Ray Cottage

49 Domain Road, Bannockburn

  • Ray Cottage, Bannockburn. 2009 Image kindly supplied by Ralph Allen.
    Copyright: Ralph Allen.
  • Ray Cottage, Bannockburn. 2009 Image kindly supplied by Ralph Allen.
    Copyright: Ralph Allen.
  • Ray Cottage, Bannockburn. 2009 Image kindly supplied by Ralph Allen.
    Copyright: Ralph Allen.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7594 Date Entered 14th April 2005


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the land in certificate of title OT227/72, and the buildings, fixtures and fittings thereon. The registration applies to the Ray Cottage - the sod house and corrugated iron extension, the outbuildings, the original wash house/kitchen and the former Clyde Dam Hut and corrugated iron stable. Registration does not apply to the 1991 swimming pool on the site.

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 46 Blk I Bannockburn SD (CT OT227/72), Otago Land District

Location description

The Ray House is at the western end of Domain Road (previously North Road), Bannockburn. The section includes part of the spectacular hydraulic sluicing cliffs. A large part of the sluicings is administered by the Department of Conservation as a historic reserve.


The Ray Cottage is the only surviving gold miner's sod cottage in Bannockburn, one of the most important gold mining areas in Central Otago. With its 1902 corrugated iron addition it provides an illustration of the temporary nature of many gold miners' residences, converted into a permanent residence as the miner became a settler in the Bannockburn community. The tiny scale of the cottage, set against the nearby vast hydraulic sluicing faces provides an important insight into the lives of miners and their families. The detailed history of the inhabitants and of the changes in structure of the building add value to the cottage - its story has been told in great detail, and most of the alterations since its building have been accounted for and analysed. Such level of recording is tells an important story about the history of the Ray family and the changes in the Bannockburn community over time.

In an area where vineyards are rapidly taking over large tracts of land and changing the historical landscape associated with gold mining, new residences of modern scale and style are taking over from the modest miners and farmers residences and places such as the Ray Cottage are becoming increasingly important examples of the history of the region.Ray Cottage

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Ray Cottage provides a key to the gold mining past of Central Otago and particularly the experience of the Bannockburn miners. The Ray family's life in Bannockburn was typical of the lives of Bannockburn goldminers, living adjoining their sluicing claims, sifting a life from the gold bearing soil, and eventually turning to other occupations as the gold ran out. The tiny residence was typical of miners' residences built from local materials and added to as family circumstances allowed or required. Bannockburn history was typical of many small gold mining settlements - boom, decline and stagnation. This history has meant that little change in the structure of the town into the 1980s. The history and the town has taken on a pace of change not seen since the gold mining period in recent years with the new gold mine - grape vines and property. The pace of change in Bannockburn with new subdivisions, and the vineyard planting is changing the historical landscape of the town, and properties, such as the Ray Cottage with its association with the adjoining hydraulic sluicings, the water race, stables and outbuildings, which provides insight into the past of the town, are becoming increasingly rare.

The Ray Cottage, as a representative of the small miner's cottages that used to be common in Bannockburn, is an important community landmark. It has been visited by both local and international groups interested in gold fields history.

The Ray Cottage has architectural value representing the vernacular of the gold mining period, built of local materials and added to as family needs required, and as income allowed. The residence is tiny, giving insight into family living circumstances. The house provides evidence of sod building methods, and the use of corrugated iron on the goldfields, often described as a material for temporary accommodation. These corrugated iron residences were common in the goldfields, but are increasingly rare as modern residences replace the tiny gold miners' houses.

Archaeologist Jill Hamel has noted the Archaeological values associated with the property. The former adjoining house sites have been excavated and revealed evidence relating to the nature of the miner's lives. There is potential for further investigation. As a site that relates closely to the adjoining sluicings it provides important context for the mine workings and the links with the miner's residences, with that siting being typical of Bannockburn. Many of these early residence sites were sluiced away. This is an important survivor of that gold mining period.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The buildings represent the aspirations and efforts of colonists who came to Otago from Scotland and established the economic prosperity of the province through gold mining. They are an important symbol of early European settlement, and an iconic part of the modern Central Otago landscape. Their various occupants have descendants throughout New Zealand, and they provide an important focal point for family life, as witnessed by the huge Kippenberger family reunion in the 1990s, and by their continuous use by the Allen family (since 1956) and descendants of the local Crabbe family. They are an important historical and educational resource, and have been visited by both local and international groups with an interest in gold fields history.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The Ray Cottage has an association with the gold mining period in Central Otago. In Bannockburn the gold mining period is evidenced by the vast hydraulic sluicings, which Charles Ray was involved in mining. The Cottage adjoins the sluicings and provides an important link with the gold mining period. An aspect of particular importance is the quality of the documentation of the occupants of the house.

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

The Ray Cottage has potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history. The Cottage has been included in gold field's tours representing the living conditions of families in the gold fields towns of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition there is potential for further archaeological work to reveal more about the history of occupation on this site over a long period.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

The Ray Cottage, as a representative of the small miner's cottages that used to be common in Bannockburn, is an important community landmark. Its long history of use with the Allen family, and with prominent local families in Bannockburn means it is held in high esteem by the many descendents of these families (as evidenced by the huge Kippenberger Family Reunion in the 1990s, members of the family visiting the house).

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

Both local and international groups interested in gold fields history have visited the Ray Cottage, and it can be considered a community educational resource, providing insight into goldfields life in the nineteenth century.

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

An important aspect of the cottage is the in-depth recording of the changes and alterations to the house which provides an important insight into the building and its occupants. It provides evidence of the transition between temporary dwellings, typical of early goldfields life, slowly added to and converted to a permanent dwelling. The changes in this case are well recorded and in keeping with the character of the tiny dwelling.

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

The Ray Cottage is an important part of the Bannockburn historical landscape, namely the Bannockburn hydraulic sluicings and the surrounding gold fields landscape. The Cottage is one of the early houses associated with gold mining that have survived to illustrate the existence of gold miners in Bannockburn that shaped the settlement and history of the area.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Bannockburn's history and the historical landscape is inextricably linked with gold. It is the golden story that shines above all. The Bannockburn landscape provides a ready reminder of the sheer scale of the alluvial miners' work - in one small area an estimated 40 million yards of soil were sluiced into the Kawarau River. Miller notes it as one field which allows visitors to "realise what an enormous amount of ground they shifted to win their gold. The work was hard and demanding, and the reward was little better than their wages" (Miller, 1975: np)

From late 1862, gold mining wrought huge changes on the Bannockburn landscape. Alluvial areas were mined first, with miners working the river flats around the Bannockburn and Shepherds Creeks. As miners followed the creeks upstream, they moved into the tributary gullies, building their huts close to their workings. The riverine terraces were then worked. With the discovery of gold-bearing quartz reefs on the Carrick Range, settlements followed the mines into the harsh uplands as stamping batteries were built to crush the ore. In the same way as it had expanded, with declining returns, settlement then contracted to the flats. Miners grouped together as the initial quick returns ended. Sluicing and the building of water races required small companies as did quartz mining; dredging later in the century required substantial investment and even larger companies.

According to local historian J.C. Parcell, the first miners in the Bannockburn area were Cornish and Pope at Pipeclay Gully in October 1862. From the end of 1862 there was mining at Adams Gully, Smiths Gully and various other gullies (Parcell, 1976:27). Warden Coates reported that by late 1863 "between the Nevis and Clutha Rivers the vast extent of rude and elevated country known as the Carrick Range has received good prospecting, from which it has been ascertained that many spurs and saddles as well as a considerable number of gullies in the area of mountains are auriferous" (in McPherson, 1986:13). In 1864 mining was extending up to the Carrick Range, Shepherds Creek, and on the Caledonian Spur (Parcell, 1976: 80).

