Old Harbour Board Offices

5 Norwich Quay And Oxford Street, Lyttelton

  • Old Harbour Board Offices, Lyttelton .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Robyn Burgess. Date: 28/09/2017.
  • Old Harbour Board Offices, Lyttelton post 2010-11 earthquakes first floor removed.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Nic Jackson. Date: 11/07/2011.
  • Old Harbour Board Offices, Lyttelton. Pre 2010-11 earthquakes. Original first floor was badly damaged and subsequently removed .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Liza Rossie. Date: 1/06/2005.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1815 Date Entered 23rd June 1983 Date of Effect 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 54561 (RT CB32A/1259), Canterbury Land District and the building known as the Old Harbour Board Offices thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the Information Upgrade Report for further information).

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 54561 (RT CB32A/1259), Canterbury Land District

Location description

Located on the south-eastern corner of Norwich Quay and Oxford Street, Lyttelton.


The Old Harbour Board Offices at 5 Norwich Quay is a relatively imposing two storeyed building constructed in 1880 for the influential Lyttelton Harbour Board authority which developed the inner harbour. The building is located on land that had been declared by the Canterbury Association as a public reserve (Reserve 33) in 1851. A boathouse, warehouse and offices had been built on the site in the 1850s and 1860s. The Harbour Board was formed in January 1877 and soon a decision was made to construct the harbour board offices on that site.

Designed by noted architect Frederick Strouts in a mixture of Gothic and Italianate styles, the building was constructed of brick and Quail Island stone by local builders Hollis and Williams in 1880. The Harbour Board emblem is displayed in the pediment over the pillared corner entrance. The lower storey windows are in the classical arch shape, while the upper storey windows are Gothic Revival in style with pointed arches grouped in twos and threes. The interior had a large room on the ground floor which served as a reading room for visiting captains and the first floor contained the Board room. The building accommodated the Lyttelton Harbour Board for 82 years until new multi-storey offices were opened for them at 28-32 Norwich Quay in 1961-2.

The building was extended by a single bay to the east some time after c1912, in two storeys in a style similar to the original building. More recently, in the early 2000s, a one and two storeyed addition was built against the south, rear, part of the building, effectively doubling the plan size of the building. This recent addition is not included in the registration.

The Old Harbour Board Offices are significant as an architecturally designed Gothic-Italianate building for a pivotally important authority operating in the Lyttelton township and harbour. It helps to inform about development of the town, port and it links the community with the harbour works.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Strouts, Frederick

It is thought that Frederick Strouts (1834-1919) was born at Hothfield, Kent, England in 1834. He trained as an architect with John Whichcord and Son in Maidstone and then under the partnership of Arthur Ashpitel and John Whichcord junior. He arrived in New Zealand in 1859 and set up business in Christchurch with his future brother-in-law as 'General Importers & Ironmongers, Architects, Surveyors & Land Agents'.

Strouts and his family returned to England, in 1868, where Strouts was elected an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Upon his return to New Zealand Strouts resumed his architectural practice. He became noted for his houses, which he designed for the elite of Canterbury, including a number for Robert Heaton Rhodes. In 1871 he was appointed supervising architect for the Church of St Michael and All Angels.Two years later he acquired the commission for the Canterbury Club, after W.B. Armson fell ill. Other commissions included the former Lyttelton Harbour Board building (1880) and the Rhodes Convalescent Home in Cashmere (1885--87). He is described as being a versatile and prolific architect, and one who helped to raise the professional status of architecture in Canterbury. One of his most notable Canterbury buildings was Ivey Hall, now refurbished as part of Lincoln University.

Strouts seems to have retired from practice in 1905. He died in Christchurch on 18 December 1919.

(Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, 'Strouts, Frederick 1834-1919' in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Vol 2, 1870-1900, Wellington 1993)

Hollis and Williams

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1880 -
Construction of Harbour Board Offices

One bay extension to the east

2003 -
Modern addition to the south

Completion Date

13th March 2009

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Map entitled 'Town of Lyttelton: shewing the levels, with the contour lines at every 50 feet above H.W.', 186?, Alexander Turnbull Library, File Reference ATL-Acc-1340.

Scotter, 1968

W.H. Scotter, A History of Port Lyttelton, Lyttelton Harbour Board, Christchurch, 1968

Rice, 2004

Geoffrey W Rice, Lyttelton: Port and Town, an illustrated history, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, 2004.

Other Information

A fully referenced information upgrade 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.