Shed 22

Cable St/Taranaki St, Wellington

  • Shed 22.
    Copyright: Wellington Waterfront Limited.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7417 Date Entered 20th February 1998


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lots 10, 11 & 12, DP 1660

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Shed 22 has historical significance as a representative example of the larger type of cargo shed built to serve the needs of the country's main ports earlier this century.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


A combination of Federation Warehouse styling and brick walling establishes Shed 22 as a quality designed building where the form and the function of the building are admirably matched. The design also gives Shed 22 an architectural identity with Shed 21 so that the former building rounds off the southern end of the harbour wharves historic area in a style which, in Shed 21, similarly marks off the northern boundary of the area.


Shed 22 is designed in a Federation Warehouse style favoured by architects and engineers in both New Zealand and Australia generally during the period 1890-1915. There are only two other registered examples of this style in New Zealand, although unregistered examples may also exist. The use of innovative strengthening techniques in the construction of the building also establishes it as part of a group of five Wellington Harbour Board Wharf sheds built in the period 1909-1922 which utilised steel and concrete rather than Ironbark timber in their construction.


The use of innovative strengthening techniques in the construction of Shed 22 establishes it as part of a group of five Wellington Harbour Board Wharf sheds built in the period 1909-1922 which utilised steel and concrete rather than the exclusive use of timber framing in their construction. The use of these techniques demonstrate a development in the concept of the reinforced building which, in 1922, was still in its infancy. These same techniques also appear to have enabled the Wellington Harbour Board engineer, J. Marchbanks, to introduce into his shed designs a travelling winch operated, in the case of Shed 22, by electricity.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

Shed 22 demonstrates the economics of the conventional shipping industry in the days before the unit load revolution of the 1960s and 1970s made the berthside pre-aggregation of a complete cargo an economic necessity. In modern ports sheds of this type are almost unnecessary.

g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

Shed 22 was the fourth and last wharf shed to be built at the southern end of what is now Lambton Harbour. Its erection came relatively late during the fourth big phase of Harbour Board expansion (1901-1930) before the arrival of containerisation in 1967. Nevertheless the design of Shed 22 does not conform to the "tall, wooden, lantern-topped

buildings which became the 'type' associated with Wellington's wharves" as identified by Grahame Anderson. Instead the shed conforms to the design and style of Shed 21 (1910, Category I) at the northern end of the Harbour and Wharves Historic Area identified by the Trust in 1985.

The Shed 22/Shed 21 design style represents a tradition of wharf buildings that has origins outside of Wellington, and arguably goes back as far as the design of the former Landing Service Building in Timaru, Category I, built in 1867. Shed 22 is of particular interest because the design (a) followed a recognisable historicist style of architecture and (b) followed a technological development in utilising new construction materials to allow for the creation of greater free storage space within the building.

The historicist architectural style of Shed 22 has been ably identified in Chris Orsman's report for the Wellington Branch Committee as being essentially (to use Australian terminology) a 'Federation Warehouse' style building, generally of the period 1890-1915. Federation Warehouse originated from the Romanesque or segmented (round-headed) arch form of the 11th century. Registered examples of the Federation style are rare in New Zealand. Earlier Victorian buildings such as the Timaru Landing Service Building and the D. C. Turnbull & Co Wool Store Building in Timaru (Category II) used a round headed arch form on the ground floor, but the style is not emphasised by recessed spandrels as they are in the later Federation style. Shed 21 is an example of this later style and there is one other building outside of Wellington which is slightly earlier than 1890 but which conforms to the Federation style in all other respects, viz, the Former New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Wool Store in Christchurch (1881) by Victorian architect W.B. Armson, Category I. A brief comparison between this latter building and Shed 22 is relevant in understanding where the significance of Shed 22 lies in terms of (b) mentioned above.

Both Armson and J. Marchbanks (architect of Shed 22) clearly thought that a historicist architectural design employing a giant order segmented arch in brick rising through two storeys, was suitable for large warehouses of more than one storey where access and lighting was important. In the absence of heavy industry in Victorian New Zealand, however, Armson probably lacked the resources to take full advantage of this design with an iron/steel framing which might have allowed him to open up the space inside this warehouse instead of having to limit this space with a forest of heavy timber support structure posts and beams. He therefore had to settle for positioning his warehouse beside a railway line without being able to design his building to allow for a wagon to be brought inside, unloaded, and taken out again.