Coates reported 178 miners in the Bannockburn basin in 1864-5: 15 cradling, 75 sluicing, 70 ground sluicing, 18 working with hydraulic hose. Some 41 kilometres of water race had already been built to supply the Bannockburn field (McPherson, 1986:13). Parcell, however, reports that returns were falling and that by 1865 as gold returns fell, so did the population with an estimated mining population of 30 at Bannockburn and 90 in the Bannockburn district (Parcell, 1976:25). The first mining boom was over by the middle of the sixties: the easy areas had already been worked. But miners continued to work in small parties in the Bannockburn area, and attempts were made to solve the problems of access and water which were preventing new areas from being worked.

By now, most of the gold that was accessible through the technology of the time had been taken out, but the dredging boom of the mid 1890s and early twentieth century prolonged the generation of gold from the area. Dredges worked up the Bannockburn and Shepherds creeks as well as on the Kawarau River. There were some significant local successes, particularly James Horn who was involved in the Electric Company Dredges. The first dredge was so successful as to pay for another dredge, and the second paid for itself in one week's work. The third, the Lady Ranfurly was one of the most famous dredges in Central Otago.

A town site was surveyed in 1878 (SO 14102). The rectangle grid of the town was superimposed upon the uneven and pitted ground of a well worked mining area. The plan shows town sections cut through by water races, dams and other mine workings, with no reference to the contour of the land shown in the layout of the town. It appears that sod walls edged mining areas in a couple of places, but again these pay no heed to the layout imposed on the land by the surveyors. According to Parcell town sections were available for sale in 1880, but were not taken up because it was easier and cheaper to take up a residence site under The Mining Act (Parcell, 1976: 111). That settlement was centred elsewhere is indicated by the lack of buildings in the town: only one house is drawn on the plan, and the only other buildings indicated are a stable and slaughter yard stand on the northern edge. While it is possible that the surveyor did not include all built structures within the town area, it appears that the main focus of building was further south.

Although there were some rich individual finds, most of those who worked claims on the goldfields never achieved great wealth. First comers may have, but by the late sixties and seventies work on the ground was of diminishing value, and more expensive to retrieve. A writer in the 1930s describes the reality for many miners:

Few of the original miners on the Bannockburn realised a competence. They worked early and late, but, taken all round, their various claims only provided a living for themselves and their families, whilst even the bachelors' brigade that have grown old on the Bannockburn have little to show for their years of toil (Keay, 1930:np).

Stories associated with the Bannockburn emphasise the romance attached to the lone miner: miners driven mad by drink, the loneliness and isolation of small claims, the hazards of the environment such as sluicing faces in the dark. Miller portrays the life of the Bannockburn miners as one centred comfortably and relatively harmoniously in a small modest community. The miners, he wrote were:

men and women of sturdy stock, and they blended into a community of people whole shared a common interest, and who lived on good terms with one another. The Bannockburn miners were one big family, and they shared one another's joys and sorrows. Many of them lived out their lives in the district, preferring to dwell in relatively primitive conditions under the bright sunny skies and amid the glorious scenery of Central Otago where they had to travel many miles to the more heavily populated areas. (Miller, 1975:np)

The Ray Cottage

The Ray Cottage is built adjoining the vast remains of the Bannockburn gold sluicings - sheer cliffs and a landscape heavily scarred by mining form the surrounding landscape for the cottage. The miners built their residences close to their areas of work, and indeed many of the temporary residences were sluiced away as the search for gold reached their properties.

According to local historian Paul Crump who has undertaken exhaustive research into the early occupants of Bannockburn township there have been three houses on Section 46, Block I during the nineteenth century, relating to the gold mining period. On Crump's Inventory there were two sod houses in the adjoining paddock (No's 67 and 68), the present house (No.69), and the stable (No.130).

