Glentunnel Library and Gateposts

92 Homebush Road And 1 Philip Street, Glentunnel

  • Glentunnel Library and Gateposts, Glentunnel. Image courtesy of (Note: Image cropped in).
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 29/07/2017.
  • Glentunnel Library and Gateposts, Glentunnel..
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: R Burgess. Date: 13/07/2011.
  • Glentunnel Library and Gateposts, Glentunnel.September 1994. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Pam Wilson.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1790 Date Entered 23rd June 1983 Date of Effect 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt RS 14493 (RT CB149/249), Canterbury Land District and the building and structure known as Old Library and Gateposts thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 3 September 2015.

City/District Council

Selwyn District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt RS 14493 (RT CB149/249), Canterbury Land District


As a well-used public facility built on a corner pocket of land at 92 Homebush Road in Glentunnel, the small Glentunnel Library and Gateposts are historically and architecturally significant as a charming reminder of the township’s industrial past. The octagonal brick library building was designed in 1886 by notable Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager to incorporate the various types of brick and terracotta tile then produced by the nearby Glentunnel Brick, Tile, Terra-Cotta and Pottery Works. Evidently built around 1887-8, it continues to have social value and is still used as a public library.

Glentunnel developed as a coalmining and pottery town in the 1870s. The Glentunnel/Homebush Brick, Tile, Terra-Cotta and Pottery Works provided wares used in construction throughout Canterbury and beyond. As the factory and nearby coal mine’s productivity increased, so did the township’s population, bringing with it small businesses, a public school, hotel, town hall and lodges. At the instigation of Glentunnel school master Mr Opie, in 1886 John Deans of nearby Homebush Station agreed to donate the corner parcel land to the citizens of Glentunnel on which to build a library. Money was raised by public subscription for a purpose-built library, and in September 1886 and again in October 1887 the Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager advertised for tenders for the erection of the Glentunnel library in brick. Seager’s architectural career had recently launched with his winning competition design for the grand Christchurch Municipal Chambers in 1885 (erected 1886-87, also utilising Glentunnel brick and terracotta panels). Local man, Thomas Lamport, who had built the Homebush Stables in 1879, is understood to have built the library. The brick gateposts were built by William and James Tarling.

Polychrome brick gateposts with an iron gate mark the corner entry to the small land parcel. The library, set back approximately 15 metres from the gateposts, is a single-storeyed octagonal double-brick building with decorative cornice mouldings supporting an octagonal roof of corrugated steel, surmounted by a round finial. Its entrance door is on the south-east side and four of the eight elevations contain a sash window. The centrepiece of the remaining sides of the exterior incorporate coloured tiles and terracotta decorative features. The west side contains a chimney breast supporting a rebuilt brick chimney. With an open plan of less than five metres at its widest point, the interior of the library allows for easy access to the books on the rimu shelves that line much of the walls. Virtually all the interior is timber lined, including the double coved ceiling.

In 1984 a postal agency was established in the library, providing mail and postal services in addition to the free library service offered to all local residents. Small physical changes have occurred over time. The low brick wall running along much of the east and south sides of the land parcel was only built in circa 2000, but there would have been such a wall in earlier times. Following the Darfield earthquake of 4 September 2010, the chimney on the north-west side was taken down and was later rebuilt as part of a programme of repairs and strengthening of the library in 2014-15.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Seager, Samuel Hurst

Seager (1855-1933) studied at Canterbury College between 1880-82. He trained in Christchurch in the offices of Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) and Alfred William Simpson before completing his qualifications in London in 1884. In 1885, shortly after his return to Christchurch, he won a competition for the design of the new Municipal Chambers, and this launched his career.

Seager achieved renown for his domestic architecture. He was one of the earliest New Zealand architects to move away from historical styles and seek design with a New Zealand character. The Sign of the Kiwi, Christchurch (1917) illustrates this aspect of his work. He is also known for his larger Arts and Crafts style houses such as Daresbury, Christchurch (1899).

Between 1893 and 1903 Seager taught architecture and design at the Canterbury University College School of Art. He was a pioneer in town planning, having a particular interest in the "garden city" concept. Some of these ideas were expressed in a group of houses designed as a unified and landscaped precinct on Sumner Spur (1902-14). He became an authority on the lighting of art galleries. After World War I he was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission to design war memorials in Gallipoli, Belgium and France. In New Zealand he designed the Massey Memorial, Point Halswell, Wellington (1925).

Lamport, Thomas

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

William and James Tarling

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1886 -
Library building designed

2000 -
replica brick walls built on east and south sides

Repairs, strengthening and refurbishment of Library

Completion Date

29th August 2016

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1903

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 3, Canterbury Provincial District, Christchurch, 1903

Jenner, 2005

Jenner, Margaret, Small Libraries of New Zealand, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, 2005

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central region Office of Heritage New Zealand