Shed 21 at Wellington, designed by Marchbanks and built 29 years later, solved this problem by utilising a steel frame covered in concrete 'in the upper floor'. This would have allowed for a hydraulic hoist to be employed inside to lift wool bales off wagons and stack them on the first floor without a host of timber columns getting in the way of either the winch or the wagons. Shed 22, built in 1921, was built along the same lines for the same functional reasons. This time the necessity for a wagon to come inside the store was not apparent although wharf wagons were unloaded through the segmented arch bays which have since been bricked up on the north wall. The two internal overhead electric travelling cranes (still in place) then performed a stacking function in the same way that one assumes the hydraulic lifting equipment operated in the earlier Shed 21. The critical point is that the installation of a crane/winch was only made possible by taking advantage of (for the time) new construction technology which had become available in New Zealand after 1900, namely the rolled steel joist (RSJ) or steel 'I' beam. In the case of Shed 22 a cursory inspection of the interior reveals that this new strengthening technology was employed, namely the roof trusses are all riveted RSJ's. In combination with the solid concrete floor, the roof trusses and the floor thereby create a diaphragm, or two diaphragms in fact, apparently strong enough to hold the building together without the need for a heavy post and beam construction supporting the building on the inside, as was the case with Armson's 1881 warehouse, and indeed as is the case with Shed 27 (1922) and Shed 41 (1917) on the same Wellington waterfront. The brick walls of Shed 22 appear not to have been strengthened in any way other than by the use of solid brick piers which run from the foundations to the parapet.


It appears to be the case that James Marchbanks, the Wellington Harbour Board engineer, was setting an innovative trend for the designs he was responsible for, although he may not have personally designed all of the buildings involved. As evidence of this, Wellington Harbour contains three other sheds which take advantage of new construction techniques. Shed 31, built 1909, is a timber clad building built on riveted steel framing with substantial steel stiffening at the upper floor levels. Shed 35, built 1915, has reinforced concrete piles and steel roof framing, forming as with Shed 22, a strengthening diaphragm that allows for two overhead electric travelling cranes. Finally, Shed 45, built 1922, although not aesthetically a notable building is constructed of reinforced concrete framing with in situ concrete infill panels. Shed 22, which (along with Shed 21) has been attributed to Marchbanks, would therefore appear to be part of a definite line of technical development in warehouse design on the Wellington waterfront. It is also one of only two of this group of innovative buildings on the Wellington waterfront which is designed in a true Federation Warehouse style - the other being Shed 21.

In summary although Shed 21 and Shed 22 utilised new strengthening methods to achieve a definite functional purpose for the building, the difference between Shed 21 and Shed 22 is the fact that the latter lacks an accumulator tower and has had more alterations (to the parapet plus bricked in arches) than the former. It may be noted that

the accumulator tower on Shed 21 is an expression of an earlier technology which was very probably inappropriate for Shed 22 with its electrically rather than hydraulically operated winch. In terms of the alterations to Shed 22, the changes are part of the history of the building. It is, however, possible to gain a very good idea how Shed 22

functioned as a storage warehouse, particularly as its increased storage capacity function, the reason why it was built, can be directly read in the construction of the building.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Shed 22 was obviously part of the evolving scene of the Wellington waterfront, built midway between the earlier, narrow sheds on the Queen Street Wharf tees and the last generation of steel sheds designed to serve road vehicles.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

2002 -
Redeveloped into a bar, restaurant and function space.

Completion Date

13th April 1995

Report Written By

Gavin McLean & Wayne Nelson

Information Sources

Anderson, 1984

Grahame Anderson, Fresh about Cook Strait, an appreciation of Wellington Harbour, Wellington, 1984

pp. 164-65

Evans, 1975 (3)

M E Evans. Building Classifications Committee Research Report on Harbour Board Buildings, Wellington NZHPT, 1975.

pg. 15

Other Information

A copy of the original 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.