Builder and owner Charles Ray is recorded on his son John's birth certificate as being born in England in 1847. However, his own entry in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand (vol. 4 Otago and Southland Provincial Districts; 1905) recorded that Charles Ray was born in 1846, in Midlothian, Scotland, where he was educated and raised as a farmer. The Cyclopedia also recorded that he immigrated to New Zealand on the ship Strathallan, worked for a short time on the West Coast, and then married Jane McWhirter at Naseby in 1871. Jane was born in Scotland in 1856, and her family lived at Kyeburn. Charles and Jane moved to Bannockburn in 1872. They had nine children: John Charles (b. 1874), James Frederick (b. ?/5/1875), Sophia Jane (b. 19/1/1877), Robert Marshall (b. 20/7/1878, d. 1925), Mary Sarah May (b. 2/6/1880), Lucy Elizabeth (b. 29/6/1882, d. 1898), Ada Isabella (b. 7/9/1885), Ethel Victoria Goode (b. 12/9/1887), and Annie Mildred (b. 1893, d. 1896). They were also guardians of Jane's younger sister Isabella McWhirter (b. 25/5/1869) from 1878, and another relative, possibly a sister or cousin from Tarras, Jessie Gladys McWhirter (b. 7/3/1889) for a few months in 1904.

Charles initially worked as a gold miner, working a sluice claim adjacent to the property with John Short and John Lynn. With them he owned a house in nearby Hall Road, now gone, which he mortgaged in 1891, presumably to finance their mining activities. After about 1905 Charles became an accountant, and worked as Secretary of the Cromwell and Bannockburn Collieries Company Ltd and an Insurance Agent for the Victoria Insurance Company. He was permanent secretary of the Loyal Cromwell Lodge from 1877. In 1904 he was appointed Bannockburn Librarian, and in 1912 a Justice of the Peace. About 1920 he worked in the office of the Scott Coal Company in Cromwell.

Eldest son John Charles Ray was a miner in 1895, Dredge master of the Great Gold Central Dredging Company dredge in 1900, and Dredge master of the Upper Magnetic dredge in 1902.

Robert Marshall Ray worked as a gold dredger from 1903, and obtained a Dredge master's Certificate in 1906. He bought a residence (now gone apart from the foundations) in the paddock next to our house from John Ball in 1904, where his aunt Belle (Isabella) McWhirter lived until 1918. He also bought land with Charles in 1913. From 1914 he appears to have worked as a miner, and in 1917 he was wounded in World War 1. After the war he was County Clerk at Clyde, where he died in 1925. He is buried in the Clyde Cemetery.

In 1919 Charles Ray established the race that still runs through the property from Pipeclay Gully. In that year he also bought a house in the paddock from his son Robert Ray that was formerly occupied by his sister-in-law Belle McWhirter, and moved his family to it. They were replaced in the sod house by another of Charles' sons, James Ray, and his family, until Charles' wife Jane inherited both houses jointly with Robert Ray after Charles' death in 1924. Jane and Robert sold both properties to Belle McWhirter in 1928. Jane and Belle left Bannockburn at this time, probably to live in Green Island near Dunedin, and the house in the paddock remained unoccupied thereafter. Belle let the sod house to a farmer, William Helm (about whom nothing else is known), until 1931, when he was replaced by the Kippenberger and Salton families.

During a family reunion at Bannockburn in the 1990s, Lorna Samuelson and Edna Briggs recalled that their father Frank Kipperberger and William Salton were gold mining partners for some time, mining on the Kawarau River near the Victoria Bridge. They remembered that Frank built the western extension of the original part of the house from mud bricks, and installed the coal range (the present range is a more recent replacement for the similar original). The Kippenberger's eight children slept in two ex-Public Works Department huts near the front gate - girls in one and boys in the other - while their parents and the Saltons occupied the house.

The Kippenberger and Salton families occupied the house between 1928 and 1942. Frank and Elva Kippenberger had eight children: Doreen May (b. 15/12/1925), Lorna Muriel (b. 17/7/1927), Edna Fay (b. 24/2/1929), Elva Mary (b. 10/8/1930), Frank George (b. 25/10/1932), Helen Ivonne (b. 15/12/1933), Maurice John (b. 6/1/1935), and Ian. Doreen started at Bannockburn School on 14/4/1931. Mrs Kippenberger was a descendant of the Ball family, who built and were the original occupiers of the houses in the paddock in the 1880s. William Salton had two children.

