Northland Fire Station (Former)

Unknown

54-56 Northland Road, Northland, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    1930

  • Builder(s)

    Turnbull

  • The former Northland Fire Station is a good representative example of a public building designed in the neo-Georgian style. The building is one of the most distinguished fire stations to have been constructed in the Wellington Region and is notable for the quality of design, materials and workmanship, and for its well-proportioned and symmetrical external facades. 

    The former fire station has a historic association with the local fire brigade, fire-fighters and their families who operated from, worked and lived in this building for nearly 70 years. 

    The building occupies a central and prominent site in the Northland shopping area and has therefore become closely identified with the suburb.   



  • close History
    • There were many building fires in early Wellington history, the result of the combination of poor building construction, a total reliance on fires for cooking and heating, the absence of any reliable water supply and no organised fire fighting service. Wellington’s first fire engines were run by insurance companies but they were generally directed to fires in buildings insured to individual companies. The first organised brigade, the Wellington Volunteer Fire Brigade, was established in 1865. A second, rival brigade, the Central Volunteer Fire Brigade, appeared in 1867.

      A relatively poor success rate and inter-brigade rivalry led to the municipalisation of the volunteer brigades in 1880. The two brigades worked from separate stations in Brandon and Manners Streets until 1901, when the earliest central fire station was built, not far from the present-day site of the Michael Fowler Centre.

      As the city expanded, several areas acquired local fire-stations. In 1913, the council began to acquire land for fire-stations with residential accommodation and in 1916 the council resolved that it “reserve the section of Corporation land at the junction of Kaihuia Street and Northland Road....for Fire Brigade purposes.” The Northland area may already have had some sort of fire-fighting facility as a photo from 1890 shows a group of fire fighters in front of such a structure. In 1916 the council made provision for a temporary structure “to replace the dilapidated and unsafe existing one.” The new station was not finally built until 1930 so the temporary Kauhuia Street structure lasted longer than it was probably supposed to.

      The new station was built on a site that required a good deal of excavation and filling before there was a useable building site. The architect was William Turnbull, the engineers Silver and Struct, and the builders Fletcher Construction. Accommodation for officers and their families was provided in flats beneath and to the rear of the operational area of the station.

      Northland Station was built to serve the western suburbs surrounding Northland from the Aro Valley to Wadestown and has served the area continuously since. In 1997 the building was sold to a private owner and the fire brigade moved to new headquarters in Karori. Since then the building has been converted into apartments.


    • Modifications close
      • 1929
      • Fire station (00056:91:B8548)
      • 2013
      • SR7, RC a Res.Con, 1. Land Use: External alterations to a heritage building External alterations to a heritage building (removal of chimney, Completed
    • Occupation History close
      • 1927
      • Wellington Fire Board
  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      The Northland Fire Station is perhaps the suburb’s finest public building. Its prominent location on Northland Road makes it an important local landmark, and it is clear that the choice of architectural style - Georgian - was a deliberate attempt to create a public building of some distinction in a predominantly residential area. Most contemporary fire stations were designed in a functional stripped classical style, with Art Deco as a secondary stylistic influence.

      The two-storey Northland Fire Station was designed with an L-shaped plan, the L-shape enclosing a drill courtyard. There are two parts to the building: the street frontage containing the engine room, recreation room and offices, and a long block at the rear with four duty units, each containing three bedrooms, along with dining, bathroom and kitchen facilities.

      The main facade on Northland Road is well-proportioned, making intelligent use of rendered detail and infill brick walls. The central archway has a pronounced architrave, with label moulding in subtle emphasis. Two pilasters on either side carry simplified Corinthian capitals, and their width is matched by the rendered corners of the building. There is no entablature, merely a simple stepped cornice and parapet. The window detail is well-handled and domestic, with plain twelve-light sashes on the first floor, and similar windows on the ground floor set into brick arches with rendered spandrels. The strip beneath the lower windows is plastered to give the suggestion of a plinth. The construction is reinforced concrete foundations and walls, with reinforced concrete beams and columns supporting a timber first floor and timber roof trusses. Infill walls of brick are laid in English bond.

    • Materials close

      Reinforced concrete

      Infill walls of brick

    • Setting close

      The building is set on the eastern side of Northland Road, opposite the village shops. On its southern side the building is separated by an access way from a red brick single storey residential house (currently a doctor’s surgery). To the north the building is a modern house which is built upon the hillside so that its upper storey is level with Garden Road. To the east (and rear) of the building the hillside drops down into a gully. The building dominates the village shops and because of its size and prominent position it can be seen from afar.

  • close Cultural Value

    The former Northland Fire Station is a good representative example of a public building designed in the neo-Georgian style. The building is one of the most distinguished fire stations to have been constructed in the Wellington Region and is notable for the quality of design, materials and workmanship, and for its well-proportioned and symmetrical external facades. 

    The former fire station has a historic association with the local fire brigade, fire-fighters and their families who operated from, worked and lived in this building for nearly 70 years. 

    The building occupies a central and prominent site in the Northland shopping area and has therefore become closely identified with the suburb.

    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        The former Northland Fire Station is a good representative example of a public building designed in the neo-Georgian style. The building is one of the most distinguished fire stations to have been constructed in the Wellington Region and is notable for the quality of design, materials and workmanship, and for its well-proportioned and symmetrical external facades.

      • Townscape

        Does the item have townscape value for the part it plays in defining a space or street; providing visual interest; its role as a landmark; or the contribution it makes to the character and sense of place of Wellington?

        The building occupies a central and prominent site in the Northland shopping area and has therefore become closely identified with the suburb.

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        The former fire station has a historic association with the local fire brigade, fire-fighters and their families who operated from, worked and lived in this building for nearly 70 years.

    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        The archaeological risk unknown, however the Orangi-Kaupapa cultivation area is located nearby.

      • Educational

        Does the item have educational value for what it can demonstrate about aspects of the past?

        The building was once both the place of work, and the residential accommodation for local fire-fighters and their families. The layout of the building can therefore offer some insight in the lives and working conditions of fire fighters in the 1930s and beyond.

    • Social Value close
      • Identity Sense Of Place Continuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        The building has had few intrusive external alterations and additions in the past 80 years, it is a prominent feature of Northland village, and contributes to the suburb’s sense of place and continuity.

      • Sentiment Connection

        Is the item a focus of community sentiment and connection?

        The building will have sentimental value to any fire fighters or members of their families who formerly lived there.

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Authentic

        Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        Since only minor alterations have been made to the building it has retained a significant amount of its exterior fabric, therefore it has authenticity.

      • Local Regional National International

        Is the item important for any of the above characteristics at a local, regional, national, or international level?

        The building is important on a local level as not only does it act as a landmark for the suburb of Northland; it is also historically associated with the fire bridge which once serviced the area.

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      11/ 228

    • Legal Description

      Lots 2, 3 DP 7299

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not registered

    • Archaeological Site

      Risk Unknown

    • Current Uses

      unknown

    • Former Uses

      unknown

    • Has building been funded

      No

    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      Not Earthquake Prone

  • close Additional Information
    • Sources close
      • New Zealand Historic Places Trust Professional Biographies. ‘William Turnbull.’ Accessed 17 August 2012.
      • Ward, L.E. Early Wellington. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1928.
      • Wellington City Council, ‘56 Northland Road.’ Wellington Heritage Building Inventory 2001: Non-Residential Buildings. Wellington City Council, 2001. NORT1.
      • Evening Post. Volume CX, Issue 56. 3 September 1930, Page 13.
    • Technical Documentation close

      Not available

    • Footnotes close

      Not available

Last updated: 6/11/2017 3:59:27 a.m.