Historical Significance or Value
The Partridge Farm buildings demonstrate historical value. These vernacular structures are associated with the Crown Grant for the land to George Partridge in 1875. The buildings date to the first European settlement of the Lowburn area and are constructed from locally available material. Historically, they are also associated with the early methods of farming used in the area, now long obsolete.
The Partridge buildings are of a simple style, built from readily available local materials. They show significant architectural values, demonstrating a vernacular form of architecture associated with Central Otago farm buildings that is now obsolete.
The Partridge buildings are noted as archaeological sites in the New Zealand Archaeological Association's site recording scheme. They were recorded during Higham et al's survey of the Cromwell district and are now noted as sites G41/416, G41/417, G41/581,
G41/580 identified as farm buildings.
This complex of buildings demonstrates technological values associated with the development of farming in the region. The stables were required to house horses, used for a number of essential tasks. In addition to ploughing they were necessary for mustering and also as a means of transport, both for riding and for drawing a number of different farm vehicles such as the buggy and carriage as well as the hay wagon and farm dray . Horses such as shires and Clydesdales worked in teams of as many as eight horses drawing wagons, drays and other equipment; all these horses, as well as racing stock required suitable stabling, where they were fed, groomed, harnessed and sheltered. The farm buildings. The chaff house, as the name implies, was used to store grain and chaff for horse feed. The dairy is a survivor from the time when butter and cheese would have been made on the Partridge Farm, for home consumption and also perhaps as a form of supplementary income.
The buildings also display aesthetic values. They are simple vernacular structures that are aesthetically pleasing both individually and collectively. This is emphasized by the schist construction materials and interior plaster.
The Partridge Farm buildings have cultural significance in their association with the first European settlement of this area of Central Otago, and its early use as a small farm unit. They represent historical cultural practices in which the complex of buildings discussed here (stables, chaff house, implement shed, dairy) were integrally important for day-to-day farming routines in the years before mechanisation.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The Partridge Farm buildings are representative of historical farming practices, important in New Zealand's colonial history. They illustrate the lives of farmers on a relatively small holding, in an area otherwise dominated by vast pastoral runs. They also demonstrate a vernacular building construction and style, using locally available materials.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:
The buildings demonstrate the complex of structures associated with the daily routine of farming practice in the mid-to-late nineteenth century which required housing for horses, their food and equipment as well as a dairy for processing milk and producing products such as butter and cheese. In this respect the Partridge Farm can provide knowledge of New Zealand's history.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:
The buildings are considered significant in the local community according to Otago historian Tom Brooking, one of several owners of the land title on which the dairy is located. Brooking has pointed out that the dairy is a familiar structure in the locality, while Thornton has identified this as a noteworthy farm building.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The Partridge Farm buildings are one of a series of vernacular farm structures still standing that date from the first years of European land holdings in Central Otago. While the Partridge buildings are associated with a small farm holding and other similar structures tend to be those associated with large pastoral runs, they are built in a similar style and from the same materials - schist and limestone mortar - and are the extant remnants of a former historical landscape.
Partridge Farm is located at Lowburn, a small settlement near the Central Otago town of Cromwell. In the 1850s Central Otago was a sparsely populated land where a few pastoralists had taken up leases on large runs, driving their flocks of sheep long distances from the ports of Dunedin, Molyneux (at the mouth of the Clutha River) and Moeraki. All this area of Central Otago is well-known for its history of gold mining that followed the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully, near the town of Lawrence, in 1861.
Little is known about the Partridge family apart from what can be found in land title records and a single mention of George Partridge and possibly his sons in a history of Central Otago . George Partridge was amongst those who rushed to the Otago goldfields in the 1860s, probably travelling inland from Dunedin over the Dunstan Trail on foot. He evidently first purchased only half an acre at Lowburn in 1867, possibly the area of a mining claim, but in 1875 his land holdings increased with a further Crown Grant of approximately 10 acres. By the time of the 1875 Crown Grant, Partridge had built a house and stockyard on his land, visible in the survey plan, but none of the outbuildings were shown. In 1876 Partridge may still have been involved in gold mining. The name George Partridge appears, along with James and Henry Partridge, among those who formed both the Carlyle and Caledonian Quartz Mining Company and the Working Miners' Quartz Company working at Thompson's Gorge near Bendigo. In 1885 George Partridge passed the property on to Henry Partridge, probably his son; in 1896 Henry Partridge had a seat on the Vincent County Council.