In 1942, Belle McWhirter sold the house to a Mr and Mrs Garth, and the Kippenbergers moved on. The Garths added the front veranda and corrugated iron extensions on each end of the rammed earth shed, which was probably the original kitchen/laundry. The Garths were keen gardeners, and planted the tulips and daffodils that still emerge from the back lawn in spring as well as many roses and other ornamental shrubs, some of which still survive.

The Garths sold the house to John (Jack d.1957) and Jessie Hodson (nee Crabbe: 1897-1983) in 1950, and it began its new life as a crib. Jack Hodson was a wood and coal merchant in Bathgate St, South Dunedin. He was apparently no relation to well known Bannockburn identity James Lewis Hodson (b. 23/8/1916, d. 1998), who owned the orchard down the road from the house until it was purchased by John and Joanne Butel, and developed into a vineyard in more recent years. Jessie (nee Crabbe) was born in Bannockburn (her father was the Bannockburn identity James Crabbe). She was a skilled craftswoman who enjoyed tapestry and rug making. Three of her rugs, made from scraps of fabric, are still in use in the house.

While Jack Hodson was hospitalised he met Geoff Allen, who was recovering from surgery for tuberculosis. Jack suggested to Geoff that he should go to Bannockburn to convalesce. Geoff took up the offer in the summer holiday of 1956, and the Allen family thus started their association with the house. Unfortunately, Jack died in 1957, and Jessie seldom used the crib after that. Returning in the summer of 1958, the Allens used the house as a quid pro quo for maintaining it and paying the "electric" (as Mrs Hodson called it) every year until Mrs Hodson died in 1983.

Geoffrey Ernest Allen (b. 2/12/1919, d. 1/1/1991) was the youngest of five children of Dunedin coal merchant Arthur Joseph Allen and school teacher Gertrude Howe Allen (nee Provo). Geoff and Gwen met in England, where he was stationed as an RNZAF pilot, in 1940, and married there in 1945. They returned to New Zealand, and had two children, Ralph Bradley (b. 22/6/1948) and Cheryl Elizabeth (b. 23/5/1952). Geoff was a clothing manufacturer until his retirement in 1978, and Gwen was a full-time mother and housewife. During Mrs Hodson's tenure, Geoff Allen undertook some renovations to the house.

Mrs Hodson died intestate, so the house was auctioned in 1983. Despite vigorous bidding from several of the 120 or so interested onlookers, the Allen family managed to acquire the property.

Geoff died in January 1991, and subsequently Gwen only visited the property when son Ralph and his family were there for holidays, even though Ralph immediately installed a modern electric range. The swimming pool was built by neighbour Steve Cooper in 1991, with materials from the Clyde dam site where he had worked. The eastern corrugated iron shed was demolished in 1992 and replaced by an ex-Clyde Dam construction site hut in January 1993. At this time Edna and Ian Kippenberger visited the house. Archaeologist Jill Hamel excavated the Kippenberger cow shed and the foundations of Belle McWhirter's house in the paddock over the next couple of summers.

Hamel worked mainly on three small structures: a mud brick hen house wall, a cow shed which had been built in the remains of an earth-walled hut and a small cottage considered to have been Belle McWhirter's. The remains of the hen house was just the foundation of the mud brick wall, about two metres long, beside a hard-packed floor with oysters shell around it.

The 1930s cowshed had a 2 by 2m area of cobbled floor overlaid with rough concrete. This was set within the remains of a shuttered-cob wall and some stone foundations marking other walls, with a back wall of revetted stone set against the bank.

The McWhirter house was represented by stone paving and the remnants of stone foundations for the earth walls. It measures in total 8.4 by 3.6m, with an extension of some sort represented by a short length of wall. It was very close to a long low mound of earth running across the section, which is assumed to be a mud brick wall which had fallen over.

Ralph inherited the property after Gwen died in April 1993 and is the current owner of the property.

