson transferred the house to farmer Frederick Webster. Webster in turn sold the property to George Davis, manufacturer, in 1910. Davis sold it to William Tisdall the following year. In 1922 The Hollies was back with the Minson family, in the person of William Minson's son, Arthur, who managed the family business. Arthur lived on the property for nearly twenty years, selling it in 1941 to company manager Geoffrey Inglis. Inglis sold it to draper George Saville in 1950, who immediately on-sold to Francis Zwies. Zwies transferred the property to Frank Davidson, the Lyttelton Borough foreman, and his wife Margaret in 1962. The Davidson's sold the house to meter installer William Robson and his wife Joyce in 1966. The Robson's in turn sold to sales representative John Downes and his wife Prunella in 1969. The Downes retained the property until 1977, beginning a restoration and adding a swimming pool during their tenure. In 1977 The Hollies was sold to architect Paddy Helmore and his wife Joy, who redesigned the kitchen into a kitchen-living area. The Helmore's sold the house in 1981 to Jonathon and Carol Penfold, who retained it only until 1984 when it was sold to David Round.

Round, a University of Canterbury law lecturer, carried out restoration and maintenance, including the bricking-up of rough openings in some interior walls. He was granted $1, 000 by the Christchurch City Council in 1987 to assist with re-roofing.

In 1988 the house was sold to Richard Nightingale, a research analyst, who on-sold it later the same year to Pamela Anderson and Brian Palliser of the Darfield-based Anderson Family Trust. Two units were subsequently constructed along the west boundary of the property to help finance a restoration of the house. The replacement of the decayed timber floors with concrete, begun ten years before, was completed at this time. By the end of 1989, the property was jointly owned by Janice Andrews, Felicity Reid and Ruth Evans.

In 1990 the property was purchased by the present owners, John and Teresa Gourley, who have carried out extensive work both inside and out. In 1999-2000 the interior and exterior were repaired and repainted. The Gourley's live in The Hollies, but also run adult education business, the Counselling Skills Institute, from the house.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Historical significance for the connection of its site, materials and owner (prominent Canterbury railway contractor, businessman and central government politician Edward Richardson) with the construction of the Christchurch/Ferrymead railway, Christchurch/Lyttelton railway and the Moorhouse Tunnel. This under-taking was arguably the country's first railway, and the tunnel was in particular the most significant public works project of early colonial New Zealand. The house also has historical significance as the former home of prominent Christchurch retailers, the Minson family, and of pastoralist and businessman John Campbell.

Architectural significance or value as an unusual example of a large stone villa in Christchurch, a city where timber houses are the norm.

(b) of its association with the construction of New Zealand's first railway and significant railway tunnel; its association with Edward Richardson - prominent nineteenth century railway contractor, businessman and central government politician; and its association with prominent retailing family the Minsons, and pastoralist and pioneering exporter John Campbell.

(g) it has an unusual design in that the house does not conform either in plan or decoration with other large villas typical of the period.

(j) it is a rare example of the large-scale use of stone for a dwelling in Christchurch, particularly one as early as the 1870s.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Richardson, Edward

Edward Richardson trained as a civil engineer in London. He worked as a railway engineer in England and in Ireland and in 1852 went to Australia where he worked as a road engineer in Melboune. In 1855 he entered partnership with George Holmes as a general contractor. In 1861 Holmes and Richardson were awarded the contract for the Moorhouse Tunnel and Richardson arrived at Ferrymeade with enough material to begin the first stage of the line to Christchurch. In 1862 Richardson went to Europe to study the technology used for the Mont Cenis tunnel. He returned to Canterbury to supervise the construction and completion of the Moorhouse Tunnel.

Following its completion, Richardson remained in New Zealand and became prominent as both a businessman, landowner and public figure. He was a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council for Lyttelton from 1870-76, a member of the House of Representatives for Christchurch West from 1871 and for the City of Christchurch from 1875. He was minister of public works from 1872-77 in the Waterhouse, Fox, Vogel, Pollen and Atkinson governments, and again from 1884-87 when he was ranked third in parliament below Robert Stout and Julius Vogel. He remained on the Legislative Council until his retirement in 1899. He had been appointed CMG in 1879.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

A large mainly single-storey (but with two attic bedrooms) masonry villa. The eastern elevation presents two gables with box bay windows and fretted bargeboards to the street. The remainder of the house however has a deep hipped roof. The majority of the building is randomly laid stone with brick-trimmed openings. Interior walls and the billiard room are brick. The exterior is cement plastered, incised to resemble finished stone with raised quoins. The original timber floor has been replaced with concrete throughout. The most distinctive feature of the house is a concave verandah that wraps around two sides of the central block. On the north elevation this has an unusual triple gable that was originally highly ornamented. Although much of the elaborate timber fretwork has since been removed, the turned paired verandah posts remain. A timber conservatory once projected from the west elevation, but this has also now been removed.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1871 -

Possible addition of billiard room.

Removal of verandah decorations and conservatory.

1977 -
Redesign of kitchen as kitchen-living room by Paddy Helmore.

Construction Details

Plastered stone and brick, with a slate and corrugated iron roof.

Completion Date

29th August 2001

Report Written By

Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Christchurch City Council

Christchurch City Council

Heritage Unit File (Note: the CCC building file for 'The Hollies' is missing)

Cook, 1982

L. Cook, National Measured Drawing Competition Entry: The Hollies, Christchurch 1982.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Bohan, Edmund. 'Richardson, Edward 1830/1831? - 1915', updated 22 June 2007; URL:

Heward, 2004

V Heward, R Wells, 'The Hollies' Christchurch Heritage Houses Christchurch: Caxton Press, 2004.

MacDonald Biographies

G.R. MacDonald, Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum, n.d.

John Campbell, William Minson, Edward Richardson

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

NZHPT File 12013-114; NZHPT Field Record Form.

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.

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.