Even when it was at its largest holding, the Partridge Farm was small, dwarfed by the large runs of neighbouring sheep stations such as Mt Pisa, located on the mountain range behind Lowburn, as well as Kawarau, Lowburn Valley, Bendigo and Mt Difficulty Stations, which each had land holdings of many thousands of acres.
By 1948 the Partridge Farm had increased to a total of 478 acres (193.75 hectares) as adjoining sections were bought up, and it remained in the Partridge family, descendants of George, until 1989, when it was sold to the McLennans.
The Lowburn valley is now situated on the shores of Lake Dunstan, formed by the damming of the Clutha River that followed Parliamentary approval for this contentious scheme in 1975. Part of the Lowburn settlement now lies under the waters of the lake, as does much of the historic part of Cromwell. In the last fifteen years, the Central Otago landscape has seen a new economic boom in the form of viticulture. Commercial vineyard planting began after the flooding of the Clutha Valley in the 1980s and has increased in the following years, including Lowburn Ferry Vineyard sited around the former Partridge Farm.
In 1991 the property was subdivided into two parts. The piece of land on which the dairy is located was sold to a group of purchasers including the Otago historian Tom Brooking and his wife Patricia , who use this as a weekend and holiday retreat. Their property has a 1920s house which they use as a residence; the dairy, a building that they treasure, does not have any particular use. The other part of the former Partridge Farm is owned by Roger Gibson and his wife Mary Jean Grierson who have developed Lowburn Ferry Vineyard, with nut trees and lilacs also grown and merino sheep farming carried out. Lowburn Ferry, the name of the vineyard, is taken from the historic name for Lowburn and its function as the site of the Clutha River crossing for those travelling between Cromwell and the Bendigo gold workings . Three of the structures, the stables, chaff house and implement shed, are on this section of the subdivided property. The Gibsons have modified the stables for use as a family home, the implement shed retains its original use as a storage shed for agricultural and horticultural implements, and the chaff house is used as a storage shed. In its current use as a vineyard, horticultural and small merino sheep farming unit the former Partridge Farm reflects the historical and changing land practices of Central Otago.
The stables, dairy, chaff house and implement shed are constructed from schist stone and limestone mortar, provide a clue to the farming activities carried out here. The dairy indicates that the Partridge family kept dairy cows, processing the milk into butter and cheese and storing milk products in the cool building. The other three buildings, the stables, implement shed and chaff house, were needed to house the horses and horse-drawn equipment required for farming, such as reaping and threshing machines. The area that is now planted in grapes was used as a hay paddock for over 100 years, growing winter feed for stock.
The Stable is a rectanglar plan building with a simple gabled roof. All that remains of the original stonework is the back wall and the two end walls. The stone front wall was constructed in the 1980s, with casement windows inserted. The building has been modified again for use as a dwelling, c.1992. The original scotch iron is still in place on the roof. It is illustrated in its former (but not original) form, with no front wall, in Thornton and in Pinney. At this time the stables evidently served as an implement shed, alongside the original building of the same purpose, which still serves this function today.
The Chaff House is simple rectangular plan structure with a scotch iron roof and wooden louvres in the gable ends for ventilation. The door faces the neighbouring stables (now a house). The Chaff House originally had a water wheel on the southern wall to turn a chaff cutter.
This structure has a wooden centre post, cobbled floor and scotch iron roof. It has an open front with three solid stone walls, and no windows.
This is a simple rectangle plan building with an earth floor, a whitewashed plastered interior and two small windows on either side of the central wooden door. It also has a small window on the south west (rear) wall. The stone construction keeps this building cool, an important feature of its original use as a dairy.
Thornton points out that in the nineteenth century the implement shed, built with an open front like the Partridge example, was used to store an array of tools relating to agriculture. Prior to the development of agricultural machinery hand held implements such as spades, shovels, hoes, sickles and scythes may have been housed in barns and stables. From the 1860s onwards machinery such as ploughs, harrows and reaping and threshing machines were also in use, as well as occasional steam engines, all requiring housing in the implement shed, which may have doubled as a coach house; Thornton refers to the Partridge implement shed as a "buggy shed."
The Partridge Farm buildings were constructed during the 1870s.
The stables were modified for use as a dwelling following the purchase by Roger Gibson and Jean Grierson.
All four buildings are constructed from split schist with limestone mortar and corrugated iron roofs.
Public NZAA Number
C. Higham, G. Mason, and S. Moore, 'Upper Clutha Valley: An Archaeological Survey' Dunedin: Department of Anthropology, University of Otago, 1976
J. T. Parcell, Heart of the Desert: A History of the Cromwell and Bannockburn Districts of Central Otago, Christchurch, Whitcoulls, 1976
Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986
Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.
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.