Physical Description

The Ray Cottage is a single-storeyed cottage. It was built in two stages. The first single-gabled part was constructed of sod in the 1870s. This was a tiny two-roomed cottage with a two windows and door in the main frontage, and a lean-to at the rear. The original form of the building is evident, as the window apertures have been converted to cupboards.

The sod cottage had a small extension built in the 1930s. The extension has small six-light windows in the west elevation, with a coal range.

The interior of the sod cottage has a main living room with coal range, and a small bedroom on the east elevation. The bedroom has a small six-light window. To the south is a galley kitchen and small bathroom.

Around 1902 a single-gabled, single-storeyed corrugated iron two-roomed addition was added to the front of the sod cottage. The two rooms are a small bedroom on the east elevation and a small living room with open fire to the west. The open fire is the original. The fire box is built of corrugated iron filled with earth. The chimney is an iron sluice pipe. A corrugated iron veranda was added in the 1940s.

The corrugated iron cottage has 12-light sash windows and central four-panel door on its north elevation. These are the original windows from the sod cottage. A piece of door architrave bearing Charles's name found on the inside of the front bedroom door frame when Geoff Allen relined this room in the 1960s suggest that Charles Ray added the front timber-framed corrugated iron-clad part of the house, when the stable of the same materials was probably also built (c.1902).

There are two outbuildings to the east of the cottage. One is an ex-Clyde Dam hut, The other is mud brick and formed the original kitchen/bathroom/laundry of the cottage.

The stable is a high-stud unlined corrugated iron building. It has a weathered tongue and groove door to Domain Road, and to the west has two stable doors. It has an earth floor.

In the western paddock of the property are the remains of a sod wall that was a notable feature of early Bannockburn, and the scale of which is evident in a 1906 photograph.

Interior Alterations

South wall of living room

In October 1998 Ralph Allen removed the half-round battens from the hardboard linings of the sitting room. He also completely removed the hardboard from the south wall next to the kitchen door. Under it was beaded tongue-and-groove rimu wainscoting, with the bottom third of most boards rotten, fixed to various-sized pieces of timber rebated into the earth wall. Above the wainscoting was visible the original sod wall, in excellent condition, partly plastered, with some remaining scraps of paint and wallpaper. Scraps of scrim attached to the top of the wainscoting suggest that the upper wall had been scrim and wallpaper, like those in the other rooms. Under the tongue-and-groove the sods had been plastered at least twice, as there were scraps of paint between layers. Presumably the wainscoting and scrim were installed to cover the eroding sods and reduce maintenance, probably at the time that the front part of the house was built in similar materials (c. 1902). Cement plaster was visible at the extreme west end of the wall, emerging from behind the hot water cupboard. Presumably this is the material that the Kippenbergers used over their mud brick extension of the 1930s .

Ralph Allen also removed the industrial brown vinyl laid by Geoff Allen, and sanded and polyurethaned the rimu or matai boards under it. Ralph Allen stained the pine tongue-and-groove boards that he had used to replace some rotten originals, and polyurethaned these and the particle board flooring with which he and George Alvey used to replace the rotten floor of the Kippenberger extension.

The Parlour, renovated September 1999.

The scrim and wallpaper lining of the western front room (the parlour) were in very poor shape, so they were removed to be replaced with particle board. The original mud plastered sod front wall of the house was revealed, along with the flimsy timber structure of the c.1902 extension. Some of the original studs were partly rotten, and most of the floor plate had completely rotted away. The tongue-and-groove lining was removed to allow for the addition of a new floor plate and extra studs, and the placement of fibreglass batts insulation, then the tongue-and-groove boards were replaced in their original positions. The window that was put in the western wall by Geoff Allen in the 1960s was removed, and two four-paned sashes were installed, identical to a nineteenth century four-paned sash that was in the eastern of the original two corrugated iron sheds. Replica Victorian skirting was used in place of the former odd bits of plain timber, partially to cover the gaps left by removing the rotten bottom parts of tongue-and-groove boards. Replica architraves were used around the new windows; the original architrave (made from tongue-and-groove) of the front window was retained. The roof structure was strengthened and battened, and batts were installed.

