Townsend's Store (Former)

23 Tyne Street, Oamaru

  • Townsend's Store (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 3/04/2008.
  • Townsend's Store (Former). Map from QuickMap®.
    Copyright: QuickMap®.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4694 Date Entered 25th September 1986 Date of Effect 25th September 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 11-12 DP 88 (RT OT413/83 and 8156), Otago Land District and the building known as Townsend's Building (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 11-12 DP 88 (RT OT413/83, 8156), Otago Land District


Townsend’s Store (Former), designed and built by Oamaru builder Samuel Wates in 1875, served as both residence and business premises for merchant Francis Townsend. The plainly detailed building is one of the significant elements in the outstanding Victorian streetscape for which Oamaru is renowned.

Francis Henry Townsend was a commission and produce merchant with premises on Tyne Street. He was born in Wiltshire, England in 1841 and emigrated first to Victoria Australia in 1859 and to Otago in 1862, farming in Caversham for five years. In 1875 he settled in Oamaru, setting up his business on Tyne Street. He was active in local political circles, serving three years on the Borough Council.

He was among the first to build on the Harbour Board leasehold land on Tyne Street. He built a stone building, which with later additions served as both his residence and place of business. The building was designed and built by Samuel Wates. The buildings were described as ‘neat and unpretentious’ covering a footprint of 30 by 40 ft ( 9 by 12m), and 21 ft high (6.5m). The lower floor was divided into two stores, with the upper into dwelling houses, one of three rooms, and the other of four. The cost was an estimated £800. The buildings fronted to Tyne Street (where it is two storeyed), and carries through to Harbour Street. Each had a large double door, with a ‘window on each side, back and front.’

One of the stores was occupied by Francis Townsend as a grain and produce store. The other was used by Samuel Wates as a carpenter’s workshop. Wates’ tenancy looks to have been short lived as he was declared bankrupt in 1877, and moved to Dunedin shortly afterwards.

Francis Townsend continued to operate the business until his death, around 1910. His probate information describes him as an Oamaru coal merchant. Son Edward Townsend continued the coal merchant operation. The Townsend family continued to lease the property until 1922 when he transferred the lease to Linton’s Coal Depot. Stevedores and wharf agents Port Chalmers-based John Mill & Co. took over the lease in 1924, continuing the use as stores. The building housed a variety of businesses through the mid twentieth century, including the Oamaru Licensing Trust and stock and station agents Darling and McDowell Ltd.

The building is two storied to Tyne Street, with the single storey store to the rear, facing Harbour Street. The principle elevation to Tyne Street is plain and utilitarian with the only decorative detailing evident being the string course between the floors and marking the pediment of the upper storey. In 2008 it continues to be used as commercial premises. The single-gabled rear portion has two double doors which open onto Harbour Street.

This 1875 building is a significant element in the outstanding Victorian streetscape in the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Register No. 7064). As one of the earliest store and mercantile premises in that area it is an important survivor.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Wates, Samuel

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1875 -

Completion Date

29th April 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

North Otago Times

North Otago Times

20 May 1875, p.2.; 14 December 1875; 11 February 1876, p.2.

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.