Spring Grove

12 Blakes Road, Belfast, Christchurch

  • Spring Grove, Christchurch. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: C Cochran. Date: 10/06/1984.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3811 Date Entered 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 468510 (CT 632096), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Spring Grove thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 468510 (CT 632096), Canterbury Land District


The dwelling known as Spring Grove at 12 Blakes Road, Belfast, Christchurch, is a substantial late Victorian ‘Queen Anne’ villa built for proprietor of the Kaputone Wool Scouring Company, William Nicholls, and his wife, Sarah, in circa 1896. It reflects the taste and lifestyle of a notable businessman and his family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and has long been associated with the stock processing industry, which was critical in Belfast’s development. The dwelling has historical, social, cultural, aesthetic and architectural significance.

The area north of Christchurch was well known and used by Māori long before Belfast was developed by Pākeha as a town when Canterbury’s first meat-freezing works were built there in 1883, and it continues to have significance to Ngāi Tahu. In the late 1850s Robert Duncan took up a Crown Grant and purchased 60 acres of Rural Section 513, which he called Spring Grove, after the natural springs in the Kaputone Stream which meandered through the property. Duncan established a farm with sheep and cattle and built a house and outbuildings. He gradually increased the size of the property and in 1883 sold to farmer and politician Edwin Blake. In 1896 Blake sold to Sarah Sheldon Nicholls, wife of William Nicholls, and the couple removed the existing dwelling from the 100 acre property and had a large new residence constructed on the site.

This dwelling, named Spring Grove after the farm, is situated on what is now a relatively small land parcel within a much larger open area on the south-east side of Blakes Road in Belfast, north of Christchurch. Outside the extent of the List entry, the house is approached by a long tree-lined driveway beside the Kaputone Stream and there are remnants of nineteenth century farm buildings. The house is a two storeyed late Victorian Queen Anne style building constructed of kauri lapped weatherboards, brick chimneys and an iron roof. It has a double height verandah extending along the north-east and north-west sides of the house, with cast iron balustrades on the upper level and intricate cast iron work below the roof. The roof comprises a series of gable and hipped roof forms. The gable end facing north-east has fretted bargeboards and a turret sits at the northern corner. Fenestration includes boxed bay and double hung sash and bi-folding windows. A series of lean-tos are at the south-west rear. Interior features include high plastered ceilings, and an elegant main staircase.

With James M Watt, William Nicholls ran the New Zealand Provision and Produce Company and, after Watt’s death in 1892, Nicholls took over the wool scouring side of the business, calling it the Kaputone Wool Works. William and Sarah raised their family at Spring Grove and both took a keen interest in public affairs. Sarah Nicholls died in 1911 and in 1917 William moved to Mona Vale in Fendalton but their son, Aubrey, remained at Spring Grove, breeding race horses. In 1922 Aubrey sold Spring Grove to the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company, and for many years it was used as accommodation for its senior managers. Over time, small alterations have been made to the building, including the replacement of most timber fire surrounds. More substantial alterations were made in 1996, under the architect Chris Prebble, which involved the lean-to containing the bathroom and alterations to the family room to incorporate French doors.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Chris Prebble

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1896 -

1996 -

Completion Date

26th March 2018

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Heritage Assessment

Dave Pearson Architects Limited, Spring Grove: A Heritage Assessment, March 2009

Homes of the Pioneers

Mair, A J and J A Hendry, Homes of the Pioneers, 1966

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 Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand