Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf

Waterloo Quay; Kumototo Laneway, Wellington

  • Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Barbara Fill. Date: 26/02/2010.
  • Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Barbara Fill. Date: 26/02/2010.
  • Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf, Wellington. Shed at southern end; raised concrete is remains of wheel bath.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Barbara Fill. Date: 26/02/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7807 Date Entered 20th August 2010

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the building and wharf known as Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf, and their fittings and fixtures and a curtilage of one ship's berth width surrounding the Ferry Wharf. Registration does not include the shed at the southern end of the Ferry Wharf. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Seabed

Location description

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are located on the water’s edge inside the entrance gates on Waterloo Quay. They are alongside the old Tug Wharf which has been absorbed into the new Kumutoto promenade.

Summaryopen/close

The information below is from the registration report (Barbara Fill with NZHPT, 26 March 2010)

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are significant historic features on Wellington’s waterfront. They represent the heyday of a ferry service that started in the 1890s. At its peak on fine weekends up to 5,000 people travelled on the ferry from Wellington to Days Bay. Amongst the passengers were the writers Katherine Mansfield, whose family initially rented a house in Eastbourne and later built a cottage at the bay in 1906, and Robin Hyde. Both these women featured the bays in their writings.

When a regular commuter service from Eastbourne first started operating in 1906 it was the main means of public transport for the local Eastbourne community, and helped facilitate the development of Eastbourne and the Eastern Bays from a recreational playground for weekend holiday makers to a residential area, with people now able to commute daily to the city. The ferries were also important to the development of the port, as they were also used for tug and pilot services.

The Wellington Steam Ferry Company was floated as a public company in 1900 by J.H. Williams, the man behind the development of a regular harbour ferry service between Wellington and Days Bay in the 1890s. The ferry service was later extended to Rona Bay (Eastbourne) in 1906 and other bays in the inner harbour. It operated through to the 1940s, when buses replaced ferries as the main means of public transport from Eastbourne and the bays into the city.

The Ferry Wharf was built in three stages. The main wharf was built in 1896; in 1906 it was doubled in size, and in 1912-14 a further section was added so that the ferries could tie up without an overhang. Built of Australian hardwoods and New Zealand totara the wharf has been in continuous use, even while the additions were made, for over 100 years.

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building has also been in more or less continuous use since it was constructed. The building was designed in January 1912 and built by Harbour Staff for a cost of £1,035 7sh. The design is somewhat quirky with its inventive roof structure with Marseille tiles, interlocking hip and hipped-gable tiled roofs, and square entrance tunnel with wrought iron gate. According to Harbour Board Engineer James Marchbanks, in his annual report to the Wellington Harbour Board, it was to be ‘a two-storey building in wood of plain, but elegant design, with a tile roof. On the wharf level there would be passage-ways for passengers, with inward and outward turnstiles’.

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building was used as offices for the Wellington Steam Ferry Company Ltd. for a brief period prior to it becoming the offices of the Eastbourne Borough Council around 1915. The Eastbourne Borough Council had purchased the ferry service in 1912, and was the first local authority in New Zealand to own a public ferry service. The Eastbourne Borough Council moved out in 1952, and the building was occupied by a series of tenants. In 2009 the Police Maritime Unit and National Dive Squad took over the building, which has undergone only minor changes in the last 98 years.

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf have important social, historical and architectural heritage values. The building sits perched on the edge of the harbour and its modest scale and inventive design make it a significant historical local landmark on this part of the waterfront. Apart from serving as the offices of the Eastbourne Borough Council for nearly 40 years, the ferry ticket office became a familiar landmark to thousands of commuters and tells of the development of Eastbourne and the Eastern bays. The Ferry Wharf has archaeological value as a pre-1900 structure and rare remnant of the once-typical wooden wharf design, as well as having helped facilitate the development of Wellington’s port through its use as a berth for tugs and piloting services.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building was built in 1912 and is named for its former owner, the Eastbourne Borough Council. The Council, formed in 1906, was the first local authority in the country to operate a ferry service. Not only was the building used as a ticket office for the ferries from 1912 until 1948 but it was also the offices of the Eastbourne Borough Council from 1915 until 1952. The ferry ticket office became a familiar landmark to thousands of commuters.

The original ferry service began in 1889 from Queens Wharf as a private venture by Captain William Williams. In 1890 it was taken over by his son J.H. Williams, and after a few interim owners it was purchased by the Eastbourne Borough Council.

Archaeological Significance or Value

The Ferry Wharf was built in 1896 and has some archaeological significance in that it is one of the few remaining wooden wharves on the Wellington Waterfront that is still clearly discernible.

Architectural Significance or Value

Architecturally the Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building is a somewhat quirky design with its inventive roof structure, interlocking hip and hipped-gable tiled roofs, and square entrance tunnel with wrought iron gate. It is unusual in that it is far more diminutive than the grander baroque design of the Auckland Ferry Building which was constructed in the same year.

Designed specifically for the constraints of the site perched on a bridge between the quay and the wharf, it is a modest but distinctive timber building which contrasts with the larger historic brick buildings nearby, as well as the newer concrete and glass commercial buildings. The building's original use can still be understood in its form (the tunnel). Externally and internally it has a high level of authenticity as there have been no major alterations since 1924. The first floor of the building features a bell-cast dado below window sill level and ship lapped weatherboards. Internally it is wood lined with the original wooden staircase in the northern end still in-situ.

The Ferry Wharf is a finger wharf constructed of native New Zealand and Australian hardwoods. It is a functional wooden structure and while typical of similar structures of this era there are few still extant that retain their original proportions and possibly materials.

Social Significance or Value

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are symbolic of a ferry service that was an integral part of the recreational and commuter transport system in Wellington from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century. The ferry service was instrumental in the development of the Eastern Bays and Eastbourne, firstly a holiday resort and later the development of them as residential suburbs of greater Wellington. It is associated with some of New Zealanders most important writers, Katherine Mansfield and Robyn Hyde.

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

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf reflect the development of a local ferry service in New Zealand during the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was the first ferry service operated by a local authority in New Zealand. It was pivotal in the early development of Wellington’s Eastern Bays as it provided the main source of private and later public transport for thirty years before the introduction of a regular bus service.

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

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf is associated with the Williams family. Captain W.R. Williams who started the ferry service and initiated the construction of the Ferry Wharf, was one of the largest individual ship owners in New Zealand. His son, J.H. Williams who took over the ferry business from his father following his death in 1890, was instrumental in the establishment of Days Bay firstly as a recreational resort area and later as a residential suburb. His mother was instrumental in ensuring that part of Days Bay was retained in public ownership as a park for all Wellingtonians.

It is associated with two of New Zealand’s most important writers, Katherine Mansfield and Robin Hyde who used the ferries to visit the Eastern Bays and to write about them.

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are also associated with the establishment of Eastbourne as a borough. In the early twentieth century public transport was a significant concern of the local community, in particular the provision of a ferry service as it was their main form of transport. This was one of the main drivers in the establishment of the borough in 1906. The Ferry Service was operated by the Eastbourne Borough Council from 1913 until 1948 and the Ferry Terminal Building served as the borough’s civic offices for nearly forty years.

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

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf served the Eastern Bays, Eastbourne and Wellington communities for over fifty years, as berthage and ticketing offices for the ferries which plied the harbour and secondly for the residents and ratepayers of Eastbourne as its civic offices.

The building and wharf are currently being used by the Wellington Maritime Police Unit and National Dive Squad. There has been a police unit based on the waterfront since the late 1880s. Over the years the police unit has been responsible for controlling crime on the waterfront, as well as providing rescue services.

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

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are an integral part of the Wellington Waterfront with both the building and wharf being in-situ for approximately 100 years. To the north of the building are three historic buildings, Shed 21, Shed 35 and Maritime House, and to the south are Sheds 11 and 13. The wharf itself was designed to align with the historic Queens Wharf to the east which is still extant. The iron gates and railings which were originally located closer to the building and the former Customs House (now demolished) have been relocated to the edge of Waterloo Quay. The building and wharf are also clearly visible from different viewpoints around the wharves as well as from the water. Further afield the harbour is surrounded by small bays many of which were serviced by the ferries and still have their original wooden wharves including Days Bay and Petone. Rona Bay Wharf is still extant but is no longer used for ferry purposes.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

William Ferguson (Wellington Harbour Board Engineer)

https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3f4/ferguson-william

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Wellington harbour has been known by a variety of names, the earliest known being Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui (the head of Maui’s fish). It refers to the fish caught by the Polynesian navigator, Maui, which became the North Island. The more familiar name Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the great harbour of Tara) was named after the son of Whatonga from the Mahia Peninsula. Whatonga visited the harbour and was so impressed with the place that he decided to establish a settlement around there.

Early tribes that settled around the inner harbour as well as the Miramar Peninsular and the south coast included Ngai Tara, Ngati Ira, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mamoe. By 1819 when a war party comprising Taranaki, Te Atiawa, Ngati Toa, Nga Puhi and Ngati Whatua attacked the Wellington area it was mainly occupied by Ngati Ira who were driven out to the eastern side of the harbour and to the Wairarapa. By 1840, as the Waitangi Tribunal found, those Maori having rights in Wellington Harbour and its foreshore were Te Atiawa, Ngati Tama, Taranaki, and Ngati Ruanui.

By this time some of these groups had well-established settlements around the inner harbour at Pipitea Pa, Kumutoto Kainga, and Te Aro Pa. The harbour, the streams that fed into it including Kumutoto, and the wetlands and areas inland of the settlements provided good sources of food as well as providing areas for growing crops for the settlements as well as for trading, particularly flax. For instance, the Kumutoto Kainga was an important flax-collecting area and waka landing site. The outlet of the Kumutoto stream was not far from where the Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf were constructed. Waka were the first means of transporting Maori and later the first European settlers around the harbour following there arrival in 1840. Until the 1855 earthquake which raised the seabed to allow an accessway to be constructed around the harbour water transport was the main means of reaching the outer reaches of the harbour. Waka were later replaced by small clippers but it wasn’t until the 1890s that a ferry service was established.

Establishment of the ferry service and construction of the Ferry Wharf

The Wellington Steam Ferry Company was floated as a public company in 1900 by J.H. Williams, the man behind the development of a regular harbour ferry service between Wellington and Days Bay in the 1890s. J.H. Williams took over the ferry business from his father Captain W.R. Williams following his death in 1890. At one time Williams senior was, according to Johnson, the largest individual ship owner in New Zealand. His son on the other hand was more interested in the excursion side of the business and when the opportunity arose purchased Days Bay in 1894 as a key destination spot for his daily ferry excursions.

Williams spent several thousand pounds turning the bay into a resort complete with a Brighton-styled pavilion, a hotel (later Wellesley College) and tennis courts, hockey fields and a water chute where the duck pond is now located. He built a wharf at the Bay and in 1896 persuaded the Wellington Harbour Board to build a special ferry jetty in town to cope with the increased crowds that were causing problems on Queen’s Wharf.

The Ferry Wharf was built in three stages. The main wharf was built in 1896; in 1906 it was doubled in size; and in 1912-14 a further section was added so that the ferries could tie up without an overhang.

The original part of the wharf was designed by William Ferguson, the Harbour Engineer in 1896, and was constructed by John McLean and Sons (Murdoch and Neil McLean) at a cost of £1770. Originally known as the Ferry Jetty, the eastern face of the jetty was to be in a straight line with the Outer Tee of Queen’s Wharf. It was constructed prior to the completion of the Waterloo Quay reclamation and an eight feet wide splayed approach was required to be constructed connecting the new wharf to the breastwork on Waterloo Quay. This was also to be aligned with the old wool jetty to the north.

The original structure comprised eight bays of heart totara piles 10’’ x 10’’ sawn square. The seven southern bays had four piles in each and the northern bays had two piles in each placed at 20 feet centres. All the piles had wrought iron shoes and were coated with two coats of chenam (6 parts coal tar, to 1 part Stockholm tar and a little lime). Ironbark timber was used in the caps, corbels, joists, bollards, fenders and upper distance pieces. Planking was in heart matai 4’’ thick for the jetty and 3’’ thick for the approach and 6 x 8 widths. The kerbing was in ironbark. At the eastern end was an iron ladder and the landing steps were in totara. There was a white painted, totara picket fence and gate at the entrance and an iron lamp stand.

With the development of new subdivisions from the mid 1890s there was also a demand for a more frequent ferry service to cope with daily commuters, as the ferry was still the main means of public transport to the city. Facing competition from other rival ferry owners the Company started operating a twice daily service from Days Bay in 1901. Prior to this the ferry service was somewhat erratic. According to Johnson they went according to the time of year, the weather, the demand for towing and the requirements of the pilots. The newly formed Days Bay District Ratepayers’ Association (1903) which had, as one of its objectives, ‘an improved and more frequent ferry service’, began demanding that the Company further increase its daily service and provide better facilities including a new wharf at Rona Bay.

By 1905 J.H. Williams had obviously had enough and was, according to Beaglehole, either unwilling or unable to meet these demands and decided to sell his shares in the Wellington Steam Ferry Company to the Miramar Ferry Company, which had been formed by local residents in Worser Bay who also wanted a regular ferry service. C.E. Zohrab took over as manager of the fleet which was transferred to a new company, Wellington Harbour Ferries Ltd, which operated the ferries and the towage and pilot service, and also the Wellington Steam Ferry Company, which continued to manage the Days Bay Resort. Within a month of the sale the Wellington Steam Ferry Company put 66 sections at Days Bay up for sale and while after much lobbying over the next few years some land was kept in public ownership for a public park and reserve (assisted by the benevolence of J.H. Williams’ mother), the remainder of the land was eventually sold off.

With ferries operating on a fairly regular basis to Petone, Days Bay, Miramar and Seatoun and with a new wharf under construction at Rona Bay the Wellington Harbour Board decided to extend the Ferry Jetty at Waterloo Quay in 1906. The work extended the length of the wharf by another 120 ft to the south so as to provide two additional ferry berths including one for the Cobar which the Wellington Steam Ferry Company purchased that year.

The extension was again designed by the Board’s engineer, William Ferguson and the contractors were again John McLean and Sons. The total cost of this extension was £1,398 19sh.

By 1906 the Company operated three ferries (the Duchess, the Countess and the Cobar) in order to cope with the crowds. The ferries were also used by the Company for tug and pilot work under contract to the Wellington Harbour Board. On fine weekends up to 5,000 people travelled on the ferry from Wellington to Days Bay. Amongst the visitors were the writers Katherine Mansfield, whose family initially rented a house in Eastbourne and later built a cottage at the bay in 1906, and Robin Hyde. Both these women featured the bay in their writings. The popularity of the place was such that the ‘Chief Post Office in Wellington would fly a flag to signal whether a picnic at the bay was postponed due to bad weather.’

The year 1906 was perhaps more memorable for the first elections of the new Eastbourne Borough Council, which came into being on 1 April that year. This followed a lengthy political process initiated by the Days Bay District Ratepayers’ Association which, dissatisfied with the lack of services, including no decent main road and inadequate or non-existent lighting, footpaths, drainage and sanitation, provided by the Hutt County Council which had jurisdiction over them, proposed a local Eastbourne Road District Bill. The Bill was an attempt to circumvent the lack of population necessary to meet the requirements of the Municipal Corporations Act 1900 if Eastbourne wanted to be a borough. After much political debate both inside and outside the House the Bill was eventually passed in October 1905. There were two significant changes in the final Bill: Eastbourne was to be a borough not a road district, and secondly the area covered only Eastbourne. Gollans Valley and all the bays from Days Bay to Point Howard opted to stay with Hutt County, and it wasn’t until 1965 they became part of the borough.

In 1907 the inner harbour ferry service began to crumble as trams were introduced to firstly Miramar North and then Seatoun six months later. In 1909 the lease on the Days Bay wharf expired and reverted to the Wellington Harbour Board and the Board wanted berthage fees. At the same time the Eastbourne Borough Council wanted ferry fares kept to a minimum. Over the next four years there was unsuccessful court action taken by the ferry companies to try and stop the raising of berthage fees, attempts by some members of the Eastbourne Borough Council to ‘municipalise’ the ferry service, offers to purchase, offers to sell, fare increases and then decreases until eventually on 1 September 1913 the Eastbourne Borough Council purchased the ferry service. A poll of ratepayers showed overwhelming support for the proposal and the inauguration of the new service was announced with much fanfare as the Evening Post reported:

‘With flags flying from the masts and a genial spirit prevailing among all on board, the steamers Duchess and Cobar inaugurated the Eastbourne borough's new and own ferry service to-day. Being Monday morning the boats were crowded, there being the usual week-end contingents on board. The borough was able to give two extra services to-day, and these will be maintained. The fares remain unchanged until the Ferry Board of the council goes thoroughly into the financial side of the venture. The Town Clerk (Mr. J. D. Avery) is manager of the service pro term. In addition to a liberal display of bunting the council intended to give Eastbourne children a run down the harbour out to the stranded steamer' Devon to-day. The weather, however, was unsuitable, but this little excursion will be run as soon as conditions are favourable.’

Construction of the Ferry Terminal Building

During this period a new terminal building was constructed and the Ferry Jetty was again extended. The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) was constructed in 1912 as offices for the Wellington Steam Ferry Company Ltd., with a ticketing booth and turnstiles on the ground floor. The plans for the building were drawn by H. Gyles Turner and signed off by James Marchbanks, the Wellington Harbour Board Chief Engineer. It was built by Harbour Board staff for a cost of £1,035 7sh. The design of the building was innovative and responded to its rather precarious location perched literally on the edge of the water. It had an inventive roof structure featuring interlocking hip and hipped-gable Marseille tiled roofs, and a square entrance tunnel with wrought iron gate. According to Marchbanks in his annual report to the Wellington Harbour Board, it was to be ‘a two-storey building in wood of plain, but elegant design, with a tile roof. On the wharf level there would be passage-ways for passengers, with inward and outward turnstiles.’ Two months later the Evening Post gave more details of the building:

’…across the entrance to the present wharf new offices are being built archwise. There is already made provision for a cart entrance, and approaches for season ticket-holders and casual users of the ferry boats. They will be fitted with turnstiles, and will also have iron gates. Over the entrance will be a suite of offices 47ft long by 17ft wide, partitioned off into three offices, and fitted with lavatories and other conveniences. The roof will be covered with Marseilles tiles, and the style of the building, while not conspicuous for its architectural embellishment, will be eminently suitable for the purposes for which it is intended.’

The original plans show that as well as the wrought iron gates across the tunnel entrance there were also two wrought iron gates to the left of the tunnel, which provided access to the turnstiles. To the right of the tunnel was the Change Office with special ticket windows and beyond that another wrought iron gate which was the entrance for ticket holders. Upstairs there were two offices, a meeting room and a toilet. Based on a scan of other known commuter ferry buildings in New Zealand, it appears that there are no other ferry buildings of similar design in New Zealand. For example, it is a far more diminutive building than the grander baroque design of the Auckland Ferry Building, which was constructed in the same year.

Initially planned to be carried out in 1912, the work on the Ferry Jetty was held up first by the lack of hardwood timber available from Australia and second by the Waterfront Strike in 1913 and was not completed until 23 March 1914. The work was designed by the Harbour Board’s new Chief Engineer John Marchbanks. The contract was won by Donald McLean and Co. for the amount of £4,584 5sh. The extension lengthened the existing wharf by 69 ft and enabled the two largest ferries to tie up without any overhang. The contract for extension work also included the construction of a new wharf to the south of the Ferry jetty. The second wharf was for tug boats and small steamers which attended the hulks and to act as tenders. At this stage the jetties became referred to as Ferry Wharf No 1 (for the ferry service) and Ferry Wharf No 2 (for the tug service; this wharf later became known as the Tug Wharf).

The Harbour Board also constructed a waiting shed for passengers on the wharf itself. The new shed was obviously desperately needed, according to a report in the Evening Post:

‘A commodious waiting-shed, lighted by acetylene, has been erected on the wharf. It was far from pleasant having to wait on the Rona Bay wharf in rough weather before the waiting room was erected. As it is now, there is a comfortable room, with doors opening in such a way as to cheat the wind — northerly or southerly. Rona Bay passengers, during the winter now beginning, will probably greatly appreciate this latest work of the Harbour Board on the eastern side of the harbour.’

It is not known when the waiting room was demolished.

It is unclear when the Eastbourne Borough Council took over the three year lease of the building from Wellington Harbour Ferries Ltd but it is likely that they moved in sometime in 1915. Beaglehole notes that ‘initially the Council held its meetings in the town clerk’s office, and then in various ‘rooms’ in Eastbourne; by the First World War most of its meetings were being held in a small building in Makaro Street’ in Eastbourne, before it eventually moved into the Ferry Terminal Building in town.

On 25 June 1915 the Evening Post reported that the Eastbourne Borough Council Offices were on the Ferry Wharf. The article went on to set out the concerns the Mayor and Councillors had at the cost of the lease of the building on top of wharfage and other matters.

In 1924 the south end of the building was extended, with the Change Office widened and converted to a ticket and parcel office with a new sash window the same as the original windows, and a new passenger approach to the ferry was constructed with double iron gates. Upstairs the meeting room was extended out above the extension downstairs, which made room for a large Board Room and General Manager’s Room, while the office next to it was converted to a Records Room. New sash windows were installed in the east and west facades to match the original windows. The double sash windows on the south end of the building were reinstated in the new wall. The original roofline was extended and the materials were matched to the originals.

In 1946 the turnstiles were removed on the ground floor and that space was partitioned off. Upstairs some minor modifications were made to the office layout.

Decline of the ferry service

From the time the Borough Council purchased the ferry service in 1913 it suffered the same financial problems as the earlier owners, generally caused by a lack of passengers outside the commuter hours and the weekend visitors to the bays when the weather permitted. In 1923 the Borough Council with a £50,000 loan purchased the Muritai which was capable of carrying over 1500 passengers, to replace the Duchess. This proved to be an ongoing liability as the Muritai proved to be too slow and too expensive to run.

During this period a new bus service between Eastbourne and the city started up operations in June 1925. Seeing this as ‘insane and ruinous competition with the ferries’ the Borough Council decided to purchase it from its owners Sievers and Bosher and the sale went ahead in 1927.

Over the next twenty years patronage of the ferry service went into steady decline as the buses provided a more regular and efficient service. According to Johnson in 1925-26 the two ferries, the Cobar and the Muritai, made 3,200 round trips, but by 1936-37 this number had been reduced to less than 2,000 and revenue from the bus service overtook that of the ferry service. The 1940 Centennial Exhibition at Miramar was seen as a saviour for the ferry service but with the outbreak of World War II bringing an abrupt end to the celebrations and the commissioning of the Muritai as a minesweeper by the Navy, the days of the ferry service were numbered. The Cobar continued to provide a commuter service for Eastbourne residents, and weekend services proved popular for Wellingtonians who still picnicked at Days Bay along with members of the 1st Marine Division stationed in Wellington in the early 1940s. Despite the war 1943 was one of the most lucrative years for the ferry service. However with only one ferry on the run it could not compete with the bus service.

On 2 July 1948 the Cobar made its final trip to Eastbourne and six months later in February 1949, the Borough Council held a referendum of its ratepayers which decided by a majority of 48 to end the ferry service. For three months in 1951 the Ocean Cruiser ran a passenger service to Eastbourne but this was shortlived due to the shoaling up of the Rona Bay wharf and there were not enough commuters to keep it viable from Days Bay alone.

It is not clear whether the issue of the lease was an ongoing matter between the Borough Council and the Harbour Board however the Borough Council did remain in the building until 1952, four years after the ferry service to Eastbourne ceased. The Borough Council took up temporary offices in Eastbourne until a new special purpose building was constructed for it in 1973. The Borough Council, which was eventually joined by Days Bay and the other bays in 1965, did not survive the shake up of local government and in 1989 despite public protestations the Borough became part of Lower Hutt City Council.

Circa 1970 changes were made to the ground floor of the building as well as the wharf when Barney Daniels, began operating a garbage disposal business from the premises. Daniels had a contract with the Wellington Harbour Board to collect garbage from the ships in port, sort it at the building and then transport it by scow to the Board’s incinerator in Evans Bay. The changes to the building were mainly to the south end of the ground floor and involved creating a clean area, a contamination area, a laundry and a storage area. This effectively filled in the open passenger area with new doors being installed in the eastern end opening on to the wharf and the ticket boxes, and windows removed from the Waterloo Quay facade.

Modifications to the wharf included the installation of a wheel bath, and the foundations of this are still extant. The wharf is now known as the Service Jetty to its current owners, Wellington Waterfront Limited.

In the 1980s a new ferry service was revived from Days Bay but the Rona Bay Wharf (Record no. 7474, Category II) was in such a state of disrepair it could not be used for this purpose again, and a berth was made available at Queens Wharf, nearly ninety years after the first harbour ferry service had started from there.

By the 1980s the ferry building housed B T Daniels Maritime and Paintings Object Shop, and was used by Alison Daniels as a Barber’s shop. Prior to the Maritime Police Unit and National Dive Squad taking over the building in mid-2009 the building was used as offices by architect John Penlington in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2009 interior modifications were made to the building so that the Maritime Police Unit could move in. The building is currently owned by Wellington Waterfront Limited.

Overall the main changes to the building have been to the southern end, particularly downstairs. These changes have reflected the different uses of the building. Most noticeably are the new doors and windows which have been changed between 2000 and 2010.

Physical Description

Setting

The Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf are located on the seaward side of Waterloo Quay between what is now the Kumutoto wharf and walkway to the south and Waterloo Wharf to the north. While they appear to stand in a somewhat isolated position surrounded by tarsealed carparks their immediate backdrop are the inner reaches of Wellington Harbour with Mt Victoria in the distance, while to the city side is more or less a wall of commercial buildings across the quay. On the harbour side the Ferry Wharf is one of a number of wooden wharves still in use, including Queens Wharf - the outer northern T of which extends into the harbour directly in line with the Ferry Wharf. The two early immediate neighbours of the Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf , Shed 17 (1917-1983) and the Customs House (1902-1969), have long since been demolished; however, the original wharf gates, pillars and railings (1921)are still standing (although relocated to the entrance to the intersection of Whitmore Street, Waterloo Quay and the wharf area). Further to the north is the brick Shed 21 and to the south the brick Sheds 11 and 13. The ferry building is generally clearly visible from Waterloo Quay.

The building and wharf are also clearly visible from different viewpoints around the wharves as well as from the water. Further afield the harbour is surrounded by small bays many of which were serviced by the ferries and still have their original wooden wharves, including Days Bay and Petone. Rona Bay Wharf is still extant but is no longer used for ferry purposes.

Ferry Wharf

The Ferry Wharf adjoins the Kumutoto Promenade, and is situated between the Waterloo Quay Wharf and the Tug Wharf (formerly Ferry Wharf No. 2). The Ferry Wharf was built in three stages: the main wharf was built in 1896, in 1906 it was doubled in size and in 1912-14 a further section was added so that the ferries could tie up without an overhang.

Presently the structure is approximately 10 metres wide by 95 metres long on its seaward (eastern) side. The bays are arranged in rows of four wooden piles, (12 metres long at the southern end, according to the specifications), with iron pile shoes. Diagonal cross-bracing supports the piles at intervals along the length of the wharf. Waling, beams, fenders and deck edges are of timber, and the original wooden deck has been overlaid with concrete and new concrete kerbing established. Original bollards have been replaced with metal mooring-posts, and a gantry/hoist is attached to the north-western edge. Iron ladders are visible at intervals around the edges of the structure, although a more recent set of metal stairs has been installed at the north-eastern corner of the wharf, adjacent to the Ferry Terminal Building. There is a small shed on the southern end of the wharf which is used by the Navy dive team.

Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former)

Perched at the entrance to the Ferry Wharf (now used as the Police Wharf) the building is a small, narrow, two-storey shiplap weatherboard structure, designed specifically for its site perched as it is on a bridge linking the quay with the wharf.

The building has retained much of its original form and features since it was constructed in 1912. The major changes were in 1924 when an addition to the south end was made. Since then the changes to the exterior of the building have largely been to the ground floor openings.

The Waterloo Quay elevation features seven wooden sash windows on the upper floor which are fairly evenly spaced except for the pair that were part of the 1924 extension. The original Marseille tile roof is still extant as is the flared wooden shingled banding which separates the upper level from the ground floor. At ground level the original tunnel with iron gates featuring ‘1912’ in the middle is still in situ, the gates being used more regularly by the police to secure the wharf. To the right of the tunnel is a small door with a porthole window and a pair of sash windows; none of these are original. To the left of the tunnel are three doors; the one with the porthole provides access to the public reception office, the third door is original and provides access to the stairway. There is also a sign on this facade which gives some history of the building. There are also four small lamps on this elevation. The south elevation has a pair of sash windows on the upper level which are original (although relocated as part of the 1924 alterations) and a small louvered window on the ground floor. On the east elevation there are four sash windows on the upper level, a pair of double wooden doors (not original) at ground level on the southern end, a small sash window at ground level and a door to the right of the tunnel. On the north elevation which is angled there is a pair of sash windows on the upper level and a door on the ground level, which is currently boarded up from the inside. Inside the tunnel there are two doors and a small window.

There have been some changes internally as the building has been modified to meet the needs of its occupiers, however these have been reasonably unobtrusive and much of the original fabric of the building remains. On the ground floor to the right of the tunnel is a large meeting room, kitchenette and toilet. To the left of the tunnel is a small reception office and beside that is a doorway which provides an entrance to the stairwell which is on the eastern side of the building.

Upstairs there are two small offices on the eastern side of the tunnel and one large office on the western side of the tunnel. The first floor of the building features a bell-cast dado below window sill level and ship lapped weatherboards. Internally it is wood lined with the original wooden staircase in the northern end still in-situ. Doors no longer required have been closed off rather than boarded over. There is new zincalume lining in the downstairs meeting room but generally the interior retains its original wood linings.

The building sits on part of the original 1896 bridge to the wharf and this has recently had a new beam put in where the bridge meets the reclamation breastwork. It has also been recently repiled with cylindrical concrete piles.

Construction Dates

Addition
1914 -
Ferry Wharf No. 1 extended and Ferry Wharf No. 2 completed

Other
1903 -
Waterloo Quay Reclamation

Original Construction
1912 -
Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building completed

Original Construction
1896 -
Ferry Wharf constructed

Modification
1924 -
Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building extended

Modification
1906 -
Ferry Wharf extended

Modification
1946 -
Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building alterations

Modification
1970 - 1979
Modifications to Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf for Garbage Disposal operations for port

Modification
2009 -
Wellington Maritime Police Unit takes over Eastbourne Ferry Terminal Building (Former) and Ferry Wharf; internal renovations

Construction Details

Timber, Marseille tiles, chenam, wrought iron, muntz metal bolts

Report Written By

Barbara Fill with NZHPT

Information Sources

Anderson, 1984

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

Beaglehole, 2001

Ann Beaglehole and Alison Carew, Eastbourne a history of the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour, Eastbourne, 2001 [Historical Society of Eastbourne]

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

McLean, John. 'McLean, Neil 1857 - 1939', updated 22 June 2007; Stace, F. Nigel. 'Ferguson, William 1852 - 1935', updated 22 June 2007

Johnson, 1996

David Johnson, Wellington Harbour, Wellington, 1996

McGill, 1984

D. McGill, The Pioneers of Port Nicholson, Wellington, 1984

Buick, 1930

T. L. Buick, Jubilee of the Port of Wellington 1880-1930, Wellington Harbour Board, 1930

Other Information

A fully referenced registration 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.