T.H. Brown's Store (Former)

25 Tyne Street, Oamaru

  • T.H. Brown's Store (Former), Oamaru. CC BY 2.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Samual Mann - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Samual Mann. Date: 21/11/2009.
  • T.H. Brown's Store (Former), Oamaru. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 9/04/2012.
  • T.H. Brown's Store (Former), Oamaru. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shelley Morris . Taken By: Shelley Morris – Shells. Date: 13/11/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2289 Date Entered 25th September 1986 Date of Effect 25th September 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 9-10 DP 88 (RTs OT413/83, 298478), Otago Land District, and the building known as T.H. Brown's Store (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 9-10 DP 88 (RT OT413/83, 298478), Otago Land District


T.H. Brown’s store was built in 1876 and on its completion was described as one of the most attractive single storey store buildings in the Harbour/Tyne Street area. Designed by architect James Brown Johnston (c.1841-1890), it sits along other designs of Johnston’s on Tyne Street (including the outstanding former Smith’s Grain Store), as examples of the exuberant Victorian streetscape for which Oamaru’s Harbour/Tyne Street historic area (Register No. 7064) is known.

The North Otago Times described the store’s façade as the ‘handsomest single-storey front in town.’ The Store was designed by architect James Johnston (1848 -1890), with the stonework completed by Kay and Barclay, and the carpentry work by Lambert and Moore. English born James Johnston had described himself as an organ builder (in London 1869), a builder (in 1871), and by the time he arrived in New Zealand (probably in 1872); he was describing himself as an architect. He made a strong contribution of Oamaru’s Victorian streetscape (issuing 26 of the 113 tenders in Oamaru in 1882 alone, comparing favourably with Forrester and Lemon’s 64). Around 1885 he moved to Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, where he died in 1890.

The frontage of Brown’s Store was 44 ft with a height of 28 ft (13 by 8.5m). Built of stone from Cave Valley quarries, it is Italianate in style, with panelled double doors, paired two light double hung sash windows, with engaged Doric columns and ‘foliate adornments.’ The main entrance is also notable for its ornamental scroll work, with the Prince of Wales plumes in relief. The original pediment had its Brown’s name and the date 1876 picked out in relief. The ground area of the building was 44 ft by 101 ft (28 by 31m). The roof had lantern lights with seven trusses running the span of the building. The east end has two pairs of sliding doors, originally providing access to the railway siding, with similar access on the south side. The floor of the east side was raised about 2 ft (just under 1m) to allow for level loading of railway trucks. One the west Tyne Street elevation there were two ‘commodious handsomely-furnished offices (12 by 16 ft) [3.6m by 5m] and behind these a wine store 18 by 12 ft.’ [5.4 by 3.6m]

As with many other merchants of the mid 1880s the economic depression hit Thomas Brown hard: in January 1884 he filed for bankruptcy, being unable to pay his creditors, and the lease was transferred to mortgagor, and in 1892 and later in the 1890s to commission agents Lintott, Skeet and Co. From 1916 to the 1950s the lease of the Store was taken up by flour millers Ireland and Co. In the 1950s the building was leased by rural servicing company Stringer and Co. Ltd, and in the 1970s the to the Oamaru Licensing Trust and later to Gillies Ltd, and to its current owners.

TH Brown’s Store sits on Tyne Street alongside FH Townsend’s Store. The ornately ornamented façade is divided into three bays. The central bay has the large panelled double doors with ornamental fanlight above. The bays on either side of the door have paired double hung sash windows with attached columns and pilasters with decorative relief panels and arches with keystones and scroll work above. The remaining pediment is undecorated (having had the earlier decoration noted above removed). The building is rectangular in plan with a single gabled roof. The footprint reaches from Tyne Street through to Harbour Street.

In 2013 T.H. Brown’s Store (Former) remains a striking Victorian building, representing Oamaru’s boom era of the 1870s, and is a significant component within the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Johnston, James

James Johnston, a mason by trade, was the main rival to Forrester and Lemon in Oamaru. He designed a number of large buildings in a Renaissance palazzo style. These include the Globe Hotel (1881), the Waitaki County Chambers (1881) and Smith's Grain Store (1882).

Lambert and Moore

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Kay and Barclay

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1876 -

Completion Date

30th April 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

North Otago Times

North Otago Times

27 January 1877, p.2, 1 January 1884, p.3.

Roberts et al, 1978

Roberts. W.H.S. (et al), Beginnings: Early History of North Otago, The Oamaru Mail Co. Ltd, Oamaru, 1978.

Other Information

A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.

This registration is also included in the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Record no. 7064).

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.