Tuapeka Times Office (Former)
9 Ross Place, Lawrence
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
19th April 1990
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 6 Blk III Town of Lawrence (CT OT324/15), Otago Land District, and the building known as the Tuapeka Times Office (Former), thereon
Pt Sec 6 Blk III Town of Lawrence (CT OT324/15), Otago Land District
The former Tuapeka Times Office, home to the Lawrence Athenaeum and Mining Institute since 1951, has historical, architectural and social significance as a testament to the importance of the Press in goldfields Otago, and is a reminder of the importance of self-education.
This section was first granted to Lawrence hotelier George Clark in 1864, but it was auctioneer John Thompson who was issued the first title; he sold part of the land to journalist Andrew Ferguson in September 1881.
Andrew Ferguson, along with John Ludford and Andrew Burns founded the Tuapeka Times February in 1868. Andrew Ferguson had strong links to the printing trade in Otago. He was a cousin of John Mackay (associated with the Otago Guardian and later the Government Printer) and Joseph Mackay, who is credited with pioneering the ‘chain newspaper’ in New Zealand, whereby small regional papers linked to or owned by a larger paper supplemented local content with reprints from the central paper. Ferguson came to Dunedin in 1867, working with his cousin on the Bruce Herald, before moving to Lawrence to start the Tuapeka Times. The first office was on Peel Street, in a building previously occupied by the Union Bank. Ferguson ran the newspaper with a changing roster of business partners. By 1871, the offices of the newspaper were in a ‘well-situated Two-storey House in Ross Place’. In February 1871, these offices were advertised for disposal, because the proprietors were considering moving to other premises. In 1878, Ferguson admitted auctioneer John Thompson into the partnership – and it was to Thompson that the first title to this land was issued.
In December 1881, Ferguson sold the newspaper, goodwill and plant, and the publishing business, along with the section and building on Ross Place to Thomas and Richard Pilling of Lawrence. The Pilling Brothers ran the business for the next fifteen years. In 1896, they sold the business to the Tuapeka Times Company, managed by John Norrie. Norrie managed the paper till his death in 1938. Glasgow-born Norrie had previously been foreman at the Mataura Ensign and at the Waimea Plains Review. In 1896, the offices of the Tuapeka Times shifted to Peel Street.
The paper ‘expired quietly’ in November 1941, probably a victim of paper shortages and labour, and of Norries’ death. The editorial of the last issue encouraged the public to support local newspapers. It was not alone; many country newspapers expired at this time. It is likely that the paper had struggled for years to remain open. It had only published bi-weekly since 1873 and with usually no more than four pages to an issue. Its end contrasts with the early years centred on the gold boom – the paper was a product of that boom, and provides insight into life on the goldfields.
Newspapers and historical photographs indicate that there were several buildings associated with the Tuapeka Times – first on Peel Street, the two-storey house on Ross Place, a timber building, the brick building on Ross Place and a later building on Peel Street. The Peel Street building has not survived. The current building seems to be they only surviving structure associated with the newspaper.
Richard and Thomas Pilling retained ownership of the land on Ross Place, and may have run their agency business there for a time. Thomas Pilling died in Dunedin in 1940. Richard Pilling died in Karori in 1919. The land remained in the Pilling family until it was transferred to Edward Rowe In 1947. Rowe sold the land to draper Francis Gray in 1948. It is unclear what the building was used for during these years; tenants may have leased the building. The land was transferred to the Lawrence Athenaeum and Mining Institute in 1951.
Lawrence citizens had discussed forming a library as early as 1865, and the first book collection was housed in the school. The library moved around temporary premises until 1868 when a purpose-built building was opened in 1868, later moving to the Town Hall when it opened in 1877. The Mining Institute was linked with the University of Otago’s School of Mines, but never developed as originally hoped. In Lawrence its collection of ore specimens was housed in the library of the athenaeum, but the name is a reminder of the important mining education programmes of the nineteenth century. In 2015, this building remains home to the Lawrence Athenaeum and Mining Institute.
Athenaeum added to signage on front of the building
14th July 2015
Report Written By
W.R. Mayhew, Tuapeka: The Land and Its People: A Social History of the Borough of Lawrence and its Surrounding Districts, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Dunedin, 1949
‘Reading the Newspaper in Colonial Otago’ Journal of New Zealand Studies http://ojs.victoria.ac.nz/jnzs/article/viewFile/488/620
‘”Jack’s as Good as His Master”: Scots and Print Culture in New Zealand’ Book History, Vol 6, 2003
'The Lawrence Athenaeum and Miners' Institute. A Fragment of Goldfields' History', MA thesis, University of Otago, 1973
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 Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand