Albion Square Historic Area

Albion Square, NELSON

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Albion Square was founded in 1859 with the laying of foundation stone for the Provincial Government buildings. The area, situated in Central Nelson, was the site for these and a number of other structures associated with the Provincial Government era. Though the Provincial Government buildings were demolished in 1969 a number of the other structures from this era remain today. Situated in close proximity to Eel Pond, an important traditional mahinga kai (food gathering area) for Maori prior to European settlement, the area that would become known as Albion Square, was selected as the site for the Provincial Government Building in 1859, having been the site for a significant public meeting on self-government in 1850. The land which would make up Albion Square was granted from the Crown to the Superintendent of Nelson, in various parcels, between 1856 and 1871. During the Provincial Government era a number of structures were erected in the grounds of Albion Square in addition to the Provincial Government buildings. These included the Hardy Street Girls' School (Former), the Caretaker's house, the Fire Engine House, the Brick Magazine, the Pillar Letter Box and Trout Hatchery all of which can still be found in the area today. A dog house, an observatory and a timber magazine are also recorded as having been in the area during this era but they no longer remain. The survey test marks on Bridge Street were laid shortly after the dissolution of the Provincial Government in 1875. Many of the buildings erected during the Provincial Government era would continue to be used for government purposes after this time. The Provincial Government buildings became government offices while many of the other structures were used for storage by government departments. A number of new structures would also be built on or around the area from this time, for example a garrison band rotunda was erected between 1903 and 1907. The demolition of the former Provincial Government buildings in 1969 and the construction of the new Courthouse in 1974 can be considered the culmination of another period of significant change to the area. Since 1990/1991 parts of Albion Square have been actively managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as Historic Reserve. Other parts of Albion Square remain Government Buildings Reserve or are privately owned. Albion Square is rare example of a site associated with many key events and activities involved in early Nelson and early New Zealand settlement. Of note are elements that represent the development of education, surveying, the militia and the postal service in the area. The area also reflects both the beginning of the Provincial Government era and its dissolution on the introduction of centralised government. Albion Square is also rare by virtue of the rarity of the significant elements gathered within it. Few other examples of the elements, including the Pillar Letter Box, the Brick Magazine, Survey Test Marks and Trout Hatchery, remain in New Zealand today and certainly not within such a concentrated place.

Albion Square Historic Area. Plan of Historic Area from registration report | 22/06/2007 | NZ Historic Places Trust
Albion Square Historic Area. Plan of Salmon Ponds. 1867-1868. Tasman Bays Heritage Trust/The Nelson Provincial Museum, Archives Collection M237 | 01/11/2006 | Nelson Provincial Museum
Albion Square Historic Area. Hardy Street Girls' School with pillar letter box. Image courtesy of | Francis Vallance | Francis Vallance



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Area


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 1994

Date of Effect

6th June 1994

City/District Council

Nelson City


Nelson Region

Extent of List Entry

The registration includes the buildings and areas noted in the Registration Report on Appendix 3; Figure 3 including the Hardy Street Girls School (former), the Caretaker's house, the Fire Engine House, Magazine, Pillar Letter Box, Survey Test Marks and Trout Hatchery and Notable Trees, garden and setting. Registration excludes other structures on the site.

Legal description

Pt Sec 200 City of Nelson (RT NL10/664), Sec 201 City of Nelson (RT NL10/664), Pt Sec 202 City of Nelson (RT NL10/664), Sec 203 City of Nelson (RT NL10/664), Lot 2 DP19225 (RT NL12C/1114), Lot 3 DP19225 (NL 10C/730), and Part Legal Road, Nelson Land District.

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