Khandallah Telephone Exchange (Former)

86-88 Khandallah Road, Khandallah, Wellington

  • Khandallah Telephone Exchange (Former).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: C Horwell. Date: 29/03/2016.
  • Khandallah Telephone Exchange (Former).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: C Horwell. Date: 29/03/2016.
  • Khandallah Telephone Exchange (Former). C.1927 Khandallah Rd and Telephone Exchange are in the foreground. The masonic hall is to the rear of the exchange. Railway houses are under construction in Tarikaka Street in the background. Ref # 1/2-031638-F. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=13023&l=en.
    Copyright: National Library of New Zealand. Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4425 Date Entered 19th April 1990

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Sec 1 SO 26390

Summaryopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Manual telephones were operating in New Zealand by 1881. In 1913 the New Zealand Post Office called tenders for rotary automatic equipment, the successful tenderer being the American Western Electric Company. The first automatic exchange equipment was installed at Auckland and Wellington in that year, but this merely supplemented the manual equipment. During World War I, suppliers turned their productive efforts to war purposes and it was not until May 1919 that the first fully automatic 'exchange in New Zealand was opened at Masterton. Blenheim, Remuera, Mt Eden, Hamilton and Ponsonby exchanges followed suit soon after. Of these only the Hamilton Exchange (1916) remains intact. It has, however, been extensively altered.

The Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange was designed in 1918 and completed in 1921. The exchange was connected on 30 June 1922. It had forty lines, and the automatic rotary switchboard was powered by a 48 hour electric battery.

The number of subscribers grew rapidly and the switchboard space was extended in 1925. By 1945 there were 400 one party lines and in 1951 a new exchange was designed to cope with increased usage.

The Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange's rotary machinery was rendered redundant by the New Zealand Post Office's introduction of the electronic Stored Programme Control (SPC) system there in October, 1984.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The former Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange was the first important public building to be built in Khandallah after World War I. Following modifications in 1925 the structure has survived unaltered, making it the oldest original automatic exchange in New Zealand. It is predated by the Hamilton Automatic Telephone Exchange (1916) but the latter has been extensively altered.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

Seldom used in the design of industrial buildings, the Georgian style has been successfully employed in the former Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange. The proportioning and detailing is compatible with the suburban environment while the restrained decoration is suitable for a small scale industrial building.

The building reflects the growing popularity of Georgian Revival architecture in New Zealand particularly after World War I. Campbell abandoned his long-favoured Baroque style for this more modest approach.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

This small-scale building is relatively unobtrusive in its residential setting.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Campbell, John

John Campbell (1857-1942) served his articles under John Gordon (c1835-1912) in Glasgow. He arrived in Dunedin in 1882 and after a brief period as a draughtsman with Mason and Wales joined the Dunedin branch of the Public Works Department in 1883. His first known work, an unbuilt design for the Dunedin Railway Station, reveals an early interest in Baroque architecture.

In November 1888 Campbell was transferred to Wellington where in 1889 he took up the position of draughtsman in charge of the Public Buildings Division of the Public Works Department.

He remained in charge of the design of government buildings throughout New Zealand until his retirement in 1922, becoming in 1909 the first person to hold the position of Government Architect. Government architecture designed under his aegis evidences a change in style from Queen Anne to Edwardian Baroque. His best-known Queen Anne design is the Dunedin Police Station (1895-8), modelled on Richard Norman Shaw's New Scotland Yard (1887-90). Among his most exuberant Edwardian Baroque buildings is the Public Trust Office, Wellington (1905-09). Although Campbell designed the Dunedin Law Courts (1899-1902) in the Gothic style with a Scottish Baronial inflection, he established Edwardian Baroque as the government style for police stations, courthouses and post offices throughout New Zealand. In 1911 Campbell won the nation-wide architectural competition for the design of Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Although only partially completed, Parliament House is the crowning achievement of Campbell's career.

Mair, John Thomas

John Thomas Mair (1876-1959) was born in Invercargill and began his career with the New Zealand Railways on the staff of the Office Engineer, George Troup. In 1906 he travelled to the United States of America where he studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He then worked in the office of George B. Post in New York before travelling to England where he was admitted as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He became a Fellow in 1940.

On his return to New Zealand he entered private practice, one of his first buildings being the Presbyterian First Church, Invercargill (1915), a prominent building of Romanesque character. He then practised in Wellington, carrying out largely domestic commissions.

In 1918 he was appointed Inspector of Military Hospitals by the Defence Department, and in 1920 he became architect to the Department of Education. Following the retirement of John Campbell in 1922, Mair was appointed Government Architect, a position which he held until his retirement in 1942. During this period he was responsible for a variety of buildings, including the Courthouse, Hamilton, the Post Office in High Street, Christchurch, Government Life Office and the Departmental Building, both in Wellington, and the Jean Batten Building, Auckland. Such buildings show a departure from tradition, with the emphasis on function, structure and volume as opposed to a stylistic treatment of the building fabric.

A Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Mair was made a Life Member in 1942. His son John Lindsay Mair also practised as an architect.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This single storey building is Georgian in style. The principal facade has an open-bed pediment while dentils add a Classical flavour. The ends of the gable are supported by highly original corbels.

Georgian elements of the facade include a central circular feature window and regular fenestration. The five large windows are embellished with plaster dressings. The building is named and dated.

The gable of the principal facade is echoed on the west facade by a second simpler gable which defines the 1925 extension. To the east and south the original building is largely hidden by the 1951 extension which now houses the telecommunication systems. The original building encompasses the old switchroom. Much of the original rotary automatic equipment is still intact though no longer operational.

Notable Features

Original rotary automatic equipment is still intact in the old switchroom though no longer operational.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1922 -

Addition
1925 -
Extension to south of original building

Modification
-
Two masonry walls removed from original switchroom

Construction Details

Foundation and floor, concrete, Walls, cavity brick, plastered. Roof, timber frame, corrugated iron.

Completion Date

20th November 1989

Information Sources

Bremner, 1987

J. Bremner, Wellington's Northern Suburbs 1919-1945, (Onslow Historical Society: Wellington), 1987

McLintock, 1966

An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Government Printer, Wellington, 1966

Onslow Historian

Onslow Historian

'Onslow Historical Society Museum for the Northern Suburbs,' Wellington, Vol 14 No 3, 1984, p12; Vol 15, No 2, 1985, p15

Robinson, 1964

Howard Robinson, A History of the Post Office in New Zealand, RE Owen, Government Printer, Wellington, 1964

Ministry of Works and Development

Ministry of Works and Development

A Brief History of Public Works in New Zealand, Ministry of Works, Wellington, 1970

Barton, 1987 (2)

PL Barton, Proposal for Classification, Buildings Classification Committee Report, "Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange", September 1987

Watters, 1973

Alexander Francis Watters, New Zealand Telegraph and Telephone Offices, Postal History Society of New Zealand Inc, Auckland, 1973

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.