Exchange Chambers (Former)

13 Tyne Street, Oamaru

  • Exchange Chambers (Former). Image courtesy of the North Otago Museum.
    Copyright: North Otago Museum.
  • Exchange Chambers (Former).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 3/04/2008.
  • Exchange Chambers (Former) in 1934. Image courtesy of the North Otago Museum, Reference 3272 .
    Copyright: North Otago Museum.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2276 Date Entered 2nd July 1982 Date of Effect 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 18-19 DP 88 (RT OT18c/646), Otago Land District, and the building known as the Exchange Chambers (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 18-19 DP 88 (RT OT18c/646), Otago Land District


The Exchange Chambers were built for Oamaru merchant George Sumpter in 1876. Designed in a simplified Italianate style by architect Thomas Forrester, the two-storey building is a significant element in the outstanding Victorian streetscape for which the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Register No. 7064) in Oamaru is renowned.

George Sumpter (1836-1900) was a significant figure in the commercial and political worlds of Victorian Oamaru. He was the first town clerk and later the Member for Waitaki on the Otago Provincial Council. He was chair of the Oamaru Harbour Board for fifteen years and conducted a large business as a grain merchant, land agent and auctioneer. In 1876, George Sumpter leased four sections of land in the new Harbour Board Block: two sections on Harbour Street and two sections on Tyne Street, erecting his grain store and office building, known as the Exchange Chambers.

The North Otago Times reported on the progress of building in Harbour and Tyne Streets in early 1876. The ‘handsome’ building was one of two adjoining contemporary buildings - the other being Harbour Chambers for John Lemon (since demolished). The footprint of Exchange Chambers covered 44 by 28 feet (13 by 8 metres), with a façade of 30 feet (9 metres). It contained four rooms, in suites of two, on each of the floors. The rooms were described as ‘spacious and well-lighted’ with access to the upper storey by way of a generous stair. There are nine windows to Tyne Street, five on the upper floor, and four on the lower. Compared with the other ornate façades on Tyne Street, the Exchange Chambers is plain. The only decoration is fluted pilasters dividing the façade into five bays, and ornamental balustrading and a scrolled pediment which has ‘Exchange Chambers’ picked out in relief. The architect was John Forrester, the stonemasons Miller and Smillie, and the carpenter Mr Bain. The building was constructed at a cost of £1,100.

An adjoining building that housed the Evening Mail (and later the National Mortgage and Agency Company (Register No. 2275)), designed to match Exchange Chambers, was built in 1889.

In July 1900, Dunedin merchant Adolph Moritzson bought the building. Moritzson and Company Limited were auctioneers; and wool, stock, station, grain and sand merchants. Moritzson sold the lease to Dalgety and Company Limited in 1917. Dalgety’s occupied the building until 1963 when stock and station agents Darling and McDowell moved in. The Whitestone Civic Trust took over the building in 1989. The exterior of Sumpter's Exchange was restored in 2001 and the first floor office space and staircase were reinstated. In 2013, the former Exchange Chambers is home to Tiger Lily’s and the Oamaru Textile Emporium.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Forrester, Thomas

Born in Glasgow and educated at the Glasgow School of Art, Thomas Forrester (1838-1907) emigrated to New Zealand in 1861 with some experience in building construction, particularly plasterwork.

Settling in Dunedin he worked under William Mason (1810-97) and William Henry Clayton (1823-77) and later Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). In 1865 he superintended the Dunedin Exhibition and in 1870 was employed by the Otago Provincial Government to supervise borings for the Waitaki road and rail bridge.

In 1872 Forrester entered partnership with John Lemon (1828-90) in Oamaru. Forrester was responsible for most of the design work while Lemon administered the practice. Among their many designs were St Paul's Church (1875-76), the Harbour Board Offices (1876), Queen's (later Brydone) Hotel (1881), Waitaki Boys' High School (1883), The Courthouse (1883) and the Post Office (1883-84). They contributed greatly to Oamaru's nineteenth century character. On Lemon's death in 1890 the practice was taken over by Forrester's son, John Megget Forrester (1865-1965).

From 1870 Forrester became involved with the supervision of harbour works and some time after 1885 he became Engineer to the Oamaru Harbour Board. In this capacity he designed the repairs to the breakwater following storm damage in 1886 and later the Holmes Wharf. On his death in 1907 he was still in the employ of the Harbour Board.

Forrester is also believed to have prepared the first geological maps of New Zealand under the direction of Sir James Hector (1834-1907).

Miller and Smillie

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1875 -

Completion Date

6th March 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

McCarthy, 2002

Conal McCarthy, Forrester and Lemon of Oamaru, architects, Oamaru, 2002

p. 38

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regoinal Office of the NZHPT.

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.