Tiptree Cottage cob repairs complete

The post-earthquake restoration of Tiptree cob cottage has reached a major milestone.

Tip Tree cottage with two cabbage trees growing nearby.
Tiptree Cottage. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taongaexpand/collapse

Category 1 Tiptree Cottage was the home of Christchurch pioneers, Eliza and William Savill, who built the multi-storied cottage in the 1860s out of cob (clay, water and straw). The Savills lived at Tiptree until the 1920s, from which point the cottage was used to store hay and shear sheep. In 1963, Tiptree cottage was rescued by the Gregg family, who bought the Savill’s Farm. The Gregg family repaired and waterproofed the cottage, but the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11 bought new damage to the cob structure.

Tiptree cottage trustee Kate McLeod, a Savill family descendent, has spent years working with Christchurch City Council and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga to source funding and manage structural and cob repairs. Recently cob expert Mike Jackson has completed the repairs to exterior and interior walls of the cottage.

Kate enjoyed working with Mike and is thrilled with the outcome, “Mike is very knowledgeable and was great to work with. I am an artist and I worked with Mike to make the correct colour match for the cob using natural pigments. We made about 50 mixes before we found the right combination. Mike has done a great job making the interior limewash look handcrafted and authentic.”

Part of the funding for the repairs came from the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Trust, administered by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Canterbury Area Manager Fiona Wykes recently visited the restored cottage. “It’s amazing to see this wonderful building back in good repair. It reminded me of how cob was such a practical building style for colonial settlers – the thick walls kept the house cool in the summer and retained heat during the winter,” she commented.

The next challenge for the restoration is to repair the timber gable ends, which will make the building fully watertight. Kate is finding it difficult to source a builder able to quote and do the work. If you have any suggestions of a registered builder who might be able to help, please contact Kate at hello@katemcleod.art.

Rosemary Baird