$1m, a start for historic restoration

The first step has been taken to rebuild the Lyttelton Timeball Station with a donation of $1 million.

Landmark Inc, an Auckland based organisation founded in 1972 to preserve New Zealand heritage sites, made the donation to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust at the site of the old Timeball tower on Saturday.

The station was badly damaged in both the September 2010 and the February 2011 quake. It collapsed in the June 2011 quake while in the middle of demolition.

However, the Historic Places Trust salvaged much of the materials and they are now in storage.

Trust chief executive Bruce Chapman said he hoped those materials would be used in the partial rebuild of the station, which would include the tower, the flagpole and the time ball mechanism, which was saved but needed considerable repair.

‘‘We don’t have a time frame at this stage for when it will be rebuilt, but we are hoping it will start in the next 12 to 18 months.

‘‘We have the intention of using as much of the original building materials as possible, like the bricks, the Oamaru stone and the blue stone blocks.’’

Many of the stones and bricks had been damaged, but the rest had been salvaged and they were now being stored.

Additional materials needed would be sourced locally, he said.

This was the biggest financial contribution towards the station’s rebuild, which was expected to cost about $3m.

Landmark president David Chandler said the Timeball Station had a ‘‘special place in the hearts of Aucklander’s, especially those who used to travel here on the inter-island ferry’’.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker also attended the ceremony.

‘‘This tower is as much a part of the shape of Lyttelton as Mount Bradley or Quail Island,’’ he said.

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