The congoleum square was lifted to reveal rimu tongue-and-groove flooring, which presumably replaces an earlier Baltic pine floor. The floor structure is supported by 3x2 blocks laid on the soil surface, and is completely independent of the walls. The floor was sanded and polyurethaned.

Wall structure, eastern room of the original earth-built wing.

Ralph Allen, 3 October 1994

On 24 and 25 September 1994 Ralph Allen stripped scrim and wallpaper from the walls of the small eastern room of the original part of the house. The scrim looked to be relatively recent (?1940s) with only one or two layers of bland, blotchy-patterned cream/beige wallpaper of the 1930-1950 era. This coincides with the Garth's residence (c. 1940-1952) - the Kippenbergers remember their mother painting plastered walls (pre-1940), and the Garths built the corrugated iron extensions to the shed using a similar structure to the framing holding the scrim in the room under consideration here.

Under the scrim was a sparse frame of odd-sized pieces of second-hand timber, set into the original earth structure of the wall where necessary to achieve reasonably vertical linings.

The northern wall had a 3 by 2 stud at each end, and a split c. 3 by 1 on each side of the cupboard runs only between the top plate and the wainscoting. The top plate is 3 by 2, and the wainscoting is nailed to a c. 3 by 1 laid on edge, its ends presumably butted into the end studs. Pieces of c. 2 by 1 tapered moulding, probably ex-architrave, were nailed along the top of the wainscoting to support the bottom of the scrim.

Around the structure of the cupboard is the original window frame, set well into the earth wall and curved in to it. The earth wall is far from vertical, and either leans northwards or is tapered towards the top. Its surface is very irregular, and is plastered with what appears to be a mud plaster, bearing several layers of paint. In the many areas where the plaster has fallen off, a variety of shades of earth is revealed in horizontal layers, giving the impression that this is a mud brick or pug/rammed earth wall - its irregularity suggests the latter. There are many irregular holes in the plaster, most appearing to result from nails having been driven in and later extracted, rather than from rods used to hold formers, as were seen in the shed wall.

The eastern wall has a 3 by 2 stud at its northern end, a 3 by 2 stud on each side of the window (each with a large hexagonal hole in its face suggestive of holding a bolt in a previous incarnation), and an irregular c. 2 by 1 laid on edge following the roofline. A piece of roughly 2 by 1 moulding is nailed along the top of the wainscoting, which is itself nailed to a c. 3 by 2 on edge as for the other wall. An inch thick plank has been laid into the earthwork across the full width of the gable above the window, but is too deep set to have been used to support the scrim, which was tacked only around its edges. Allen added two pieces of c. 2 by 1 (ex shed framing) horizontally to give additional support for the new lining.

This wall also has a very irregular face, plastered and painted, with many holes and areas of collapsed plaster. Two measurements are pencilled on it near the bottom left hand corner: 4'6" and a single numeral in characters about 1" high.

Near the window frame a patch of departed plaster has revealed the junction of two earth blocks with a clear diagonal join and the remains of a layer of plant roots, confirming the use of sods. Elsewhere, gaps in the plaster show horizontal layers that could either be mud brick or pug/rammed earth.

To the immediate left of the window frame are gaps up to 2-3 inches wide and a "course" deep, between wood and earth, which appear to be deliberate, perhaps resulting from a lack of interest in making a good finish to the window aperture. Above the plank set into the structure above the window, the wall is very crumbly, with many irregular gaps and cracks.

The overall impression, supported by the peculiar angle of the window, is that this was a hastily, indeed carelessly, built structure, intended for only temporary inhabitation. The later addition of wainscoting and scrim lining was almost certainly intended to give the room a more regular appearance, and perhaps to lessen the nuisance of falling plaster and dust.

Wall structure, south wall of living room adjacent to kitchen door

In October 1998 Ralph Allen removed the ½ round battens from the hardboard linings of the sitting room, and used Gib bedding compound to stop up the gaps, as well as those between the sheets of Pinex on the ceiling. He completely removed the hardboard from the south wall next to the kitchen door. Under it was beaded tongue-and-groove rimu wainscoting, with the bottom 1/3 of most boards rotten, fixed to various-sized pieces of timber rebated into the earth wall. The horizontal timber strip supporting the top of the wainscoting has two large coach bolts set into it, function unknown. Above the wainscoting was visible the original sod wall, in excellent condition, partly plastered, with some remaining scraps of paint and wallpaper. Scraps of scrim attached to the top of the wainscoting suggest that the upper wall had been scrim and wallpaper, like those in the other rooms. Under the tongue-and-groove the sods had been plastered at least twice, as there were scraps of paint between layers. Presumably the wainscoting and scrim were installed to cover the eroding sods and reduce maintenance, probably at the time that the front part of the house was built in similar materials (c. 1902). Cement plaster was visible at the extreme west end of the wall, emerging from behind the hot water cupboard. Presumably this is the material that the Kippenbergers used over their mud brick extension of the 1930s .

Ralph Allen also removed the industrial brown vinyl laid by Geoff Allen, and sanded and polyurethaned the rimu or matai boards under it. Ralph Allen stained the pine tongue-and-groove boards that he had used to replace some rotten originals, and polyurethaned these and the particle board flooring with which he and George Alvey used to replace the rotten floor of the Kippenberger extension.

Notable Features

House, Stable, Outbuildings, Archaeological features (no survey completed of whole site)

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1870 - 1875
completed c.1872-1875

1902 - 1902
Corrugated Iron extension to original sod cottage

1902 - 1902
Corrugated Iron Stable built

Kippenbergers add mud brick extension to the original sod cottage.

Main living room lined and the kitchen with hardboard (walls) and Pinex softboard (ceilings), which were simply nailed over the original scrim linings and tongue-and-groove wainscoting.

Exterior walls of sod cottage sand and cement plastered.

Tongue and groove wainscoting and scrim lining/ceiling from the front bedroom removed and replaced with hardboard. built a flush toilet in the "bathroom" - the western corrugated iron shed.

Took up rotten flooring in the Kippenberger extension and replaced it with particle board flooring in the 1970s, then covered the floor with industrial brown vinyl recycled.

Kitchen floor re-concreted, requiring the very low roof by about six inches, and built on a small bathroom with a shower and vanity unit.

Demolished - Redevelopment
1992 -
Eastern corrugated iron shed was demolished.

1995 -
Scrim wall linings replaced in the inside of the side bedroom with hardboard and built the inside toilet addition.

1999 -
Front room (parlour) scrim lining removed and walls and ceiling lined with particle board.

2000 -
The two four-light top hinged casement windows on either side of the fireplace were added to the parlour.

Construction Details

Sod and timber-framed corrugated iron.

Completion Date

14th October 2004

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Allen, 2004

Ralph Allen, 'The House Book: The Ray Cottage, Bannockburn' Unpublished manuscript, copy held by Otago/Southland Area Office NZHPT.

Briggs, nd

Edna Briggs, 'Ball and Kippenberger Family Histories', 9 Bywell St, Oamaru

Crump, nd

Paul Crump, 'Crump Collection', 'Grey Croft', Hall Road, Bannockburn

Hamel, nd

Jill Hamel, 'Site Archaeology', Unpublished manuscript in possession of the Author, no date

McPherson, 1986

R I McPherson, 'The economic geology of the Bannockburn District, Central Otago', New Zealand Geological Survey, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1986

Miller, nd

F. W. G. Miller and J. Husband, 'Cromwell', Craig Printing Company, Invercargill (no date)

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

W. Keay, 'Cromwell Fifty Years Ago: its Identities and Institutions', 12 July 1930.

Parcell, 1951

James C. Parcell, 'Heart of the Desert: A History of the Cromwell and Bannockburn Districts of Central Otago', Christchurch, 1951

Stephenson, 2004

Janet Stephenson, Heather Bauchop and Peter Petchey, 'Bannockburn Heritage Landscape Study', Department of Conservation, Science and Research Unit, Wellington 2004

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.