Work on Timeball Station rebuild set to start

Timeball station after the February 22, 2011 earthquake. PHOTO: NZ HERALD

Work to rebuild part of the historic Lyttelton Timeball Station will begin early next month – a year after it was supposed to.

The sod-turning for the $3 million work to rebuild the timeball and tower will take place on July 5 to mark the start of on-site work.

When completed, people will again be able to see the timeball drop at 1pm each day, as it did since 1876 to provide ships in Lyttelton Harbour with a timekeeping service.

An automated timeball mechanism will be housed inside the tower.

But as part of the requirement to get building consent, visitors will not be able to enter.

Heritage Destinations general manager Nick Chin said retaining and repairing the existing mechanism was looked into, but the automated option was chosen.

“The existing mechanism was extensively damaged during the 2011 quakes and was in an extremely fragile state when retrieved. Even if restored there was no guarantee how long all the parts would last, so maintenance costs and longevity were issues. Also, with the public unable to access inside the new tower to view the existing mechanism if rebuilt, it was felt an automated mechanism was a better option.”

He said putting the original mechanism on display at a local museum was an option.

The timeball, tower with original brickwork, and the flagpole will be rebuilt. The original residence would not.

The grounds will also be landscaped similar to what they were like, to commemorate the significant maritime feature that had been an integral part of Lyttelton’s history.

The station was severely damaged in the September 4, 2010, February 22, and June 13, 2011, earthquakes.

Originally, work to restore it was due to start in July last year.

But the project was put on hold to avoid conflict with the road works on Sumner Rd and Reserve Tce to prevent disruption.

Mr Chin thanked key donors who helped fund the rebuild project, and the patience from the community.

Hawkins Construction is the main contractor for the project, working alongside The Building Intelligence Group (project manager), Possenniskie Consultants Ltd (quantity surveyor), Dave Pearson Architects (architect), Ruamoko Solutions (structural engineer), Geotech Consulting (geotech engineer) and Bosworth Stone Ltd (stonemason).